Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

World Food Crisis

NOTE: This written a while ago.  Its not that great.

You might be aware of the impending world food crisis. People in the less affluent world are going to start dropping dead like flies, apparently, because food is too hard to get or too expensive.

There are a number of micro-explanations for this, but pretty much everyone agrees that the macro-explanation is a causal chain which goes like this: America and other rich powers consume too much. This overconsumption causes overconsumption of fossil fuels, as fossil fuels are the backbone of their economies. This fuel consumption causes global warming, which causes climate change, which causes crop failure. Crop failure raises the price of food. Further exacerbating this is the use of food crops as hydrocarbon substitutes, i.e. biofuel. The conversion of land from food to biofuel, and the reduced supply of food, work to further increase the price of food.

In essence, rich nations caused the global food crisis, and it is they who are therefore responsible for fixing it. Ronin says, bullshit.

The whole food process is a series of interlocking non-sequential factors. The following things must exist for the food process to take place.

  • There must be local buyers who can get a surplus of calories out of the food, spending less calories working to get it than it provides.
  • There must be sub-distributors who can make enough surplus buying it in bulk and selling it to be able to afford their own food.
  • There must be a transportation infrastructure that can make enough surplus moving food from rural regions to urban regions and food payment from urban regions to rural regions that they desire to do so.
  • There must be farmers who can make enough of a surplus selling their food that they have enough surplus to maintain their farms.
  • There must be laborers at every stage who can make enough of a surplus working that they prefer to work.
  • The buyers must be able to pay enough that by the time payment gets through the many hands to the farmer, the farmer will have enough of a surplus to desire to sell his grain.
  • There must be land and water for the food to grow.

Any failure of the above 7 points will result in famine. If you noticed the word surplus over and over, you might have remembered the other word for surplus is profit. I postulate the following very simple axiom:

The solution to famine is surplus (in a non-money economies) or profit (in money economies).

Evidence offered:

  • The worst famines in modern history occurred under Marxist regimes which had completely dismantled Adam Smith’s “guiding hand” of free market and attempted to control every aspect of the economy from a central government. For instance, Mao’s great leap forward (30 million dead.) or the Holodomor famine (3 million dead).
  • Famine in Europe during the middle ages was directly related to market distortions caused by the aristocracy.
  • The Irish Famine was caused by Protestants not allowing Catholics to own land or learn to read. This created a market distortion where the people who worked the land were not allowed to sell what they produced, but instead had to give it to the landowners without charge.
  • The State of Arizona is geophysically incapable of growing its own food. Statistically, all food is imported. Yet there is never a famine. Everyone in the state has access to sufficient resources to pay for food even if a food shortage raises the price.
  • No functioning democracy has ever had a famine. There is a correlation between political and economic freedom.
  • The Netherlands, which have relied on importation to fully satisfy economic need for over 400 years, have not had a famine in that time (despite numerous famines over Europe during that period.) A complex and rich economy has always allowed them to trade sufficiently with other nations to cover the increased cost of food during a food shortage.

This might lead you to the conclusion that in the coming global food crisis those who have the least surplus will be the most affected. True. Sustenance farmers, who by definition have no surplus, are the group most at risk for famine at any given time. The cost of food is pretty much fixed world wide. World wages are not. A pound of rice is about 25 cents in the US. It’s about that everywhere. It’s just that in, say, Angola, more than half the population makes less than $18 a day. For us in the States, food costs about 15% of our income. For much of the world it costs around 75% of their income.

We don’t have a world food crisis. We have a world capitalism crisis. The question is not “Why is food getting so expensive?” Food gets expensive from time time. The price goes up, which decreases the supply, increasing the demand and thus the price. When the price goes up people buy less, and the supply increases, lowering the price. The question is, “Why isn’t capitalism taking it’s natural course of improving lives in places like Africa, the way it is in places such as India and China?”

The answer is as tragic as it is simple. World aid destroys developing economies. Remember the first 7 points? If the UN brings in grain, that means grain is free. If grain is free, farmers cannot make a living selling grain. They leave their farms to seek their fortunes in the city, exacerbating the grain shortage by removing local grain as well as consuming the aid grain.

The US rose because no one was there to help it. China has refused help. India refused colonization at any cost. As long as there is United Nations Aid presence in these impoverished countries, they will not go through the fire of developing the methods to deal with local crop failures on their own.

The process of economic freedom is the lifeblood that feeds the process of political freedom. It is awfully hard to revolt if you can’t afford any bullets.

Capitalism is the glove on the hand of self-determinism. Economic freedom buys all the other freedoms. Economic freedom buys lobbyists, education, and simply buys opportunity.

Sadly, the United States press has laid the fault of the impending global food crisis on the economic policies which prevent famine in the affluent world (free market and democracy), rather than on the polices which cause famine in the poor world (controlled market and autocracy). Furthermore, they have stated that the solution is reduced economic freedom…

Prices must be fixed, after all it worked so well for Mao.

Biofuel must be stopped. (Even though mixed agricultural economy is what ensures a nation has something valuable to trade for food in a food shortage.)

And of course, Aid must be increased, even though it bankrupts the local economies which receive it.

How many more millions must die to prove the point that wealthy educated people such as the UN, the Soviets, and the Chinese Central Government do not know what is better for poor uneducated people than those people themselves?

Read here for a more scholarly look at the situation:

April 28, 2008 - Posted by | Ecology, Government, Politics, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,


  1. That was a really good read! I agree with you completely and you make some good points. I think you have a brilliant mind to be honest. I think you should get into politics, and try to make a difference. You should send an essay about the above to someone. I don’t know, I always like to try and believe that someone can make a difference. Oh and to clarify you don’t believe in Global Warming? I don’t. I did a lot of research on it. I wrote an article for the air force Noggin. I spent like 2 days on it (at work they let me since I was new) and they just ignored me completely. They didn’t like what I had to say I guess. It was a kind of a hateful article. Anyway I think that’s what I’m going to write about next. Anyway, I really like your blogs about the us and world news. 🙂

    Comment by Kyria | April 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. You know what? I think I will do a post on global warming. I have one to do on mental health first, and still need to write one on an Atheist Nation. So many blogs, so little time!

    Comment by truthwalker | April 28, 2008 | Reply

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