May 14, 2008

So’s your old man

America and India have been exchanging insults, essentially about who is the most gluttonous and fattest of them all.

While a truce appears to have been reached, on the basis that developing nations are, err, developing, and should be permitted to do so without fear of insult or injury, we look forward to future outbreaks of incorrect politics, for our couch-sitting entertainment.

Top US officials claim - one way or another - that India’s rising prosperity is to blame for food inflation.

Over in India, Pradeep S. Mehta, secretary general of the center for international trade, economics and the environment, said that:

"if Americans slimmed down to the weight of middle-class Indians, “many hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa would find food on their plates"

and

"the money spent in the United States on liposuction to get rid of fat from excess consumption could be funneled to feed famine victims"

These comments were a reaction to Bush, who said, in reference to middle-class Indians:

“When you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.”

Condolezza Rice has been spinning much the same nonsense yarn.

Over in India ministers and economists are echoing the obvious point that the US is responsible “many times more” than India for the world food crisis.

Attempting to throw foam on flaming waters a White House spokesman said:

“We think it is a good thing countries are developing, that more and more people have higher standards of living.”

He probably even managed to sound a little bit convincing.

It was always going to be the case that developing countries would, in time, develop - that's the whole point - eventually they would jump the couch, in a good and a bad way (as you do). Good for them. Bad for the West, so used to keeping the spoils to themselves. The risk of a perverted Western envy rearing its head was always an ugly likelihood. This is only the beginning.

Meanwhile, the world still has more than enough food to feed every man, woman and child, and then some.

What we don't have and don't facilitate - never have, never will - is distribution of money for all to be able to buy food.

As is always the case, part of the increase in basic food prices is due to stockpiling. The food is there, it's not being sold.

And, as noted, the food is there, but millions of people don't have the money to pay the higher prices.

Thanks to fertilizers and improved farming practices, the world produces more food than ever, using only a fraction of the land that used to be required.

We do not have a food shortage.

It would be impossible to have a food shortage, unless something globally catastrophic occurred to disrupt food production.

We have inequity in food distribution and inequity in financial distribution.

We also have some fucked-up sustainability mentalities going on, and the blow-back has hit with remarkable efficiency: yes, hello crop-based ethanol, here's looking at the corn!

Via the New York Times ...

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