Monday, April 14, 2008

Heads in the Sand

This BBC article relays the message from the IMF over concerns about global food shortages. Cited are concerns from the IMF chief that "Thousands - hundreds of thousands of people will be starving. Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives."

The article then lists the reasons for food shortages: “Food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by increased demand, poor weather in some countries and an increase in the use of land to grow crops for transport fuels.”

Really? So they don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that oil is at $112 a barrel? They don’t think that has any bearing on the price of food? You know - the fuel for tractors, combines, local transport trucks, milling operations, processing equipment, ocean freighters, fishing vessels, pesticide production, etc, etc. They don’t think those costs have increased significantly as the price of oil has risen?

Of course not, the problem is all those people converting their land to alternative fuel crops. And it’s all those starving people – because we’ve never had starving people before. But this whole absurdity actually began if you believed, for one moment, that the IMF really cares about starving people as humans, deserving of compassion, rather than just a social upheaval threat to governments and institutions that owe the IMF money. I guess it’s also just as shocking that this article was spawned in a ‘business’ section.
Is this the sum of our human civilization? That we let people starve to death as a result of market forces or political leverage? Nobody should be starving in the 21st century.

And incidentally, that brings up oil in Iraq. The Bush administration once reasoned that as security improved in Iraq, profits from Iraq oil production would be realized, and this would then allow the joyful, liberated people of Iraq to repay the US for the cost of the conflict. So just yesterday President Bush insisted that security has greatly improved but I note that the cost of the Iraq war continues to spiral upward. Where are all those revenues then? Or maybe the check is just in mail – I imagine the Iraq Postal Service is a bit slow these days.

- Just a peasant
Photo of starving human beings in India from The Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Colorado.