Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Seven Fat Cows, Seven Thin Cows

Seven fat cows, seven thin cows: hoarding and storing the seeds of deliverance, easily the best and most comprehensive treatment I've seen of the subject thus far;
Now the difference between hoarding and stockpiling is this - once you are already in a crisis AND there is a meaningful and rational system for ensuring people have access to food, building up stores can disrupt the existing system and its fairness. This is hoarding, and it is problematic. That is, if there’s just enough rice to around, *and it is going around in a fairly just way* those who are wealthy enough to build up private stocks can disrupt the system, and shouldn’t. That, however is not the case now. First of all, there’s more than enough food to go around, and second of all, justice has not been the major concern.

How do we know this? Well, in 2007, the world produced enough calories to feed everyone in the world half again more calories in grain than they need. With 6.6 billion people, we could feed 1/3 more people, raising the world’s population up to 10 million on present agricultural yields of grain alone - this excludes all vegetables, fruits, grass fed meats and forageable plants. That is, right now we are not experiencing shortages of food in any absolute sense.

This, I think is a deeply important point. When I observe things like this, people usually not that there is no such thing as perfectly fair food distribution, and that is, of course true. It is also true that we are so far away from even a remotely just system of distribution that if we could even approximate a level of concern for the world’s populace that exeeded our concern for our cars, I’d be happy. The reality is that rich people eat three times - they eat some grain. Then they eat meat, fed on enough grain to feed an ordinary person many times over, and then they feed their cars, their pets, the birds and occasionally burn some grain and legumes in their stoves. We entirely lack a system that simply says “humans get the first products of agricultural labor” - that is, that people outrank the cars, dogs, and desire for steak of the average rich world denizen.
The predicament is strictly manmade, arising at the level of our cultural habits and choices. The hegemons who enriched Bill and Hillary Clinton to the tune of $110 Million over the last decade have constructed and proliferated a morally blind global monoculture.