Dismally certain that I would hear about great investment opportunities, I changed channels as mounting news reports brought the earthquake in Japan into our minds and took precedence over smaller affairs. There, as anticipated, the ‘business reporters’ who insisted that w had it right, the ‘fundamentals of our economy are sound’, while toxic assets brought down whole nations’ economies … were guiding listeners to the opportunity for investment in Japanese construction companies.
With a disgustingly large segment of our population focused on profit motivation as their goal in life, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of U.S. households are losing the struggle to maintain a decent standard of living. As demi points out in her earlier post for Food Sunday, our society consists of increasing numbers of us who are losing our ability to work and support families.
As investments show increasingly that they have been hollowed out by financial deregulation’s ‘opportunism’, investors are increasingly moving into the field of necessities, such as fossil fuels and food. Making the world go hungry does not enter into the equation in the mind of profit seekers. Instead, what cannot be eliminated from consumption becomes the object of speculator’s feeding frenzy.
The financial industry’s entrepreneurship pushes oil prices above levels that a family can afford without severe strain, and at the same time pushes the other essential cost, food, out of sight.
Whenever oil prices rise above $50 per barrel, the World Bank has determined, a 1 percent increase in the price of oil results in a 0.9 percent increase in the price of maize, “because every dollar increase in the price of oil increases the profitability of ethanol and hence biofuel demand for maize.” It is no surprise, then, that two-thirds of the increase in world maize production since 2004 went to meet increased biofuel demand in the United States, leaving little to satisfy the world’s growing need for food and animal feed.
The sharp jump in food prices in 2008 led to riots in more than a dozen countries, including Egypt, Haiti and Pakistan [see Walden Bello, “Manufacturing a Food Crisis,” and Reed Lindsay, “Haiti on the ‘Death Plan,’ ” June 2, 2008]. In an effort to avert more such turbulence, the G-8 group of wealthy nations, at their 2009 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, promised to donate $20 billion over the following three years for agricultural advancement in the developing world. By the beginning of 2011, however, less than one-twentieth of that amount had been contributed, and there had been little progress in boosting global food output. Now, with oil prices again on the rise, the price of food is likely to surpass all previous records and spark additional upheavals around the world.
When your neighbor cannot feed his or her own family, we all are impoverished. Do you remember when a War on Poverty was the object of our government’s efforts to improve our lives? It hasn’t been that long ago, but it’s aeons ago in the moral slippage from decency by the right wing. When an outcry that the rich ought to be allowed to cheat their brothers, so they will have the ‘certainty’ they require to make jobs – a proven fallacy, dins in every election ad to the right wing, we are impoverished in every essential feature of our society.
For Food Sunday, I will be putting in final touches to my growing backyard vegetable garden. I hope you can do some of that now, or soon, too. This is a good time, if you can, to give something to those who serve your neighbor as well.