FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No Food for Thought

by SAUL LANDAU

In upmarket restaurants one wouldn’t know the world is suffering from a food crisis. As I observed young executives and professionals slurping oysters and chasing them with martinis at a downtown San Francisco watering house last month without glancing at the prices of such items, less affluent mortals around the world had to overreach their budgets to buy bread, tortillas and oil to cook their food. But those who routinely pay $25.95 for seared ahi tuna hardly blink when the menu lists the same dish for $28.95 — certainly not after three martinis.

Masters of the Universe celebrate their success, (large salaries and bonuses) by using OPM – other people’s money. Nostalgia for Ronald Reagan among older members of this set runs rampant –days of no taxes when sleeping with the President meant attending a cabinet meeting and environmental problems came from trees. (“Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do,” Reagan said in 1981 and “A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?” the California Governor snorted in 1966, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park.)

Food prices continued rising through 2010, and residents of Tunis and Cairo had no Reagan to beguile them; nor did their brethren in Amman, La Paz, Lagos and Bangkok. Rightist US politicians accused Fed Chair Ben Bernanke of printing too much money, thus causing the rise in food prices. Some conservative French politicos, like Le Presidente himself, blamed speculators for taking over the food-pricing controls; therefore Parisians paid more for their pain.

Indeed, in 2007, Fidel Castro criticized President Bush’s “unhealthy enthusiasm for ethanol.” (Economist, April 4, 2007). Fidel referred to the “sinister idea of converting food into fuel.” US companies had begun making ethanol from corn, supposedly to reduce US dependency on foreign oil. This drove up corn prices. Corn then occupied more land space than other food crops, like soy. So, soy prices rose as well. Because animals also got fattened on corn, the price of meat also rose. In short, corn got diverted to feed America’s hungry cars.

Fidel’s January 31 reflection re-enforced this idea. In 2009, he wrote, more than one quarter of US grain “went to ethanol distilleries to produce fuel for cars. That’s enough to feed 350 million people for a year. The massive U.S. investment in ethanol distilleries sets the stage for direct competition between cars and people for the world grain harvest.”

When entrepreneurs discovered new use for grains, the demand rocketed up – and the supply side could not meet it. More intensive farming led to soil erosion – loss of topsoil and thus land productivity. Fidel also mentioned the formation of dust bowls larger than the Oklahoma-Texas one of the 1920-s-30 in northwest China and central Africa.

Ethanol, a supposedly alternative-energy source, begot optimism: now the United States can finally lose its dependency on Arab oil, make cars into a green symbol (phony), and spur new investments as well.

Politicians avoid mentioning the reality that people viscerally understand and fear: how to deal with the fact that the world’s weather has become a major factor preventing farming.

Last summer, Russia and other former Soviet Republics suffered super heat, which meant they produced less wheat. Between droughts and floods – Australia is the latest victim – farmers could not harvest what the world’s people needed.

In his State of the Union – or re-election – address, Obama offered peripheral hints about understanding climate change — the need for rapid rail and energy conservation, but he didn’t say: “this country, this planet, faces a challenge not seen since the Ice Age.”

Nor have leaders of other powers stated the obvious: climate change threatens to wipe out human life if we continue to produce and consume in the same patterns and with the same care-free methods. The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on environmental public health and ecosystem vitality: how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.

The United States ranked 61st (out of 163 countries) behind such environmental stars as Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Georgia – and far behind all other advanced industrial nations.

Big deal! The stock market is booming, corporate profits are high, and banks are thriving. Why bother with ugly thoughts of 4 million Americans whose unemployment benefits will end during 2011? (White House estimate). Average unemployment now lasts 37 weeks.  But as of last October, unemployment had endured for almost two years for almost 1.5 million people. )“The Trend in Long-Term Unemployment and Characteristics of Workers Unemployed for More than 99 Weeks,” Congressional Research Service. December 20, 2010)

Last year, 3.9 million Americans ran out of unemployment insurance benefits. (National Employment Law Project in HuffPost, February 10). Almost 15 million are officially unemployed – some of those experience routine hunger.

Does this bother you? Slurp oysters, wash ‘em down with martinis and adjust your reality antenna. Oh, you’ve been laid off? Just beg for a day,  then use the money you obtain for your big eating hurrah and think fondly of Reagan!

SAUL LANDAU’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP will soon be released in English. His BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch.

More articles by:

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail