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UN World Food Day Message: more than 1 billion people are hungry - Why?

 
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It makes me sick to read such news like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Food Day . What are the reasons that so many people are going hungry

Let's collect some possible reasons.

1. Because some people like to become rich more than anything else?
...
 
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2. Because there are too many of them?
 
Darya Akbari
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10 Things You Can Do On World Food Day
 
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The more humans there will be, the less humane it would become. We need a major war or a pandemic, hopefully short and devastating.
 
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I'm not sure about the other 999,999,998 but I skipped breakfast and my son forgot his lunch.
 
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Darya Akbari wrote:
1. Because some people like to become rich more than anything else?



This makes the others go hungry?
 
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:

Darya Akbari wrote:
1. Because some people like to become rich more than anything else?



This makes the others go hungry?



Sure, if Darya means that corruption and greed is diverting aid, because that's the story in Zimbabwe.
 
Darya Akbari
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Joe Ess wrote:

Maneesh Godbole wrote:

Darya Akbari wrote:
1. Because some people like to become rich more than anything else?



This makes the others go hungry?



Sure, if Darya means that corruption and greed is diverting aid, because that's the story in Zimbabwe.



Zimbabwe is a good example. Beside the fact that Mugabe is responsible for the misery there now, but what about the responsibility of the white farmers who had those huge farms?
 
Darya Akbari
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David O'Meara wrote:I'm not sure about the other 999,999,998 but I skipped breakfast and my son forgot his lunch.



you could at least gave your son his lunch
 
Darya Akbari
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John Smith wrote:The more humans there will be, the less humane it would become. We need a major war or a pandemic, hopefully short and devastating.



There is enough food for everyone on this planet. No one must die because of hunger. Think of the huge amount of food that becomes destroyed just to keep food prices controlled?
 
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Beside the fact that Mugabe is responsible for the misery there now, but what about the responsibility of the white farmers who had those huge farms?


Of course, those farms were producing a heck of a lot more food back then than they are now. And what they do manage to produce now goes to cronies in the Zanu-PF, for the most part.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Darya Akbari wrote:..but what about the responsibility of the white farmers who had those huge farms?


I thought the responsibility of the farmer is to grow crops.
Do you mean to say, that since they wanted to be/are rich, they are not growing crops?
I fail to see the connection or logic here.
 
Darya Akbari
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:

Darya Akbari wrote:..but what about the responsibility of the white farmers who had those huge farms?


I thought the responsibility of the farmer is to grow crops.
Do you mean to say, that since they wanted to be/are rich, they are not growing crops?
I fail to see the connection or logic here.



If not for the money, what motivation was there to take huge land for themselfs? In a country like Zimbabwe and its colonial history do you really think that taking those lands went legally?






 
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Darya,
I must confess, I am now totally confused.
Are we talking legalities or are we talking about the possible reasons behind food shortage and hunger.

I am not aware of the legalities you mention so I cannot possibly comment on that.

Striving to derive commercial benefit from commodities is a known symptom which is called profit. Profit brings you money or rather buying potential. Money creates money. Money is necessary for living in todays world. I personally do not feel anything wrong in this approach.

On the other hand, do you mean to say, that since a few people have control over lot of land which in turn means control over lot of food, they are hoarding it up so as to artificially push up the prices so as to make more profit?
I get the strong feeling that I am not really unable to grasp the point you are trying to make.
 
Joe Ess
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:
Striving to derive commercial benefit from commodities is a known symptom which is called profit.



Speaking of profit, there's another problem with food aid. Dumping food into a country where people are hungry may exacerbate the situation because then local farmers can't find a market for their product. If they can't find a market, they can't afford to plant next year's crop and then the local food supply shrinks more.
Charity Finds that US Food Aid for Africa Hurts
 
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Darya Akbari wrote: Zimbabwe is a good example. Beside the fact that Mugabe is responsible for the misery there now, but what about the responsibility of the white farmers who had those huge farms?



Is the real issue:

A. starvation, or
B. motivation, or
C. legality ?

If A, then are B & C of primary relevance right now? If you want to condemn starvation, focus on the current promixate cause, and one that could have easily been avodied, focus on the government leaders who encouraged attacks on those who produced food. Mitigate further expansion of starvation by supporting those that produce food and a peaceful transition to even more productive arrangments.

If B, then we enter into a subjective realm although we can see that farmers did produce food to sell for money which they did magnificiently (they fed their nation and even had surplus to export prior to Mugabe). The fact that money was involved does not negate the beneficial effects that people were not starving when farmers were allowed to follow their "motivation".

If C, then we enter into a legal realm and I think you imply a moral one also. I'm not an expert, or even knowlegable, on Zimbabwe, so will not defend its colonial history, but the native white farmers today do have a legal title to the land and have had it for a number of generations. The govt even acknowledges this to some extent by compensating them. In general, how far back to go in history to undo/reverse existing legal rights is not a clear issue. In a general context, a hundred plus years ago most of the land that is farmland today was not farmland or being used in a productive manner. Not that it is an excuse to take non-productive land, but the net result of the land taking was was an efficient and effective way of feeding the nation as it developed that could not have happened otherwise given the existing farming knowledge and technology previously.
 
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A couple of ideas:

1- While it's not a total solution, governments should stop giving subsidies to businesses that raise meat. People should pay the true cost for their meat.

For instance, beef in the U.S. should probably cost around $30 / pound, chicken maybe $10 / pound. Meat production places enormous stress on the world's precious topsoil, and on the world's precious fresh water supplies. Meat production is also a leading force driving deforestation.

2 - Improve education worldwide.

3 - I know it's controversial, but there really IS a limit to how many people can comfortably live on this planet at one time. As a thought experiment consider: if we all decided that for this generation we should limit ourselves to 1 child per couple, that would lead to some sadness for the current generation - but it might lead to a whole lot more happiness for the next 6 (or 600), generations. Of course a one child / couple initiative could easily go wrong, but if it went right it could be miraculous!
 
frank davis
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Bert Bates wrote:A couple of ideas:

1- While it's not a total solution, governments should stop giving subsidies to businesses that raise meat. People should pay the true cost for their meat.
...
2 - Improve education worldwide.
...
3 - I know it's controversial, but there really IS a limit to how many people can comfortably live on this planet at one time.
...



1. I agree and think libertarian free market approaches could be broadly applied in many areas - stopping subsidies for tobacco as a glaring example. Less well known is the broad range of farm subsidies in general the US gives its farmers who export food that foreign farmers have to compete against.

2. Education can lead to an increase in worker productivity, real wages, and living standards - reducing poverty and hunger. But that requires a few other pieces of infrastructure to be in place as well - a business/legal/political environment stable and flexible enough to apply and fund technology investments needed to make workers more productive. It is possible for everyone's standard of living (real wealth) to increase and that has been the general world wide trend since the Industrial Revolution. Can I pre-emptively mention the Fixed Pie Fallacy? (not directed at Bert)?

3. Actually, everyone acknowledges the Earth has finite resources and therefore a finite limit on comfortableness for a finite number of people. But the limits expand daily with each new technolgical advance in food production and energy efficiency, as well as social changes as to what consitutues comformtableness. 70% of the people are concentrated in tiny urban areas, leaving vast stretches of Earth extremely underpopulated. There are reasons people chose to live in densely populated areas - jobs, avoiding inhospitable terrain, etc, but as technology improves it allows greater dispersion of people if desired and so a further increase in comfortableness. Some people prefer city living so an even further increase in population density (all other things being even, like corresponding increases to infrastructure) may not reduce their comfortableness.
 
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Herb,

All good points, but I'd like to make a distinction between land, of which there still is a lot, and "decent farmable land", of which there really isn't that much, when you consider rainfall and topsoil requirements.
 
Darya Akbari
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:Darya,
Striving to derive commercial benefit from commodities is a known symptom which is called profit. Profit brings you money or rather buying potential. Money creates money. Money is necessary for living in todays world. I personally do not feel anything wrong in this approach.



Profit is OK. But it should be fair. If you are more talented than others it's OK to make more profit. But when your thinking is only about making profit and you are blind at the same time for the suffering of others around you then there is something dramatically wrong with you.

Maneesh Godbole wrote:Darya,
On the other hand, do you mean to say, that since a few people have control over lot of land which in turn means control over lot of food, they are hoarding it up so as to artificially push up the prices so as to make more profit?



Well there is truth in it, isn't it?
 
frank davis
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Bert Bates wrote:Herb,

All good points, but I'd like to make a distinction between land, of which there still is a lot, and "decent farmable land", of which there really isn't that much, when you consider rainfall and topsoil requirements.



Where I was born, Miami, Florida; the land is basically rocky limestone with thin covering of poor quality sandy topsoil. Yet, due to technological advances it managed to provide a large supply of winter vegetables to the nation at one time.

Or consider areas that were once desert and had little rainfall: http://googlesightseeing.com/2005/06/27/desert-farming/

New energy sources could also allow more feasible use of desalination technology for an almost endless supply of water.

Technology expands the limits of what is possible, so we cannot say with any reasonable certaintity what the limits are as far as sustainable population. I think at this point in time however, to raise the issue for discussion is prudent.
 
Darya Akbari
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The world now has 793 billionaires and 1 billion people who are hungry. Do these billionaire anything to the benefit of the hungry people or is it just the opposite that they exploit them one way or the other?

On the other hand, if those billionaire are not related in any way to those dying children in Ethiopia nowadays, what speaks against helping them now instead of thinking how to make their next billion? How was that proverb?

Prophecy of the Cree Indians wrote:Only after the last tree has been cut down / Only after the last river has been poisoned / Only after the last fish has been caught / Then will you find that money cannot be eaten.


 
Darya Akbari
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Bert Bates wrote:A couple of ideas:

1- While it's not a total solution, governments should stop giving subsidies to businesses that raise meat. People should pay the true cost for their meat.

For instance, beef in the U.S. should probably cost around $30 / pound, chicken maybe $10 / pound. Meat production places enormous stress on the world's precious topsoil, and on the world's precious fresh water supplies. Meat production is also a leading force driving deforestation.

2 - Improve education worldwide.

3 - I know it's controversial, but there really IS a limit to how many people can comfortably live on this planet at one time. As a thought experiment consider: if we all decided that for this generation we should limit ourselves to 1 child per couple, that would lead to some sadness for the current generation - but it might lead to a whole lot more happiness for the next 6 (or 600), generations. Of course a one child / couple initiative could easily go wrong, but if it went right it could be miraculous!



I fully agree on 1 and 2 but not on 3. There is enough food for all of us. If we want, we can help those in need so that no one must die. It's just a question of morale.
 
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Darya Akbari wrote:The world now has 793 billionaires

On the other hand, if those billionaire are not related in any way to those dying children in Ethiopia nowadays, what speaks against helping them now instead of thinking how to make their next billion?




Well, only they can answer. But many do help, Buffet and Gates as prime example who have gave many hundreds of millions. But perhaps how they spend their money is a personal issue, just as how you spend your money is personal issue.
 
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Darya Akbari wrote:The world now has 793 billionaires and 1 billion people who are hungry. Do these billionaire anything to the benefit of the hungry people or is it just the opposite that they exploit them one way or the other?



In free market economies, the rich get rich by providing something people value, so whatever that is, it is a "benefit" they provide to their society. Whether they specifically engage in food production or some other benefit is again a personal choice.

I agree that it would be nice if everyone voluntarily helps each other; I agree with that and I agree with discussions that encourage that like everyone else. But people who have less, have no right to make a claim on those that have more, else that would be the logic to justify nearly every robbery and theft on earth.
 
Darya Akbari
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herb slocomb wrote:But people who have less, have no right to make a claim on those that have more, else that would be the logic to justify nearly every robbery and theft on earth.



Those who are dying of hunger make no claim at all. And your last remark raise the question: who are the real robbers and thieves on earth and what logic do they have? To my opinion there is often a sick ego behind all of it.
 
Darya Akbari
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herb slocomb wrote:In free market economies, the rich get rich by providing something people value, so whatever that is, it is a "benefit" they provide to their society. Whether they specifically engage in food production or some other benefit is again a personal choice.



Nothing to say against that, you do so, I do so, most of us do so. But why can't you or all of us become a billionaire? Personally I've no problem with that. I don't need a palace to live in, 10 cars, 2 airplanes or other nonsense to live a good life. There are lot of things in this world that you can't buy with money where you must have other qualities than only how to make your next billion.
 
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Darya Akbari wrote:
...And your last remark raise the question: who are the real robbers and thieves on earth and what logic do they have? ...



Hunger, as we are discussing it, is clearly not a result of robbers and thieves acting as individuals. Since Borlaug's discoveries decades ago, large scale hunger has been a political issue resulting from political conflict or corruption. In other words, governments are the one to point fingers at, not "billionaires" per se as originally suggested. Whether Evil Billionaires act through governments to plot world hunger or not, the issue then becomes the structure of a government that would allow such things and the culture of the people who would allow widespread corruption to infiltrate a government on many levels to allow that to happen.

Stalin was not an Evil Billionaire, yet acting through government managed to starve between 3 -11 million (good records were not kept) in just one territory (Ukraine). Mugabe is another example, as well as other assorted non-billionaire warlords in Somalia, etc...On the other hand, there is a correlation between a country having proportionately more billionaires and LESS hunger. So, a better case can be made that billionaires reduce hunger rather than cause it.

Neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffet, nor the others on Forbes list of richest people in the world are responsible for world starvation. In fact, many do devote time and effort in humanitarian efforts. Its far easier to say that all the hundreds of billionaires on the Forbes list did more to reduce hunger than the billions of poor. In fact, its the poor themselves that do the disproportionate harm in contributing to large scale hunger primarily through higher reproductive rates that create children they cannot feed and their lesser ability to produce wealth in excess to what they consume.


Class warfare rhetoric and a blame the rich mentality is an unneeded distraction to a serious issue.
 
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I think we have a false dichotomy being built here. It's not the billionaires that make people go hungry. But there is clear evidence that hoarding of food to drive up prices exists. And that government incompetence can make famines worse. Amartya Sen is your man for describing the process in detail.
 
Darya Akbari
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herb slocomb wrote:Whether Evil Billionaires act through governments to plot world hunger or not, the issue then becomes the structure of a government that would allow such things and the culture of the people who would allow widespread corruption to infiltrate a government on many levels to allow that to happen.



And what about the responsibility then of these billionaires?

herb slocomb wrote:Neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffet, nor the others on Forbes list of richest people in the world are responsible for world starvation. In fact, many do devote time and effort in humanitarian efforts.



It's great that Gates and Buffet and some others give away up to 10% of their wealth for helping those in need, but they are only a small minority.

herb slocomb wrote:Its far easier to say that all the hundreds of billionaires on the Forbes list did more to reduce hunger than the billions of poor. In fact, its the poor themselves that do the disproportionate harm in contributing to large scale hunger primarily through higher reproductive rates that create children they cannot feed and their lesser ability to produce wealth in excess to what they consume.

Class warfare rhetoric and a blame the rich mentality is an unneeded distraction to a serious issue.



That's exactly how those billionaires like to think the world is .


 
Darya Akbari
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Paul Clapham wrote:It's not the billionaires that make people go hungry. But there is clear evidence that hoarding of food to drive up prices exists. And that government incompetence can make famines worse. Amartya Sen is your man for describing the process in detail.



Government incompetence is of course also an important piece of that puzzle. Now who is hoarding or even destroying food? I'm sure that at the end of your search you'll find some billionaires.
 
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Yeah, we should blame the billionaires. Easy target, after all - few of them post here to defend themselves. Great.

So, what next? Do you want us to storm some particular castle? Tilt at some particular windmill? Or should we just express our generic outrage at them (whoever they are)?
 
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Mike Simmons wrote:Yeah, we should blame the billionaires. Easy target, after all - few of them post here to defend themselves. Great.

So, what next? Do you want us to storm some particular castle? Tilt at some particular windmill? Or should we just express our generic outrage at them (whoever they are)?



Relax. I'm not telling anyone what to do.
 
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Darya Akbari wrote:

And what about the responsibility then of these billionaires?



Billionaires are simply people and morally have same responsibilities as everyone else.

Unfortunately, people tend to blame them unfairly for all manner of ills; amazingly even such things as world hunger!

And because they are a very small minority they are often the target of various discriminatory schemes such as a grotesquely unfair taxation system that disproportionately steals from them. For example, in the US, the top 1% pay more in federal taxes than the bottom 95%! So, tell me about their responsibilities when they are the ones already actually supporting all the government services. The ones who most directly benefit from the services are the poor via (in the US) programs such as welfare, medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, childcare subsidies, public transportation, and a hundreds of other smaller programs (W.I.C.). So the rich actually feed the poor, and for the subset of unemployed poor, the rich are in essence the slave of the poor since they work to provide for them.

My point earlier was that the poor have no moral right to take from the rich for their own selfish benefit since that is simply theft , pure and simple.


http://taxfoundation.org/blog/show/24944.html
http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/30/pf/taxes/who_pays_taxes/index.htm (different stats)
 
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Darya Akbari wrote:

Paul Clapham wrote: It's not the billionaires that make people go hungry. But there is clear evidence that hoarding of food to drive up prices exists. And that government incompetence can make famines worse. Amartya Sen is your man for describing the process in detail.



Government incompetence is of course also an important piece of that puzzle. Now who is hoarding or even destroying food? I'm sure that at the end of your search you'll find some billionaires.



Only in the most extremely dysfunctional 3rd world countries can an Evil Billionaire control all sources of food flowing into a miserable country to the extent that hoarding food, taking it off the market for a while to allow prices to increase, allowing some of it to spoil or be lost to rats(inevitably), and the putting it back on the market would be the most profitable action to take. I do know cases where food was used as a political weapon to starve enemies and that's the far more likely case for concern.

In a free market, numerous regional or world wide competitors, would fill the gap quickly. Unless of course, the Evil Gazillionaire controlled every source of nourishment on the planet.
 
Paul Clapham
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Darya Akbari wrote:Government incompetence is of course also an important piece of that puzzle. Now who is hoarding or even destroying food? I'm sure that at the end of your search you'll find some billionaires.



Usually when you see the pictures of starving people in (say) Ethiopia, you'll find there's some international aid agency trying to get food to them. But often these attempts fail because of corruption, which often equates to local thugs making off with the food and selling it in places where people do have money. These thugs aren't billionaires, far from it. They aren't much better off than the starving people. They are just enough better off so that they can afford some guns and some presents for their friends and associates. That's all it takes.
 
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I haven't read most of the posts in this thread but I think its about what role the rich have in contributing to world hunger? Here's my take: The rich in the past have certainly contributed to famine, certainly in India as they shipped off alot farmers from India to their colonies to work as indentured laborand to grow tobacco and sugarcane which were commodities valuable to Europeans.
By diverting so much of the food growing labor and also forcing Indians to buy products from England it decimated and in some cases ruined sectors of the farming Industry(like cotton for example). I don't know what role the rich play ijn modern times in world hunger, maybe speculating/trading in commodities does or does not inflate prices and give rise to other bad elements like large scale hoarders who won't release their product in the open market anticipating a shortage or higher future demand knowing he will be able to command a higher price later. I'm sure some of this does contribute to world hunger but I I'm sure the root of the problem lies elsewhere and I suspect alot of it has to do with rampant and unregulated population growth.
 
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Alms is the symbol of the selflessness in my mind...
Among the people is a beautiful expression of pity and compassion and also increases the love among peoples...
Also increases the abundance of the goods but does not reduce...
 
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Rizvan Asgarov wrote:Alms is the symbol of the selflessness in my mind...
Among the people is a beautiful expression of pity and compassion and also increases the love among peoples...
Also increases the abundance of the goods but does not reduce...



Reminds of the story I heard as a child of Jesus giving bread and fish to the hungry .
He started with a just a small basket, but just like you said, as he gave it did not reduce, but instead seemed to increase in abundance since he was able to feed thousands.

Perhaps if we try really hard on a global scale this will be the solution to all economic problems. Everyone simply just needs to give to everyone else. There is no need to work or do anything else to produce things since simply by giving "increases the abundance of the goods". This is certainly more worthy of a Nobe prize than any that I know of, since it solves all issues of economic production and efficiency by simply giving.
 
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Arvind Mahendra wrote: ...I don't know what role the rich play in modern times in world hunger....



No one has produced any examples yet of a billionaire acting through a free market casuing global hunger.

On the contrary, the more billionaires a country has as a result of a free market, the less hunger it has.
So instead of looking for blame, focus on the solution of finding more ways to increase the number of billionaires in country.
 
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