Grains Gone Wild

I’m talking about the food crisis. Over the past few years the prices of wheat, corn, rice and other basic foodstuffs have doubled or tripled, with much of the increase taking place just in the last few months. High food prices dismay even relatively well-off Americans — but they’re truly devastating in poor countries, where food often accounts for more than half a family’s spending.

There have already been food riots around the world. Food-supplying countries, from Ukraine to Argentina, have been limiting exports in an attempt to protect domestic consumers, leading to angry protests from farmers — and making things even worse in countries that need to import food.

How did this happen? The answer is a combination of long-term trends, bad luck — and bad policy.

Let’s start with the things that aren’t anyone’s fault.

We also need a pushback against biofuels, which turn out to have been a terrible mistake.

But it’s not clear how much can be done. Cheap food, like cheap oil, may be a thing of the past.

I suppose rising commodity prices is such an important issue that even Paul Krugman talks about it instead of providing welfare or talking about the election this Monday. And some people responded jocularly in my other thread about buffets and insulting think tanks. I wanted to convey a similar message in another thread.

Look, I am seriously concerned with resource depletion. Concepts such as social justice will be deemed pablum if acquiring resources such as oil is considered a zero-sum game because of severe scarcity.

I agree that resource depletion can be a serious issue. But this article seems to be the “global warming, the Iraq War, and George Bush are to blame” stuff. Well, actually, to be fair, he never actually said the name “George Bush.” And he appears to be critical of all the current presidential candidates. Anyways, the problem I encounter when trying to take these dire warnings seriously is the failed similar predictions from the past. Consider the case of Paul Ehrlich and his “The Population Bomb.” Didn’t he confidently predict starvation and resource depletion on a massive scale, in the 1970s and 1980s? Is there something different this time?

Resource scarcity disaster prophets are wrong just about as often as “the world will end on April XX” prophets.

You’d think folks would learn.

MY prediction: Farming will finally resume being a feasible way of making a living. Glory Halleluia. People will respond by farming more. In third world nations, this could actually become an economic boon IF it is gradual enough for people to respond in time. If not, there will be famine while the transition takes place (unless the ‘first world’ bankrupts the third world farmers against with ‘free’ food aid).

Heh, the horrifying humor here is that market economy nations have been covering for the socialistic nations by selling them cheap food.

It’s cheap because market economies are more efficient than socialist ones. Now, as the population grows, even market economies can’t continue to subsidize the socialist ones.

And now, comes the crunch. If they wise up, as China has, they will reform their economies, and they will survive. If not, look for some horrible disasters.

Mugabe is in such trouble in Zimbabwe for just such stupidity. That nation could be supporting others. Instead, it can’t feed itself.

Zimbabwe is the poster child for socialism gone wild. It was a net food exporter before it went over the cliff and adopted policies that drove out the efficent farmers.

Get rid of all subsidies NOT TO PLANT and you will see supplies go up and prices go down.

At the same time, get rid of subsidies to crops that are in such oversupply that the fair market value has fallen below the cost of production – like rice.

I’m going to go ahead and second that prediction, unless ribozyme can show us how this particular prediction of gloom and doom is different. I’m trying to be fair and I will listen to his side, if he will be kind enough to explain it to me.

I sometimes wonder why anyone can buy into socialism and its many associated and completely foolish policies. I can’t imagine it takes anything beyond average intelligence to figure out that driving away the families who have farmed Zimbabwean land for generations and giving said land over to your friends and cronies who probably haven’t even been on a farm before isn’t a good way of managing an economy or your food supply.

That reminds me of a friend that my father had when I was kid. This guy owned a farm and I remember my dad telling me once that the government paid him to not farm it. He just mowed the grass and cashed the government check for doing so. I wonder, is that a common policy?

Those who support such things have a myriad ways of hiding the truth from themselves.

The Colectivisation Famine in Russia should have been enough to convince anyone who wasn’t wilfully blind of the horrors this kind of thinking produces.

People buy into socialism out of basic laziness. They figure the government will hand them everything.

Easiest way to office is to offer ‘free’ stuff!:rolleyes:

Yep. Look at our current political campaigns.

When I ran for Congress in '04, I put a lot of time and effort in developing solutions for problems – and came to understand that the major cause of our problems is government. Education, agriculture, energy, health care, and so on are all government quagmires.

Yes, and and the socialistic countries are subsidizing our economy- by selling us cheap manufactured goods. Tit for tat. It’s all part of the global deregulated finance game.

Let’s break out of the cycle:

China is no longer socialist in any meaningful way. It is now a plutocracy, in which the wealthy are calling the shots inside and outside the party.

The guaranteed benfits of socialism like free education and health care are being rapidly eroded, while corruption has spread rapidly.

I recently listened to an interview with a reporter who was investigating lead paint in Chinese products. He had gotten an interview with the manager of a large factory, when the manager became suspicious. He told the man he could not leave until they figured out what he was doing.

The man used his cell phone to call the police, who promptly arrived. They then negotiated for some time with the manager to get the reporter released.

Negotiated. The police had to negotiate to persuade a capitalist manager to obey the law. Mao is spinning in his grave. Twenty years ago, they’d have burst in, beaten everyone in sight, and hauled them off for re-education.

I used to play soccer with a former member of the ARVN air force. He had to flee Vietnam, but his father remained. That father now owns a pottery factory and prides himself on the fact that he pays his employees enough that they can afford food. Many other factory owners don’t.

Much of the “socialist world” is now emulating the “robber baron” era of American capitalism. It seems to be a necessary stage in the development of a nation, as distasteful as it is to us.

In the most socialist part of this country you will find the worst education.

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