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Brad Harrington

UN Fails To Challenge Causes Of World Hunger

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UN FAILS TO CHALLENGE CAUSES OF WORLD HUNGER

By Bradley Harrington

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” - Chinese Proverb -

This last October 16th, for those unaware, has been declared “World Food Day” by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) arm of the United Nations. And their “solution” to world hunger? Alms, outrage and on online petition:

“In 2009, the critical threshold of one billion hungry people in the world was reached in part due to soaring food prices and the financial crisis, a ‘tragic achievement in these modern days,’ according to FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. On the eve of the hunger summit, Dr. Diouf launched an online petition to reflect the moral outrage of the situation.” (FAO website, October 16th.)

And, “In addition,” said Dr. Diouf, “100 countries require emergency assistance to rebuild their agriculture productive capacity and 30 nations are undergoing a food crisis.” (“FAO calls for 70 percent increase in world food production,” Voice of America, October 15th.)

While the FAO reports do not specify which nations are suffering the worst, the International Food Policy Research Institute has identified the top ten hungriest countries as: Angola, Yemen, Chad, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Burundi, Eritrea and, in first place, the Congo.

Now observe the types of governments these countries possess:

Angola and Chad are de-facto dictatorships with all political power concentrated in the hands of the president; Yemen is a theocracy in which only Muslims can hold office; Ethiopia declares its allegiance to the principles of “democratic socialism”; Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi and the Congo, currently in the midst of “transitional” governments, have all been crippled by decades of military rule and civil wars; Niger was taken over by a military junta just last February; and Eritrea, an authoritarian state, promotes the practices of “African socialism.”

With governments such as these, is it any wonder that the citizens of these countries find themselves in the midst of famine? Does anybody seriously believe that these “leaders” give a hoot about the welfare of their populations as they scramble for power?

Yes, it is a “moral outrage” that untold numbers of such people are slowly starving to death. What is even more outrageous is that no one cares to connect such unspeakable horrors with these nations’ forms of social organization.

Yet how does one expect production, of food or anything else, to take place in nations busily pounding themselves into balkanized civil-war rubble? Or where all life and society is controlled from the top on down by despots?

Wealth and prosperity are not given facts of human existence: they are the byproducts of protecting people’s right to produce, i.e., of protecting individual rights. Abolish the second and you’ve wiped out the first.

Instead of demanding “emergency assistance” from the world’s producing nations, the FAO - not to mention the health and very survival of the citizens of the countries in question - would be better served by promoting the socio-political system that created that abundance in the first place: capitalism. Since they are not, one can only conclude that any political system is acceptable in the eyes of the United Nations moochers, provided it is some type of collectivism.

Yet, as the philosopher Ayn Rand has noted, “If those nations were taught to establish capitalism, with full protection of property rights, their problems would vanish. Men who could afford it, would invest private capital in the development of natural resources, expecting to earn profits. They would bring the technicians, the funds, the civilizing influence, and the employment which those nations need...Instead, they prefer to seize men’s earnings - through taxation - and pour them down any foreign drain, and watch our own economic growth slow down year by year.” (“Theory and practice,” 1962.)

But such FAO collectivists will never see fit to alter their moral and social policies, for that would be “selfish” and therefore evil. No, they’ll continue to blame everything else around them instead (such as “soaring food prices and the financial crisis,” both of which are also the byproducts of statist controls), while they prostrate themselves to the slave-drivers of three continents - and all in the name of the human race. Now that is “tragic.”

For those of us truly interested in ending the travesty of global hunger, however, instead of merely flapping our gums about it while allowing its causes to go unchallenged, the answer is very clear: it’s not going to happen until freedom gets established first.

--

Bradley Harrington is a former U.S. Marine and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; he can be reached at timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com.

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Well said. What really runs salt into the wound, is the fact that these altruists are enablers. They allow the thugs to avoid the full impact of their policies, making the process a long drawn out suffering. It is the Mother Theresa syndrome, and has nothing to do with real concern. How many times is one expected to help a neighbour fix his punctures, before getting him to sweep the nail from his driveway?

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Another good article, Bradley. Reminds me off a research paper I wrote four or five years ago for 10th grade World History. I'll post it - it may be of interest. My writing has improved substantially since then (well, I hope it has anyway!), but I haven't the time nor interest to rewrite it.

In 1980, Robert Mugabe became the president of Zimbabwe and is the sole cause of the current problems in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s ineffective and dangerous political attitude has created horrible, inhuman conditions in Zimbabwe. Originally, the United States tried to be friendly with the new, independent government, which the US thought was based off the democratic principles the UN and UK had tried to persuade the former colony of Rhodesia to adopt. The US established a residential embassy on Zimbabwe’s Independence Day (April 18, 1980), and the first ambassador arrived less than two months later. According to the state department, the US pledged $225 million over a 3-year period to help the new government deal with the financial stress of postwar reconstruction and the development of land. Indeed, the US gave generously: by the end of fiscal year 1986, the United States had contributed $380 million to Zimbabwe foreign aid. According to the state department, bilateral aid was discontinued in July 1986 because of the gross rights violations, but restored in 1988. No reason is given for the restoration of aid, but Mugabe certainly did not respect the rights of his citizens. He did precisely the opposite. But eventually the US caught on, and since 2000 has been a leader in condemning the Zimbabwean government led by Mugabe. However, the US still continues to be a leader in humanitarian aid, providing US $400 million from 2002 to 2007. I believe this is a mistake.

The main reason for providing humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe is the huge food shortage. According to the World Food Programme, over 4 million people will be in need of food assistance by early 2008, over one-third of the countries total population. An estimated 352,000 tons of cereals and 90,000 tons of other food assistance will be required to meet their basic food needs. But this food shortage is the direct result of Mugabe himself. In 1999, he started a land “reclamation” project, where the farms that were controlled by rich white people were given to the poor blacks. The land seized by the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) was supposed to go to the poor farmers, but Mugabe couldn’t even get that right. Instead, most of the land went to friends of Mugabe. “…a list of the farms’ new inhabitants reads like a roll call of the Zanu-PF hierarchy.” (Lamb 2004 2). Zimbabwe’s farmland is centered around one valley, called the Mazowe Valley. The valley is situated near the capital which makes it particuarly desirable for ZANU-PF officials. Historically, the Mazowe Valley was home to the world largest cotton farm, huge dairy farms, and beautiful maize farms. That is no longer so. As Christina Lamb reports for the Times,“Of 4,500 white farmers, only 300 remain on farms. More than 600,000 farm workers and their families have lost their livelihood.” Most of the farms seized by Mugabe have not seen a season since the original owners left. Before being stolen by the government, many of the farms had not missed a season in over fifty years. According to the Justice for Agriculture, food production has dropped by as much as 90% since farm seizures began in 2000 (Lamb 2004 2). Even since last year, food production has dropped by 44%. Because of financial hardships created by the government, there was also six percent decrease in the amount of land planted compared with last year. It’s no wonder they don’t have any food!

Now, Zimbabwe has to import all of its grain from South Africa or simply rely on foreign aid. This fits well with my data also. In 1994, the gross domestic product was US $17.4 billion, with no foreign aid. (Zimbabwe 1997 837). As of 2005, the GDP was US $24 billion, 2.4% of which was foreign aid. For eleven years difference, that is not very much growth in the gross domestic product. Plus, the GDP is now declining at a rate of -13.6%. From 1975-2000, the GDP growth was .3%. The GDP growth from 1980, when Mugabe took over, to 2000 was -4%. Further documentation that nationalizing the land had horrific consequences is in 1999, before the nationalization of land, the unemployment rate was at 50%. Now, according to the CIA Factbook 2007, it has climbed to over 80%. The economic issues surrounding the nationalization of land have proved that the major food shortage in Zimbabwe is due to Mugabe and his idiotic totalitarian dictatorship.

As Ayn Rand says, “Justice does exist in the world, whether people choose to practice it or not. The men of ability are being avenged. The avenger is reality. Its weapon is slow, silent, invisible, and men perceive it only by its consequences - by the gutted ruins and the moans of agony it leaves in its wake. The name of the weapon is: inflation.” There seems to be some dispute between the actual inflation rates in Zimbabwe. A Times article dated 2003 claimed inflation was at 400% and expected to hit 700% by the end of the year (Raath 2003). Wikipedia says in 2003, inflation was at 384.7%. According to the CIA World Factbook 2007, inflation in Zimbabwe is now at 976.4% by “official” accounts (though the private sector suspects the number is around 3,714%), which, even taking the lowest number, means Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rates in the world by over nine hundred percent. The citizens could not afford to purchase any new farming equipment or food, even if the government lifting the ban on private sector imports, and removed restrictions on cross-border trade. If Ayn Rand’s quote applies to any country right now, it is Zimbabwe.

There are two solutions to the food problem in Zimbabwe. One is to give food and aid to Zimbabwe, just as we have been doing. Another is to do away with Mugabe. There are two ways of doing this. One is to simply invade Zimbabwe, kill or capture Mugabe, and set up a democratic government. The other is to do a full out economic boycott of Zimbabwe; accompanied by opening the borders for Zimbabweans to flee from Mugabe and the terrible times awaiting that country.

The first option is not reasonable for two reasons. One is it costs too much money. A UN official just went to Zimbabwe to investigate the crisis. The estimate for fixing the food shortage problem this year is around US $28,864,901, which covers the acquisition and transportation of 23.5 million tons of grain to Zimbabwe (World Food Programme 2005). This is in addition to the US $404,468, 966 already going to southern Africa (WFP 2005). The other problem with this plan is the people who need the food are very unlikely to get it. For instance, Mugabe recently started burning the homes of his opposition, mostly located in cities. Christina Lamb reported for The Times (2005): “Thousands of Zimbabweans made homeless in the government's ruthless clean-up campaign are being herded into re-education camps and told they can have a housing plot only if they swear allegiance to the party of President Robert Mugabe. Those who refuse are loaded into trucks and dumped in remote rural areas, far from their own homes, where food is scarce. Human rights workers say they are being left to die in what they believe is a deliberate strategy by the Mugabe regime to exterminate opponents.” This makes me very suspicious of giving any aid to Zimbabwe. Mugabe will just horde it and use it to get people to join his side.

Getting rid of Mugabe is really the only way to fix the problem and get Zimbabwe back on its feet. The question is how to go about doing it. Taking out Mugabe militarily is a valid option, and one that I would love to see done, but the question is who will do it. I seriously doubt the Bush administration will chose to invade Zimbabwe. They are taking too much heat for the Iraq War and the invasion of Afghanistan to risk another invasion. It would be political suicide. Plus, the US is already putting so much money into the Iraq War that we could not start another without serious risk to the American economy. The UN may be persuaded to take action, but by the time they get around to it, many more people will have died.

The only feasible way is a full out economic boycott of Zimbabwe and all the nations that trade with Zimbabwe. This is the most appealing to me simply because it can be started immediately and does not jeopardize the lives of any American soldiers. It requires virtually no deliberating, planning, or money, and it will leave Mugabe with absolutely nothing. In order for this to work, other countries would have to boycott along with us. Neighboring countries, along with the United States and any other willing country, would open up their borders to Zimbabweans wishing to escape Mugabe. After Zimbabwe has collapsed, the people can return if they wish and set up a democratic government. In a speech to the UN, Mugabe said at the 2002 Earth Summit, “Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe.” We will let him keep his Zimbabwe: he may keep it alone, with no workers, food, or allies.

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Excellent article, Brad. Expresses the fundamental problem very well.

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Well said. What really runs salt into the wound, is the fact that these altruists are enablers. They allow the thugs to avoid the full impact of their policies, making the process a long drawn out suffering. It is the Mother Theresa syndrome, and has nothing to do with real concern. How many times is one expected to help a neighbour fix his punctures, before getting him to sweep the nail from his driveway?

Hi Arnold:

Well, as I'm sure you are well-aware, self-responsibility ain't the altruist's cup of tea. They'd much rather tell us how it's OUR responsibility to fix their screw-ups, and tell us we're morally bankrupt when we choose not to. A pox on all their houses!

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Another good article, Bradley. Reminds me off a research paper I wrote four or five years ago for 10th grade World History. I'll post it - it may be of interest. My writing has improved substantially since then (well, I hope it has anyway!), but I haven't the time nor interest to rewrite it.

Thanks, Realitycheck, and that was a good piece. Thanks for sending it along!

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Excellent article, Brad. Expresses the fundamental problem very well.

Thanks, Brianna. I've gotten a lot of good feedback on this piece from friends and family as well - we'll see what the newspapers do with it...

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Living in Geneva, chief home of this slime, I know only too well this problem. I once asked a woman who worked for the World Labour Organisation what she actually did all day. She said 'w craft recommendations for people in emerging countries to improve labour conditions there' so I said 'and how is it enforced?' and she admitted not knowing and never looking into it. So I said don't you think the Bengali teenager prefers a comparatively better paid 16h day in a factory to back breaking hand farming work from dawn to dusk? She went quiet and I knew I was no longer welcome at THIS party :D

Great article Brad and on target as usual.

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Brad:

Just saw your article published in The Bulletin!

http://www.thebulletin.us/articles/2010/10...b1279023700.txt

Also, it is currently included on AynRand.com's home page :D

Thanks for posting that link, Cadence; you saved me the trouble of doing so. But the link on the Ayn Rand page was sure a surprise - thanks for mentioning that!

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Living in Geneva, chief home of this slime, I know only too well this problem. I once asked a woman who worked for the World Labour Organisation what she actually did all day. She said 'w craft recommendations for people in emerging countries to improve labour conditions there' so I said 'and how is it enforced?' and she admitted not knowing and never looking into it. So I said don't you think the Bengali teenager prefers a comparatively better paid 16h day in a factory to back breaking hand farming work from dawn to dusk? She went quiet and I knew I was no longer welcome at THIS party :D

Great article Brad and on target as usual.

Hi rtg24:

Heh heh heh! Thanks, and how long did it take you to make a hasty exit and search for greener party pastures? :D

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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Hi rtg24:

Heh heh heh! Thanks, and how long did it take you to make a hasty exit and search for greener party pastures? :D

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

Alas, in Geneva there aren't. I sometimes find myself arguing against statism with oil traders (presumably the most capitalist form of human being on Earth, at least in theory). You meet the odd Israeli or American entrepreneur, and sometimes expats from former US colonies like Panama who are fairly small government minded, but otherwise it's like living in Washington!

I've taken to flying to London on alternate weekends for my monthly dose of sanity.

The upside is that a lack of good parties frees time up for work and reading :D

It is fascinating to see the impact of bad philosophy on people. These UN women, for example, are invariably depressed, bored, simply hating life. People sometimes project the image of running around blindly like chicken in a dark room, not knowing what to do next, petrified at the idea of taking life into their hands. The image of that woman (whose name I have forgotten) in the Fountainhead, who devotes her life to charity and becomes a jaded, bitter, evil person is incredibly accurate. Once again I am stunned at Ayn Rand's capacity for both observation and description.

Sometimes, a glimmer of hope. Most people haven't even heard of the concept of individualism, so a swift introduction can lighten them up. I've sent AS and the FH to many a person here. They are usually transformed, as I was, by the reading. It is always amusing to ask a literary type "so, what do you think of Atlas Shrugged?" "what's that?" "Oh, only the second most read book in the US after the Bible". Silence. "How do you spell Ayn Rand again?"

Perhaps they are receptive to the ideas because they already live in a world without much in the way of statism. Here you pay for everything, from healthcare to phoning technicians. Public transport is not subsidized, so it costs you about 5 USD for a return trip of 4 miles, and parking mounts to 300 USD a month in the city. In the evening, youths from bordering France paint "houses for the homeless please" and "a fairer society" on the walls of the city. The graffiti is fairly basic, because the police is swift and present. It's gone by the morning (I noticed it only because I get home from work at midnight). Yet, no native Swiss really realizes why. They intrinsically live the values of independence and freedom, and strongly resist any attempts at restraining them, even if the younger ones did quite like BHO. But the concept of property rights is not something that has ever been worded in Swiss society.

Oooh, an anti-capitalist demonstration downstairs. Wonder if I have time to put my Gekko outfit on: http://gogetdoe.files.wordpress.com/2009/0...ordon-gekko.jpg to go and have a look before the police rounds them up. From the sound of the sirens, I'm too late. I'll close this post - gotta run downstairs to watch!

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They intrinsically live the values of independence and freedom, and strongly resist any attempts at restraining them, even if the younger ones did quite like BHO. But the concept of property rights is not something that has ever been worded in Swiss society.

Sounds rather pleasant, but fragile. How do you think Switzerland will hold up against what Europe is, and is becoming?

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They intrinsically live the values of independence and freedom, and strongly resist any attempts at restraining them, even if the younger ones did quite like BHO. But the concept of property rights is not something that has ever been worded in Swiss society.

Sounds rather pleasant, but fragile. How do you think Switzerland will hold up against what Europe is, and is becoming?

It will die with it. Its economy is wholly dependent on the EU. That being said, there is a space for every continent for a small state that protects the assets of the rich in socialist states. In bankrupt South America, Uruguay is that country, and it is so thriving they hold world golf events in Punta del Este. In Asia, it's Singapore and Hong Kong (more the former, these days, as the latter is a bit TOO close to China). In the Middle East and Africa, it's Dubai. Europe's is Switzerland. A country powerful enough to simply say NO to the US when they tried to extradite Marc Rich for tax evasion and later trading with the enemy. With enough ties to dangerous countries and bank accounts of criminals and politicians (another form of criminal, in many cases) Switzerland felt safe enough to ban minarets, which caused flag burnings in Pakistan (which has no assets) but nowhere else in the Muslim world.

So maybe Switzerland will survive and thrive. No welfare state gives them a tremendous advantage economically despite extremely protectionist policies on most imports (never get caught at the border having bought French or German meat - they won't appreciate!). Still, I doubt that it will survive the bankrupcy of its neighbours.

I assume that you are asking the question to scout for alternative locations whilst waiting for your green card (my reason for being here in the first place). Don't move there. Sure, it's a bit like a free country. But as Mike Marotta pointed out in an earlier thread, the trains might run on time and the streets might be clean, but there is no entrepreneurial spirit, no desire to innovate, to build great things. The Swiss love money and are very conservative with it (very little flashy money here except for the Saudis and the oil traders in Luzern's Ferraris). But they have no desire to go beyond merely prosperous and create world-changing companies like Google. There is a thriving entrepreneurial scene, not impeded by government regulations, but it focuses on building more server farms rather than new ways to structure server farms. And everything is so damn expensive.

If you want to get out of Sweden, look to London, which is in my relatively average-travelled view the most entrepreneurial, most American city in the EU (and it is not that American). In London, people dream, have big ideas, and you get this: http://www.aquiva.co.uk/images/Library/Photo3837.jpg and this: http://londonist.com/attachments/Matt/Shar...ndon_Bridge.jpg

Compare to Zurich: http://math.silvain-dupertuis.org/0910/1M0...s/zurich2hq.png and Geneva: http://sevimlidj.unblog.fr/files/2008/07/geneve11.jpg

Pretty, comfortable, but not the place to do great things, and exorbitantly expensive. I wish I was in London even with its 50% tax. I fly there often.

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That is interesting and a bit surprising. Thanks for the info, I intend to get out even if it takes time.

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Hi rtg24:

Heh heh heh! Thanks, and how long did it take you to make a hasty exit and search for greener party pastures? :D

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

...Oooh, an anti-capitalist demonstration downstairs. Wonder if I have time to put my Gekko outfit on: http://gogetdoe.files.wordpress.com/2009/0...ordon-gekko.jpg to go and have a look before the police rounds them up. From the sound of the sirens, I'm too late. I'll close this post - gotta run downstairs to watch!

NICE! How much does that outfit cost over in Europe?? :D

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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NICE! How much does that outfit cost over in Europe?? :D

With Regards,

Brad

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

Came for free, I wear that to work :D

(only on casual Friday. It is quite tasteless to wear something as informal as a white-collared blue shirt, especially striped, to work on a weekday! :D )

Police outnumbered the protesters. They were in full riot gear, 2-3 trucks per side street, basically hiding and hoping for action. Not your friendly neighbourhood copper either, these guys would fit in well in a game of what you guys call "football".

Nothing happened in the end, although I hear some of the anticapitalist manifestations at the World Trade Organisation do sometimes end up with broken windows. The Swiss blame the neighbouring French.

I must give the socialists credit where it is due. Their leader did actually forego the privilege of a car (of any make she chooses) which goes with an elected position. This little thing costs the taxpayer several hundred thousand swiss francs every year as the elected politician (no better here than in the US) buys himself a nice Porsche Cayenne Turbo although none has yet dared to go for really big ticket automobiles. I admire her fiscal restraint, not to be seen on the right.

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Not that I complain, my income tax is at about 20% and that's the highest rate in the country (probably due to proximity to the People's (Elite's) Republic of France).

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