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July 11, 2007


I'm busy working on a piece for Mother Jones about international food aid, which is something I previously knew nothing about at all. And it turns out to be much more interesting than I anticipated.

It also turns out to be easy to get outraged about it. The UN estimates 850 million people are chronically malnourished. How much does the world spend annually on food aid? Four billion dollars. How much does the US alone spend on the Iraq war every month? Ten billion.

I'm beginning to suspect this is not the best of all possible worlds.

Posted at July 11, 2007 04:02 PM | TrackBack

Alright! Glad to hear Mother Jones is interested.

Posted by: Patrick at July 11, 2007 06:08 PM

In eight days, 1972 Democratic Presidential George McGovern is going to be 85.

There was an event for him last night in SD, and one on the 14th in Washington.

For a little historical perspective, just in case you didn't already know this, JFK created the Food for Peace program in 1961 and picked McGovern for the job. And, of course, he's been involved in food aid programs for his entire political career.

Damned hippies.

Posted by: darrelplant at July 11, 2007 06:56 PM

Yeah, it's still very rare not to see those "hippies" and "rebels" from the Sixties maligned in the media for their "excesses." Heavens to Betsy, they occupied some buildings, marched and protested and produced some great and some crappy music.
Then the media and their sponsors sold the country on corporate bliss and the global marketplace, and anything beyond the self is considered socialist heresy.
I remember voting for McGovern in Northampton, MA in 1972. Only state he won. And where did that "collective wisdom" of the American people go? Right into Peggy Noonan's knickers.
More Guinness, barkeep!

Posted by: donescobar at July 11, 2007 08:42 PM

and hwo much does the US owe those hippies at the UN? a lot. no one wants to pay for the blue helmets and black helicopters that are just going to take our guns away.

Posted by: almostinfamous at July 11, 2007 08:57 PM

Hey, we talking Chinese food here?

If so, I'll take the sweet and sour soup. K?

Posted by: SPIIDERWEB™ at July 11, 2007 09:58 PM

off topic: Iraq War Veterans Bear Witness

please read it

Posted by: Susan at July 12, 2007 01:23 AM

Have a look at "The End of Poverty" by Jeffery Sachs (if you haven't already). I think you'll find a lot of pertinent facts in there, even if you don't agree with the arguments entirely (or feel they miss the point).

He also gave a series of lectures earlier this year, but I'm not so sure they're relevant. More to do with dealing with population increase

Posted by: me at July 12, 2007 07:49 AM

you know what's even more depressing? the ratio by which (estimated) global arms deals dwarf global food aid deals.

Posted by: almostinfamous at July 12, 2007 08:50 AM

As a comedian once put it: "I often get the feeling that this is God's first attempt at something as large as a universe."

Posted by: Geeno at July 12, 2007 11:51 AM

When I used to think cosmic thoughts, I arrived at the insight that it could all be explained, or at least endured, if we combined the idea of reincarnation with the concept of Purgatory. We live in Purgatory right now - some of us [we potentially sentient beings, and our friends and relations] suffer quite a bit, others not so much, and it varies from time to time as well as person to person - and we will receive our just reward in the next life, or the one after that.

In Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning - and please forgive the unconscious sexism of the title, the man was born in 1905 - he says that we can endure almost any "how" if we have a "why." So I propose the unification of Catholic and Vedanta philosophy as a "why" which enables us to hope that there WILL be pie in the sky, by and by [metaphorically speaking].

Alternatively, it could all just be a jumble of random events, as suggested by the popular tv show The Simpsons.

These days, I no longer put much emphasis on any eternal reward - I just figure good is better than evil because it's nicer.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at July 13, 2007 11:04 AM

International food aid is a very enraging topic. Also outrageous? Currently, the Food Aid title of the Farm Bill only lets the US send food purchased from American farmers out as food aid. We can't use cash to purchase food from a closer source and provide that as food aid. Which means we're harming their markets, and often delaying much needed assistance. Right now, 65% of the funds allocated to food aid are spent on overhead and transportation. I don't know if it's still in place, but the US used to have a policy in place saying that any food aid programs we funded had to first show that they wouldn't have any adverse effects on US agriculture.

Posted by: acallidryas at July 13, 2007 12:38 PM