Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
I've been thinking about farmers and what Donald Dump, that cartoon duck with no pants on, has been doing to our partners in agriculture from the Latin lands to our south. Apparently it's been made more difficult to come from southern countries to farms here in the US, and I've heard that there are US farmers who can't pay enough to the workers who are here to maintain a sufficient labor force to do all the picking and such. And it's always puzzled me that growers of food crops always seem to be in need of subsidies, always worried about overhead, always on the verge of ruin, sometimes even when their crops come in abundantly. I know commodity prices can go up and down for a variety of reasons, but that's not what puzzles me.
Eating never goes out of style. All organisms must consume something to live, and humans eat just about everything, all the time. Being a farmer should be like being a mortician during a plague, a really going concern. And the world's farmers are really good at what they do! They produce more than enough food for all the people alive today, though that food somehow has a hard time getting to a lot of those people.
There's a recent ad from IBM saying that the world's population is going to top 10 million soon, and that food production will have to increase 70% to accommodate them all. 10 million is less than a 50% increase, closer to 25%, in the number of people that exist now, and we could feed all the people living now, so I guess IBM's artificial intelligence has decided that the new bunch of people are going to be genetically engineered gluttons or something. What's up your sleeve, IBM?
What we really need is not a system that produces more food, but a system that distributes the current amount produced to all currently existing people who would like to eat it. And we don't have that system. Growing more food or more nutritious food isn't going to feed the hungry people, if we can't even give them the food that we already have. Food we throw away.
Or maybe we don't have enough food. Maybe that is why people go hungry, because we don't have enough food. Is that why people go hungry in the USA? Because there isn't enough food here? I don't recall a run on the supermarkets where people with twenty-dollar bills burning holes in their pockets showed up demanding hams or cucumbers or microwave burritos and were turned away because the store was all out. I mean, if that did happen, I totally missed it.
I'm not saying we can't improve food production. I'm sure we can! We're the human race! We can do anything!
It just seems that food is such a necessity, a primary necessity, THE primary necessity, that the people who help grow and harvest it should be able to make a decent living doing that. They ought to get a decent share of the most basic wealth they create. And my sense is that, when a business is, by all reasonable measure, operating according to best practices and producing and selling a healthy amount, and yet can't pay its workers enough for them to even live in the place where they work, someone is skimming.
I mean, if we can't make food production a viable economic endeavor, we really don't have it right. Food is the basic unit of created wealth, there is no other. If the people who contribute to the creation of that wealth have to live substandard existences, none of us deserves any better. What do you do that's more important than making blueberries and oats and broccoli come up out of the inedible dirt? Without wheat there would have been no Einstein. And these are important, rare people who do this now. They use dirt and water and sunlight and seeds to create food, and harvest it and bring it to you, food that you can put in your mouth and enjoy, food that allows you to live. And we can't find enough of them anymore. They're rare. Now, if we paid them more, we could attract them. But the farmers would have to raise the prices of food. Or the layers of owners of the food brokering companies would have to skim less, maybe.
Maybe the whole system is out of whack. If we pay farm workers what they're worth, then the food is too expensive for us to afford. That's an out-of-whack system, man. We have to pay people inadequately for the system to work. That's a broken system. What do we think is more important than the creators of wealth, of basic wealth, which is food? Who makes an adequate amount of money for what they do? I don't know, owners of coffee shop chains? Manufacturers of chic electric cars? Owners and stockholders of ketchup companies? Entertainers? Plutocrats? Blood diamond dealers? They all have to eat, don't they?
It blows my mind how many ways our circumstances demonstrate that our economy is systematized according to destructively illogical priorities. I know life isn't fair, but does it have to be so stupid? And it's just getting stupider and stupider. If it were getting less stupid, at least we could feel like we were getting somewhere, but it's not, and we can't.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!