Monday, April 14, 2008

Worldwide Riots Over Food

Riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt over the soaring costs of basic foods have brought the issue to a boiling point and catapulted it to the forefront of the world's attention, the head of an agency focused on global development said Monday.

"This is the world's big story," said Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute.

"The finance ministers were in shock, almost in panic this weekend," he said on CNN's "American Morning," in a reference to top economic officials who gathered in Washington. "There are riots all over the world in the poor countries ... and, of course, our own poor are feeling it in the United States."

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has said the surging costs could mean "seven lost years" in the fight against worldwide poverty.
"While many are worrying about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs, and it is getting more and more difficult every day," Zoellick said late last week in a speech opening meetings with finance ministers.
Just how bad is it for the world's poor?
"In just two months," Zoellick said in his speech, "rice prices have skyrocketed to near historical levels, rising by around 75 percent globally and more in some markets, with more likely to come. In Bangladesh, a 2-kilogram bag of rice ... now consumes about half of the daily income of a poor family."

The price of wheat has jumped 120 percent in the past year, he said -- meaning that the price of a loaf of bread has more than doubled in places where the poor spend as much as 75 percent of their income on food.

"This is not just about meals forgone today or about increasing social unrest. This is about lost learning potential for children and adults in the future, stunted intellectual and physical growth," Zoellick said.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also spoke at the joint IMF-World Bank spring meeting.

"If food prices go on as they are today, then the consequences on the population in a large set of countries ... will be terrible," he said.

He added that "disruptions may occur in the economic environment ... so that at the end of the day most governments, having done well during the last five or 10 years, will see what they have done totally destroyed, and their legitimacy facing the population destroyed also."
The world is on the brink of major economic and social upheaval. This is the result of Conservative policies that never saw the benefit of alternate energy sources. Those policies have strengthened the very countries that want to destroy us and placed our own nation on very shaky economic footage. When will people finally realize that these Conservative policies have damaged the world and left the United States more vulnerable than ever to terrorism. Is there anyone who believes you can stifle fanaticism while people are struggling to survive? 4.00 per gallon for gas seems like a minor issue compared to the billions who are struggling to fill their stomachs.

When will we understand that our inattention to our own political system has worldwide implications. The riots in other lands as a result of skyrocketing prices can easily be tied back to political decisions here in the United States. Right now a child is dying from starvation as a result of the conservative movement in the United States. Remember that when the images of the worldwide riots and starving children are broadcast while you eat the dinner that they will never have.

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