Got an e-mail from a PR type today wanting me to post something about a debate over on the Economist magazine's website, the proposition being: "There is an upside for humanity in the rise of food prices."
To which my initial response would have to be, YOU'RE BLEEPING KIDDING, RIGHT?
Only a group of over-fed economists with too much time on their hands could actually consider this a question worthy of debate. We can't take them seriously, otherwise we'd have to charge them with crimes against humanity. But this is precisely the kind of question that the Economist--which views an ever- expanding economy as a kind of white man's birthright--can actually discuss with a straight face.
I suppose you could say that rising food prices are a good thing, just as you could say the end of subsistence farming is a good thing, or that the end of family farms is a good thing, or that the commoditization of basic food stuffs is a good thing, or that putting the world's supply of food into a handful of huge international corporations is a good thing, or that fouling the air and water with artificial fertilizers and feedlot runoff is a good thing, or that denying farmers the right to save seeds is a good thing, or that replacing natural foods with industrially processed foods is a good thing, or that turning food crops into motor fuel is a good thing, or that allowing agribusiness to dictate government policy is a good thing, or that bankrupting Third World nations and turning them into food importers instead of self-sufficient food growers is a good thing.
All this and more has come to pass under the guise of freeing world trade, growing the international economy and improving the global standard of living. Increasingly it becomes clear that the only people who really stand to benefit are the ones who think the question is worthy of debate.
So I guess that would be a, No.
Photo: Woman making mud pies in Haiti in response to skyrocketing food prices.