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Problem on the rice

April 19, 2008

In the past I have referenced my weariness with the Filipino menu- as an American who is used to variety, the regulation fish and rice and the occasional vegetable tires me.  And rice for breakfast?  I’d rather just have some water and chewing gum, thank you.  Time to eat my words, and may they be enough to feed a nation.  The Philippines, along with much of Asia, is in the midst of a rice shortage and capitalism is working perfectly.  The smaller the supply, the greater the demand, the higher the price.  The global market is a beautiful thing, unless, of course, you’re a pauper.

The Filipino Government says the poverty rate is as low as 30 percent, even though reports from the UN state that about 57 percent of Filipino households don’t get enough food daily.  Logic says that the number of families without enough to eat will only escalate now that their main staple is increasingly more expensive.  Specifically, the cost of rice has gone up 50 percent in the last two months, doubling since 2004.  Experts say it could rise an additional 40 percent.

So how is that a tropical country like the Philippines, said to have some of the most fertile soil on earth, having a food shortage?  There seem to be lots of possible reasons; an ample amount of financial theories floating in the realm of news speculation.  There’s the fact that the Philippines imports an ever rising amount of rice, there’s population growth, there’s a bad growing season, there’s government corruption.  I’m not an economist, I’m just a humanitarian.  Just a human-being really.  I don’t have an answer, but I can say that in a country that fears birth control, there is an ever-growing amount of fingers to be pointed.

The gap between the rich and the poor continues to escalate (the upper 20 percent of the country controls 53 percent of the wealth).  The government adds to its aggregious record of human rights violations daily.  And as for corruption among the politicians…  The rice problem is just another grain on the camel’s back.  I think of my host family in the shanty in Manila.  Seven mouths to feed with four dollars a day, sometimes less.  I think about their youngest daughter, physically underdeveloped, mentally missing all sorts of connections.  I wonder if her belly is fifty percent hungrier.  

I wonder if the politicians’ daughters were going hungry, would they stand up and end their embezzlement?  I wonder if George Bush’s daughter wasn’t getting enough rice, would he stop supporting a Filipino regime that abuses its people for the sake of foreign investment?  If elected, will Barrack Obama cut ties with Gloria Arroyo even if it loses American tax payers money?  I doubt it. I doubt anyone with that much power or money is capable of sacrificing for someone he never met who couldn’t vote him out of office.

But they’re no worse than we are.  We elect a government who’s job is protect us and make us richer and when we write checks to foreign charities, we think that we’re the ones doing a favor.  It’s a far cry from balancing the scales of injustice and for a good reason.  We’d have to give up our hegemonic status, our “Number one in the world” ideals to create a truly just society.  Who would want us to do that?

Well, Jesus probably.  But if he showed up in the US today he’d be deemed a terrorist and sent to Gitmo.  Then the Savior of the World would be water-boarded until he said what he meant by tearing down the stock market and building it back up in three days.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2008 7:35 am

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Abutment!!


  1. Reality check of the day « JenAmI

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