In the last year, the price of wheat has tripled, corn doubled, and rice almost doubled. As prices soared, food riots have broken out in about 20 poor countries including Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, and Mexico. In response some countries, such as India, Pakistan Egypt and Vietnam, are banning the export of grains and imposing food price controls. Are rising food prices the result of the economic dynamism of China and India, in which newly prosperous consumers are demanding more food—especially more meat? Perennial doomsters such as the Earth Policy Institute's Lester Brown predicted more than a decade ago that China's growing food demand would destabilize global markets and signal a permanent increase in grain prices. But that thesis has so far not been borne out by the facts. China is a net grain exporter. India is also largely self-sufficient in grains. At some time in the future, these countries may become net grain importers, but they are not now and so cannot be blamed to for today's higher food prices. If surging demand is not the problem, what is? In three words: stupid energy policies.I'll be writing more about energy and food policy later.
cross-posted to jack and jill politics It's a simple question. All these old, white millionaires on TV are saying Obama made a big mistake. That he chose poor words. That he offended small-town Pennsylvania. How do they know? They all live in Los Angeles and Manhattan. They eat sushi and drink mad lattes. They read the NY Times. None of these commentators owns a gun. I bet most don't go to church. I bet most don't know financial hardship because their town wasn't decimated by the end of the industrial era in this country. It's all bullshit. Almost everything you see on TV is just bullshit. These idiots have big ass microphones and cameras and soapboxes. They are in the top percentile of wage-earners. Yet somehow they know the hearts and minds of a rural voter? It's a complete farce. They waited all of 30 seconds to say his comments were wrong, but they didn't ask any of these allegedly-0ffended voters. They just made it up. They pulled political analysis right out of their buttholes. And yet, their uninformed opinions dominate the news and dominate the discussion. Just look how much time we've spent on this topic, and we're supposed to be new media. Granted, I think we serve a useful purpose in these distraction-debates when we call bullshit. When we counter with information. When we don't simply amplify or get baited (like Hillary) into a meaningless conversation. However, it's not easy. So do I have special insight? Not much, but I have family that's lived in rural PA and post-industrial Michigan. I also think I use my brain more than these TV people. And I still live in the real world. The dangerous part is that if PA voters were not offended before, they might be now because they don't hear the context of Obama's statement (a reaction to a question about what they might face as volunteers going to PA). They only hear "elite" and "out of touch" and "condescending." Thus Obama gets defined beyond his control. If it could happen to Max Cleland, of course it can happen to a half-black dude who grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia and graduated from Columbia and Harvard. It's so frightening and certainly not isolated to this candidate or this event. So, can anyone point to actual -- and I know this is crazy -- evidence that rural or post-industrial small town voters would be offended by Obama's comments? If not, then just realize we're all being bamboozled and distracted. Meanwhile, there are food riots in the developing world due.