Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This one just blew me away

You remember last summer when gas was $4 a gallon? It was an unusual thing considering demand had plummeted and there were overflowing storage tanks not just here but around the world. What was driving such high prices? Speculators looking for the next bubble. And now they're looking for their next bubble but this time it's going to be food but to get that food they will need land and that is exactly what they are doing now. Aquiring land like something not seen since the land rushes of days gone by only this land grab makes the ones of the past pale by comparison. Large tracks of land in Africa and Asia in of course poor nations are being bought up at bargin basement prices with the lion's share of the crops leaving the country. The land is being bought right out from under poor farmers who will see little to nothing in return.
I saw a similar situation in Brazil where European nations are backing soy farms for animal feed. The local farmers have been pushed off the land and must rely on handouts from the government that is when the government is feeling generous which isn't too often.

Land grab


Snave said...


Speculating on something like oil is one thing, but speculating on things that people need to live... what will it be next? Air?

Why is it that some people seem to think something is worthless unless it can be used for making money?

S.W. Anderson said...

That's some eye-opening article, Demeur. Something else to worry about, but thanks for pointing it out.

Unmentioned there is a factor in this problem, as it was a factor in the housing bubble, that's very much of our creation.

We Americans have spent the past 25-plus years importing more and more oil, and more and more manufactured stuff, from nations such as Saudi Arabia, China, Korea and so on. In return, we send them money. We also borrow money from them, paying them plenty of interest.

Those other countries and their commonwealth funds have got all this money and want to grow their money. So, they invest it. Mind you, they don't buy all that much from the U.S. because, any more, the U.S. doesn't produce all that much.

As a result, we're up to our collective eyeballs in debt, making way too little income for the size of the debt we're racking up. Meanwhile, the other countries have too much money to throw around, to speculate with.

Adding fuel to the fire, the financial industry is now the major player in the U.S. economy, having pushed ahead of shrinking manufacturing, ahead of agriculture and ahead of retailing.

Of course, the financial industry is only too happy to facilitate all the speculating and other mischief money-stuffed countries want — making billions for its services. The financial industry doesn't give a happy damn about America's economic security, nor about any other country's. The industry could care less if people in Third World countries starve. All the industry knows and cares about is making as much money as possible, any way it can.

In the 1930s, fascism, nazism and communism were menaces to peace, democracy and the rule of law. Those isms have been replaced now by greed, which is the prime motive of the financial industry. It's more insidious than the 1930's isms, and if we don't get control of it, it will eventually ruin our country and leave us in virtual slavery.

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Holte Ender said...

Demeur - I read that article too. Africa in particular, has been shafted by first, Europeans, and now, by everybody. It is just another version of colonialism. In a continent where people are hungry, some of the farmland bought by investors will be used for bio-fuel production.

Demeur said...

You need to remember that the U.S. only produces about 25% of it's own food the rest is imported. Imagine when the speculators have a lock on commodities as they do on oil. A back deck garden might help but I don't think it will get you through a winter.

Randal Graves said...

I'm positively shocked that humans are searching for ever new ways to screw the majority of their fellow species. Shocked, I tells ya!

BBC said...

Plenty of areas here to grow food in, even if you have to go into the park to do it. Sometimes I wonder if it does any good to worry about the rest of the world as long as you are doing okay, and I'm doing just fine.

Did you see where in Afghanistan whole villages are losing their land and holdings because they are so hooked on poppies and the drugs they make with them?

We should just leave that country and let them finish themselves off, looks to me like they are doing a pretty good job of it.

Call it helping reduce the populations.

BBC said...

We do import a lot of food, yet we also export a lot, has to do with however money can be made.

And some things we have to import, some things just don't grow here and I like my chocolate and coffee.

S.W. Anderson said...

For the record (source):

"The aggregate import share of U.S. food consumption in 2005 was 7 percent when based on value, but 15 percent based on volume."

Bee said...

This will be a terrible blow to developing countries. I saw that article today, and am horrified by the probabilities.

BBC said...

Here's a thought, buying food in produced in America costs more, even though a lot of cheap labor is involved at the farm level it starts getting more expensive at that point.

Why? Because of unions and their greed for more money and better benefits also, everyone always wants more money. They just can't be happy with enough like I am.

So food gets imported and we'll buy it because it's cheaper. I don't pay any attention to where my food comes from, if it's from an other country at least my buying it helped someone there eat for another day.

Bustednuckles said...

A hearty welcome to the New World Order.

MRMacrum said...

SW Anderson's comment struck me. I thought about it and agreed at first. That for years it was the political threats of different idelogies that everyone had their panties in a bunch over. But in the long run, his final thought that it is now greed that we should fear is right. But I contend it has always been greed or it's derivatives that have driven every policy from religious to political for the thousands of years we humans have been socialized and living in groups. We may be communal out of necessity, but we still act out of self interest. Always have, always will.

S.W. Anderson said...

BBC wrote: "I don't pay any attention to where my food comes from, if it's from an other country at least my buying it helped someone there eat for another day."

That's a nice thought, but what if a farm in that foreign country decided to export large amounts of its best, most nutritious food to the U.S. to get a better price — a price people there can't pay? And so, many of those foreigners must try to get by on an inadequate diet.

No, that isn't always the case. But it can happen, and I recall reading about instances where it has happened.

S.W. Anderson said...

MrMacrum, I don't think Nazis and Fascists were driven only by greed, although that certainly was a big feature of their evildoing. I think you'd have to include hatred as an equal motivator.

Of course most people are heavily devoted to what they perceive as being in their own interest. That's normal and healthy. That's a big factor behind ambition and effort.

But greed is different. Greed is the pursuit of self-interest taken to selfish, harmful extremes.

Self-interest can still weigh balancing factors, still heed conscience. Greed is blinding and deafening; it neither knows nor cares to know about potential for harm and the dangers of excess.

The Blog Fodder said...

Instead of buying the food from these countries, they are buying the land and growing the food themselves. REason is that huge investments are needed to grow food. Ask any farmer. Safest way to invest is if you own the land. Much of Africa could grow food but does not because they have not the technology and the capital.

Consider it Manifest Destiny a century later and on a global scale.