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Why Rising Food Prices Are Good

February 18, 2011

It has been noted that many of the massive protests taking place in the Middle East have been spurred by sharp increases in the price of foods over the past few years. No doubt they have, but it is unlikely that they will have any effect on those prices whatsoever. The people will rise up and overthrow government after government, and food prices will continue to rise anyway.

However, it’s not really a bad thing for food prices to rise globally. While it is unfortunate that people will starve, crime will increase, and other ills will be inflicted on society, those things will pass. In the long term, though, the human population of the earth needs it.

In the past few decades alone, we’ve seen a massive increase in the world population—from under 2 billion people in the early 1900s to nearly 7 billion now—and it appears to be growing more rapidly with time. Additionally, the passage of time has also allowed for the accrual of a great deal of wealth, property, and resources into a small percent of those billions of people. That trend also appears to be accelerating with time.

With so many mouths to feed and so little money with which to feed them, it’s inevitable that at some point, people will have to starve. It is the natural order of things, and it is best for it to happen sooner rather than later. The wealthy cannot afford to shoulder the burden of feeding the poor forever. Continuing to feed them as long as possible is only a waste of good food that could be given to someone who isn’t destined to starve anyway.

The same goes for medicine, clothing, and energy. It is foolish to let everyone burn through these things with impunity when most of them are just going to die anyway. Between technological advances and lack of money, there won’t be enough jobs to sustain everyone in the long term, so why allow the failures to waste resources when more deserving people need and can afford them?

Some might say that it is immoral to let people die, but that is how things work. It is simple economic Darwinism, the culling of the weak from the herd so that the strong may thrive. What point is there in having billions of people milling about, looking for work, and gobbling up necessities when most of them are no longer needed? Factories practically run themselves; food cultivation is nearing optimization. Fewer and fewer people are required to operate the great machine of survival every day.

The system of distribution by trade is designed to ensure that this doesn’t become a problem. As fewer people are needed to operate the system to provide goods, fewer people will be able to earn money. That way, those who have earned enough can benefit from the maximum output of the system, instead of having to share it with everyone else.

It may be tempting to borrow ideas from communism and other backward ideologies to alter this trend, but we cannot abandon our freedom, even to save our neighbors. We cannot deprive our best earners of the fruit of their labor in order to reward the idle and useless, or civilization will certainly break down. We must allow this storm to run its course so that those who have earned their shelter can survive, even if it ultimately means death for most of us.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. NeoplasmSix permalink
    May 5, 2011 06:24

    “With so many mouths to feed and so little money with which to feed them”

    You can’t eat money!

    One of the major problems that we need to get over is this obsession of monetising absolutely everything.

    • May 5, 2011 17:18

      I didn’t phrase it that way by accident. I very strongly agree that monetizing everything is a major cause of many of the world’s problems. There’s quite enough food, water, and other necessities to sustain everyone, or at least the means to produce them does exist. It’s the money that gets in the way. Keeping everyone fed, clothed, and sheltered often isn’t profitable enough. By the way the current economic system operates, the “correct” thing to do is just let them all die off.

      I hope you picked up on the sarcastic tone of this piece. A lot of people who’ve read it have come off thinking I’m some kind of evil bastard. (At least it made them angry about it, which was the point anyway.)

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