The UN’s World Food Programme exists to help feed hungry people around the world, and Bill Gates, one of our richest solutionaries, has contributed millions of dollars to their Purchase for Progress plan (that allows smallholders to participate in commodities markets), but people are hungrier than ever. How can this be? In one of the liveliest sections of the book Kaufman takes on Gates in a UN press conference and describes a red-faced and scowling Gates defending his support of the program. It looks like a victory for Kaufman for a second, but then the reader remembers that millions are still starving. I was despondent and I am guessing you will be too.
If you want to be even more confused, listen to Kaufman and investor Jim Rogers go at each other with heartfelt fury in this interview on BBC news: “This is an outrage and bankers need to get out of the business,” Kaufman rails…the people who are making money are the traders…Getting bankers out of the business is only going to help farmers.”
In this interview, and in his book, he comes out in support of commodities markets, for their ability to stabilize food markets and help farmers, but comes down hard on the newer food derivatives invented by banks like Goldman Sachs, in the past 10-12 years. In addition, he offers forth a few simple-sounding solutions, including banning insider trading on the commodities market and establishing grain reserves. I have no idea if these are actually feasible or if anyone is listening.
The proposed solutions calmed my nerves, if only briefly, since they offer a hopeful way out of the maze of markets, and because I actually understand them. At the end of the book, which I read as 2012 came to a close, I tried to hold onto that hope. That even though something as incomprehensible and removed from my daily work—financial markets—are creating impossible conditions, there is meaning (and hope) in connecting people to where their food comes from, in helping guide the conversation around how our food gets to our plates, who benefits, and who suffers in the process.
Mark Bittman, in his January 1 New York Times blog post called to food systems advocates for patience, saying that “failure is a part of progress.” I myself am also pressing myself to hold onto hope. All men, I hope, live so.
There's no need to understand the intricacies of the finance tyranny. All one needs to know is that it and globalization have to be abolished. Otherwise the end will be where all the trend lines point - poverty and slavery.
As for "patience", the mantra of corporate liberals, we can certainly starve on it.