Tag Archive for: World Economic Forum

UN Deletes Article Titled ‘The Benefits of World Hunger.’ Was It Real or Satire?

The author of the article in question told FEE it was not a parody.


UN Chronicle, the official magazine of the United Nations, recently deleted a 2008 article titled “The Benefits of World Hunger.”

The article, which now leads to an “error page,” was written by George Kent, a now retired University of Hawaii political science professor. In the article, Kent argued that hunger is “fundamental to the working of the world’s economy.”

“Much of the hunger literature talks about how it is important to assure that people are well fed so that they can be more productive,” Kent wrote. “That is nonsense. No one works harder than hungry people. Yes, people who are well nourished have greater capacity for productive physical activity, but well-nourished people are far less willing to do that work.”

UN Chronicle deleted the article after it began to cause a stir on social media. The magazine said Kent’s article should not be taken literally, contending that it was a work of parody.

“This article appeared in the UN Chronicle 14 years ago as an attempt at satire and was never meant to be taken literally. We have been made aware of its failures, even as satire, and have removed it from our site.”

At first glance, there seems to be little reason to doubt the United Nations. As some writers have noted, previous works written by Kent include Ending World Hunger, The Political Economy of Hunger: The Silent Holocaust, and Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food.

These titles hardly suggest that Kent sees global hunger as a good thing. In light of this, some contended that he was taking an approach not unlike Jonathan Swift, whose famous essay “A Modest Proposal” cheekily argued that Irish families should alleviate their mean condition by selling excess children to the wealthy for food.

After reading the UN’s tweet, Yahoo’s report, and several other pieces of commentary on the subject, I initially agreed that Kent’s article likely was written as satire. However, closer examination and a brief conversation with Kent revealed that is not the case.

First, it’s important to note that Kent himself denies the article was intended as a form of satire.

“I don’t think the UN would have published it if they thought it was satire or advocacy,” Kent told Climate Depot in a recent phone interview.

In the interview, Kent explains he was not advocating global hunger but was intending to be “provocative” by saying certain individuals and institutions benefit from global hunger.

“No, it is not satire,” Kent told Marc Morano, founder and editor of Climate Depot. “I don’t see anything funny about it. It is not about advocacy of hunger.”

I reached out to Kent and asked if the quotes were accurate, and he told me they were, adding that he intends to publish a paper this fall that will further detail his views.

“Marc understood me very well,” Kent told me in an email. “I hope my current paper on who benefits from hunger helps to make my position clear to everyone involved in this discussion.”

Additionally, the article’s concluding paragraph supports Kent’s claim that the work was not designed as either satire or advocacy. A careful reading of the text suggests Kent is being quite literal when he writes that some people benefit from global hunger.

“For those of us at the high end of the social ladder, ending hunger globally would be a disaster. If there were no hunger in the world, who would plow the fields?” Kent wrote. “Who would harvest our vegetables? Who would work in the rendering plants? Who would clean our toilets? We would have to produce our own food and clean our own toilets. No wonder people at the high end are not rushing to solve the hunger problem. For many of us, hunger is not a problem, but an asset.”

One senses in these words disapproval. The global poor exist because the wealthy require them to exist. Global hunger exists because humans are simply not doing the moral and necessary things to eradicate it.

But what are those things? A glimpse at Kent’s 2011 Ending Hunger Worldwide offers a clue. In the summary of the book, readers are told the keys to tackling global hunger are “building stronger communities” and challenging “dominant market-led solutions.”

In Kent’s view, one gathers, global hunger is not a complex problem that is being addressed by free market capitalism; it’s a moral one that requires empowering intellectuals like Kent to solve it.

It’s also worth noting that reviews of Kent on Rate My Professor—which gives him a rating of 1.9 out of 5—suggest he’s, well, perhaps a bit of an ideologue.

“Avoid this man with your life. Very opinionated and if your opinion differs, you will fail. He’s the worst professor i’ve had,” one reviewer wrote.

“Horrible professor if you are not politically aligned with his values you WILL FAIL,” another contended.

“Very opinionated and unhelpful,” opined another. “Very critical and extremely boring. Unsupportive and irritating.”

Whether Kent is a good professor or not, or whether his article was satire or literal, are questions that ultimately do not matter a whole lot in the larger scheme of things. What does matter are the policies that cause global hunger and the policies that alleviate global hunger.

And on this front, there has been stunning progress in recent decades. As Our World in Data shows, the percentage of undernourished people in developing countries has plummeted in recent years, falling from 35 percent in 1970 to 13 percent in 2015.

How this happened is not a mystery. As economist Bob Murphy noted in FEE.org, the proliferation of free market capitalism has “gone hand-in-hand with rapid and unprecedented increases in human welfare.”

“As the World Bank reports, the global rate of ‘extreme poverty’ (defined as people living on less than $1.90 per day) was cut in half from 1990 to 2010. Back in 1990, 1.85 billion people lived in extreme poverty, but by 2013, the figure had dropped to 767 million—meaning the number of those living on less than $1.90 per day had fallen by more than a billion people.’”

Ironically, no better example of this can be found in recent decades than China, which has achieved nothing short of an economic miracle in recent decades. China saw its percentage of underweight children fall from 19 percent in 1987 to 2.4 percent in 2013. As recently as 1990, 66 percent of Chinese people lived in extreme poverty. By 2015, that figure was less than one percent.

How did China achieve this economic miracle? By pivoting to privatization following the death of Party Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976), as I pointed out in 2019.

In 1979, China adopted its “household responsibility system,” giving many farmers ownership of their crop for the first time. This was followed by Communist Party leaders opening China to foreign investment, curbing price controls and protectionism, and implementing mass privatization of its economy.

The “market-led solutions” that Kent has disparaged have worked wonders for hunger alleviation. The same cannot be said for initiatives hatched by the central planners at the United Nations, the organization that published Kent’s controversial article on hunger.

Sri Lanka’s current food crisis stems directly from an effort to shift the country’s agriculture sector to organic farming, which saw the import of fertilizers banned and led the country to become an importer of rice instead of an exporter virtually overnight.

Many writers and thinkers are blaming Sri Lanka’s crisis on the global rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), which was started in 2004 under the auspices of—you guessed it—the United Nations to encourage “sustainable development.”

And people are right to blame ESG. Writing for the World Economic Forum in 2016, economist Joseph Stiglitz said “Sri Lanka may be able to move directly into… high-productivity organic farming…”

Sri Lanka did. By doing so, the nation earned an ESG score of 98/100—and caused a food crisis that resulted in one president’s resignation and food insecurity for millions of people.

This is a tragedy. And while George Kent is clearly wrong—there are no benefits to world hunger—one begins to understand why his 15-year-old article published by the United Nations is suddenly sparking so much interest

It’s not just Sri Lanka, after all. The NetherlandsCanada, and other countries are all making headlines with food schemes that are likely to goose their ESG score—but cause serious problems at a time when global hunger is on the rise for the first time in decades.

In light of current global policies, anti-population rhetoric, and the track record of twentieth century collectivist food schemes—HolodomorCambodia, and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which saw tens of millions starve to death because of government policies—George Kent’s “The Benefits of World Hunger” article hit too close to home.

(Editor’s Note: We’ve posted George Kent’s 2008 entire article below since the United Nations removed the article from their site so readers can determine for themselves Kent’s purpose in writing the article.)

We sometimes talk about hunger in the world as if it were a scourge that all of us want to see abolished, viewing it as comparable with the plague or aids. But that naïve view prevents us from coming to grips with what causes and sustains hunger. Hunger has great positive value to many people. Indeed, it is fundamental to the working of the world’s economy. Hungry people are the most productive people, especially where there is a need for manual labour.

We in developed countries sometimes see poor people by the roadside holding up signs saying “Will Work for Food.” Actually, most people work for food. It is mainly because people need food to survive that they work so hard either in producing food for themselves in subsistence-level production, or by selling their services to others in exchange for money. How many of us would sell our services if it were not for the threat of hunger?

More importantly, how many of us would sell our services so cheaply if it were not for the threat of hunger? When we sell our services cheaply, we enrich others, those who own the factories, the machines and the lands, and ultimately own the people who work for them. For those who depend on the availability of cheap labour, hunger is the foundation of their wealth.

The conventional thinking is that hunger is caused by low-paying jobs. For example, an article reports on “Brazil’s ethanol slaves: 200,000 migrant sugar cutters who prop up renewable energy boom”. While it is true that hunger is caused by low-paying jobs, we need to understand that hunger at the same time causes low-paying jobs to be created. Who would have established massive biofuel production operations in Brazil if they did not know there were thousands of hungry people desperate enough to take the awful jobs they would offer? Who would build any sort of factory if they did not know that many people would be available to take the jobs at low-pay rates?

Much of the hunger literature talks about how it is important to assure that people are well fed so that they can be more productive. That is nonsense. No one works harder than hungry people. Yes, people who are well nourished have greater capacity for productive physical activity, but well-nourished people are far less willing to do that work.

The non-governmental organization Free the Slaves defines slaves as people who are not allowed to walk away from their jobs. It estimates that there are about 27 million slaves in the world, including those who are literally locked into workrooms and held as bonded labourers in South Asia. However, they do not include people who might be described as slaves to hunger, that is, those who are free to walk away from their jobs but have nothing better to go to. Maybe most people who work are slaves to hunger?

For those of us at the high end of the social ladder, ending hunger globally would be a disaster. If there were no hunger in the world, who would plow the fields? Who would harvest our vegetables? Who would work in the rendering plants? Who would clean our toilets? We would have to produce our own food and clean our own toilets. No wonder people at the high end are not rushing to solve the hunger problem. For many of us, hunger is not a problem, but an asset.

AUTHOR

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Could this be the year Europe dies’ as economic conditions drive a billion Africans North?

Klaus Schwab the founder of the World Economic Forum convening in Davos, Switzerland this week has a very scary prediction for the future of Europe.

Learn more here at American Resistance 2016!

See our complete ‘Invasion of Europe’ archive by clicking here.

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Obama Threatens to Veto the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act

Like many Americans and Israelis I watched expectantly President Obama’s State of the Union Address (SOTUS)  before a joint session of Congress crammed into the House Chamber. I was looking for a reaction from the Congressional audience on the issue of the P5+1 agreement implemented on January 20th. Iran’s President Rouhani had basically told  the P5+1  in a CNN  interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the Islamic regime was not going to dismantle their nuclear program. Instead they were going to plough ahead with research and development on advanced centrifuges and would not swap the Arak heavy water plant that would produce plutonium for a bomb.

In  light of these jarring comments made in Davos, Switzerland  by President Rouhani  at the World Economic  Forum, you would have prudently thought that the President would have changed his mind about  vetoing  the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act (NWFIA), S. 1881. Obama made it clear that he was proceeding with the P5+1 deal as a diplomatic way of  avoiding  military action to disable the Islamic Regime’s  nuclear weapons capability.  A capability that according to Israeli PM Netanyahu  speaking at the Annual Conference of the Institute for National Security studies at Tel Aviv University  (INSS) was  “six weeks away from achievement when the P5+1 deal was signed” on November 24, 2013 in Geneva.

President Obama fired a bow shot directed at NWFIA sponsors Sens. Kirk and Menendez, and 57 other co-sponsors of S. 1881, as well as the Resolution introduced in by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor  (R-VA)  and Minority Leader Steny  Hoyer (D-Md.) supporting its passage.

Obama said:

Let me be clear if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.

For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.  But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

It is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb.

If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.

Watch this C-SPAN video clip of the nuclear Iran segment of his SOTUS:

The immediate reaction was clearly stony silence from the Republican members of both chambers in the audience.

According to a  Jerusalem Postarticle on the President’s veto threat, NWFIA co-sponsor Sen. Kirk said:

“The American people – Democrats and Republicans alike – overwhelmingly want Iran held accountable during any negotiations. While the president promises to veto any new Iran sanctions legislation, the Iranians have already vetoed any dismantlement of their nuclear infrastructure,” Kirk added, calling his bill an “insurance policy” for Congress.

The Hill  Global Affairs blog reported the dissembling  the morning after  the President’s SOTUS remarks on a nuclear Iran by some Democratic co-sponsors of NWFIA in the wake of the President’s public veto threat.  Note these Senators’ comments:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on MSNBC Tuesday night that he didn’t endorse the bill so that it could be voted on during negotiations with Iran. “Give peace a chance,” he said.

“I did not sign it with the intention that it would ever be voted upon or used upon while we were negotiating,” Manchin said. “I signed it because I wanted to make sure the president had a hammer, if he needed it and showed them how determined we were to do it and use it, if we had to.”

[…]

“Now is not the time for a vote on the Iran sanctions bill,” Coons said Wednesday at a Politico event, according to The Huffington Post.

The senator clarified that he still supports the bill but warned advancing it now could damage ongoing negotiations toward a final agreement with Iran.

[…]

“I’m not frustrated,” Menendez told The Huffington Post on Tuesday after Obama’s address. “The president has every right to do what he wants.”

The Hill Global Affairs blog noted the Senate reaction  to NWFIA :

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-highest ranking Democrat, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the fourth-highest ranking Democrat, and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have said they are against the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has also suggested he’s leaning toward not allowing a vote on it.

On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the Senate should move the sanctions bill forward to the floor, predicting it would have a veto-proof majority.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Monday that lawmakers in both the House and Senate are considering a nonbinding resolution that expresses concern about Iran’s nuclear program.

Backing what Sen. Kirk said in his response to the President was further evidence from former  UN nuclear weapons inspector David Albright at the Washington, DC Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).  Both he and the sanctions analysis team from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies held a well attended briefing for Capitol Hill Staffers on Monday, January 27th.  Albright was quoted in the Los Angeles Times citing an ISIS  report on the technical aspects of the accord implemented on January 20th that allows Iran to continue research over the next six months on several types of advanced centrifuges already at Natanz:

[The accord]  is not expected to seriously affect Iran’s centrifuge research and development program. Albright said he hopes to persuade the six powers to push for much stricter limits on centrifuge research and development when they negotiate the final agreement. The issue has to be addressed much more aggressively.

Cliff May of FDD, co-sponsor of the Capitol Hill event with Albright  of  ISIS,  observed in an NRO Corner article:

If Iran’s rulers faithfully comply with every commitment they have so far made, at the end of this six-month period, they will be about three months — instead of two months — away from breakout capacity.

Yesterday, at the annual conference of the  Institute for National Security studies (INSS)  at Tel Aviv University, there was a dialog between former CIA Director Gen. David Petreaus and Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin,  former  IDF military intelligence chief.  The contrast between their positions on the Iran nuclear threat was most telling:

General (ret.) David Petraeus: The United States is war weary and suffers from a “Vietnam syndrome.” However, it still has major strategic capabilities, and President Obama will not hesitate to use force against Iran, if necessary.

Major General (ret.) Amos Yadlin: What keeps me awake at night is the Iranian issue. The Iranian nuclear program aspires to attain a nuclear capability. The only viable leverage – sanctions and a credible military threat – are weakening, and this is most worrisome. Also troubling: the status quo on the Palestinian issue is not favorable, and the relations with the United States are not on the same level as before – these must be restored.

If you are a gambler, which of the two former military leaders, would you bet on to make a decision in the sovereign national interests of Israel regarding a nuclear Iran?  I know who I would.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.