By now you’ve probably heard about the hardships caused by rising prices on staple food items for poor people around the world. There have been protests and riots in Haiti, Bangladesh, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Indonesia and Senegal. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Sam’s Club and Costco have also placed limits on the amount of bulk rice which can be purchased at one time.
My question is how do we respond to these sorts of problems. President Bush has announced an increase in food aid, which might help NGOs whose work feeding people in danger of starvation continue their work in the face of rising food prices. However, it is hard to see how $200 million is going to fix the problem of people who are working and who had been self-supporting a few months ago, but are now priced out of the food market. Besides, we know from long experience that while food aid may be a necessary band-aid to prevent starvation, it doesn’t provide a long term solution and tends to come with many negative unintended consequences.
My question is if America is willing to actually sacrifice for the good of people a world away? Would you support a moratorium on the import of rice for 60 days (accompanied by tax breaks to help those in the industry who would be negatively affected) to take pressure off the international rice market? Continue reading “Dinner, Food Riots and You”