Every thief has his favorite tools. Car thieves once carried “slim jims” they used to defeat the locks on car doors. House burglars carry whatever will help them to defeat homeowners’ locks and other provisions. Street muggers, of course, carry weapons: knives or guns.
Activists “carry” your compassion for others, which they seek to inflame through carefully planned promotional campaigns and imposed, unearned guilt.
Just recently, Elon Musk, whose trail to glory started here on Earth with PayPal and is now extending into the skies via SpaceX, made a startling offer. The genesis is reported here:
[A]ccording to David Beasley, the director of the World Food Program:
Billionaires need to “step up now, on a one-time basis”, said David Beasley in an interview on CNN’s Connect the World with Becky Anderson that aired Tuesday — citing specifically the world’s two richest men, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
“$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated,” he added.
The kindest possible analysis of Beasley’s claim is that he’s naive, misinformed to the point of total ignorance. Money cannot and will not solve “world hunger.” The only “solution” to hunger is a reliable supply of food. (Anyone who hasn’t learned this from his own stomach fluids should consult a nutritionist.) Money only helps if food is continuously and reliably available for purchase…which, in most hunger-stricken regions of the world, it isn’t.
Why isn’t it available for purchase? The amount of food produced every year is staggering. It’s more than enough for everyone to have enough to eat. Why can’t all those starving people get to it?
Quite simply, they’re prevented from doing so by their rulers.
Deliberately imposed hunger – famine – is one of the totalitarian’s tools for keeping his subjects in line. There are several ways to impose a famine on a district. Stalin’s minions simply rounded up the food produced by the Ukrainian peasants, then shot the peasants. The Sandinistas of Nicaragua did much the same, albeit with fewer killings. Socialist regimes compel the surrender of food stocks to themselves, then purport to “distribute it fairly.” Rulers who seek to preserve a veneer of legitimacy have other tricks, licensure and regulation most prominent among them.
An illuminating episode occurred in socialist Burma, under the heavy hand of dictator Ne Win:
Ne Win set out his ideas in a manifesto: The Burmese Way to Socialism, which proclaimed two antithetical principles: a commitment to Marxism and the promise of “a new society for all, economically secure and morally better.” It was the commitment to Marxism that won.
More than 90% of Burma’s commerce and industry was nationalized, creating drastic shortages of all commodities on the home market and – the natural consequence – widespread corruption and a flourishing black market, despite severe penalties. In agriculture, Ne Win went even further than his distant mentors of the Soviet Union, for instance by “nationalizing” onions, potatoes, and beans. All three items promptly disappeared, since the farmers saw no special reason to produce them. Ne Win’s response was typically authoritarian. He decontrolled onions, potatoes, and beans; all three rapidly reappeared on the market. He then pounced on the private traders who were handling the reborn items, ordering the army to seize the more successful firms, and jailing the successful owners.
[Arthur Seldon and Brian Crozier, Socialism: The Grand Delusion. Emphasis added by FWP.]
Bleeding-heart activists prattle about “world hunger” and our “responsibility” to “step up” without bothering to address any of these niggling little details. Elon Musk is too smart for that. He actually agreed to a $6 billion donation to the cause, but under one condition:
But it must be open source accounting, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent.
He later reiterated and added a clarifying requirement:
Please publish your current & proposed spending in detail so people can see exactly where money goes.
Sunlight is a wonderful thing.
As of this instant, Beasley has agreed to those conditions: a remarkable development, but not one that guarantees that any food will reach anyone. Remember what I said above about the hungry being systematically prevented from obtaining food? The rulers of the hunger-ridden regions have yet to have their say.
We sent a great deal of food to Ethiopia and Somalia when we were told they were starving. When it arrived it was promptly seized by those who held power: Mengistu Haile Maryam and Mohammad Farad Aidid. None of it ever reached the starving commoners whose plight had touched our hearts and opened our wallets. The dictators and warlords, on the other hand, ate well – then sold what they didn’t eat to persons and organizations beholden to them.
The media, ever hungry for their own sort of nutrition – “crises” and “emergencies” sell air time and column-inches – cooperate willingly. As usual, Robert A. Heinlein, through one of his patented “older and wiser” characters, has illuminated the matter:
“Half the food on this planet is in the black market, or is not reckoned through one ruling or another. Or they keep two sets of books, and figures submitted to the F.N. having nothing to do with the economy. Do you think that grain from Thailand and Burma and Australia is correctly reported to the Control Board by Great China? I’m sure that the India representative on that food board doesn’t. But India keeps quiet because she gets the lion’s share from Luna…and then ‘plays politics with hunger’–a phrase you may remember–by using our grain to control her elections. Kerala had a planned famine last year. Did you see it in the news?”
“Because it wasn’t in the news. A managed democracy is a wonderful thing, Manuel, for the managers…and its greatest strength is a ‘free press’ when ‘free’ is defined as ‘responsible’ and the managers define what is ‘irresponsible.’ Do you know what Luna needs most?”
“A news system that does not bottleneck through one channel. Our friend Mike is our greatest danger.”
“Huh? Don’t you trust Mike?”
“Manuel, on some subjects I don’t trust even myself. Limiting the freedom of news ‘just a little bit’ is in the same category with the classic example ‘a little bit pregnant.'”
[From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress]
Many an activist gets a share of the gravy. The high incomes and luxurious homes of professional activists and the employees of their “charities” have often been in the news…yet few persons ever remark on the dissonance between their representation as selfless servants of the downtrodden and the lives they lead and the fortunes they possess.
No, not all activists are evil. Many are just stupid or horribly naive. Nearly all are completely ignorant of the conditions that conduce to prosperity…and hunger. Many would rather not know. The lessons of history are as lost on them as they are on the proponents of socialism. “This time, we’ll get it right” seems to be their mantra.
I await eagerly any news from the meeting of David Beasley and Elon Musk.