Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Right to Famine

From the heights of Olympus, a divine decree has been handed down!
By a vote of 180 in favour to 1 against (United States) and no abstentions, the Committee also approved a resolution on the right to food, by which the Assembly would “consider it intolerable” that more than 6 million children still died every year from hunger-related illness before their fifth birthday, and that the number of undernourished people had grown to about 923 million worldwide, at the same time that the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or twice the world’s present population.

Ignoring that the United Nations is little more than a soap-box for tin-pot dictators and socialist states, how does voting confer a right? How did this even come up for discussion? Rights are inherent, or they mean precisely nothing. Furthermore, the United Nations could vote to add the right for every human to own a flying pink unicorn that craps rainbows and Skittles; obviously, no one gets to collect on that.

That said, and acknowledging that inherent rights by virtue of being inherent are not bestowed, gifted, voted, granted, wished, signed, conveyed or otherwise given by government to the governed, it is asserted that life, liberty and property are the most general rights inherent to a person:

So what?

Well, the problem with the "official" recognition of invented rights is that once the rights are showered upon the teeming masses, the newly-drafted responsibility of providing pink flying unicorns justifies anything and everything that the government cares to rationalize in the process of executing its responsibility. The law of unintended consequences is absolute, and we are getting it good and hard by way of that law for inflating our currency and removing the need (in its most absolute sense) to completely back it with gold reserves, payable on demand*.

Without opening a fresh can-'o-worms about the non-substantive nature of the Declaration of Human Rights, facilitating a "Right to Food" on an international level will exacerbate existing problems in agriculture. Arguably, government intervention is the source of the problem in many third-world nations:
More than 33,500 tonnes of food aid has been delivered to Somalia by the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) since the start of the year. But in Marere district in the lower Juba valley, farmers and elders said the food distribution had brought chaos and driven down the price of maize by 60 per cent...

Musa Yusuf Ahmed, 44, was a policeman before the Somali government collapsed in 1991. Now, he tries to make a living from farming, growing maize, beans and watermelons. He normally sells a 50kg bag of maize for 100,000 Somali shillings (about £3.10), but Mr Ahmed said it had dropped to 40,000 (£1.25). "For we farmers it is a big problem," he said. "The food will benefit the people with no money but it will hurt the farmers."

Some recipients of the food aid have also claimed that the quality is so bad they have had to feed it to their animals.
Big surprise: the quality of the United Nations' foodstuffs is on-par with their "peacekeeping". Clearly, the land is able to produce food once worked and improved through responsible cultivation, and clearly the knowledge and desire to produce it is present. Shouldn't the bulk of the aid to such areas consist of the facilitation of a free-market and the necessary technology to improve their means to independently do so?

Perhaps, if the United Nations was interested in their independence.

Small wonder the locals are supporting the recently successful pirates as they are; at least the pirates are influencing the local free-market in a positive fashion. What will happen when the United Nations votes the masses a right to wealth?

* For those of you interested in the history behind this that are not participating in Voxiversity, you may download America's Great Depression from the Mises Institute for free.

** For related reading to government involvement in food regulation and the consequences thereof, I recommend Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front.


MikeT said...

One solution to this sort of thinking would be to require a non-profit to directly serve a charitable purpose. Meaning that if you are not going to work in the economy, you are going to have to work for an organization that serves the disadvantaged in a measurable fashion.

Elle said...

I'm glad you are enjoying that book. I had a pretty good feeling you would gather some relevant information from it. :)

Something Feral said...

That seems reasonable to me, Mike. If they're going to dance with the Devil, they will have to dance the entirety of the song.

Of course, I always want to see the role of government in the entire affair minimized, but either government in an international aid effort could upset the entire operation with a minimal amount of effort.

What a dismal day it will be if charitable aid becomes an underground effort.

Something Feral said...

I'm still enjoying it. Salatin almost makes too much sense.