This blog discusses from a Simpol point of view, the BBC radio 4 program “Facing the Facts” “Feeding Frenzy”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00x9z74/Face_the_Facts_Feeding_Frenzy The program delves into whether the speculative buying, selling, and storing of huge amounts of food, drives up global food prices, thus causing the poorest people of the world to be unable to feed their families. Strong evidence is given to a direct connection. Towards the end of the program, less time is given in arguments against the premise. In this blog I will explain how, in a Simpol world, international trading of the necessities of life would not be necessary to the extent that it presently is therefore solving the cause of such problems. I argue how, in a world of global co-operation rather than economic competition, economic drivers for produce to be traded globally would be vastly reduced, thus enabling much more produce to be used locally instead. I explain why nations would not need to compete to outdo each other economically via exports, but could work together for the benefit of each and do so as moral imperative. I set out how only via global co-operation can we ever live in a democratically just world.
As I understand it, history shows that the general move away from subsistence farming to the exporting of food happened due to global free trade rules which were set up on the back of debts to poorer nations. The main reason nation states export so much raw material, often to the detriment of their own people, is in order to increase their nation’s money supply through exports. They also do it to pay off odious debts owed to wealthy nations.
Speculation is where commodity traders bet on food prices. As one trader interviewee states: “I suspect their motive is profit.” Commodity speculation is buying food not to make food with, but on the basis of mere pragmatism, doing whatever is necessary for one’s own, or one’s company’s economic benefit. Food speculation could be seen as analogous to ticket touts who buy up all the best tickets for the gig and sell them on at inflated prices – the gig here being the need to feed one’s family. No wonder speculators are so unpopular, their behaviour being dubbed by the UN as “silent murder.” The last speaker, Anthony Belchambers of the Futures and Options Association found this statement to be pejorative and offensive and said that there is nothing wrong with making a profit; “That’s what everyone does,” “speculation is working within the law”. In line with Mr Belchamber’s opinion, the Financial Sector states that food price rises are not due to speculators but have other causes, such as growing demand for food from Asia, a rise in fuel prices, the use of land for bio-fuels and, more generally, the mismatch between supply and demand. The program does not seem to lay the mass of evidence to support the argument set out by Mr Belchambers though it is probably the case that such cuases might compound the problem further. Even if these are the main drivers, from a Simpol perspective these problems are global in scope and, as such, require global co-operative solutions via Simpol or something similar.
Throughout history commodity laws, especially food commodity laws, have become re-regulated and then liberalised, just like banking is always re-liberalised in boom times and vice versa. However, big business always has the upper hand over democratic regulation process, by spending billions upon billions on experts to lobby for less regulation. (It must be noted that this is something that all corporations must do to survive in a competitive world.) Speculating is not illegal, because traders have lobbied to make it legal. Regulation, even global regulation of globally traded food, does not solve the problem. Banning speculation is better, but no government will act first to regulate large corporations based in those nations due to the threat of them relocating abroad, taking their jobs, money with them.
The solutions to global problems are interconnected. The shift away from the requirement to do whatever is necessary for profit, towards being able to act in accordance with common morals and values must take place everywhere. Strong and fair regulation can only be implemented by governments simultaneously (Simpol is the Simultaneous Policy) and therefore without the risk of first mover economic competitive disadvantage.
Examples of what could be achieved through Simpol, the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation are as follows. Money itself could be democratically owned and issued by the commons, debt free and for the good of the commons, not by privately owned banks. Presently high street banks issue 97% of all money as debt out of thin air via Fractional Reserve Banking.
“Of all the ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today”-Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of Englan
The need for exponential growth and the enormous problems caused by Fractional Reserve Banking would be removed and with it the need to do what ever is necessary to fill an ever deepening debt hole. Nations could be freed from unfair trade agreements and allowed to develop themselves without the need of aid. Developing nations could be given mutual support to build infrastructure and in a sustainable manner. Much more food and other raw materials could be used locally, and if necessary to produce a final product and with it the full value of the raw material used. In this way, raw materials could traded globally only where necessary and not for purely profit driven motives.
At the moment, we are living in a global jungle where the rule of law no longer has any weight. This is because all nations and their governments compete to win inward investment from global big business thus creating a huge democratic legitimacy problem. The world’s people must come together to realise this current injustice and take action for their common benefit.
Coming back to the causes of food price rises, the CEO’s of corporations are bound by law to bring in maximum profits to their shareholders and national governments hands are tied to win inward investment from global big business. This indicates that the real cause of food price rises is that we live in a competitive dog-eat-dog world, where no one is in charge. To be able to make choices that reflect most people’s morality, most people have to drive forward a global co-operative paradigm, one that allows real freedom of choice based on common morals and values.
With Simpol, the globalisation of grassroots driven fairness can be achieved. There would be an end to the Machiavellian divide and rule of nations by big business. Monetary reform would be achieved through which there would be no need to pay off odious debts, no need to export merely for profit making, where local produce could be used locally for the good of the people who grow it. Not to mention the unnecessary emissions saved as a result. Is local food boring? No, we are lead to believe we have choice at the supermarket but there are so many more local varieties we could use, that we are not even aware of. With Simpol, transparency can replace private profiteering.
Pragmatic greed and monetarism is showing direct links to planetary destruction. Via trail and error we are learning that through empathy and co-operativism we can have what we need and prevent a worst case social and environmental scenario. Global competition is showing us the need for global co-operation, for a politics of the common good. Such lessons are slapping the faces of people in the global north and punching the faces of people in the global south. The whole world will become a gladiatorial test of survival if we do not act co-operatively now.
Politicians should be signing up to regulate globally and simultaneously now. To make sure they do, you can adopt Simpol and prioritise your vote at national elections for those politicians who sign the Simpol Pledge to do so. Adopting means you also get to develop the global policies in a global open source and transparent way. You also get to set the policies once all or sufficient nations have been driven to sign up.
As Simpol Adopters, we believe that people will come together in the face of global problems and solve them in a fair for all way. We are investing our time and passion into this since we believe the alternative is bleak.
International competition can be exampled in oil prospecting, food speculation, fractional reserve banking and the acceptance of destructive international competition by politicians. It is revealing a deeper truth, that everyone and everything is interconnected. This means that we must work together to solve the problems we are all facing together. The wider the circle of co-operative behaviour, the closer we are to living that truth of interconnectedness.
“Our brains are separate and independent enough from our genes to rebel against them… we do so in a small way every time we use contraception. There is no reason why we should not rebel in a large way too.” (Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene 1989)
“It’s ambitious and provocative. Can it work? Certainly worth a serious try!” (Noam Chomsky)