Readers may have noted a bit of discussion online recently on TPOL concerning food supplies and the tactics of fearmongering we see and hear today.
There is obviously a lot more to the situation that we can discussed in a few dozen words in comments, or a thousand or so in a commentary. Famine and starvation are usually a RESULT and not a CAUSE of collapse of society. And then, the immediate cause can very well be the stupid actions of government (and other segments of society).
But defeatists, environists, the media, and politicians love to hold up the specter of famine and starvation. And even the enemies of government and environism are sometimes waving the red flag. Or at least a yellow caution flag. Especially when there are many other disruptors of society, and other fright-monsters are getting stale.
Thinking of the fearmongering of major media, we must remember that food prices are NOT driven solely by supply and demand. Nor is the availability of food controlled just by supply and demand – the market. I realize that comes across as very much the antithesis of free markets, so let me explain.
The media (and environists) usually claim that the worldwide rise in prices of food is the product of supply shortages. Therefore, it MUST herald famine and starvation. However, there are other causes of price increases.
The major one is inflation. After fourteen months of Lockdown, and trillions of dollars of fake money flooding the world’s economies, all prices are being driven up by too much money chasing fewer goods, overall. This was made worse by the destruction of tens of billions of dollars of foodstuffs, from snuffing out chickens to plowing under grain crops or letting produce rot in the field because of stupid government decisions. This mess is compounded by politicians creating money out of debt and thin air. And especially by insane spending on nonessentials.
Another one is the severe damage caused to the supply chain, as hundreds of thousands of shipping containers on hundreds of ships sat in ports or at sea unloaded and unavailable. While cars and McDonald’s toys can sit there and still be usable after weeks or months, shipped foodstuff is likely going to rot or get eaten by pests.
So take a deep breath: just because food prices are skyrocketing does NOT mean food shortages. We can see that in fairly recent history. A McDonald’s hamburger that cost a dime in 1960 today costs $1l25 or more. It ain’t because there has been constant shortages of hamburger, bread, or ketchup! Or really, not a problem of exploding demand. Inflation, government regulations, and other factors drive prices up, up, up.
But there are many more reasons for disruption of the food supply AND distribution system that we SHOULD be aware of.
This past week, we have a horrible episode of transportation and delivery system disruption. The lack of fuel in much of the Southeast directly interrupts delivery of food across a wide region. As with the gasoline and diesel itself, panic will create shortages of food as stores are stripped of everything in fear. As bad but more widespread as such actions leading up to (and after) a hurricane. The closure of the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi at Memphis is a further disruption. In the West, closure of canyons and passes for I-70, I-80, US-40, and US-50 (due to blizzards, rockslides, and such), AND the disruption of massive construction and reconstruction projects are a different type of disruption. When coupled with other stresses, these disruptions can cause weeks or even months of problems.
Internal urban problems, ranging from flooding and construction to riots and widespread electrical disruptions are also major points of concern for disruption of food supplies, leading immediately to rise in demand and rises in prices, short and sometimes long-term.
In the worst cases, as seen in the Spring of 2020 with the Lockdown, a great deal of food produced by farmers and ranchers is not delivered to, or processed in, the megafactories that “create” much of our food supply. In some cases, this results either in food crops ROTTING in the fields or in storage facilities – or even on trucks and trains. In the case of animals (chickens, pigs, even cattle) it has sometimes resulted in having to kill and dispose of the carcasses: billions of dollars of losses.
All of these result in rises in prices of foods, even when there are sufficient food supplies. Coupled with weather calamities and political insanity, famine is literally just a few weeks away.
Except for those realistic enough and wise enough to prepare in advance. Are you?