"People don't go hungry in a capitalist economy"

I don’t necessarily dispute the essential truth of what you say, but consider this: the experience of a healthy, able person who is able to travel at will (I’m going to assume you drove a car for some part of these adventures) is NOT equivalent to someone with no resources, physical and or mental limitations and a lack of time to keep chasing after every meal. Kids go hungry, for example, because they can’t go to the soup kitchen by themselves and mom’s two jobs mean she doesn’t have time to visit food banks and meal services beyond walking distance.

I think even with good intentions, this is an example of how the comfortable, healthy and sheltered misunderstand how difficult it is to stay that way without supporting resources - sometimes including a lack of personal resourcefulness.

Actually, since I lived Downtown, I walked everywhere. Remember, I was working with the City on a homeless initiative as a volunteer/appointee.

But it still remains- I’d have been quite hungry without the FS amount. The charity was the “icing on the cake” so to speak. With just the FS, it would have been very difficult, and like you said, lots of scrambling. Without the FS, it would have been impossible.

One nice thing about the charities tho, is that by and large they don’t disallow for some income. Thus a working Mom on one income, which might go all to rent & utilities, plus AFDC, would find the bread, bags of staples and such like a nice boost.

I’ve been in almost every country in Africa and Latin America. All but a tiny few were capitalist, and there were plenty of hungry and underfed and even starving people. I was also in all the Eastern Bloc countries during the cold war, and nobody was hungry, there was adequate food and it was accessible to everyone.

Yes but all the Villages you saw were named Potempkin. :dubious:

Dude, a couple of my co-workers lived in EG and the old USSR, and food was *anything *but plentiful. Actually, other than secret police and paperwork, *nothing *was plentiful.

Growing up our big fancy meal of the week was several cans of vienna sausage swimming in a big pot of canned pork and beans. I didn’t know we were poor, I continued the lifestyle when I left home working part time and partying full time, sharing big old ramshackle houses with friends, we’ll still get nostalgic about the old days of being poor and cooking a couple pounds of split peas to live off of all week, stealing ears of corn out of the fields, the time we tried to kidnap a turkey from a turkey farm, homeless friends who killed and ate park ducks, sitting on the front steps summer mornings drinking Old Milwaukee beer we bought for .25 a quart, smoking 10.00 an oz Mexican dope. Being poor in America is more fun than being rich in most countries.

But the OP is discussing hunger and capitalism, not food shortages and democracy.

but the food shortage, and thus the hunger, was caused by capitalism. The owners of the land found it was more profitable to export the food than to use it to relieve the famine. During the famine, Ireland was a net exporter of food. - see the wiki article on the Great Famine:

I didn’t watch the video, I just read the article, but…

There is an immense amount of economic theory, data and analysis out there discussing how and why capitalist markets fail or distort, ranging the gamut from supply shocks to liquidity crunches to everything you could ever think of. Yes, it’s quite possible for people to go hungry in a capitalist economy, and it appears Schiff doesn’t understand basic market economics.

But, we don’t even have to rely on theory. At the start of the Great Depression, there was almost no social safety net and poor people had to rely primarily on private charity. I’m not sure if I’d call the economy back then exactly capitalist, since there was a lot of rent-seeking and corporate subsidies and the like, but that’s probably as close to a capitalist economy as you’re going to get. And what happened was that people went hungry while grain piled up at the train stations and apples rotted in the field. Because the whole food distribution pipeline from grower to distributor to consumer broke down.

People lost their jobs and sometimes their savings when their bank failed. So they didn’t have enough money to buy food. And distributors couldn’t get credit to purchase food for sale, since the credit markets were seizing and the consumers weren’t purchasing. And farmers couldn’t get loans to sow the next years crops, since their current crops were going to rot, and they couldn’t service the loans for the previous years’ crops. And in the midst of all this, organizations like the Red Cross were completely overwhelmed.

And people went hungry.

There are people hungry in democracies and capitalist countries. People who say otherwise discount the evidence, if not turn a blind eye to it. Somalia is pretty darn capitalist, with a kind of purity to the capitalism that horrifies most rigid capitalists. I assure you there is a lot of hunger. The US has a lot of hunger too, despite allowing all citizens to vote and be represented.

Something rigorously asserted is not the same thing as something rigorously proven.

Maybe it’s just having plentiful food is conducive to democracy.

Hmm. I’d have to see some logic worked through on that. Yes, democracy is something of a luxury for hunter-gatherers.

However, you could make the argument that giving the masses plenty of food makes them not care about how they got it; a dictatorship that delivered two pizzas in every pot could probably get away with an awful lot of other abuse.

Panem et circenses.

Isn’t that from Hunger Games?

Yes, :D, of course.

I am not so sure about that. Hunter gatherers typically live in very small groups, in which some sort of participatory democracy (think Athens rather than Washington, but the meetings will be a lot smaller and quicker than those of Athens) ought to be very easy to institute. (I am not saying they do do it, but they could, and maybe some do have or have had essentially democratic systems in some places.)

Also, I do not believe it is true at all that hunter-gatherers usually live in conditions of food scarcity. Apart from during serious droughts or similar abnormal situations, they are usually quite well fed. They are considerably better off, in nutritional terms, than the poor under capitalism.

Well, right. But there’s a difference between “ought to be easy to institute” and defaulting to the rough meritocracy/benign tyranny small tribal groups rarely seem to outgrow.

While hunter-gatherers may be well fed, as most seem to have been in temperate climates, that’s not the issue. They still have to spend a very large amount of their time hunting and gathering (and all that goes with it) to stay fed, leaving little time and energy for abstract things like democratic order.

Probably not as much of their time as the average middle class American or Western European spends in their office working in their offices to to get money to get food, not to mention all the time they spend commuting, and after all that is over they still have to go and forage for the actual food in the shops.

What is more hunter gatherers do not have to deal with other time sinks, such as watching TV or driving the kids to soccer practice. There would be plenty of time to have the occasional tribe meeting, that might have have, like, 20 or so people (including the kids) at it if everybody came.

Or for non-productive roles such as those necessary to enforce a non-democratic rule.

Democracy really is not that abstract.

Re: Maybe it’s just having plentiful food is conducive to democracy.

“No famines” (which is all Sen even tries to prove) is not the same thing as having ‘plentiful food’. India, which is Sen’s big case study (he compares modern India to precolonial India and to the disasters in Maoist China) may not have famines anymore (though that has at least as much to do with modern scientific improvements in plant breeding, i.e. the Green Revolution, as with democracy). It absolutely has horrific malnutrition, though.

After watching the video, I don’t think this has anything to do with Sen. I think Schiff (a) doesn’t understand basic capitalist economic theory and (b) he’s making a number of glibertarian fallacies. Normally, I wouldn’t say this based on a few video snippets, but Schiff is a clown who’s been predicting hyperinflation since 2008, so I think stating he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about is just erring on the side of caution.

So, here’s what I think he’s trying to say:

[Possible Schiff]Supply should adjust to meet demand at a price that people are willing to pay. If the price of food is too high, then more food will be produced and the price will drop to a point where people are willing to pay for it. Ergo, nobody will ever go hungry, since there will always be supply at any price point that people are willing to pay.[/Possible Schiff]

This assumes that (a) the food market is perfectly efficient (not true in the real world), (b) that food has an elastic supply-and-demand curve (not exactly true in the real world), © that people can always afford the marginal cost of food (not true in the real world, and not even true in theory) and (d) that food supply is not subject to exogenous shocks (definitely not true in the real world). What’s annoying about letter © is that even according to ideal economic theory, people should be going hungry in a capitalist system.

Which is what I meant. You can think up any system of order or government you like while gazing sleepily at the stars. Actually implementing it and making it work in real situations increases the complexity up to somewhere between “ah, fuck it” and “not working, Og.”

Not in the abstract, no. :slight_smile: