31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Hunger is a very important cause in America and this video provides a lot of great information on it. It plays a very important role in helping to mobilize us all to fight for justice. It's shows how America's record in responding is shameful, which may be painful to see, but it's important that we face it.
My purpose in writing is to point out that it spreads myths about the biggest issues in the US Farm Bill. These are widespread, so most reader likely won't have heard of any of this. There are 2 main issues related to hunger that are big farm commodity issues. One is that of finding money to pay for more food stamps and related programs. The second is the way that low farms prices subsidize the junk food industry, not with government checks, but with prices for ingredients that are below fair trade or living wage standards, or even below zero (ie. 1981-2006) vs full costs. (Meaning that farmers got a wage equivalent, but lost money on the investment of their money in their land, facilities, machinery, livestock, etc.) On the first issue, the film suggests taking money away from farm subsidies, as they are correlated with bad things for food (cheap junk food ingredients, fostering bad food). That scientific correlation only applies for the years when farm prices fell AND there were farm subsidies. There is zero correlation for the years 1953-1961, and zero to 1964 for cotton, and to 1977 for rice and to 1998 for soybeans, as there were no subsidies. On the second point, we find, then, that subsidies are not at all the cause of cheap farm prices. Well, do food stamps cause low minimum wages? No. Subsidies to the victims (the poor, or farmers) don't cause the exploitation. So the video gives false analysis and false solutions. They give no solution to the creating of the need for farm subsidies. What caused that was that, economically, prices don't self-correct (ie. supply and demand) by the "invisible hand." Politically, that was fixed by the Farm Bill, (with no subsidies,) by price floors and supply management. The film, by default advocates for zero price floors (not seeming to know that this solution exists) and thus against their own excellent values and intentions. They also fail to point to the need for price ceilings and reserve supplies for farm crops, to protect the poor and consumers. Likewise, I don't see support for raising the minimum wage to eliminate much of the need for food stamps. Then advocates could go to Congress and call for, at a minumum, one or the other, either a living wage and enough money to fully fund food stamps in that context, or much more money to fully fund food stamps, etc., in the much worse conditions that we have now. The book has the same problem. The experts addressing these concerns are mostly known to not understand the concerns I've raised. For better Farm Bill analysis, see Wenonah Hauter's book, Foodopoly. Crisis By Design: A Brief Review of U.S. Farm Policy Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America