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Hunger In An Affluent Society

Ron Landridge 1996  Published in: Technocracy Digest, 1st quarter 1996, No. 319  

Recently, the new “Conservative” government in the Province of Ontario instituted a number of significant, (read significant in the context of the devastating impact on those affected, not in terms of a solution to the province’s debt), cuts in the province’s payment for a number of services that have been a part of the social fabric for many years. One of the cuts affected the payments for food and shelter, those basic necessities of life that all of us require, but that, for various reasons, are not readily obtainable by a large segment of the population.

The ill effects of substandard food and housing on the physical and mental well-being of people from infancy to old age, although well documented, seem to have little impact in the making of these policy decisions. That the powers that be are aware of the physical consequences of their action, is attested to by the attempt of the minister in charge, Mr. Tsubouchi, to downplay the serious effects that these cuts will have on the welfare of those affected. In their attempt to diminish the resulting outcry, an old, time-tested piece of social baloney was once again trotted out for public enlightenment. Only this time, the baloney was “TUNA”.

From their safe southern havens, they voiced their opinions. “Smart shopping is all that is needed, take advantage of the sales, and stock up on tuna when it’s on special.” This type of policy and its ridiculous justification is only too typical of the type of no thinking, nonsensical, and all too familiar, unenlightened reaction of the political leadership to today’s serious problems.

We can expect no more from those whom we continue to elect to positions of control, given their lack of understanding of the problems, and their obvious desire to maintain the system, regardless of the consequences.

But should we expect more of those not involved in the political structure? The acceptance, and even the endorsement, of these policies by a public weighed down with its own problems and looking for a convenient scapegoat, can be understood even if not condoned.

And what about the media? In its intellectual rush to either prove or disprove the government’s public relations gaffs, the proposed diet was tried for a week. What utter nonsense! Is this the investigative reporting on which the “fifth estate” so prides itself? Is this the intellectual height, or depth, as the case may be, that our journalists have reached, while purporting to be the conscience that keeps our society’s leaders honest? Have they forgotten the basic tenets in writing? What about the five W’s?  Have they forgotten Who, What, When, Where and Why? And in this instance, the first question should be, WHY?

Why is it necessary for anyone to have to plan their meals in this manner, in the first place?

Why should a large number of people be restricted to a limited amount and choice of food? Why is the distribution of our abundant food supply so restricted? Why can’t it be distributed more equitably, to ensure proper nutrition is available to all? Why do we let this condition persist?

Who is responsible for these conditions persisting, and who benefits from them? Who is in position to either restrict or enlarge the food supply? Where is the excess food that we produce? What is it costing us to store this food, and who is paying for it? When did this condition come about, and what are the causative factors involved? And finally, what can we do about it?

These are a few of the questions that could have been asked; no, should have been asked; if the news media was seriously interested in understanding both the extent and seriousness of the problem. But, of course, it couldn’t have stopped there. No investigation, no matter how complete, could have stopped at food alone. Food is only one part of the problem, a significant one, but only one, nevertheless. And here is where the failure of our system of journalistic endeavors is most acute.

Every day, news reports inform us of problems in every sphere of human activity, ranging from minor to major environmental problems of local, national and international scope; population pressures; resource depletion; social unrest and turmoil; crime; inadequate housing, health and educational facilities; transportation; and international relations. But, to the vast majority of the knowledgeable population, these problems have only a vague, if any, connection.

What is the media’s role in this lack of understanding on the part of the general public? Surely the information available to the public on a daily basis is enough to send everyone looking in the right direction. But it is precisely this lack of direction for which the media must accept responsibility.

Raw data is useful only if it is analyzed and its salient related points identified. Related material presented in this manner cannot, except by willful intention, be ignored. However, the lack of a coherent effort on the part of the media, which controls not only the amount and content of the information, but the context in which it is presented, as well, to find the commonality tying our social problems together, is seriously hampering any rational and reasonable attempt to solve society’s ills. They would be of far more benefit to society if they pushed themselves away from Tsubouchi’s table and started to question the whole antiquated concept of today’s Price System method of social operation.

Before the general public can begin to understand the basis of our many problems, today’s journalists will have to cast aside their preconceived ideas, broaden their focus, and really start to investigate on a more fundamental level. They could do no better than to start with Technocracy!

— Ron Landridge 7943-1 Technocracy Section Hamilton, Ont.

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