Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The other day, the USA TODAY ran an article about how some musicians and the Hard Rock International (cafes, hotels, casinos, t-shirts, cute pins, etc) have created the “Imagine There’s No Hunger” campaign, which seeks “to help children and the fight against hunger and poverty.” Part of the campaign to raise money is an album, SERVE4, with songs by the likes of John Lennon, O.A.R., and Elvis Costello among others. It’s hard to be cynical about something that is obvisouly working towards the public good. After all, what nut or free market kool-aid drinker is in favor of hunger and starvation? However, when we look closely there is a problem.

World-wide hunger and starvation is a serious problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people go hungry every day. That’s more people than the US, Canada and the EU combined! However, the problem is not simply one of not enough food.

On Anup Shah’s website Global Issues, he relates some of the causes of hunger as: land ownership; export-oriented agriculture; war; lack of democracy, etc. Thus, the problem is a structural one. In the end, we need to change the system that causes hunger and poverty. Any system that accepts poverty as a structural imperative is fundamentally flawed and must be changed. Giving money to alleviate a symptom, such as hunger, simply perpetuates the injustices the system creates.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t support such causes—I do. But I want us all to realize that until we change the system that creates these issues, we will continue to pay for them.