A change in policy can have a dramatic effect on outcome. One of the most notable policy changes in the last two decades involved our military’s understanding of its assets. In the ten years that constituted the Vietnam War some sixty-thousand American lives were lost.
This was the era when soldiers rode into the battlefield in open jeeps.
A policy change which acknowledged that men and not machines were our most important asset brought about armoured motorised transport and as a result six-thousand lives lost in our current ten-year campaign, one tenth the number in the era of the open jeep.
If we accept that the injection of massive amounts of money to save failing financial institutions was a good idea, that does not explain why there has been a lack of activities on an equal scale to revive the economy with measures that create jobs.
The bailout policy permitted covering the debt to private investors in Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks, and is still being used for speculation in the ‘Dollar Carry Trade’ market. Speculative trading which over the last two years has slowly but steadily eroded the European banking system.
We are in the midst of a worldwide food crises.
In America where a farmer can grow whatever one wants, fashioning an agricultural policy is rather difficult. Two years ago the rice blight in the South, the inability of farmers in the Mid-west to get in a winter wheat crop, soybean and corn shortages, these facts tell the story of American agriculture today.
Corn diverted to ethanol as a means of lessening our dependence on foreign oil makes sense in a buoyant economy, however the balance sheet test in austere times is rather less compelling.
One cannot open a newspaper without being presented with one country after another reacting to the sharp increase in food prices in general and bread in particular. Russia, Canada, and Australia each suffered massive crop failures recently and as a result the price of cereal grains have soared.
The American press missed the fact that food and not politics was behind the crises in North Africa, it was food that Palin wanted air lifted to Haiti. Food shortages triggered the unrest there and not the elections which hungry people largely ignored.
Food aid is the most potent diplomatic, in fact, tactical and strategic weapon the United States can employ to quell the spreading unrest.
That will make the need for an agricultural policy in the United States even more self-evident.