To stop hunger, you need a shortage of agricultural workers.
Many times I hear various pundits and other classes of intellectual whores opine about the need to eliminate a ‘shortage’ of agricultural workers in order to ensure that sufficient food is grown. Sigh. The persistence of human beings in mindlessly believing the most obvious rubbish out of pure herd instinct continues to amaze. I don’t know why I bother explaining the obvious to you, but due diligence requires that I at least make the attempt.
In countries like Australia and Switzerland and the United States, if you advertise for agricultural workers at a rate of $2/hour with no benefits or job security, even without a minimum wage law, you won’t get any takers. Thus, there is a terrible ‘shortage’ of workers, and these countries are clearly going to all starve unless massive numbers of third-world refugees are imported to eliminate the worker ‘shortage’. Except, of course, that people have plenty to eat in these countries.
On the other hand, in countries like India and Bangladesh and Pakistan and Egypt, there is a virtually limitless supply of agricultural workers who will labor for 50 cents an hour, if that. There is no labor shortage in these countries. But there is widespread hunger and malnutrition.
So a ‘shortage’ of agricultural workers is associated with everyone having lots of food, and a lack of said ‘shortage’ is associated with hunger. That doesn’t make sense, does it?
Or actually it does make sense if you realize that there is not, never has been, and never can be, a labor ‘shortage’. The very idea is absurd.
When there is abundant land relative to the number of people, there is abundant food – and the limited amount of workers bids up wages, and reduces the profits of landowners. When there is not enough land relative to the number of people, there is not enough food – and the excess amount of workers drives down wages, and increases profits for the landowners. Duh.
Note also that there is a ‘shortage’ of janitors and maids in Switzerland, yet the Swiss nation is spotless. No such ‘shortage’ in India, and the level of filth is so great that it is competing with malnutrition as a source of morbidity. But again, this is only a contradiction if you don’t realize that the very idea of a labor shortage is absurd. In Switzerland people have abundant time and energy and resources to clean with – although a rich banker might need to do his own laundry from time to time (the horror!). In India the majority of people don’t have the time or energy or resources to clean things up or have adequate sanitary facilities etc. and the rivers choke with excrement – although wealthy Indians can be waited on hand and foot.
In the United States during the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s there was a terrible ‘shortage’ of scientists and engineers. Talented Americans could practically name their price, and corporate CEOs were limited in how much they could make because of the market-enforced need to pay their employees high salaries. And science and engineering exploded into a golden age. In modern India there is no ‘shortage’ of talented scientists and engineers – and despite this, the contribution of India to modern science is little more than negligible. That’s because in India people don’t have the resources to take advantage of their ideas, poverty is so extreme that corruption and nepotism run riot, the best native minds leave as soon as they can and the best foreign minds stay away. But the rich can have genius IQ engineers working on frivolous web apps for sub-poverty wages, how profitable.
So to ensure that everyone has enough to eat, you need a shortage of agricultural workers. To have a clean environment, you need a shortage of janitors and maids. And to have advances in science and engineering, you need a shortage of scientists and engineers.