An Old Economics Principle Misapplied by Bush
DANIEL SCHORR: In Economics 101 I learned about the Malthus Principle.
LIANE HANSEN, host:
NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: It holds a population constantly tends to outrun means or sustenance but is held in check by war, plague and famine. But now the CIA has called the Malthus Principle into question. Director Michael Hayden is out with some numbers that raise questions about the theory of the 18th-century thinker.
For all the hunger and genocide afflicting large areas of the world, Hayden says that over the next four decades the world faces a one-third increase in population, from 6.7 billion to more than 9 billion. And most of that growth will happen in countries least able to sustain it, threatening widespread violence and civil unrest.
Given this prospect, you would think that nations, starting with the United States, would act to allay threatening famine. But the Bush administration has, until lately, been more concerned with energy independence than with hunger. Five months ago while food prices were soaring out of sight, the administration and Congress cooperated to pass the Renewable Fuels Act of 2007.
This requires that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be produced by the year 2022. Great for the grain belt, terrible for the hunger belt. And now that wise preservation has become dramatized by the media. The thought of modifying, maybe even repealing the ethanol law.
We certainly did not anticipate what's happened since Republican Senator Pete Domenici, one of those who helped to steer the bill to passage. And yet Bingaman, his Democratic colleague from New Mexico, adds, I think it's something we need to look at. So, you can expect hearings on Capitol Hill on the coming week, and then something to relieve the embarrassment of being viewed as feeding the farmers at the expense of the hungry.
This is Daniel Schorr.
(Soundbite of music)
HANSEN: You're listening to NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.