There's something mesmerizing about being at a Very Important Meeting of Very Important People and listening to all the Very Important Utterances. They are, by and large, so utterly meaningless and yet are uttered as if pregnant unto term with meaning. I write some down, just to keep my hand in. I share a few of those, to general amusement. And I give thanks that I don't have to produce copy.

The big buzz surrounded the Most Important Person's weekend publicity putsch: a hunger strike, in solidarity with the more than a billion people who don't have enough to eat. His kinda-sorta boss did it too, and confessed, "it was not easy". But the wagging forked tongues of the reptiles of the press, while grudgingly admiring of the stunt, were unanimous that this was not a hunger strike, and demeaned those who were actually willing to suffer and even die for something they believed in. It was, all agreed, a fast, and nothing wrong with that. Except that there was something wrong with that, because the MIP had decreed that "to fast" had religious overtones. So he was on a 24-hour hunger strike, which fits nicely with the transport strikes here in Rome, carefully timetabled to inconvenience as few people as possible, including probably the strikers themselves.

Anyway, the hunger strike got me thinking of when I was a little boy, and I had to eat all the food on my plate because there were starving children in India, and somehow the idea was that if I didn't eat it, nor could they and somehow, the more I ate (or maybe the less I wasted) the more there was for them. Those were simpler times, I know, but still. Almost all the utterances said that we know how to end hunger, we just lack the means. Many pointed out that famines are caused not by lack of food but by lack of money to buy food. A few said that food needed to be not merely available, but affordable.

Now, what if the people of Europe and North America and the Antipodes (and rich folks elsewhere, if they want to play) decided not merely to go on strike for one meal, but to make that a meal we might otherwise have eaten at a restaurant. Say there are, I dunno, 500 million of us. And say that the meal we forego costs US$ 5, both underestimates, I'll bet. That's US$ 2.5 billion, a thousand times more than the US$ 2.5 million cost of the World Food Summit; Bloomberg1 tells us that Saudi Arabia has picked up the tab. And say there were a mechanism to send US$ 2.5 to each of the billion hungry people, to buy a bit to eat. Locally, of course. And from local producers. Spread our largesse around a bit. And say we did it every year.

Would that do any good, I wonder?

  1. Thanks to the Internet Archive for preserving the first two links. It didn't have this Bloomberg link, but Wikipedia confirms

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