Letter from a reader

A Totally Irrational and Unnecessary Capitalist System: Hunger in the “Land of Plenty”

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I recently read Bob Avakian’s The Deadly Illusion of “Normalcy” and the Revolutionary Way Forward, where he points out, “This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity.”

In thinking about this, I want to highlight a case in point:

In this so-called “land of plenty”: People lined up for blocks and blocks, hundreds of cars lined up for miles—to get food. Even in “normal times,” millions of people suffered from food insecurity—at least 37 million people, 11 million of whom are children, (most recent USDA report). This number is now rapidly increasing. And the fact that Black people and other people of color face hunger disproportionately stands out even more. Meanwhile:

Some 3.7 million gallons of milk are being dumped every day; one chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs a week, tons and tons of food crops are being plundered. Many farmers are donating to food banks and food lines. But such charities are limited in what they can take due to a lack of enough storage and refrigeration facilities. (NY Times, 4/13/2020)

Food is being destroyed because there is “too much excess”—no, not more food than people need, but more food than can be sold in the U.S. or exported profitably. So it cannot be distributed during this crisis. Farmers also worry that crops they do want to harvest will rot because of new government restrictions on Mexican and other immigrants who are the backbone of the harvesting labor force.

The U.S. has relied on food imports for almost 20 percent of its food—which has now been drastically affected. And much of the food produced before this crisis was sold to restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airlines, etc. Flour came in 50-pound bags, vegetables in huge crates, sour cream in 48 ounce tubs. The demand from these wholesale buyers has drastically gone down and farmers are now struggling to re-design and re-purpose their systems to produce and distribute food to household consumers. But many have decided such an investment isn’t worth it.

And this comes alongside efforts to kick 755,000 people off food stamps by tightening work requirements (at a time when so many people are unable to work). (Vox.com, April 18, 2020)

While all this may be rational from the needs of capital, the workings of this system, and the policies of its current fascist overseers, it is utterly irrational and all of this needs to be gone—yesterday!

This is even more felt when compared to the fact that in a genuinely socialist society, as described in Bob Avakian’s Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America: the production and distribution of food will be totally different from how it is under capitalism—not for profit, but to meet the needs of the people. And in a crisis, resources and attention will be directed to restructuring and making adjustments necessary to produce and get food to everyone, especially those in most need. And all this would be done, not just for the people in this society, but to be able to meet the urgent needs of the people throughout the world.

In Florida, fields of ripe squash rot...part of thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables that are being destroyed because farmers can't sell them to the food service industry due to the coronavirus lockdown.
(Photo: AP)

Farmers across the country were forced to dump significant amounts of milk as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions disrupted supply chains as the industry shifted—restaurants, schools, food services were closed.
(Photo: Travis Larson/Twitter)

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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