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Nourishing Bourgeois Culture

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Like too many western aid experts, Samuel Loewenberg misses the fundamental reason famines still ravage developing countries (“The Famine Next Time,” Nov. 27).

The reason isn’t drought.  Yuma, Arizona, gets vanishingly little rainfall, yet denizens of that city aren’t ever threatened with starvation.

Nor is the reason a lack of Well-Researched Plans designed and implemented by Smart and Caring Experts.  Yuma is amply supplied with food not through the efforts of intrepid bureaucrats but, instead, through the profit-seeking of restaurants such as McDonalds, retailers such as Wal-Mart, distributors such as Sysco, processors such as Kraft, and thousands of farmers and ranchers – each helped by additional thousands of producers of machinery, fertilizers, packaging materials, and the like – all responding to market prices.

Nor is the reason even the inadequacy of roads: that inadequacy is a consequence of what ails Africa, not a cause.

The bouts of famine that still haunt Africa were routine throughout history and the globe.  These were ended only when, only where, and only to the extent that bourgeois culture and its adornments – chiefly, reasonably free entrepreneurial markets – flourished.  To recognize this fact is to rob western busybodies of sexy agendas; but it is also to point the only way toward real prosperity for Africans.

Donald J. Boudreaux