Unequal Resource Distribution
or Our Prosperity through Hunger in the Third World
by Sebastian Schoenauer
[This article published by the International Physicians for Preventing Nuclear War is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.ippnw.de/frieden/schoenauer.htm.]
The people of the so-called "industrialized states", mainly the US, Canada, European states and Japan - approximately 20 percent of the world's population - consume 80 percent of the resources of this earth. While we live in superfluity, 20 to 30,000 persons die of starvation daily in the third world. In 1992, government representatives of the leading industrial countries promised in Rio to drastically change resource consumption, consumer habits and production models. The opposite happened. Energy consumption continues to increase; the exploitation of our declining resources accelerates because the raw material prices were forced down and terms of trade - trading conditions detrimental to the poor states - deteriorated. Simultaneously foreign aid was further reduced. Debt remissions, financially urgently necessary and morally indispensable, for the poorest states failed on the eve of the September meeting of "Rio + 10) through the veto of the US which for years blocked even the smallest reforms from the western "donor countries" which are actually "acquisitive countries".
We people of western industrial states must admit ashamed: Our consumption of resources and the environment has risen. More people than ever before "live on the other side of the world" in inconceivable poverty without a chance for a dignified life. The gulf between poor and rich is deeper than ever in the last fifty years. The aggregate gross domestic product has increased nine-fold worldwide while the domestic product of 80 states according to the UN World Development Program has shriveled. As in a prayer wheel, our political leadership promise that the orientation of our economy in increased gross domestic product and increased industrial production "will soften the distress of people and conquer hunger in the world".
Nevertheless this orientation produces more misery and distress even in the "rich countries" of the industrialized world. Inequality between owners and "employees" often expands in these countries in times of so-called "economic upswing".
Profit maximization leads to unrestrained plundering of our natural resources, destroys our natural foundations of life while raising the social exploitation and impoverishment of vast parts of the population into the "cult status" of a supposedly necessary and irresistible "economic development" of our political economies.
The states and people of the second and third worlds fall by the wayside or drop out of the race more and more. They are degraded to suppliers of cheap raw materials and cheap foods for the luxury of the "first world" in the G7 states at "starvation wages".
Whoever is "up in arms" is openly "punished" under the leadership of the US with boycotts, trade embargos and international isolation. In the past, the US and western industrial states in the WTO created an instrument of coercion, the so-called most favored clause, that they used mercilessly.
Many of the poorest developing countries are forced to sell raw materials in trade with the industrial states. The export of soy as fodder to the industrial states while the indigenous population suffers in malnutrition and 20 to 30,000 persons worldwide die daily (!) of hunger is a very striking example. Raw material prices were forced downward since 1980. This targeted dumping of raw material prices for the "world market" - which in reality is the trading market of the industrial states - led to gigantic trade- and income losses of the "developing countries". Finished products with which money can be earned are covered with trade obstacles of the industrial states. Profit is realized by the international multinationals. The terms of trade of the World Bank are the choking nooses.
For example, "black Africa" from 1981 to 1986 alone could have obtained 165 billion DM (German marks) or 85 million Euros if the prices for their local products had not "fallen" and the imported goods from the industrial countries been made increasingly expensive. This sum is more than double what the 45 states received in this period as so-called "foreign aid". As another example, cocoa from Ghana was traded since 1980 below the average price from 1950 to 1958.
The "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" proclaimed by the United Nations that is now more than 50 years old is blatantly ignored. This declaration begins with the solemn acknowledgment of the dignity inherent in all members of the human family and their equal and inalienable rights as a basis of "freedom, justice and peace"