Saturday, April 17, 2021

Food or Profit? (1950)

From the April 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

Once again over-production and unmarketable supplies of food are the order of our day. In America food is being stored in barns, caves and even aeroplane hangars, at a cost of approximately £9,000 an hour to pay for storage and the rapid deterioration which is taking place in certain food commodities. Mr. Brannan, America's Secretary of State, says “the situation contains warnings that we cannot ignore, but there is no solution in sight to stop the surpluses piling up higher and higher.” (News Chronicle, 6/3/50.) What wonderful system is this—that brings about the position of food piling up and deteriorating when there is still poverty in our midst?

Why is it—that in Asia, there are millions of people living in poverty and in the main underfed (News Chronicle, 6/3/50), and yet at the same time the other half of the world are letting food rot?

Lord Boyd Orr said at a meeting of the Association of Scientific Workers held on March 5th, that he saw threats of the same vicious circle that contributed to the crisis of 1929-30. He went on to say : “There is already a fight for world markets and this would be intensified when Germany and Japan again entered the field and other countries became more industrialised" (Manchester Guardian, 6/3/50). Lord Boyd Orr thinks that the United Nations with its Agricultural Organisation and World Banks will somehow or the other solve this problem, but it is very noticeable that he does not say how.

Statisticians in the same category as himself miss one vital point, that Food, Clothing and Shelter, which are necessary to sustain human life, are produced, not because people need them, but for sale on a market with a view to profit. When goods cannot be sold, markets become glutted and there arises the position of commodities piling high in warehouses and the like, as already witnessed in America at the present time.

The only solution to any problem is to remove the cause, and until this is accomplished all the Lord Boyd Orr’s in the world will not be able to bring about a state of affairs where there is plenty for all.

Only Socialism can solve this problem, a system of society in which goods will be produced solely for use, where people will work according to their ability and take according to their needs.
J. P.

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