Hunger is coming

I’ve been saying for years that hunger is coming and that lots of people are going to die. I can’t find it on my blog but I know I have said it many times in private, “People have to get hunger before they revolt.”

Instapundit linked to the overview (via Kenneth Anderson) and David linked to the paper supporting my claims.

One of the biggest questions that comes to mind is what about the government forced famines in the Ukraine in the 1930s? Were there riots then? If so we know they weren’t sufficient to overthrow the communists but they didn’t have personal firearms either.

I agree with some of the others, the August 2013 date is a little too precise. The world could have bumper crops for a while and push the date out or there could be a bunch of crop failures and the date gets closer. But the bottom line is the conditions for revolt are approaching. As a general rule revolutions are bad for liberty. Will the U.S be different? What needs to be done to hold on to a free market and freedoms in general if there is a revolution? Would the preservation of private property via the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms be sufficient? Or will the forces demanding the abolition of private property be overwhelming? If the latter then it is my opinion that many more millions will die.

12 thoughts on “Hunger is coming

  1. I’d guess riots over electricity. When there isn’t enough electrical power, people will endure brown outs. When the TV and internet time gets cut too deep, US cities will start rioting from boredom. When the problem gets worse and water isn’t being pumped, thirst will be the breaking point.

    Hunger is the great motivator, but we have enough good people in this country, that don’t want to see anyone starve. The conditions will necessarily be beyond our power to fix (by which I mean the National Guard’s power to fix).

    As a corollary, I would worry about the nights of the summer. High demand on the electrical grid for AC,a bad storm that knocks down lines, the ‘social inequality’ that will results when only the important parts of town continue to get electricity, days without water. In a sane world, people living in the city would be extra careful about fire once they hear there isn’t any water for the fire department. American cities aren’t sane, so the knowledge that the fires will be uncontrollable will only encourage the rioters to burn more.

  2. I realized on my commute how poorly worded my previous post was, please pick through it for menaing. For example – by ‘the conditions’, I meant the conditions predicate for civil unrest.

    City folk won’t like eating ramen noodles and spam, but they’ll be happy as long as it is free ramen and spam delivered by soldiers.
    On the other hand, most porn is electronic these days. A few days without the internet and computers, and vast hoardes of young male city dwellers will be full of pent-up violence. Vast hoardes of young women cranky from their lack of facebook.

    There is a type of person who will be frantic that the corner store is closed (no power, so they can’t get their alcohol and cigarettes. Food is a secondary worry, until all their food is actually and truly gone. If the city works to restore commercial power first, that person will be happy (at first) that the store is open, but will quickly become angry that their home doesn’t have power back when stores and eateries do.

    The incapacity for gratitude is the tinder upon which the flames of the coming riots will be kindled.

  3. “Would the preservation of private property via the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms be sufficient?”

    In a country where everyone has the RKBA, I find these type questions silly. When both the attackers and the attacked are armed, who wins?

  4. What needs to be done to hold on to a free market and freedoms in general if there is a revolution? Would the preservation of private property via the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms be sufficient? Or will the forces demanding the abolition of private property be overwhelming?

    The forces (“Gimme Generation”) ‘demanding’ other peoples’ property have no means other than the government to enforce that edict, other than jumping up-and-down and acting juvenile. I am more of a Prag than a Threeper, but the Threeper’s have a point — if 3% of the firearm-owning people here in the US were to stand against the government forces (paramilitary police and military), the people significantly outnumber the government forces, even assuming 100% participation by those forces. I pray that when the government sees that, there would be no actual conflict, and freedom would prevail. Should they “choose unwisely”, then I expect freedom to still prevail, though at much higher cost.

  5. For certain, things will be very different according to location. Inner cities will be the worst off, while rural, farm belt areas would probably be the best off (they still need power [and water in some cases] to farm, but you might be surprised at the ingenuity of some, and there is typically a lot of dry storage scattered all about the countryside). Supermarkets, now on the “just in time” inventory system could run out of stock in three days or less if supplies are interrupted for any of a number of possible reasons. Inner cities could begin to starve on that time scale.

    I take issue, at least for several more centuries, with what appears to be Maithus’ basic premise– that the planet’s carrying capacity for human life is an issue. Assuming a free society, we’ll adapt and innovate our way along, and prosper. I find the notion that increased population means more labor supply and a corresponding reduction in labor cost, utterly absurd on its face. One could just as well argue that more people means more minds to create more, resulting in more prosperity. I suppose it depends on the level of contempt, verses respect, for humanity that you hold. Or is it faith?

    In a non-free society, there is never enough food or other resources, regardless of population. That’s the defining line.

    Liberty then, we may argue, is the “resource” we most need to develop and protect.

  6. I don’t see electricity shortages occurring at the same time as food shortages unless it is a via a natural catastrophe or government action.

    The coming food shortage and corresponding high prices are because of government involvement in food production. This comes about via direct and indirect involvement. The indirect is the well known subsidies on ethanol produced from corn. This pulls corn out of the food supply line and raises the prices of both corn and the substitutes for it in the food supply.

    The U.S. government directly and deliberately decreases the food supply via the USDA farm programs such as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and price support programs. The CRP takes land out of food production and the price support programs guarantee minimum prices for some products while imposing production limits.

    The government could stop interfering with food production and the prices would decrease and supplies would increase in this country. But don’t see that happening. The government likes the control just too much. Did you know that the government pays farmers to put bird houses in their fields? How about the strips of crops left around the edges of fields that are for wild animal food? That is the level of control the government is currently involved in and is enabled by the various “farm programs”. I just don’t see them giving up on that power.

    The food price increases and food shortages will first occur in other countries who must import a major portion of their food. The U.S. is a big exporter of agriculture products. 2011 exports are projected to be $137 billion compared to $37.5 billion in 1991. This surplus means that people in this country will be able to eat if they can afford it. And those with jobs will be able to afford it. If budgets are tight they will spend more time in food preparation with more basic food supplies such as flour, raw vegetables, raw fruits, and raw meats rather than more processed foods and eating at restaurants.

    In many other countries they are already doing their own food prep and even have government subsides of the importation of the raw foods. With the economic problems of the world those governments will be less able to subsidize food imports and their prices will rise.

    The cost of oil is a big component of agriculture production costs in this country. When it costs $400 to fill one tractor or combine tank and that has to be done at least every day and frequently there is more than one piece of equipment active at a time. This adds up quickly. And that is just the highly visible production cost on the farm. Oil/energy prices directly affect fertilizer and pesticides production as well as transportation and equipment manufacturing.

    It is the price of oil and/or energy that could dramatically raise the price of food and or create shortages in this country. If the riots/revolutions in other countries disrupt our oil supplies or dramatically increase the price then our food prices could dramatically increase and shortages could even occur.

    This affects our liberty if the government decides to “help”. The prospect of riots in our country could be the impetus for nationalization of or price controls on the food supply. Even civil disruption or the impending fall of other governments could be sufficient motivation for drastic action in this country. I could see them attempting to confiscate food under the guise of “national security” or “more equitable distribution”. A less direct (but frequently used) tool would be export subsidies to help other governments. This misuse of taxpayer money would hasten our economic downfall but not directly and immediately affect food production.

    It is only as unemployment soars and government checks of various flavors stop coming that the people start getting hungry in this country. There won’t be a real food shortage it will just be that many people can’t afford it.

    @ubu52, The armed rioters and gangs won’t be a particular threat in the rural areas. In numbers large enough to loot a place they will be easily identified and dealt with by either the local law enforcement or the intended victims themselves. It is only when the Federal government attempts to loot the countryside that things get iffy. Who wins in that case? That is what I don’t know. It will depend on strategy, tactics, alliances, and determination as well as armament of both sides. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  7. There is lots of farmland which could be brought back into production. It has gone fallow due to regulation and economies of scale making smaller farms marginally profitable.
    Back in the late 60s – early 70s I often drove between Cleveland and Vermont, sometimes through New York, other times through Pennsylvania, and then through parts of Massachusetts. As you went a long one saw many small farms which appeared to be functioning and fairly well kept up. I was back in the area again last summer and was surprised by the overgrown fields and many dilapidated structures. There is very little farming going on in the areas I visited now.
    These farms could be brought back into service, but it would take two or three yers, which wouldn’t prevent disaster.

  8. I have to agree with Lyle: Malthus is useless in trying to figure out when we’ll outstrip our abilities to produce. If Malthus was right, we would have starved decades ago!

    The Earth has plenty of resources for us to use, if we can figure out how to use them, and where they are. We have more than enough oil for our needs–probably centuries worth–and individuals are currently developing techniques to grow oil using microbes. We also have plenty of land, and–surprise–the oceans are filled with water!

    Just take sea-water as an example: John McCarthy, the creator of Lisp, has an essay on this topic (my apologies: I’m too lazy to link to it right now), where he calculated that supplying California solely with desalinated water would cost about 9% of California’s GDP. Sure, it’s a huge chunk–but it’s doable, too.

    Of course, Joe Huffman is right: it’s all this regulation that’s going to do us in. I used to be a “Peak Oil” denier, but then I realized that with enough regulation, Government can destroy anything.

  9. If I had to guess what the one thing is that would push the USA into widespread rioting, it would be the housing situation. We have far too many homeless in this country and the situation just keeps getting worse everyday. People may not notice it in rural areas, but in the cities, you almost have to be blind to not see the number of people living in their cars, etc.

  10. Your guess is pretty wrong, ubu52. Homeless people are not homeless from a shortage of housing. If you look at the instances of rioting we’ve seen, from the Watts riots of the ’60’s, the LA riots in the ’90’s, the long running rioting of the French moslem suburb projects, to the London riots, none of the rioters were “homeless”. They were rootless, urban criminal class.

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