COLOGICAL DEBT is the debt wealthy countries owe poor countries in compensation for the environmental abuse and destruction visited upon the poor nations in the name of global trade. In effect, it is a debt that is not collected, and it carries severe local and global consequences. Such debt is run up as raw materials from the non-industrial South are exported to the industrial North for processing and sale, leaving ecological disasters (deforestation, water pollution, ecosystem destruction, etc.) in their wake.
"The prices at which exports are sold do not include compensation for the goods' local -- or sometimes global -- environmental costs. . . . [D]espite some gains by poorer countries through the liberalization of trade and finance the number of people living in poverty has increased or stayed the same during the past 25 years, and the gains of economic globalization have been heavily skewed towards wealthier nations."R. Kerry Turner and Brendan Fisher, To the rich man the spoils: Nature vol. 451. 28 February 2008 pp. 1067-1068
EDUCATION: a Socialist plot?
In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman indulges in an absurd fantasy for the sake of analogy: why shouldn't K-12 education stop being a publicly funded mandate?
"... let's end this un-American system and make education what it should be -- a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and we shouldn't have any government mandates that force children to get educated, either. As a Republican presidential candidate might say, the future of America's education system lies in free-market solutions, not socialist models."Of course, Krugman is joking in order to highlight the contradiction inherent in Republican refusal to support the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a public good in the area of health care that is as essential and should be as public as are the models for public education.
The conservative Heritage Foundation suggests CHIP "will 'displace private insurance with government-sponsored health care coverage.' But thinking about how we'd react if they said the same things about education helps dispel the fog of obfuscation right-wingers use to obscure the true nature of their position on children's health."
Paul Krugman, A Socialist Plot?, New York Times August 27, 2007.
Further notions on EDUCATION, as expressed by Adam Smith, author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, from the preface by Edwin Cannon in 1904:
But certain inconveniences arise from a commercial spirit. Men's views are confined, and 'when a person's whole attention is bestowed on the seventeenth part of a pin or the eightieth part of a button,' he becomes stupid. Education is neglected. In Scotland the meanest porter can read and write, but at Birmingham boys of six or seven can earn threepence or sixpence a day, so that their parents set them to work early and their education is neglected. To be able merely to read is good as it 'gives people the benefit of religion, which is a great advantage, not only considered in a pious sense, but as it affords them subject for thought and speculation.' There is too 'another great loss which attends the putting boys too soon to work'. The boys throw off parental authority, and betake themselves to drunkenness and riot. The workmen in the commercial parts of England are consequently in a 'despicable condition; their work through half the week is sufficient to maintain them, and through want of education they have no amusement for the other but riot and debauchery. So it may very justly be said that the people who clothe the whole world are in rags themselves.'
quoted material originally from Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms, delivered in the University of Glasgow by Adam Smith, as reported by a student in 1763, and edited with an Introduction and Notes by Edwin Cannan, 1896.
ETHANOL: Unlike fossil fuels, grains are a renewable source of energy. New crops will grow, given adequate land, water and sunshine. But for any particular growing season, grains, like fossil fuels, represent a finite resource, and scarcity drives the price up.
Despite greater yields per acre, grain production faces real limits, even without diverting some of the crop into ethanol production. There are competing needs and limits for both land use and water supplies: the harvest is not adequate to meet the needs of both cars and people.
Grain-fed as opposed to grass fed cattle add an unnecessary step and extra cost to calorie production. It is an inefficient business, fattening cows on grain in feed lots, in order to produce calories for human consumption. Eating low on the food chain is good advice for everyone. Taking from the harvest that already goes to cattle feed, and processing it to feed cars, provides even less grain, at higher prices, for people to eat. As a practical consequence, the poorest millions, those for whom it is a struggle just to find enough food, will go hungry.
"The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol, for instance, could feed one person for a year."
Lester Brown, Fortune Magazine, August 21, 2006. see also Plan B 3.0, Cars and People Compete for Crops, pp. 38-42