“For several decades, societal values were severely misguided: placing an exceptionally high value on money and materialism at the expense of intellectual curiosity and the love of learning.”
The aforementioned is an excerpt from my Moneynews blog nearly three months ago, entitled “Misplaced Values Distorted Our Financial System.”
Donald Trump, who is considering a 2012 presidential campaign, recently appeared on the Rush Limbaugh radio show.
Regarding The White House Ballroom, Mr. Trump stated: "Listen, I'm really good at this stuff. I will build you a magnificent ballroom. We'll go through committees ... we'll pick the one they like, we'll pick the architect everybody likes. We'll do 10 designs, we'll pick the one that's the greatest with the greatest architecture. I will build it free. So that's anywhere from a $50 [million] to a $100 million gift. I will give that."
Trump continued: "This is the first time I've said this. I'm talking to the biggest person, one of the biggest people at the White House. I'm not talking to a low-level person. One of the most important people. I will build the White House a ballroom so when the head of India comes to town, we can give him a five-star dinner in a magnificent ballroom befitting of this country and the White House. Right? They never got back to me. It's a $100 million gift. They never got back to me."
If I were the president, I would have taken his call personally and immediately.
After commending him on a rather benevolent gesture, I would offer the following suggestion: In lieu of a $100 million building to house the food, might we buy $100 million worth of food to feed those in need?
In 2008, despite the 1993 New York City referendum to limit the mayoralty to two four-year terms, Michael Bloomberg successfully lobbied the City Council to unilaterally overturn the will of the people and rescind term limits. This bill passed 29-22, with all 23 deciding votes coming from City Council members, who were forced to leave in 2009, according to The New York Times. This action permitted Mr. Bloomberg to run in 2009 for a third term as mayor.
Despite spending $102 million on this ill-gotten campaign effort, Mr. Bloomberg won by less than 5 percent, which translates to $174.53 per vote: 12 times more than his opponent.
Subsequently, a 2010 referendum to overturn the City Council decision was passed with roughly 75 percent approval, thereby restoring the original 1993 term-limit referendum.
Food for thought: In lieu of Mr. Bloomberg’s $102 million expenditure for the 2009 New York City Mayoralty election, might one consider alternative avenues for these funds?
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates the average individual requires 2,000 calories per day to function adequately (approximately 15 calories per pound to maintain the basal metabolism). According to the 2009 United Nations World Food Program, the daily food cost per person was roughly 10 cents (57 percent from direct expenditures, 43 percent from donations).
That same year, The United States Census Bureau reported 43.6 million people in the US live in poverty (14.3 percent of the population). This figure includes 15.45 million children under 18 years of age (20.7 percent of all children under 18).
Therefore, the combined offer by Mr. Trump ($100 million) and the expenditures by Mr. Bloomberg ($102 million) could feed 2 billion individuals for one day or the entire child poverty population (under 18) for 100 days.
It seems our sense of priorities has become distorted: valuing materialism and power over wisdom, knowledge, and learning.
Nourishing of the mind and spirit requires nourishment of the body.
Food is essential: the human body requires these calories to function properly.
Moreover, the economic implications are serious as well. Consider Brazil: Due to the favorable climate, technology, best practices, and available land, “Brazil stands on the brink of becoming an agricultural superpower,” according to The Financial Times.
Wagner Rossi, Brazilian Agriculture Minister, has stated agribusiness exports have increased 14 percent per annum over the past 10 years, reaching $76.4 billion. This year, he projects growth at 10 percent.
Agriculture consultants say Brazil possesses an additional 20 million hectares of land that is commercially viable for farming. This would require the deforestation of its cerrado savannah forests, which have rich ecosystems. Unfortunately, this supply will not be sufficient to meet demand over the coming decade.
To protect its economic interest, Brazil has been limiting foreign investment in Brazilian agricultural land. Last year it capped land ownership at 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres), for companies that are more than 50 percent foreign-owned.
The land policy being developed by Brazil reflects geopolitical and geo-economic strategy predicated on a life sustaining resource: food.
Food (and water) first, the rest will follow.
For those seeking to optimize their philanthropic return to society, consider the donation of our most precious commodities: food and water.
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