By Jonathan J. D’Oleo
Leonel Fernandez, in his remarks before the United Nations last Wednesday, said, “a hungry man is an angry man.” Upon that thesis, Fernandez went on to make a call to conscience as he criticized Wall Street and its speculative practices in the market for staple foods as these negatively affect the livelihoods of families across the developing world.
According to Fernandez, the casino-type behavior that sometimes takes hold of traders on the floor of the exchange erodes the quality of life of ordinary people in poor countries. The share of GDP per capita spent on basic basket goods surpasses 20% in under-developed and developing countries. In rich countries, however, that percentage is in one digit territory.
Price fluctuations of the kind aforementioned set up emerging markets for declining terms-of-trade with rich countries. Such terms are literally life-threatening, blatantly irresponsible, unnecessary and inhumane for they are driven by economic forces that are artificial in their very nature; forces that are out of touch with the actual supply and demand dynamics that frame the reality of producers and final consumers.
At the tip of the spear in the venture for bringing these speculative practices to a halt is The Global Coalition Against Speculation. With John R. Gagain, Jr. as one of its directors, this organization brings together leaders in business and government as it seeks to give ideological structure and political traction to a greater conglomerate of enterprises against financial speculation in food and oil.
Possible sociological repercussions of financial speculation in staple goods:
In what can be described as an existential battle of sorts, the lack of resources to cover for life’s basic necessities lead many a man into antisocial practices as a means to escape their misery. Drug trafficking, homicides, burglary, hijackings and prostitution are only some of the sanguine societal maladies affecting our country.
Abraham Maslow, professor at Brandeis University until his death in 1970, characterized life’s basic needs – food, sleep, security, etc. – as the essential foundation for human development. The absence of these, he argued, places man between the sting of death and the wall of abject poverty.
Societal maladies are the product of a complex amalgamation of many factors. Violence often uses hunger, injustice, insecurity, frustration, lack of opportunities and infidelities as ways and means to justify the unjustifiable.
The people’s vote is selling at a risible price and on an unleveled playing field tilted in favor of the well-fed stomachs of high-powered political groupies that conform the clientelistic cowardly pack that adulterate our sacrosanct soil.
A vote here, a vote there. What difference does it make? This crooked question mark reminds me of words pronounced with straight and iterative exclamation points by the last caudillo of Dominican presidential politics:
“A vote is not just any figure; a vote represents an intrinsic part of the land of our fathers (patria)” and everything we stand for as a people.
Let us vote, therefore, according to the principles upon which the architects of our republic envisioned our existence; upon the principles of God, Country and Liberty everlasting.
The author is a Dominican scholar, political analyst, speaker and entrepreneur.