When Bigger Is Not Better

Some people were not so poor before things got bigger.

The sums of money given to the poorer and developing nations by the prosperous, advanced western world seems huge to most of us with figures in tens of billions (choose your own currency). It is not so big considered in relation to the interest payments many of these nations make in debt repayment, ten times bigger running into hundreds of billions.

Money is spent on huge projects but who does it really benefit and does it help those who most need help. It is not unusual for our western perception of what constitutes progress and quality of life, to drive some people in developing places, who were living a sustainable life, into poverty.

We ‘civilised’ westerners have become used, even indoctrinated, into the idea that bigger is better. We buy our food in multipacks from multinational companies, that I’m not bothering to try and name because of how tied up they are are with each other. Whatever they might say about their ethics and raison d’etra, their primary purpose is to make a profit for their shareholders.

There are places where people that we advanced westerners think of as poor, by our standards, are not by theirs. They live on and work subsistence farms, that provide sufficient for themselves, their families and their communities. Unlike our consumer oriented society, they did not produce goods beyond what they need nor do they try to. Their farming methods are determined by planting crops that grow naturally well on the type of land they cultivate.

In our society, we would probably plant what we wanted and try to change the land with chemicals and diverting waterways and any of our other ‘advanced’ methods, so we could grow more, not just to feed more people but to make more money.

By introducing western ideas of economics, that it was necessary to create wealth to create a better ‘quality of life’ bearing in mind that “quality” is in any case a subjective term, we have in some areas destroyed a functioning, fed population.

Where small subsistence farms fed the people around them, now huge business farms dominate, employing few people. They take over land and then charge for food that was once grown by its consumers for the price of a few seeds, or free by saving some of last years seed from the crop to re-plant.

This has the effect of driving millions of people who once provided for themselves to the cities, where they can not find jobs and have no money to pay for the food they once grew themselves. Someone makes a profit, but only a relatively few people benefit compared to those who now have trouble sustaining themselves.

We recognize that the majority of people who are food-insecure
or hungry in the world live in rural areas. And most of them are
small holder subsistence farmers. – Ertharin Cousin

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