Privatizing Food Aid

As reported in the New York Times today, there is growing enthusiasm for “reform” in food aid by buying food locally for distribution.

“It was here in Kansas City, at the 2005 food aid conference, that the Bush administration pushed for a fundamental change in food aid that would have diminished profits to domestic agribusiness and shipping companies. It proposed allowing a quarter of the Food for Peace budget to be used to buy food in poor countries near hunger crises, rather than buying only American-grown food that had to be shipped across oceans.

And Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns spoke at the conference on Wednesday to again make the administration’s case for the same idea, contending that such a policy would speed delivery, improve efficiency and save many lives.”

It does sound good doesn’t it?

Why spend money shipping food when it can be bought locally.

Unfortunately, we do not have an Administration that can be trusted with the money.

Recall the $9 billion lost in Iraq. (Has it been ever located?)

As Helen Thomas wrote:

“Some witnesses likened the atmosphere in Iraq to the Wild West, where cash was handed out without proper accounting.”

Or read what Rick Wilson had to say about privatization efforts under Bush:

“One underreported aspect of the Walter Reed scandal was the roll that privatization played in reducing the quality of services provided to injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

The Army Times and other sources have carried reports of an internal memo which said that privatization of services at Walter Reed put services for veterans “at risk of mission failure” as skilled federal workers left in droves in anticipation of losing their jobs.

Last month, CNN reported that “needed repairs went undone as the non-medical staff shrank from almost 300 to less than 50 in the last year and hospital officials were unable to find enough skilled replacements.”

So while it may sound attractive to streamline this aid effort, to use funds directly to purchase needed goods and services, under this President, this is just another opportunity to fail our nation once again in the name of “reform”, and in the interests of privatization.

It is not the time to make changes in anything until we have new and responsible leadership that will reward excellence in service and not its close cronies with cash and power.

Fool us once Mr. President. And you know the rest.


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About Robert Freedland

A concerned American and supporter of Senator John Kerry, I am the author of the blog "John Kerry for President 2008". I am also the author of the stock market investing blog, "Stock Picks Bob's Advice".
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