Bread, Bread, Everywhere, Yet not a Morsel to Eat
By Jason Miller
Clearing House" --- -
Pelted by a perpetual hail of electrons fired
through a cathode ray tube, the pixels on my PC
monitor feed me a generous intellectual bounty of
words and images emanating from virtually infinite
points dotting the globe. Enabling me to interface
with the Internet at will, my computer serves as my
window to the world and as a portal through which I
can unleash my writings upon the unsuspecting.
Earlier this week as I peered into cyberspace
through my ostensibly one-way aperture, I happened
upon a picture that my imperialist indoctrination
had conditioned me to reflexively dismiss or ignore.
However, I’ve grown increasingly resistant to the
“charms” of the pathological delusions of American
superiority, invulnerability, impunity, and
entitlement to decadence. Something about this
particular assemblage of glowing pixels left me
flailing in a raging river of emotion. As I
negotiated the tempestuous feelings surging within
me, I made the conscious decision to forgo the
American Way of dismissal and distraction. Instead,
I connected and contemplated.
Staring me in the face was the tragic image of a
Kenyan child condemned to the abject suffering of
death by starvation. A massive tear confirmed the
depth of his misery, yet his angelic eyes still
beamed with the radiance of his life force. Not even
the brutal assault of famine could extinguish the
persistent flame of the human spirit.
In sharp contrast to the enduring blaze of his inner
being, his corporeal shell had withered in a macabre
synchronicity with the plants of his drought-ravaged
environs. Yet despite his region’s temporary
scarcity of food, like his metaphorical counterpart,
this diminutive scare-crow existed in a world
glutted with comestibles that were not meant for
him. With leather-like skin stretched tautly over
his protruding skeleton, the slightest breeze would
surely have caused him to rustle like a dry corn
husk. Blood seeped from my heart as I made a vain
attempt to imagine his pain.
Despite experiencing nearly overwhelming pathos, I
remained focused and probed for a deeper
understanding of this tiny innocent’s torment.
Until recently, starvation had been an abstraction
so far removed from my reality that I had hardly
considered it. But in that one poignant moment, my
years of personal struggles, work with the homeless
over the last eight months, and choice to immerse
myself in the human suffering encapsulated in that
simple JPEG steeled my determination to examine,
explore, and understand a grim aspect of human
Starvation is a Grueling Process….
Denying the human body adequate nutrition for a
prolonged period results in an agonizing three stage
process of physical deterioration, a host of nasty
symptoms, the potential of numerous excruciating
afflictions, and eventually, death.
In the initial phase, the body breaks down stores of
glycogen to produce the energy it needs. In less
than 24 hours glycogen stores are generally
exhausted and fats become the primary fuel for the
body. Once fat is depleted, precious proteins
comprising human muscle are metabolized to produce
energy. This third stage causes rapid muscle
deterioration and eventually results in the extreme
emaciation embodied by the starving Kenyan boy whose
image was now deeply tattooed onto my cerebrum.
A starving person can look forward to listlessness,
fatigue, skin rashes, extreme irritability, and a
significantly compromised immune system. Add
diarrhea, scurvy, severe edema (swelling) of the
abdomen, and heart failure to the mix and you have a
comprehensive recipe for human anguish. Perhaps it
is a blessing that most sufferers fall victim to
illness or disease before starvation runs its
Famine and the Grim Reaper….a match made in
Delving further, I was startled to learn how
widespread hunger and famine are on our planet,
particularly in the “developing world”.
Mark Elsis offered this sobering perspective at
11, 2001, at least 35,615 of our brother and
sisters died from the worst possible death,
starvation. Somewhere around 85% of these starvation
deaths occur in children 5 years of age or younger.
Why are we letting at least 30,273 of the most
beautiful children die the worst possible death
everyday? Every 2.43 seconds another one of our
fellow brothers and sisters dies of starvation.
Starvation doesn't just happen on Tuesday September
11, 2001, it happens everyday, 365 days per year, 24
hours per day, it never stops.
On 12/5/06, the world human population was 6.4
billion. By that same day, 10.1 million people had
starved to death in 2006. A human being dies from
hunger-related causes every 2.43 seconds. Yet it
doesn’t have to be that way.
If all else fails, blame the victim…
Blaming starvation’s victims for populating the
planet beyond its capacity may assuage many people’s
guilt, but this heartless conclusion is based on
pernicious myths. Humanity produces more than enough
food to sustain the entire world population. The
United States alone wastes a shocking 96 billion
pounds of food each year even as we experience an
epidemic of obesity.
In its rush to dominate, plunder and exploit
“developing nations, the “developed world” (led by
the United States), causes many of the famines it
duplicitously attributes to irresponsible
“Free trade”, “economic development”, and IMF/World
Bank “assistance” are prescriptions for disaster for
the people of the “developing world”. Having
eliminated much of their own arable land for
commercial or industrial use, the Neocolonial
masters rely heavily on imported food from their
servant states, significantly reducing these already
impoverished nations’ ability to feed their own
people. Urbanization in “developing countries”
(fostered by Western economic development) draws
large populations into cities where people no longer
have the means to cultivate their own food. World
Bank loans usually result in projects that benefit
the overlords and create a sea of debt for their
In its bid to oppress the world, the United States
often installs and supports authoritarian leaders
who implement Neoliberal policies that foment
conditions leading to famine and starvation for
their own people. Until the recent democratic
successes of indigenous populists in Latin America,
governments refusing to align with the United States
were often comprised of ruthless elites whom the
people initially embraced as a welcome respite from
(or alternative to) US-style oppression. Either
scenario generally results in profound misery for
the poor and bliss for the aristocracy.
Budgeting priorities….spending $99.50 to kill
them and 50 cents to keep them alive...
Not only does the United States contribute heavily
to the atrocity of widespread starvation. Its
economic aid for famine relief that many American
apologists trumpet is negligible relative to the
money it spends to wage war and kill innocent human
Consider this excerpt from my inspiration for this
essay, Andrew S. Taylor’s brilliant piece entitled
Moral Mathematics in the Post-Enlightenment Era:
October 22, 2006 the total cost of the Iraq war is
$336 billion. Let's do the math. Four years after
Afghanistan, we had spent $1.62 billion helping the
citizens of that nation to rebuild their
infrastructure and secure their "freedom." Less than
four years after invading Iraq, we have spent 207
times that amount to violate the rights of a society
that wants us gone from their home.
To date in FY 2006, the United States has
committed more than $175 million for immediate
life-saving interventions, targeting the most
affected areas in the Horn of Africa with water and
sanitation, health, nutrition, and food assistance.
Congress has already appropriated about $850
million for aid to all of Sudan in 2005 and 2006,
and the White House has requested another $880
Well goodness, that's almost more than we've given
Afghanistan! It is almost 0.5% of the yearly budget
in Iraq, where it seems we may have killed more than
the 400,000 than have already starved to death in
Darfur, and no doubt displaced a number comparable
to the 2 million displaced there.”
thoughts back to the tortured soul whose photograph
had imbued me with a desire to dissect the subject
of starvation, I wondered if by some miracle he had
survived. Other questions rushed to mind. What was
his name? How old was he? What was his favorite
game? What did he like to eat, when he had food?
What happened to his parents? If he died, then how
could do little more than conjecture or speculate, I
directed my attention back to my feelings. My
sadness for the boy had progressed into abhorrence
of the elites, oligarchs, and plutocrats, both here
and in the nations plagued by famines.
I also felt
grateful that I had disciplined myself to pursue my
thoughts and feelings elicited by that haunting
image of a dying child.
conclusions had I drawn or reaffirmed?
empathy is both a balm for the soul and anathema to
significant portion of world hunger is intentionally
perpetuated to ensure that a relative few can
gluttonously self indulge.
Manipulation and subjugation via economic means are
often the principal causes of famines and mass
4. Behind the
United States’ fašade of benevolent superpowerdom
lurks a craven pack of ruthless predators with the
moral principles of Caligula.
perhaps most importantly, my oft-expressed antipathy
for many of the institutions, systems, policies, and
actions of the American Empire is well-founded.
In the final
analysis, the little wretch for whom I had grieved
had not suffered in vain. He starved so that the
“people who matter" can revel in their opulence.
And on top of
that, we have an Empire to run. Somebody has to make
sacrifices. It might as well be “Third Worlders”.
Sources and Further Reading:
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American
Empire who has freed himself intellectually and
spiritually. He writes prolifically, his essays have
appeared widely on the Internet, and he volunteers
at homeless shelters. He welcomes constructive
or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at