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23.5 Million Reasons to Rethink the Economy


Touch the Soil News #222

The following news piece is partly a satire on the present economic system using a serious food issue as the point of discussion. This is not a criticism of America, as much as it is poking fun at economic dilemmas that really require new thinking and approaches.

If there is insufficient purchasing power in the hands of Americans, they can be starving and the grocery stores will still move out of town. This has become a big issue at the USDA, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Health and Human Services. They have identified more than 23.5 million people who live in food deserts. A food desert is a place where the presence of healthy affordable food and grocery stores is sparse.

The popular concepts of supply and demand are the bedrock of economic models, thinking and fortune-telling. But if there are insufficient dollars to facilitate the connection of consumers’ need for food (demand) and grocery store sales (supply), we can quickly guess what happens – nothing.

The USDA, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Health and Human Services are trying to figure it out why food deserts exist, and what to do. It’s an interesting process in which brainpower is applied to the problem, but always stopping short of question the system.

Of course the most obvious reason for food deserts – lack of purchasing power – is something that nothing can be done about. If the for-profit models that define our economic approaches are not working, perhaps there is a need for nonprofit farms and nonprofit grocery stores. These would be enterprises focused on service and jobs – not profit.

A Richmond, Virginia neighborhood. Virginia has the highest rate of people living in food deserts at 17.8 percent of the population. Ironically, Richmond is home to six Fortune 500 companies.


By the time large corporate entities add gratuitous executive salaries, stock options, dividend payments and demands for escalating stock values to food, it can get expensive. In order to cut the expenses (not profit), the option is low-pay and part time jobs. What a dilemma, when the cost of capital and the need to cut expenses ends up making food unaffordable and jobs not sustainable. What do you do when the system does not adequately connect demand with supply? It’s even a bigger problem for government, that is obliged to keep its citizenry from starving.

Criticized for being a bad idea, Marriner S. Eccles, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank from 1934-1948, suggested that establishing purchasing power among the citizenry is key to them being able to buy what industry and retailers have to sell. In its purest form, capital is money. So capital must be used as much as a spending (distribution) medium as it does an investment (production) medium – it’s just good Capitalism.

If modern concepts of supply, demand and capital cannot shed light on this, then one must assume that many concepts of Capitalism deny a basic understanding of capital. Following is a short video clip on the dilemma of food deserts:

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