New York Times food writer Mark Bittman’s Thursday morning nytimes.com blog post on the end of his politically motivated four-day fast, “Stating the Obvious: Hunger Is a Disease,” is a followup to his bizarre left-wing rant on Wednesday’s op-ed page, where he claimed proposed spending cuts in the new House budget plan would “quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now.”
After describing the symptoms of his fast, Bittman, a best-selling cookbook author, cooking-show host, and continent-hopping gourmand who has made a very good living selling his wares to other privileged foodies, nonetheless attacked “unregulated capitalism and greed” as the cause of the world’s problems.
What causes the lack? Imprisonment, torture, being stranded on a desert island, anorexia, crop failure....and both a lack of aid and bad distribution of nutrients. Some (or much) of both of these last two stem from unregulated capitalism and greed. Bad distribution is causing roughly 15 percent of the world to be overweight and 15 percent of the world to be hungry. The amount of grain being fed to industrially raised livestock in the United States alone is enough to alleviate much if not all of world hunger.
The cost to the United States of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for one year -- this is only one example, there are dozens of others -- is $42 billion; the U.N.’s World Food Program spent $1.25 billion last year. The estimated cost of obesity-related diseases in the United States alone is $150 billion annually; at least some of that money could be saved by reducing the consumption of soda and other junk food and industrially produced meat, all of which cause disease, directly or indirectly.
Bittman also appeared on CNN at 8:15 Friday morning, and advanced a sophomoric liberal argument, asking why we weren't scrapping defense or taxing the rich instead of cutting food aid programs, one minute into his interview with anchor Kiran Chetry: “Well this is really to call attention to the fact that H.R.1, the budget legislation introduced by the House, cuts aid to the poor and hungry in the United States and abroad, rather than scrapping, say, defense program or increasing taxes on the rich or any other number of ways we could be raising money.” (Clip at Times Watch.)
After a query from Chetny mildly challenging his assumption that “the Bush tax cuts on the rich cost us $42 billion a year,” Bittman responded, “It’s wealthy people’s money, who have, you know, who have hundreds of times as much money as most people in the United States. And this is not how it’s been traditionally, and taxes were much higher until the Reagan years.”
Bittman concluded his self-righteous rant: “Well I believe we’re here at this stalemate because we refuse to tax corporations the way they should be taxed and we refuse to tax billionaires the way they should be taxed. That would make a huge difference.”
No comment on whether Mark Bittman thinks he is being taxed enough.