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Do you follow the changing geography of overweight
Last week, we said that one billion overweight people all around the world can be taken as an evidence for the unsuccessfulness of economists. Our aim was to explain to the "we do not like economists" group that occupied the agenda with the emergence of the global crisis that not all economists are the same. There existed good economists and bad economists. Thinking that a subject about economics would be too boring alone, we opened the issue with overweightness. However, the data on the number of overweight people and people suffering from hunger were printed wrong on the newspaper. So, we had to go back to the overweightness topic and give the correct data. Therefore, the topic today is the changing geography of overweightness. Let us see how the bitter end of real socialism trials derailed the world.
In fact, we had decided to write about Higher Education Board (YÖK) today. We would have discussed in detail YÖK that continues to exhaust the higher education as usual with senseless decisions they have been making recently. Even the title was ready: "There is no fundamental difference between YOK Chaired by Kemal Gürüz and by Yusuf Ziya Özcan." And then we would conclude "there is nothing new in YÖK's side". It would have been a really entertaining commentary. I guess we can do this in the weekend.
Today's topic is the changing geography of overweightness. But first, let us correct the mistake in the previous article: As of 2007, number of overweight people has exceeded the number of people within the hunger limit. We got the figures from the book of Raj Patel titled "Stuffed and Starved". As the author suggests, the number of overweight people is 1 billion, the number of people starving is 800 million. Some resources say that as of 2008 number of people starving from hunger is around 900 million. But the essence is: The world is approaching to witness the time of the overweight. This is the first point we can reach; and it is of importance in terms of expressing the quality of this era. This point eventually takes us to the need to become green. Let us see how.
When the geography of overweight and hunger is examined, three more points can be reached: First, while overweight is getting more widespread in geographic terms, hunger is concentrated over a certain area. Currently, the homeland of hunger is mainly Africa. And this suggests that the issue is mainly a problem of world order, a corrupt system. Six billion people live on the earth. Through the current production capacity of the world is sufficient to feed 12 billion people, two times of this population, but it fails to feed even half of it. And the ones it can feed are over-fed. Why while hunger was visible over a wider geography in the past, in 1930s and 1950, today it is concentrated in a limited area? I guess this must be the first issue to think about. And this takes us to the second point: "Intensification of the globalization, generalizes overweight while squeezes hunger within a small area." At least this is what we see from the top. This statement can also be opened like this: As the market mechanism gets involved more in allocation of resources, hunger is squeezed within a certain limited area. Here the purpose is not claiming that with globalization, we are evolving into a more egalitarian and problem-free society. Presence of overfed people also signals a type of imbalance. However, it seems that globalization facilitates the access to sources of nutrition. Order is better than any kind of disorder.
So, if the generalization of overweight is closely related with the process of globalization, what is it that makes it possible? It is policy. It is the consecutive collapse of real socialist regimes that generalizes both globalization and overweight. In general, collapse of the Soviet Union is always put to the forefront whereas China is ignored. Nonetheless, Deng reforms in China will shape this century. The reform process launched with the slogan "It does not matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice" has changed and has been changing the face of the world. Integration of China and the Soviet Union into the process of globalization has intensified the process of globalization. With this lens, the reason for the generalization of overweight throughout the world is not actually economic but politic. And this is the third point to state for the day.
Those saying "How can politics be the reason for the intensification of globalization; is not it an economic process?", please examine carefully how the Soviet Union collapsed. What Shimon Peres, a sophisticated politician, said for Iran in a recent talk is also valid for the Soviets. Peres underlined that the fire of all revolutions is cooled in time. Why is this so? Since revolutionists fighting to change the order become a part of it, fire of revolution was cooled soon. And the rest would be the allocation of resources; allocation of tenders first to friends and then to those sending gifts; hurry to register unlicensed buildings; concerns about whom to employ first; meaningful decisions to change the zoning plan; and rising corruptions. And eventually, new elites replacing the old ones became like the old elites. Whether he was religious or was worker-origin did not really matter. Then, the downfall began. It was this political process that would change Iran. In fact, this was what dragged the Soviets to the end. But, the main point is: We guess what lead to the generalization of overweight and the intensification of globalization is not economic but political.
Let us close up the overweight issue with a final conclusion: Intensification of globalization and the integration of regions that were not a part of the global system do not only change the nutritional habits of the people that were used to be nourished at subsistence level; it also changes the lifestyles of them as a whole. Millions of Chinese people start to buy automobiles. Then, they start to use deodorant. Please do not get me wrong; I will not conclude like "this is why the Ayamama river floods". But I guess becoming green turns into a significant requirement in the midst of this great transformation. You know that recently studies on electricity automobiles are advancing and a renewal based on green technology is pointed out to recover from the crisis in particular in Europe. These discussions seem to have a highly solid and objective reason. The problem is closely related with the failure of real socialism trials. What is more, generalization of overweight is also based on the same reason.
This commentary was published in Referans daily on 12.09.2009