The Economy of Hunger …

As a participant and supporter of Heifer International, I received a welcoming brochure in the mail this afternoon.  According to Heifer International, 852 million people around the world are chronically hungry and 25,000 people die every single day from poverty and hunger.  I looked for another source.  According to, one person dies needlessly every other second from starvation, waterborne disease and AIDS, and 85% of them are children.  If my math is correct, there are 86,400 seconds in a day [60 sec/min x 60 min/hour x 24 hours/day], and that means 43,200 people — 85% children — die each day from hunger and poverty.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll consider that if 25,000 people die every day from hunger and poverty that means 9 million+ die annually.

tVM follows “Wars in the World” to monitor international conflict.  Since January 1, 2012, WitW reports 42 deaths among the 59 countries [of the 200+ countries on the planet] engaged in warfare.  At that rate, less than 1,000 will die this year from conflict.  Even if a million die from conflict, the scales of death are weighted heavily toward the negative consequences of hunger and poverty on the planet Earth.


The United States Department of Defense budget in 2011 was approximately $700 billion.  If we distributed those funds to the 9 million people who die each year, each one would have received nearly $80,000.  If we cut our defense budget in half, each person who died could have received $40,000/

On this day in January 2012, tVM will end this discussion right here.  I ask every reader to consider the mathematics of the conundrum.  Is this the Gordian Knot?  I beseech you to comment on this blog.  Help me understand what I am missing … offer solutions … tell us what we can do …

I agree with our pollsters that ignorance is the greatest problem facing the world.  If my sources are accurate, you now have an idea of the enormity of world hunger.  It is incumbent upon us to eliminate it.

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  1. The defense budget, the political process and hunger… All are related, yet disconnected. If we could wave a wand and end the wars, and change the political process so that money is diverted to causes other than providing it to the people,and we were intent on giving money to those who hunger, we still have not created the economy for them that would sustain them. It not only is the wars and political systems that create the hunger situation, but the ecology of that area, as well. Custom contributes. Until these are changed, the hunger persists.

    Perhaps freeing the funds AND absorbing those suffering from hunger into those regions that can support a larger population would eliminate some percentage of those deaths.

  2. Geno; While I agree that the war is costly and the miltary could be run more efficiently, there are better and easier places to acquire money that is being wasted by our government. Mrs. Obama, a private citizen, has a staff which cost US taxpayers $6M/year. The president’s vacations to Europe, Hawaii, and numerous other places are enormously expensive. The money spent on the upcoming elections would be better spent on these issues. Unfortunately, since most Americans do not personally observe these tragedies they do not care to be informed.

    1. I appreciate and understand your comments. With that in mind, if you consider the President’s vacations “enormously expensive,” then the defense budget is beyond the Milky Way. What president has not had ‘expensive vacations’ at the taxpayers expense. There has to be an equitable trade-off somewhere. If the president decided not to take vacations — a worthwhile gesture on his part — and the funds were applied to world hunger or other peace initiatives, I would heartily applaud him. A more significant trade-off might be a reduction in defense spending, which would have FAR more impact on the real issues that face mankind.

  3. I certainly have an idea of the enormity of this problem. Compare US defense spending to the total of the rest of the world! When Defense Dept. cuts are suggested, certain factions imply that this country would be in danger. I do believe that it was Dwight Eisenhower who warned of the Industrial- Defense complex in the US. I would have to look this up but I’m sure with your background you know about this.

    Of course ignorance is the major contributor, especially lack of womens rights. Many countries in the Middle East and Africa are not educating women. All education is inadequate. Womens rights have even taken a turn for the worse in Iraq. That’s aftr a 10 year war. What is wrong with this picture?

    I am well aware of Heifer International. I have their catalog here. I am also a supporter of Doctors without Borders.

    I read all your articles, Gene, but especially appreciated this one and hope everyone reads it.
    Thanks, Sally