The United Nations (U.N.) is a bottomless pit into which most of the world’s countries (there are currently 193 member states) have been pouring money for decades. How many global problems has the organization solved during that time? “None” is the correct answer. So, why is David Beasley, the director of the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP), claiming that $6 billion will solve world hunger? To be precise, he says it will “help” solve world hunger – and that is the problem, right there; it would be another $6 billion poured into the U.N.’s gaping maw, and the problem of hunger would still exist.
Elon Musk is no slouch when it comes to numbers. The multi-billionaire founder of Tesla felt compelled on October 31 to take on some of Twitter’s many virtue-signalers who called on him to sell Tesla stock and donate the proceeds toward the fight against world hunger. This all stemmed from a CNN Business article that centered around an interview with Beasley.
Buddy, Can You Spare $6 Billion?
During the interview, Beasley practically saddled the world’s billionaires with the responsibility of eliminating malnutrition, saying they should “step up now, on a one-time basis.” This of course raises the question: If even just a handful of billionaires could pony up the cash to solve a problem as massive as global hunger, then what purpose does the U.N. serve at all?
Nevertheless, Musk was all in on the idea of liquidating Tesla stock and cutting the WFP a check – with one caveat. He challenged the U.N. program to “describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger …”
“$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated,” Beasley had said in his interview. Assuming the WFP director is suggesting every billionaire on Earth chip in $6 billion, is the hunger problem going to be over? According to a March 2021 report in Forbes, there are 2,755 billionaires in the world, though many of them – probably most of them, in fact – have a net worth of less than $6 billion, so they can be counted out.
Supposing, then, that 1,000 billionaires each threw in $6 billion. That’s $6 trillion. By the time one deducts U.N. salaries and other operating costs, will what’s left be enough to solve the problem? For a few years, perhaps, and then Beasley or his successor will be asking for another $6 billion – or perhaps $10 billion or more.
If It’s Just a Question of Money …
The real conundrum here is, if all it takes is throwing a huge pile of money at the problem to make it go away, then why hasn’t the U.N. already eliminated hunger? The Tesla CEO was curious to know the answer to this question, just as many others should be. The WFP alone, just last year (2020), raked in $8.4 billion, as Musk pointed out. How much money has it raised in the past ten years, then, or the past 20 years? Where has the money gone?
The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change is to raise $100 billion a year. If Musk’s $6 billion is going to help solve world hunger, imagine what $100 billion a year could achieve. At some point, one begins to wonder if the hunger issue is even being taken seriously – or perhaps it’s just being used as another excuse to pull in some big money.
Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos have a combined net worth of around $640 billion. Wouldn’t any of those three men want to be known as the one who ended hunger? No doubt each of them would. Why have they not gotten together, then, and taken care of the problem? Because all of them know, as Beasley does, that it simply is not a matter of shoveling billions of dollars into the underdeveloped world until nobody is hungry.
And if one were a heartless cynic, one might consider that the ongoing problem of global malnutrition is a great excuse for the WFP to keep pulling in billions of dollars a year in perpetuity.
~ Read more from Graham J. Noble.