Bro. Erle Frayne D. Argonza
[Writ 03 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]
Good day, Fellows!
You see, if you’re going to beg (panic buy) from any rice trader in Cagayan Valley (northern Philippines) for some rice, accompanied by your melancholic look like as if all rice will disappear from Earth very soon, the stunned trader would most likely say, “you’re asking only for a few rice? By golly we got mountain loads of them here!” “What? You say there’s a shortage of rice? Tell that to the Marines! What a Big Lie, this shortage!”
Development partners, peace builders, this is the latest news update I got on the ground. A structural engineer up north, who contracts projects for the Department of Agriculture, laughed with guffaws about the ‘shortage lie’ as he narrated to me his fresh reportage passed on to him by traders. There’s plenty of rice to last for months, for Christ’s sake!
Look at what the organized chaos had done so far here in Manila and other regions. It had made the poorer more pathetic as they have to line up for supposedly cheap rice, made to believe as they are by public relations Pied Pipers that rice is going to run out soon. We’re almost near to stampedes here already, thanks heavens there’s still some dignity left among our poor folks they won’t stampede for rice alone. They would do that for a Wowowie TV program that promises to turn them into millionaires overnight, but to stampede for 5 kilograms of rice? Hello! Our folks are too civilized to buy that bullet.
To continue, listen to what some traders said: “Kabayan, how tragic this shortage lie had done not only to our poor but to us traders. We got so huge stocks in the warehouses, but now we cannot just bring them to Manila for unloading, afraid that no retailer might buy them because suddenly their wholesale prices are sky high. So now even our pockets have to wait for the more stable days. Sad!”
That’s the real picture at ground-level, Partners in development & peace. THERE IS NO RICE SHORTAGE. The shortage was stage-managed. Whether the theatrics was designed overseas and spilled over here, or that it’s only a domestic script is something worth investigating. Our intelligence community should get busy getting to this business of pinning down who staged managed what.
Meantime, the Thailand & Company (states) that cartelized rice recently has done an act that now seems reactive. It is pure and plain panic, disguised as anything worth the ‘rationalization’ of the rice sector. True, for a time this measure can stabilize rice price and bring it down a bit. But now, this company has to prove itself worthy to the global community that its cartelization effort—state-sponsored, using the nation-state as mediating instrument—will make rice available to rice-consumers at relatively reasonable (note: cheap is out of the question) and sustained supply.
If the Thailand & Co will fail to meet global expectations, its member-states will be stoned with fiery embers of public wrath. And that is because, by placing themselves in the line of fire between the global consumers (who were the ‘victims’ in the shortage game script) and the global financiers-speculators (the real culprits in the criminal rise of price rice and stage-managed shortage), the national cartels will be the vent object for public ire. And there it goes, the real culprits go unnoticed and unpunished.
The real story of the price fluctuations in grains and foods in general is that many hedge funds and related financiers decided to park their money a bit in food for their commodity futures operations, eventually driving prices higher up. The reason being that it’s safer to park and earn money in food, period. Look at how the hedge funds were burnt out by their over-exposures to the subprime housing in the USA, that’s enough a precedent for the same financiers to go to safer investment havens. Or else the various global stakeholders will focus their eyes on these gung-ho derivatives investors and ‘burn them at stake’ (criminalize in world courts, regulated via new global treaties and instruments).
And that’s where price stabilization would start later: regulate speculative finance, take down the ‘virtual economy’ based on predatory speculation, dismantle global monopolies, return to fixed currencies backed up by the gold standard, tax cross-border financial transactions, and so on. Quite a wish list for now, true. Crisis after crisis will bring us to their galvanization…and, returning to the ‘real economy’, there’ll be enough grains, cereals, staples for all the earth’s peoples.