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Opinions: Chile’s Preparedness; Evangelical Christians; ‘Locavorism’

Free Economies Essential For Disaster Preparedness

The earthquake in Chile “was the fifth biggest ever measured, and several hundred times larger than the one that killed more than 220,000 in Haiti,” according to a Wall Street Journal editorial. The editorial highlights Chile’s preparation for earthquakes, including stricter building codes. “But such preparation is also the luxury of a prosperous country, in contrast to destitute and ill-governed Haiti. Chile has benefited enormously in recent decades from the free-market reforms it passed in the 1970s under dictator Augusto Pinochet,” according to the editorial, which emphasizes the need for governments to enable economic growth. “In the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, compiled by the Heritage Foundation and this newspaper, Chile is the world’s 10th freest economy. Haiti ranks 141st. … Wealthy nations have the resources to invest in safer buildings, modern health care, telecommunications and search-and-rescue capability.”

“The rich can usually find a way to protect themselves, but it is the middle class and poor who suffer most when growth flags and nations stagnate. Sometimes it takes a tragedy like an earthquake to relearn that lesson, as we’ve been able to see in Chile and Haiti” (2/28).

Evangelical Christians’ Valuable Role In Global Health, Development

“For most of the last century, save-the-worlders were primarily Democrats and liberals. … Evangelicals have become the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria, and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo,” columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in a New York Times opinion piece outlining the role religious conservatives are playing in foreign aid. “Some liberals are pushing to end the longtime practice (it’s a myth that this started with President George W. Bush) of channeling American aid through faith-based organizations. In Haiti, more than half of food distributions go through religious groups like World Vision that have indispensable networks on the ground. We mustn’t make Haitians the casualties in our cultural wars,” Kristof writes, adding that “liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations” is a “root problem.”

According to Kristof, “Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda.” He concludes: “If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality” (2/27).

‘Locavorism’ Could Improve International Food Security

“Locavorism” or “[e]ating vegetables from local farmers and small farms … might be the key to food security and better nutrition for all,” Felix Salmon, a Reuters finance blogger, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. Salmon writes that farmers in some places have used a “monoculture” approach, or “growing just one crop at a time.” According to Salmon, monocultures have a significant risk of disease, complications from patents and an economic model that isn’t always beneficial, “all of which can be addressed with a more sensitive, bottom-up, heterogeneous, small-scale agricultural model.” Salmon continues: “It’s also worth bearing in mind that there’s already more than enough food being grown to feed every person on the planet. … The hunger that persists is a question of distribution; calories don’t just magically trickle down to the people who really need it.”

From Salmon’s perspective, “Locavorism gets right to the root of this problem. By growing multiple crops close to home, less is likely to spoil and more will reach the table.” He notes that “[s]ubsistence farmers” are a “large proportion of the world’s poor,” but argues that local farmers “can create a much more sustainable life for themselves and those around them than Western agribusinesses can. At the very least, locavores should be an important part of the mix,” he concludes (2/26).

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