Friday, January 13, 2006

Raison d'Etre




Recently I was discussing the nature of a blog, two schools of thought were formed. First the use of a blog as a reporting tool, one that drew a collection of articles that was a sum of a persons interest. The other was that of a more personal perspective on life; a diary of sorts. I myself believe that writing should be personal, it gives words a soul and a character. It's the difference between reading the Herald Tribune (a fine publication, with a very objective view) and a British daily. In fact it is the very reason that the one thing I miss most when I travel is the British papers. No one gives such a perspective view, each paper fitting with a particular character. It should come to no surprise to the people that know me that I should read the Guardian. In-fact how could I not read the Guardian in my field of work? It is of course ironic that I am paid to write mostly from an objective view with very little personal input (though this is slowly changing).


Back to the subject of my blog, as this is my first foray into self published work, I feel I will have many pitfalls, like going off subject. The other main question is can I write this as personally as I want to, given that I know members of my audience. I would like very much to write completely from the heart, but do i want to bare so much of myself to all my readers.


I'm sure these issues will resolve themselves as time goes on. One thing I promise this won't be is a rant, well maybe the occasional one. I suppose it will just be reflective. I don't think that my posts will have any set structure, but from time to time I think I'd like to add in a fact, so here is the first one:


"Every cow in the EU is subsidised by $2.50 a day. That's more than what 75 per cent of Africans have to live on."


Of course facts and figures are nothing until you put them in context, or slant them to illustrate your point. A article in the Guardian dated the 25th September 2002 reported that CAFOD calculated that for the amount the EU spent protecting its farmers, each of the EU's 21 million cows could go on a round-the-world trip once a year; taking in the sights of London, shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore Hanoi, Siem Reap, Brisbane, Rarotonga, Los Angeles and San Fransisco, with £400 spending money to boot. I love how the figure has been illustrated, it makes a a mockery of the madness that makes up the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP).


There are many stories about how the CAP came to be; however my favourite involves Charles de Gaulle. France's illustrious general was appalled to find out his cherished Saucissons were not being made any more, as the pig farmer responsible for their production was being put out of business by cheaper imported pigs. He therefore went about setting a structure for agricultural subsidies, and thus the CAP was born


In this case its a destructive circle, subsidies though making life easier for farmers in the developed world are the very reason that the developing world farmers can not make a living.


Of course like many policies the crux of the problem is a lack of change. The policies were set up post war, and have not adapted to reflect the times. They were designed to secure affordable food, now perversely they make our weekly food bills 44% larger. Our shopping trolleys are filled with items with over inflated prices due to to subsidies, milk, beef and sugar amongst other agricultural goods, are 70%, 221% and 94% more expensive respectively.


I hope you will enjoy reading my blog, and I will update it as often as I can. Please free to comment.


Todays Song:


Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes from the album "Eternal Sunshine fo the Spotless Mind" by Beck


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