This week, in an amazing expression of generosity and an affirmation of what Thom Hartmann describes as the “We Society,” the Scottish government has begun considering legislation that would acknowledge food as a human right.
The Scottish Parliament started looking at the issue after seeing a report by the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty that was published several months ago. It calls on the government to enshrine the right to food in national legislation, declaring that it is the duty of government to make certain that every person has access to food that is both nutritious and affordable. It wouldn’t solve the problem of food insecurity, but would address many of the factors that are the cause of it.
The report comes in the wake of the effects of the U.K.’s mad dash toward austerity as Her Majesty’s government sheds the nation’s social safety net. This in turn has pushed increasing numbers of people over the edge, forcing them into poverty and increasing reliance on food banks. Angel Constance, Scottish Equalities Secretary (a post in the U.K. that addresses various forms of discrimination), says “No-one should have to rely on emergency food provision in a country as prosperous as Scotland.”
“We want to create a sustainable solution to tackling food poverty across Scotland, and therefore I am committed to exploring a range of options, including looking into potentially enshrining the right to food into Scots law. We will continue to work closely with individual projects to help them develop sustainable solutions to tackle food poverty.”
It’s an idea, the time for which came decades ago. According to the organization Greener Scotland, approximately 380,000 tons of food in that country gets thrown into the trash every year. That costs the Scottish economy about £1 billion (approximately $1.25 billion USD) each and every year. By way of comparison, the GNP of Scotland in 2015 was £186.7 billion (about $233.3 billion USD).
But that waste is nothing compared to what goes on here in what – barring a miracle – will soon be the America of Donald Trump and the far-right fascist GOP and its culture of cruelty.
In the U.S. about 133 billion tons of food – fully 40% of our national food supply – simply gets tossed out. Some grocery stores and restaurants even make sure that what winds up in the garbage is tainted or otherwise made inedible, simply so hungry people reduced to “dumpster diving” won’t be able to eat it. Others destroy the food items so that they cannot be held responsible if a dumpster diver is made sick from eating the discarded product. Partially as a result of this waste, nearly 50 million Americans – over 15% of the U.S. population – live in what is known as food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal will come from.
And with the right-wing fascists in charge, led by a psychotic, unstable demagogue-in-charge who operate on the firm belief that the poor are undeserving of anything, this situation will only get worse.
The government of Scotland is figuring out what behaviorist Abraham Maslow told us decades ago: without basic needs such as clean air and water, food, and shelter, people cannot function on any more than a survival level. They don’t have the time or inclination to think about relationships – or activism.
And that is just how the Trumpists like it.
While Scotland is a reasonably prosperous country, it is no superpower – economic or otherwise. Yet, the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, a country with almost unlimited resources, a nation that sent men to the Moon inside of a decade, refuses to make certain that every one of its citizens has the most basic needs – clean water, shelter, healthy food, and medical care when needed.
That same nation is now falling under the control of blood-sucking, tyrannical, selfish, hypocritical, vile and controlling men who think only of their own gain and how they can keep the corporate fascist jackboot firmly on the necks of everyone they deem to be “undeserving.”
To the Scots, we say, meal ur naidheachd, a cho-oga and a hearty slainté bhaugh! With any luck, your example will serve to shame America in the way its government treats its most vulnerable citizens (though given Trump’s arrogance, we ain’t holding our breath).