Count Our Holiday Blessings: At Least We’re Not Starving
by C.J. Maloney
The root of famine lies not in the gods or in the stars but in the actions of man.
~ Murray Rothbard (1985)
This being the holiday season it is good for the soul to spend a moment and give thanks to God for His blessings so thereafter, soul at ease and heart full of holiday cheer, you may rush back to Wal-Mart and resume punching out your fellow shoppers during infantile orgies of spending. I fear with America’s high unemployment and a political elite seemingly bent on destroying the currency we might be psychologically inclined, as libertarians, to look on the dark side of things this Christmas. Allow me to point out a little ray of sunshine.
By examining our nation’s history we see that America is indeed exceptional and blessed by God in one very important way – we have never experienced famine. It might not sound like much, but you don’t know what you’ve got until the refrigerator is bare. Episodes of famine are rife throughout recorded time; the past gives us innumerable episodes when millions of desperate, starving people were reduced to wander like the animals of the forest, every moment of their last wretched days spent in agonizing and often futile searches for food.
Famine is an unrivaled horror; of all the ways to die none comes close to matching the physical and psychological torment of starving to death. It is the most painful way to end your life, a slow, drawn out execution that will reduce even the most proud of men to root eagerly through horse manure and swallow any undigested oats within it. Better for any nation an atomic bomb attack than famine, if history is any guide. Hardly any peoples on earth can boast of never knowing famine. During their time under the Tsars famine swept Russia so frequently that permanently staffed government bureaus were always on hand to deal with them.
The physical effects of starving are pitiful and utterly disgusting. The primary change, of course, is a dramatic loss of weight as the body, in order to keep the heart pumping and central nervous system nervous, extracts the needed energy from pre-existing muscle and fat. Once this is depleted the body slows down to save energy, the starving become lethargic and incapable of any prolonged physical exertion. Entire families will lay down together and pass away one by one, famine will reduce whole villages and towns into graveyards. Under the assault of hunger great cities of millions will grow quiet as coffins.
In St. Petersburg during the worst of its 900-day World War 2 siege, people considered themselves lucky to be eating the lubricant used for tanks and one person noted “people are all bloated, frightful-looking, black, dirty, and emaciated. Young people have become so ghastly looking…it’s simply awful to look at them.” (Lincoln, 2000, 282) Starving people are not only hard on the eyes, they are worse on the nose. With a weakened immune system the body is exposed to a number of diseases that cause various skin eruptions, diarrhea, and sores. The stench of the starving revolts the senses.