THE BLOG
04/07/2008 12:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Food or Fuel? We Americans Aren't Making Friends

You think invading two Muslim countries has made the U.S. a tad unpopular?

Well, be prepared, because America's about to become a much more hated place than ever. And it won't take a single bombing, no napalm, nor even a division of Marines. All we gotta do is keep on buying, and driving big cars, and pretending food from plastic is natural. The first figurative glove across the bloated American cheek was swung by the Indian Finance Minister. He said it is outrageous that developed countries, and America is always cited as the MOST developed, are turning food into fuel. He claims 20% of America's corn is now used for ethanol to keep our cars running to the air conditioned malls.

Here's a highlight from the Reuters report:

"Delivering a lecture in Singapore, Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that using corn and other crops for fuel was a sign of 'lopsided priorities.'

He said that such an 'uncaring' policy had to be strongly condemned.

The minister went on to say food prices have doubled since 2004. He did criticize the greed of oil producing nations in his speech. And we thought Saudi Arabia was a hotbed of rabid humanitarianism, reforming sheiks spreading good will and enlightenment across the desert? You wouldn't expect an Indian leader to speak kindly of oil nations. They have a long, bitter relationship with Muslim Pakistan next door. Pakistan gets heavy support from Saudi Arabia using its American gasoline profits.

Recently an Associated Press story outlined the many places on earth where food's no longer affordable.

What are the factors contributing to higher food prices and how useful is it to foreign politicians to blame the U.S.?

1) Population growth. Let's get over this madness that everything tomorrow has to be bigger than it was yesterday. More is NOT better.

2) Fuel costs. Gasoline and crude oil prices have skyrocketed since the Iraq invasion. Anti-American oil nations like Venezuela, Iran and Russia can only laugh as they count their cash.

3) Food surpluses were long a staple of the American political diet. Let 'em eat our subsidized corn, or soybeans, we'd say. And then send 'em another shipload. No more.

4) Biofuel. We subsidize our corn growers. We are creating a dead zone in Gulf of Mexico with the toxic run-off. Europe accuses American scammers of getting U.S. subsidies after shipping biofuel twice across the Atlantic.

5) Let 'em eat cake. We're becoming the Marie Antoinette of starvation. We're the most obese major nation per capita. We ship food in from all over despite having the most productive agricultural land and industry on earth, and in history. I gotta have white grapes in January. Even in the U.S. food prices rose 4% last year.

7) U.S. research in energy tech and agriculture is still premiere. My favorite green tech story: there are energy efficient windows being made and sold in northern Europe. An inert gas sealed between two panes. Several times more efficient than the R-2-rated double panes you can buy in the U.S. After decades lag, those windows are going to be made by a U.S. firm. Care to guess where the process was first developed? MIT, of course.

Americans want tech research into alternative fuels, not more oil or more guns.

Any wonder 81% of Americans think this country's headed in the wrong direction?

We don't have to be the bloated, hated, mistrusted bully. We could conserve. Our great-grandparents did it during World War Two. We don't have to elect profligate leaders to power. Do we really think we need a military that is the most expensive, destructive, deadly on earth? Tell me what dividends we reaped from military spending and borrowing? We Americans don't have to drive the biggest cars on earth. We don't have to eat too much, throw away too much, wrap our entire existence in six layers of non-biodegradable plastic. We might start valuing our technology and science more than our arrogance and credit cards. Perhaps once in a while saving is better than spending? Perhaps the lovers of the market place are not 100% correct and greed does need to be curbed? That lesson has been relearned repeatedly through history. Can you really tell W from Nero? Can we try to learn the greed lesson again, or do we lead the rush to planetary self-destruction?