Letter to the editor

After reading this opinion piece from the Irish Independent News...

Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 00:22:44 -0400
From: "Nemo Semret"
To: kmyers@independent.ie, letters@independent.ie
Subject: Re: Africa is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS

Dear Kevin Myers,

I agree wholeheartedly with your article.

Indeed, it is a melancholy object to those who walk through that
continent of Africa, when they see the streets, and "vast savanahs"
crowded with "sexualy hyperactive indigents" (as you so aptly put it),
importuning Europeans for aid every few years, generation after
generation. I agree with you that the prodigious number of children
they produce is, given the growing uncertainty of the global economy,
an unacceptable economic, environmental and aesthetic burden on the
lifestyles of the deserving people of the First World.

Ethiopia, as you point out is a particularly galling example. At 80M
population today, with a birth rate of 3-4% and a net population
growth of over 2%, the country is producing 1.6M new mouths to feed
per year. Of those, perhaps 100,000 have any chance of having a
lifestyle that you would consider decent. That leaves 1.5M useless
mouths to feed, 750,000 AIDS conveying organs of each gender, 3M
Kalashnikov wielding arms, etc.

At the same time, China and India are earning their place at the table
of the global economy, but in the process putting pressure on the
world's resources. In particular, as has been well publicized, their
growing appetite for meat is driving up prices of meat, of soybeans
and corn further down the food chain, and even of oil and gas.

Having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject,
and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have
always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. The Gates
Foundation as you point out is misguidedly deploying considerable
resources to make the problems worse by preventing malaria from doing
it's natural job. I would add that the US government, the United
Nations, the Global fund, and various and sundry funds dedicated to
enabling Africans with AIDS to continue spreading the disease are
tremendously counterproductive.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope
will not be liable to the least objection. I have been assured by very
knowing people of my acquaintance that a young healthy child well
nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome
food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or fried; and I make no doubt
that it will equally serve in a lo mein or a curry with rice.

I do therefore humbly offer it to your consideration that of the
previously computed 1.5M excess Ethiopians produced annually, 150,000
be kept for breeding, and the remaining 1.35M, at a year old, be
offered in the sale to reputable global agribusiness corporations;
always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last
month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. This
supply of about 15,000 metric tonnes per year of additional
high-protein food will, if appropriately marketed to the growing
markets of Asia, relieve global prices of a wide range of connected
commodities by up to 10%. Your average countryman stands to save at
least 100 Euros per year in gasoline alone!

I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious
and many, as well as of the highest importance. The risk of AIDS
bearing immigrants will be reduced, the reduction in civil wars in
Africa will free up more television time for entertainment in the
First World, increasing not only viewing pleasure but also
advertising revenues and thus commerce and overall economic
well-being, and of course, the long-suffering consciences of the West,
rather than needing to be relieved by constant doses of aid-giving,
will be fully cured of that most senseless and nagging feeling of
guilt. Many other advantages might be enumerated.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least
personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work,
having no other motive than the public good of the deserving First
World, by advancing its trade, providing food for its growing
partners, and relieving its citizens. Though I am Ethiopian myself, I
have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny.


Yonatan Fetanu


Electoral markets

In my last entry about prediction markets vs polls, I quoted and linked to some aggregate numbers from Intrade for the US presidential election. Now there's Electoral markets, a website called that displays the prediction markets at the state level. Cool stuff! I came across it in a blog entry that sums it up quite well.


Capital del mundo

A ride-by demographic study, one subway car: