David Beasley made a two-fold mistake. Mistake one was taking on Elon Musk. Mistake two was believing that money solves everything.
Beasley is the Executive Director of the World Food Programme. He thought by shaming Musk he could highlight the ongoing plight that some people don’t get enough food.
His argument is that governments are tapped out and that $6 billion would feed 42 million people. He argued $6 billion was but a minor percentage of Musk’s wealth, and he, and billionaires, in general needed to step up. That, sadly, is how these things work. By calling people out, by shaming people, or looking to embarrass them, you somehow solve your problem.
Trouble for Beasley was Musk was up for it. He was happy to sell Tesla stock to raise the money, as long as Beasley could show through public accounting practices just how it was that $6 billion was going to get the food, and how that food was going to get to the hungry.
Having made that call, we have yet to hear from Beasley, who has presumably wandered back off to where he came from.
Musk highlights the clash between theory versus reality. The same way the New Zealand Government believes that tossing $200-plus million at Māori vaccination rates solves an issue, until it doesn’t.
You have to understand that money doesn’t solve hunger. The world produces plenty of food. In fact, the world produces too much food, given so much of it goes to waste. Distribution has always been the trouble with food. Growing it is easy but getting it to where you want it go is the problem.
Then you need to factor in corruption. Have a look at a lot of the hungry places on the planet, and you will tend to find they are run by crooks. And if not straight up and down crooks, the lesser form of crook known as the dictator.
Have a look at the ports the food arrives at and see how corrupt they are. Have a look at the trucks that distribute the food and see how many of them have a mafia, union, or corrupt grouping behind them. Have a look at how much cash needs to change hands before any food goes anywhere. Have a look at how much of the food does in fact get shipped off, but just to the wrong place, as in the black market.
Musk, of course, knows all this. As does anyone who’s spent five minutes investigating it. But it’s far easier to shame rich folks, eh? Easy headline, make yourself feel good, and justify your NGO’s position.
Easier to point a finger than solve a problem.