Socialism and hunger: a quick reminder
By Marian L. Tupy
Calorie consumption per person per day, 1961-2013.
Socialism is back in vogue, especially among America’s college-educated youth. They are too young to remember the Cold War and few study history. It is, therefore, timely to remind the millennials of what socialism wrought – especially in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Those of us who remember the early 1980s will always remember the images ofstarving Ethiopian children. With bellies swollen by kwashiorkor and eyes covered with flies, these were the innocent victims of the Derg – a group of Marxist militants who took over the Ethiopian government and used starvation to subdue unruly parts of the country.
Between 1983 and 1985, some 400,000 people starved to death. In 1984, Derg earmarked 46 percent of the gross domestic product for military spending, thereby creating the largest standing army in Africa. In contrast, spending on health fell from 6 percent of GDP in 1973 to 3 percent in 1990.
Predictably, the Derg blamed the ensuing famine on drought, although the rains failed many months after the food shortages began. In 1991, the Derg was overthrown and its leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, escaped to Zimbabwe, where he lives, under government protection and at the taxpayers’ expense, to this day.