No one would ever dare accuse the Kelloggs Corporation of being lefties, pinkoes, liberals or any of the other adjectives in the demonology of the Right. It’s always been a shining example of progressive, enlightened capitalism, supplying the market with clean, benign products. (Declaration of Interest-we love them). That’s why when they come up with a report on child hunger, it needs to be taken very seriously indeed.
UK readers will be aware of the controversy swirling around the footballer Marcus Rashford and his campaigns on child hunger. Readers may take many views on this. Some religious readers may look at it on compassionate grounds. Libertarians and economists of the Chicago persuasion may take the view that any interference in a free market is both inefficient and an intolerable assault on liberty. The aforementioned Lefties and pinkoes may well develop tropes on abstract concepts like social justice and equity, whatever they are.
But what if the real argument is none of those? What happens if you take the patriotic view of long term national efficiency? The Kelloggs reports waxes lyrical indeed on the damage that hunger is doing to teaching, exam passes and assessment. We’ve included a couple of other links which suggest childhood hunger leads to increases in things like violence and physical and mental health problems. We were shocked to discover that the ancient evil of rickets is back on the rise. (Economic History note: a high incidence of rickets in the lower classes is a pretty good sign you have a truly free market economy).
If Britain is now to be a successful, stand-alone nation, it will need the best trained, best-educated workforce it can muster. There is depressing evidence that it is stuck at mid table in the world education leagues, but we promise another blog on that later. The lesson from History is also clear. The malnourished, stunted late Victorian lower classes were not up to their tasks either as workers or defenders of the Empire. (During the Boer War, the Army was forced to reject between 40 and 60% of volunteers on health grounds). There is evidence that the Government is taking Rashford seriously. Good-we can’t afford to make the same mistake twice. There’s no Empire to fall back on, nor anyone else.
#marcusrashford #childpoverty #childhoodhunger #kelloggs #education #boerwar #declineofbritain