Censor the Beeb

Katy says: This fawning BBC photo essay about a Chávez-sponsored organic farm in the middle of Caracas is not to be missed.

Like any good Islington lefty, reporter Nathalie Malinarich and photographer Emma Lynch are just tickled pink to see newly empowered swarthy latin peasant types making organic – organic! – vegetables right in the middle of a big city. It’s just so exotic!

Of course, it only takes about ten seconds of actual reasoning to realize that putting an organic farm in the middle of a crowded, congested city may be the dumbest urban-planning idea this side of… well, building another monstrous statue in honor of Simón Bolívar. Ten seconds of actually reasoning, though, seems more than these Beeb PSFs were capable of.

Lets walk them through it: it may shock you to learn that urban land is many, many times more expensive than rural land. The revenue you get from farming on urban land is much less than what you get if you use it for buildings. Which is just a jargony way of saying that putting a farm in the middle of a city is like using $20 worth of cloth to make a $10 shirt: it consumes more resources than it produces.

This little factlet is the reason behind a phenomenon you may or may not have noticed: cities are full of buildings, while the countryside is full of farms. Coincidence? I think not!

Caught up in the revolutionary fervor, Malinarich and Lynch don’t stop to puzzle these things through. They don’t wonder how many more organic farms the government could finance if it sold this plot of land and invested the proceeds in the countryside. They don’t seem to grasp that resources run out, that the resources you use up on absurd projects are resources you can’t use for sensible ones, and that, therefore, their adorable little organic farm is creating poverty, not reducing it.

Opportunity cost? Reactionary rhetoric!

Perhaps it would be too pesky to suggest that having a public park for everyone to enjoy, or some badly needed extra housing, would be a better use of scarce city space. Thing is, none of these questions seem pertinent when your perspective is clouded by a first world rebel-wannabe’s crush on the Latin Revolutionary du Jour. Crikey!

I think the BBC should have its license revoked for putting out such biased reporting.