Food prices have officially now hit their highest prices since the the UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) started recording them. For eight straight months now they’ve climbed and are now above their former height from 2008, shortly before the world economy crashed. This is expected to have serious effects around the world, especially in poorer nations, but even here in wealthier ones we’re being told we can expect to see at least a 5-7% increase in prices.

To see prices like gold, food and oil surging exactly the same way they did before the ‘meltdown of 08’ is not comforting. Despite spending trillions of dollars “stabilizing” the economy with bailouts, we are clearly no closer to actual stability or sustainability than we were then. If this trend doesn’t slow or stop very soon, we can expect another crash, likely within a few months. With welfare rates, unemployment and personal debt levels still reeling from the last crash, it seems unlikely that the next will be anywhere near as comfortable as the last.

Making matters far worse, the fiscal cost of the bailout is spurning worldwide “Austerity” measures attempting to recoup the cost by slashing wages, social services and other “expenses”. Here in Ontario, the McGuinty Government is cracking down on welfare recipients who receive the Special Diet Supplement. The allowance was designed to provide extra money for recipients who have dietary needs like diabetes or allergies. It became the focus of OCAP action after years of inflation and Conservative rule left basic welfare payments earmarked for food unable to meet the basic nutritional needs of even those without these disorders. Encouraging everyone to apply as an act of protest, doctors and other professionals began signing the forms as an attempt to get people enough money to live on. Accusing them and their doctors of “fraud” for a publicized protest campaign which is now nearly a decade old, the Liberals are now forcing everyone to reapply or lose their benefits, with many changes. With the rising cost of food, this is likely to make things much worse for people who depend on social assistance, as well as many more who may soon need it.

It’s time to start thinking very seriously about alternatives. Soon many of us may need far more than our jobs, or jobless benefits can provide.

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