No, I am not talking about TV catchphrases, from The Office or elsewhere.
I had the good fortune this morning to appear on The Takeway (talking about financial illiteracy) beside Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was speaking about surging food prices around the world and the very real threat of famine.
Her entire segment is well worth a listen. The piece that caught my ear was her readiness to acknowledge that, in much of Africa, the root problem is bad government and bad agricultural policy. She also acknowledged rising demand from India and China, especially for resource-intensive meat. It was good to hear someone so well-versed in the problem speak so sensibly (if worriedly) about a problem that too often turns sensible people so emotional that they lose sense of reason.
But it was something President Robinson said after the program that I’ll truly remember. I asked her if, say, a well-regarded development economist from, say, Harvard or M.I.T. were to issue a paper on some important aspect of food supply or famine (like some of these, perhaps): would the folks in Robinson’s circle pay attention?
She smiled kindly as she said “I’m afraid not.” Which only further reinforced my belief that at the very least this is one person who truly does tell the truth.