The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Glenn Beck: A Quarter of Americans May Face Starvation

By Leah Nelson on November 12, 2010 - 4:13 pm, Posted in Media Extremism

Cranking up his doomsday predictions to a new fever pitch, Glenn Beck this week warned that by January some 75 million Americans could be starving.

“[B]race yourself. We went to two or three experts yesterday,” the Fox News Channel host said in his Wednesday radio broadcast. “[O]ne of them said that by next year a quarter of this nation will not be able to afford food. … [I]s it going to happen? At some point, yes. When? I don’t know. I just ask you to please prepare. … Experts are now telling me that it’s happening next year.”

Beck, who for years has counseled listeners to hoard food, has long been warning that a shortage could be right around the corner — just one of many dire predictions, typically related to government malfeasance or related end-times scenarios, that have made Beck a hero of much of the radical right. Now he’s suggesting that the scary corner could be a mere six weeks away.

This time, Beck claimed that certain experts are saying that the Fed’s latest round of “quantitative easing” — a strategy that would effectively put about $600 billion into circulation during the next 12 months — is going to cause hyperinflation, the collapse of the dollar, and ultimately lead to staggeringly high food prices. He cited predictions published Nov. 5 by a group called the National Inflation Association (NIA), one of whose stated goals is to help Americans prepare for “the upcoming hyperinflationary crisis.”

The NIA — and Beck, who recited its statistics breathlessly — predicts that two pounds of sugar will “soon” go for $62.21, while 64 ounces of orange juice will be $45.71. An 11.5-ounce can of Folgers coffee will cost $77.71; and a single 1.55-ounce Hershey bar will run you $15.50. (A check at an Alabama supermarket today turned up a two-pound container of sugar for $1.89; 64 ounces of orange juice for $2.99; Folger’s coffee for $4.09; and a Hershey’s bar for 89 cents.)

The group does not explain how it reached its estimates. “Agricultural prices have gotten so far our of control,” it says, “that if corporations do start passing them along, they will simply go out of business.”

Economists dismiss this kind of sky-is-falling alarmism. “Fears of high (not to mention hyper-) inflation are severely overblown,” Eric Michael Leeper, a professor of economics at Indiana University at Bloomington, told Hatewatch via E-mail. “There are essentially NO indicators that suggest markets are expecting substantially higher inflation in the next 5 to 10 years” — let alone in a month and a half.

As for quantitative easing, Leeper said the Fed is simply doing what it always does — tinkering with the money supply to manage economic growth. At the first sign of accelerating inflation, the Fed can quickly reverse policy and drain money from the banking system, he said. “Once the economy picks up and unemployment begins to decline, the Fed will then gradually sell those long-term Treasuries back on the open market. As it sells them, it will ‘destroy money.’ Viewed this way, the Fed’s plans are NOT to permanently increase the money supply.”

But Beck insists that this isn’t just some kooky theory he dreamed up or found on a website somewhere. “We have had our financial advisors, the guys who are stat-related guys, they are not politicians, they’re more like the David Walkers of the world,” he said on his show. [David Walker is a former U.S. comptroller general who now advises the conservative-leaning Peter G. Petersen Foundation.]

Who were these advisors ? Beck, unusually bashful, declined to say. “[I]t’s not David Walker, but it’s somebody like David Walker, who’s just a bean guy, a bean-counter. This is what they do for a living.” Beck declined to name names because, he said, “quite honestly, I think many of them don’t want to be associated with me because they don’t want all the trouble.”

In the NIA, Beck seems to have found a partner in fear-mongering. “In our opinion,” the NIA’s site states, “the wealth of most Americans could get wiped out during the next decade.” Beck said he had NIA “checked out six ways to Sunday.” He’s sure they are “credible people.”

Yet the NIA does not provide much information about itself beyond the name of its president, Gerard Adams. It doesn’t offer any economic or other credentials, or give any other hint as to the basis for its alleged expertise. According to its website, this is because it is “an unbiased organization” and “it would be a conflict of interest to promote or endorse their personal businesses.” The NIA, like Beck himself, speaks highly favorably of gold as an inflation hedge, and provides information on precious metals investing on its website. Indeed, it says that one of its “missions” is “to discover and profile companies that we believe will prosper in an inflationary environment,” mainly gold and silver firms. And it predicts that America faces “hyperinflation and a complete societal collapse.” For his part, Beck has been accused of profiting from the gold sales that his doomsday economic prognostications help promote; his television show also features regular advertising pitches from firms that sell gold.

Statistics from the Bureau of Economic analysis show that grocery prices increased by only 0.06% overall in the third quarter (July-September) of 2010. And prices for fruits and vegetables, bakery, and canned goods actually declined.  If hyperinflation is imminent, it is getting off to a colossally slow start.

So in a way, Beck got it right when, stunned by the NIA’s predictions, he paused a moment and said: “This is unbelievable!”

  • Jere

    Oddly enough, with a drought having cut the 2012 harvest by figures ranging from 35-75% in the midwest US, and farmers and ranchers predicting drastic effects on their businesses and on food prices, Beck’s concerns don’t seem so crazy now.. in July 2012.

  • guest

    I don’t know what to beleive. I know if you had told me a decade ago i would see many of the thing’s am seeing today i would have laughed in scorn.Fact’s are the country and it’s states are bankrupt. With cap and trade..obamacare.and many other obama polices i can see where prices for everything will skyrocket. Maybe coffee will not go as high as 77$ but try 12.50$ Coffee has gone up 33% in one year.And food supplies? Stores only have 24 hours worth. Everything obama is doing tells one it aint gonna look good a year from now.

  • Scott Tisthammer

    Thanks to the t party & repullicans 75 million people already face starvation after hillbilly backward Nov vote forced tax cuts for the rich on US

    Beck & Palin need to shut up & move back to the hills before they vote in more losers who make billions robbing the working class.

    All we heard for two years was don’t spend, no more debt, & it didn’t take a month for the republcians they voted into office to add $958 billion to our debt so the rich could get richer & jobs will continue to go away or pay less just like the last ten years.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Mikey behold- capitalism. Until it is overthrown this thing will happen roughly every 20-30 years every time the next “boom” is found.

    The funny thing about gold is this though: Here’s a company telling you that you must buy gold because your paper money is going to be worthless soon. They have gold they want to sell you- and they’re accepting paper money for it. Suspicious?

  • MIkey

    The only hyperinflation that is happening right now is the price of gold. Why in God’s name would people STILL be buying gold at the ridiculous prices it has currently risen to? Wait, I know the answer, THEY DIDN’T LEARN FROM THE HOUSING MARKET. This is the same mentality that my friends at work had in 2003-04 when they were pi$$ing themselves because their $225,000 house had risen to $485,000 in 6 months. I TOLD them it wouldn’t last, and they assured me that some “experts” had told them it would. Scary.

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  • skinnyminny

    It’s funny how people are laughing at Americans. I was reading an article, “Too Often, Conservatives Dupe Themselves” and a commenter posted this, http://www.roadmap.republicans.....thsecurity and says that the plan is for Medicare to be turned into a voucher system that sends seniors out to the MARKETPLACE to buy private insurance. ***Remember, “don’t touch my social security…” But anyway, they commented about how Americans voted the GOP back into power, while the others stayed home…

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Great post Ian- reminds me of an actual video where Alex Jones, who has been ranting about martial law being “just around the corner” for years now, started shouting at two National Guard soldiers in a New York restaurant who happened to be in uniform. Apparently he thought that seeing soldiers walk around in uniform is a form of creeping martial law. I wonder what happens when he spots a recruitment station.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    You know what’s kind of funny, people are more likely to starve the more they support Tea Party candidates who in turn support more corporate friendly deregulation. They will continue to lose jobs, rights in the workplace, what few social programs we have left, and so on.

  • Johnny

    It’s all about the type of “journalism” he practices. His aim is to use all the hyperbole and histrionics allowed by his media outlet.

    The really sad aspect of all of this is the only reason he’s on the air is that so many Americans tune it to hear his rants and opinions.

  • The Prisoner

    This man is very dangerous, even more dangerous than the Bishop Sheen’s of yesteryear because he is everywhere. And his fans can cause real damage to this country and ultimately, the world. It is sad that some many are afraid and will turn to him and his ilk in their time of desperation.

  • Ian

    Beck: How much is it for ten wings?
    Waiter: $7.99.

  • Bond, James Bond

    It interests me deeply that there is no wiki page for the national inflation association. Its also quite interesting, in my eyes at least, that doing a Google time-line search their name doesn’t come up before March 2009. Well… unless you count the one or two articles that come up that were archived from the 50s and 70s.

    So who are these people and why can’t I find ANYTHING on them? Seriously… when a professional organization doesn’t even show up on Wikipedia I start wondering.

  • Paen

    This nonsense is nothing new,TV evangilists have been shaking down the suckers with similar scams for decades now.

  • La Piovra

    Both hyperinflation and depression have the effect of jetissoning all classes into penury – except the super-rich, who collect all the real wealth (resources, industries, farmlands, housing, and chains of production and distribution) into their own hands. They then point the fury and fear of the disenfranchised towards a chosen “them” – ethnic and religious minorities, immigrants, the disabled (seen as parasites polluting the gene pool), the poor (ditto); foreign nations possessed of more pride and dignity than they have means to defend themselves. You can read a fuller account in William Shirer’s works, in Konrad Hayden’s Der Fuhrer, and any number of contemporary works – but I bet it already looks familiar. Well, who could be co-ordinating such a scheme? Hint: Try searching Council for National Policy…

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Of course if they do starve, it won’t be poor capitalism’s fault!!!

  • john

    Unfortunately Beck is guided by the holy spirit. The so called financial experts, the leaders of our most esteemed financial institutions, have been getting it wrong for decades. This mess the WORLD is in right now provides great fodder for any religious zealot. The joke is on us. The new experts are Beck and Jon Stewart.

  • Denice

    Beck has been hawking ‘Survivalist Kits’ for the coming Obama-induced mass insanity. He has a financial gain for all his vitriol, so why not let the people think the end is coming? It’s all money in the bank for Beck..

  • Mitch Beales

    Hyperinflation sounds like a great way to wipe out the ill-gotten assets of Wall Street traders and eliminate the ever-increasing gulf between the rich and the poor that is tearing our country apart. Unfortunately I’m sure the fed will manipulate our “free market” economy to keep that from happening as it has always done.