In the 1990s, North Korea's communist economic system killed some 2 million people as a result of food shortages partly created and seriously exacerbated by the country's system of collectivized agriculture. Serious food shortages and widespread privation persist even today, since North Korea remains the world's only unreformed Stalinist economic system.
But never fear, the North Korean government has apparently found a way to increase food production at last: giant rabbits! According to the Washington Post, North Korea recently purchased six giant rabbits from a German breeder in the hope that they can turn them into an important new source of food (hat tip: Tom Palmer). And I have to admit that the German giant rabbits are pretty cool:
Unfortunately, centrally planned rabbit-breeding is no more likely to be efficient than other forms of central planning. As the Post explains, breeding giant rabbits for food is likely to be far more expensive and inefficient than alternative options, including even relying on smaller, less voracious rabbit breeds:
The Koreans' choice of rabbits has other German breeders scratching their heads.
Karl-Heinz Heitz, chairman of the State Association of Rabbit Breeders in Berlin-Brandenburg, said that German gray giants are hard to beat for size but that they aren't cheap to fatten up. It takes wheelbarrow-loads of hay, vegetables and rabbit chow to bring them to maturity.
"Let me say this: There are certainly breeds that are more economically profitable; I do not know why the North Koreans wanted this one," said Heitz . . .
Breeds such as New Zealand red or big light silver or Vienna blue are only half as big but are more cost-effective to raise. "You do not have to put in as much to get out a fair amount of meat," Heitz said.
Communist economic planners have a long history of funding large-scale but extraordinarily inefficient projects. For example, Joseph Stalin ordered the construction of large numbers of giant factories that routinely consumed massive amounts of resources worth far more than what they produced. Totalitarian regimes of both the right and the left have a well-known propensity for gigantism. However, until now neither Uncle Joe nor his various imitators ever thought to raise giant rabbits! To my knowledge, at least, the North Korean effort is a first. Another great milestone for Comrade Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and his Songun-Based Revolutionary Line.
UPDATE: Perhaps the North Koreans should have gone with the giant rabbit that attacked Jimmy Carter back in 1979.