In 1981, Sen published Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), a book in which he argued that famine occurs not only from a lack of food, but from inequalities built into mechanisms for distributing food. Sen also argued that the Bengal famine was caused by an urban economic boom that raised food prices, thereby causing millions of rural workers to starve to death when their wages did not keep up. However, this argument has recently been undermined by evidence suggesting significant decline in food availability in the Bengal Famine. This implies the curious irony that Sen had bought into precisely the excuse used by the War Cabinet to refuse aid to Bengal -- that hoarding, not a lack of food, was the famine's cause.
Sen's interest in famine stemmed from personal experience. As a nine-year-old boy, he witnessed the Bengal famine of 1943, in which three million people perished. This staggering loss of life was unnecessary, Sen later concluded. He presents data that there was an adequate food supply in Bengal at the time, but particular groups of people including rural landless labourers and urban service providers like haircutters did not have the monetary means to acquire food as its price rose rapidly due to factors that include British military acquisition, panic buying, hoarding, and price gouging, all connected to the war in the region. In Poverty and Famines, Sen revealed that in many cases of famine, food supplies were not significantly reduced. In Bengal, for example, food production, while down on the previous year, was higher than in previous non-famine years. Thus, Sen points to a number of social and economic factors, such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution systems. These issues led to starvation among certain groups in society. His capabilities approach focuses on positive freedom, a person's actual ability to be or do something, rather than on negative freedom approaches, which are common in economics and simply focuses on non-interference. In the Bengal famine, rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. However, they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything, they did not have the functioning of nourishment, nor the capability to escape morbidity.
sounds more like "helping my friend producer with tax money" than "keeping market stable"
And giving money to the needy, if necessary.
For one thing, if you finance the handouts with taxes rather than printing money, they will have no effect on inflation.
The Federal Surplus Relief Corporation was created for the sole purpose of maintaining America's agricultural output, which then and now, was the primary source of America's economic strength. Maintaining food production also meant that many of the associated farming jobs would remain intact, preventing the crisis for worsening.
The farming jobs supported many skilled industrial production jobs, especially for heavy equipment such as tractors. This would prove invaluable a decade later when the U.S. entered WWII and the factories began producing weapons and tanks. The factories already had plenty of trained workers ready to work the lines.
All of this is covered in most high school U.S. history courses.
Now, FDR did a lot of things and some of them worked pretty well. He'd touched off the fastest industrial expansion in US history a few months before he killed it with the NRA, for example. I'm not aware of any current economic school of thought that would endorse the idea that price supports actually helped with the depression. A Keynesian would say that you have to run a deficit to increase the aggregate demand, a Monetarist would say you need more money to increase aggregate demand, a Supply-Sider would say you can't help, a Socialist would say the state needs to take over the means of production, etc.
Now, I do have friends from states that rely on agricultural subsidies, and their high school history textbooks evidently did wax poetic about how awesome agricultural subsidies were, but that isn't in most American's high school educations.
I think that's not correct.
Sectors by percentage of the US GDP: agriculture: 1.2%, industry: 22.1%, services: 76.7%
Arms and weapons alone (one of the main perceived sources of "America's economic strength" abroad, along with intellectual property and others) make more than that (sources estimate between 1% and 4% of the US GDP).
It's a really good book you should check it out.