Our Uncharitable Agricultural Subsidies

Discussions of inequality usually focus on charity: what can we give or do for those in need? However, as the breakdown of last year’s WTO discussions demonstrates, most poor countries would much prefer fair dealing and equal opportunities to trade rather than handouts, especially when those handouts come in the form of ‘dumped’ surpluses created through our massive agricultural subsidies. So we should welcome a new round of Doha trade talks, and charitably forgo subsidizing our own farmers at the expense of agriculture around the world. The notion that charity always involves such trade-offs is the really hard point to digest. Worse still, this kind of charity might also be the best way to pursue our own self-interest. Uh oh.

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