Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Agriculture

Cotton is Not What Made the United States Rich

Lately, everyone is arguing that the United States got rich off of cotton. The New York Times recently put out a story arguing that American capitalism “begins on the plantation”. This completely misunderstands the relationship between slave and serf-based agriculture and industrial capitalism. A dominant agricultural industry is not the foundation for industrial success–it is an impediment. Let me show you why…

Read the rest of this entry »

How Food Subsidies Make You Poorer and Kill African Babies

Recently in the United States, congress has been fighting with the president about food subsidies.  The bill for renewing food subsidies also renews the food stamp program, which helps very poor individuals purchase food. Congressional republicans are seeking to make cuts to the food stamp program, denying food stamps to those who are not in part-time employment or in job training. They seek to pass a version of the farm bill that permits state governments to deny food stamps to the unemployed. The president threatens to veto the farm bill if it includes language of this kind, preventing a renewal of the subsidies. There has been no resolution to the dispute as of yet.  Today I wish to argue that congressional republicans are attempting to kill the wrong part of the farm bill–they should be targeting the farm subsidies rather than food stamps for the unemployed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Population Pays

Remember that immigration reform bill that’s attempting to crawl through the congressional minefield? Back in January, I was critical of the bill, because it seems to presume that reducing immigration numbers is still a desirable goal. I argued that the bill over-emphasized border security at the expense of encouraging immigration, and that increasing immigration was fundamentally advantageous to economic growth, that immigrants contribute more to the economy than they consume in public services. At the time, my view was predominately theoretical. Now, however, we have empirical data. The non-partisan and generally trustworthy Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report in which it predicts that immigration reform would shrink the deficit by $197 billion.

Read the rest of this entry »