Public Policy: Cotton-Pickin' Solution

Consider the tattered state of Old King Cotton. To perpetuate 200,000 politically potent but economically inefficient small cotton farmers in the Southeast, the Government supports cotton prices at 33¢ a Ib. Since this is well above the present world price of about 23¢ a Ib., U.S. cotton exporters complain that they cannot compete in world markets. So the Government gives them an 8½¢-a-lb. export subsidy. But this distresses U.S. textile makers, who must pay 33¢ a Ib. for their cotton and howl that they are being swamped by imported textiles made from U.S. cotton that foreign producers buy at...

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