Notes: The World Trade Organization is meeting in Cancun, Mexico. So are protestors against globalization.

The focus of the protests against the WTO this year is directed at farming subsidies in the United States and Europe. According the anti-subsidies camp, the subsidies paid by rich nations' governments to farmers keep prices artificially low. Thus, farm products from rich nations are dumped at lower-than-market prices into poor nations. The result, the argument goes is that this is putting farmers in poor nations out of business since they cannot compete with the lower prices.

I know about farming subsidies from friends who are American farmers. They argue that without them, farming in America would diminish and then we would be dependent on other countries to supply America with agricultural products, and end the argument with: "Do you want to have to be in the position of asking a hostile nation to supply us with corn, for example?" The odd thing about farming subsidies is that we don't think about them at the supermarket. We are in fact paying a higher price than we realize for agricultural products because our taxes pay for the subsidies.

Regardless of your feelings about subsidies, there is no doubt that poor nations are not fairing well economically. I have no sympathy for drug dealers and such, but faced with the prospects of a life in a sweat factory or without employment at all -- with no chance of getting ahead -- it's easy to understand why some people choose that path or the one of revolution. This ties the interests of the poor nations directly to the interests of the rich nations. They simply cannot be ignored
. 09.14.03