A few days ago, there was an interesting exchange about the politics of U.S. farm subsidies between Richard Posner and Gary Becker on their blog. In both cases, there was discussion about how political pressure results in a benefit for a small group at the expense of a larger group. The posts were worthy of note by this blog, given other recent posts on the economics of food. Unfortunately, there have been other demands on my attention so I didn't
post on that exchange.
Now, I'm glad I didn't. Since reading the Posner-Becker posts, the topic has been on my mind and, as a result, I've been running across other posts on other sites that provide more information for you. You may have run across any or all of the sites yourself, but on the chance you haven't...here are some pointers.
The International Herald-Tribune posted a discussion between Jagdish Bhagwati and Jeffrey Sachs about short-term and long-term policy implications of the current food crisis. It's more general than the Becker-Posner discussion but raises some good fundamentals.
The You Think! student site, operated by The World Bank, is focusing on the price of food as its current theme. The article is good and provides a variety of links to other sites, including this one (link no longer available) featuring an excellent interactive graphic by The Financial Times. It allows students to examine issues of commodity production, trade barriers, and inflation in an interesting way.
I recommend all of these to your attention. And I look forward to your comments.
And now you can think about milk. Seriously, this article courtesy of The Wall Street Journal has some excellent charts about other commodities, as well.