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Love Your Neighbor: End Farm Subsidies

I recently noted the ill effects of U.S. agricultural subsidies on the global poor, suggesting that if so-called “fair traders” really want to make a lasting impact on prices and wages, this is where they should begin.

In a recent video produced for the newly launched PovertyCure effort, Doug Seebeck drives the point home succinctly:

Similar to economist Victor Claar’s longing for “a world in which all people share together, with enduring personal dignity and freedom,” Seebeck makes it clear that loving our neighbor requires much more than an inflated price affirmed by blind “donation.” There are structural barriers that disadvantage the poor, and we must seek, above all, to tear down those barriers rather than ignore or reinforce them.

The question, then, is not how we might tweak the material equilibrium from the top down, crossing our fingers in the hopes that the systematic status quo isn’t really the problem—praying that if we shift material X to person Y by kick-starting the Western “anti-poverty” apparatus, we might just be able to get along with our own lives again. Many such efforts are certainly likely to involve some degree of “love” (however you might define it), but the real question, as Seebeck puts it, is “How do I best love my neighbor?” This, of course, may be as unsexy and difficult as, “cut agricultural subsidies.” Yet if we maximize real love—the kind that always grows, always pushes, always reevaluates—we just might maximize real prosperity while we’re at it.