Clyde Prestowitz, the president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, spoke at the opening session here on Hayman. His talk was a riff from his recent book, Rogue Nation, about how current US unilateralism damages US interests and is, in a fundamental way, unamerican.
I found myself in agreement with just about everything Clyde had to say. What’s interesting to me is that his critique comes from the right (Clyde served in the Reagan administration), but it’s a part of the right that seems to have very little traction in Washington at the moment.
He also told an anecdote that played to my steady fury about rich world agricultural subsidies. West Africa has vast numbers of subsistence cotton farmers, struggling to keep their families alive with a couple of acres, a wooden plough and an ox. The US has 25,000 cotton farmers with vast farms and all the modern technology. You’d think that explains why west Africans are uncompetitive. In fact, it costs 23 cents to grow a pound of cotton in west Africa and 82 cents to grow it in the US. But the 25,000 US farmers receive annual subsidies of $6 billion. That’s obscene.
Perhaps it’s the grass being greener, but whenever I come to the southern hemisphere, I envy their night sky. Compared to the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Big Dipper just doesn’t cut it.
And Mars, which is a brilliant presence low in the sky in Britain, is almost directly overhead here. What a vivid red to the naked eye.