The Rio Grande river flows along the southern perimeter of Big Bend National Park. Despite its natural beauty, Big Bend is an inhospitable place where you’re exposed to the elements at their most harsh – the mountainous desert sees brutally hot days and shockingly cold nights, oscillating regularly between the two extremes. It’s also inhospitable for those that don’t legally belong in the US.
An inland border patrol station sits between the park and the closest town, Alpine. Border Patrol agents search cars as they come up north from Big Bend towards the rest of Texas. We devote impressive money and manpower to the fight against illegal immigration, but meanwhile, in Big Bend, one can find a modest example of free enterprise defying borders.
Today on the Young Voices podcast Stephen speaks with new advocate, Daniel Press. Daniel is a research associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington and was published this week in the Spectator, about the unintended consequences of pushing for more ethical working conditions abroad. It’s a tough subject that puts that head at conflict with the heart, and we appreciate Daniel coming on to talk about it.
The United Nations (UN) has called for $5.6 billion in donations to fight a famine that threatens over 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. In Nigeria alone, upwards of 5 million people face acute food shortages.
In a country of over 170 billion people, there are fewer than 5,000 tractors.
Considering the progress Nigeria has made in food security since the 1980s, the country’s placement on the list is disheartening. While the UN’s efforts might bring temporary relief, the root causes of this famine must be addressed to prevent similar crises in the future. Boko Haram might be partly responsible for this crisis, but the reality is that Nigeria’s famine is worsened by protectionist policies that restrict agricultural trade and force Nigerians to depend on insufficient domestic food production.
Restricted Food Imports
In 1983, Nigeria averaged less than 2,000 calories per person per day. By 1998, Nigeria had caught up to the global average of over 2,630 calories. However, food production has dropped in recent years because Nigerian agriculture is stuck in the past. In a country of over 170 billion people, there are fewer than 5,000 tractors. Traditional small scale farming permeates the food production In Nigeria. Small plots a couple of hectares in size account for 90 percent of domestic food production. With a growing population, such small-scale production has become insufficient.
Through protectionism and a distorted foreign policy, the Trump administration is toying with the already strained diplomatic relations with long-time allies, especially Germany and the United Kingdom. And if it continues to disagree on crucial economic issues like the G20 Free Trade Agreement (FTA), it might lead to strained relations on other fronts, like the efforts against terrorism or the nuclear disarmament of Iran and North Korea. With the latest developments to both issues, a disparity with allies is the last thing the US needs.
Instead, Washington should look at ways to strengthen economic ties instituted under the previous regime, particularly at a time when China is heavily expanding its trade network in a bid to displace the US.
Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Young Voices Executive Director Casey Given and YV Advocate Jacob Richards on how conservative voters are increasingly anti-trade because of Trump’s rhetoric around NAFTA and free trade.