I really want to teach Scott Sumner to write shorter blog posts, because this throwaway paragraph embedded in a larger argument I don’t really agree with is great on its own:
[S]uppose we had been gladly importing Ecuadorean bananas for decades, naively thinking that any country named after the equator must be warm. Then we found out that the weather in Ecuador was actually quite cool (due to high altitude), and that bananas could only be grown there because the government was heavily subsidizing production in greenhouses. Of course most red-blooded Americans would be outraged by this discovery, as it would indicate that we were a bunch of patsies who had been victimized by the Ecuadorean “dumping” of subsidized goods. A few economists might argue, however, that if cheap bananas are good for the US, it doesn’t really matter why they are cheap.
Incidentally, I have in fact seen a government-subsidized greenhouse in Iceland where they were growing tropical flowers and citrus fruit:
I hope—but don’t dare assume—that the Icelandic government is rethinking some of its agricultural policies in the wake of their bubble collapse. The US has some irrational approaches in this regard, but it’s nothing compared to what they were up to.