World cotton prices are plummeting. That means more money for US farmers and , as actor Djimon Honsou observed, penury for Africa. Geddit?In some instances the abundance of something may entail the scarcity of some other thing, and the net result may be negative. Low cotton prices are bad for African cotton farmers. The abundance of cotton worldwide entails a scarcity of income for African cotton farmers. True. But what about people who enjoy cotton?
Many people worldwide, including Africans, enjoy cotton. Cotton clothes such as t-shirts and underwear are comfortable and easy to clean. Thanks to lower cotton prices, cotton clothes are cheaper. They are not really cheaper for North Americans because they pay for them not only at stores but also through taxes and through much environmental degradation. But they are getting really cheaper for Africans. Thanks to lower prices Africans can buy more cotton clothes. They can afford to change their clothes more often and thus remain cleaner and healthier. For almost all Africans low cotton prices are a very good thing indeed. This is less, not more, penury.