Travels of a Tshirt

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Pietra Rivoli, author of The Travelers of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, refers to Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, how he describes, “The gazelles win by running faster and smarter than the competition, but the lions win by catching and eating their prey”(52). Rivoli uses this theory to American cotton farmers, who are both the gazelles and the lions. She talks of them as gazelles because they squeeze income out of every step in their production chain, while feeding cattle and people with the leftovers. The growers are also gazelles because of their advance scientific research and how they run their businesses. They globally dominated most of the world by creating a symbiotic relationship with the farmers, universities and the U.S. government. The farmers are also lions because they use political power to alter risks of bad weather and unpredictable prices to U.S. government. They dominate the market and win by keeping away the labor market. And basically the rest of the world does not even try compete because they lack capital, literacy, substantial government assistance, and political power.

The begging of the novel starts in Lubbock, Texas at the Reinschs’. The Reinschs can be compared as the gazelles and their success was from being able to shift market risks away from them and like lions they did not have as much competition so instead of competing with international markets. They achieved this by applying public policy. They also used political influence to get the federal government to take up the business risks of price and nonpayment. An important thing about their success is that they benefited “highly symbiotic and virtuous circle relationship between farmers, private companies, universities, and the U.S. government” (26). Government programs like Barcero Program and Agricultural Adjustment Act provided inexpensive labor, financial support for agricultural products, and substantial subsides. also, advancements in...
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