This chapter is an eye-opening history of American cotton – and its connection to t-shirts. One recurring theme is that West Texas didn’t start growing cotton until well after the rest of Texas. This actually gave West Texas an advantage. They didn’t have costs sunk in outdated “technology” such as donkeys (instead of tractors) and manual labor (instead of machines). At first “manual labor” meant slaves. But even after the Civil War cotton farmers found ways to skirt what should have been one of their biggest obstacles. Sometimes though powerful lobbying and other times via technological improvements they consistently were able to avoid competing in the labor market.
An especially interesting part of this chapter talks about how there was no incentive, economic or otherwise for the cotton farmers in other countries to improve their cotton production. In the first third of the 1900’s huge-scale farms came into existence in Texas. If India and China weren’t going to put the mid-sized cotton farmers out of business, these big factory farms were expected to do it. But as is seen again and again, they found a way to come out on top.
This is part of a chapter by chapter reaction to The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade.
- Introduction to the T-Shirt Travels Review
- Chapter 1: Cotton and T-Shirts
- Chapter 2: Cotton, T-Shirts and Technology
- Chapter 3: Tees and Dream Teams
- Chapter 4: T-shirts and Eskimos
- Chapter 5: Apparel and the Industrial Revolution
- Chapter 6: T-Shirt Globalization
- Chapter 7: The Snarling Army
- Chapter 8: Are T-shirts Actually Too Expensive?
- Chapter 9: T-Shirt Quotas
- Chapter 10: Lifecycle of a T-shirt
- Chapter 11: Final Chapter – Final Thoughts