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Lost in Shreveport: Cotton, Casinos and Subsidies

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We've been delinquent in bringing you stories about what we learned on our recent sojourn to Shreveport, Louisiana. So we'll take a moment to provide a couple of quick impressions.
•It is useless to ask for directions in Shreveport. No-one knows where anything is. Even the official brochure for our hotel misidentified its location. When we started asking people for directions to a famous jazz bar, we were consistently given the wrong cross streets. They knew it was somewhere over in that direction, but that's it.
•Over at National Review's blog, our friend David Freddoso reports that he had similar bad luck asking for directions. In New York, people are mean when you ask for directions. "In New Hampshire, they'll act nice but give you the wrong directions on purpose," he writes. "In Louisiana, the people are plenty friendly, but no one seems to know where anything is."
•Which reminds us of our summers on the coast of Maine, where the official answer to any request for directions is: "You can't get there from here." It sounds better if you say it with a Yankee accent.
•Oddly enough, this works to the advantage of the casinos in Shreveport. Since you can't find anything else, about the only things you can find are the casinos since they are lit up by giant neon displays and situated at the edge of town on the river. More than once we found ourselves giving up on finding any part of Shreveport's native culture in favor of the bright lights of the riverside city.
•Cotton is like sugar. When you come across farms dedicated to growing it in the United States, the most surprising thing isn't that it is done well but that it done at all. It seems like a triumph of hope, tradition and endurance over experience and global markets. Of course, it only seems that way. In reality, it's a triumph of massive subsidies over free markets.