How do you know subsidies are a dopey public policy? When it pays to smuggle rice into Thailand, even though Thailand already has enough rice to meet half the world's annual trade in the food staple.

The reason is that the Thai government is subsidizing production so heavily as part of a campaign platform that it is paying its farmers almost double the prevailing prices in Cambodia and Myanmar. Farmers in those neighboring countries are sending their grain across the border to be sold.

The equivalent of 750,000 tons of milled rice is being smuggled into Thailand a year, according to estimates of analysts and traders who have studied the illicit shipments.

Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat and Naveen Thukral at Reuters compare it to Newcastle subsidizing coal so much that other places smuggle it into the coal-heavy region.