Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cornpocalypse

Looks like people are missing some meals due to ethanol, surprise surprise. Alas it's no wonder:

“It takes around 400 pounds of corn to make 25 gallons of ethanol,” Mr. Senauer, also an applied economics professor at Minnesota, said. “It’s not going to be a very good diet but that’s roughly enough to keep an adult person alive for a year.”
Amazingly enough America's corn farmers are full of excuses like "isn't it better to go hungry and make us rich than to send more money over to Saudi Arabia?" or "no one eats the corn made for ethanol anyway", sure people don't, but delicious chickens, pigs, and cows do. Another excuse in the offing, if you can look past the higher food prices that the poor in this country pay, is that it isn't America's responsibility to feed the entire planet if we see fit to use our crops for something else. This much is true if you want to carry it to it's logical conclusion, like 4 million starving to death in Haiti.

The case can then be made that it's up to the Haitis of the planet to get their own houses in order even if localized famines occur. However, when it comes to a contest between the corn grower who wants a bigger house and televised pictures of starving third worlders it's pretty obvious who would (and should) win. Fortunately for American agri-monopolies they have the dim bulbs that make up our elites to cover for them. For instance, instead of Bush* getting the corrupt agri-firms in the U.S. to cover their mistake, he cut a 200 million dollar check from the taxpayers to cover for them.

I still think, strictly from a personal saftey standpoint, that corn growers would want to pull back away from this at least a little bit. In an excellent ethanol article by Deroy Murdock, he notes:

Still, U.S. farmers won’t surrender quietly. Since they are hooked on handouts, let’s offer them one more: In exchange for accepting a two-year federal tax holiday on any income they earn, every actual, tractor-driving corn/biofuel farmer simply would walk away and let Congress relegate state-sponsored ethanol to the Unintended Consequences Hall of Fame.
Would walk away and should walk away! At this rate it's probably only a matter of time before some buses start pulling up to give greedy corn farmers the Zimbabwe treatment.**

At least now that congress is controlled by the Democrats, whose voters tend to A) Live in urban areas and thus B) not grow corn and thusly C) pay all the fees, taxes, etc. associated with ethanol while reaping none of the benfits, that they would be hot on the case with fresh legislation; and you'd be right!
Key House and Senate farm bill negotiators reached agreement today on the main elements of the farm bill...[T]he five-year bill would raise the target prices and loan rates for northern crops beginning in 2010, raise the sugar loan rate three-quarters of a cent and include a sugar-to-ethanol program.
Sweet Jesus those bone heads have found a way to make a bad situation EVEN WORSE. It's not bad enough that Americans have to pay twice as much for sugar as the world price due to a protection racket scheme (something that has just about killed off American candy manufacturing, and turned our sodas into corn flavored crap), but those already limited supplies are going to be pulled aside for this fuel fiasco as well!

It's stuff like that which makes me think people like this aren't completely insane:
An anonymous high-tech professional writing on an investment Web site, Seeking Alpha, said he recently bought 10 50-pound bags of rice at Costco. "I am concerned that when the news of rice shortage spreads, there will be panic buying and the shelves will be empty in no time. I do not intend to cause a panic, and I am not speculating on rice to make profit. I am just hoarding some for my own consumption," he wrote.
Lessie, I guess if he ate it EVERY day for EVERY meal, (which is doubtful for a guy who has enough cash to blow at least $300 on rice) that much rice would last him like a year; which is like, five years before Congress even has a prayer of thinking about fixing this.

Fortunately not all Congressmen are completely clueless:
The article, “The Ethanol Illusion” went so far as to praise Senator McCain for summing up the corn-ethanol energy initiative launched in the United States in 2003 as “highway robbery perpetrated on the American public by Congress.”
Hopefully he'll be able to make some of it on the campaign trail.

* Bush just needs to find a way to have his incompetence start a plague and he'll have the complete set!
**It's worth noting that when I searched for articles about the plight of white farmers in Zimbabwe, that there were many, many articles written defending the tactics as revenge for past colonialism. That's the kind of idiotic Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. type thinking that turns a bread basket country into starvation central.

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