No Manna from Washington, DC

Saturday, April 26th, 2008 10:43 am by Neal

Deroy Murdock, writing at National Review, has a devastating article today on the disaster that is government-subsidized ethanol. You’ve got to read this one — you will be horrified.

We completely agree with what David Freddoso said regarding this situation:

The way things are going, this could become the worst chapter yet in the sad, ruinous history of our bipartisan agricultural welfare programs. For those who write in and protest that free-market capitalism is an uncompassionate, un-Christian economic system, I submit that you are currently witnessing the alternative.

Bingo! We said something similar last week:

Consider the harm that has been caused by something as minor as US and European ethanol quotas and subsidies. This is what happens when governments muck around in food and energy markets. Think what would happen if the major carbon-reduction policies were to be implemented on a wide scale. Let’s not go there.

Here’s a snippet from Deroy Murdock’s article, Global Food Riots. Please read the entire piece. As he concludes, “Enough!”

As ReasonOnline’s Ronald Bailey observed April 8, “the result of these mandates is that about 100 million tons of grain will be transformed this year into fuel, drawing down global grain stocks to their lowest levels in decades. Keep in mind that 100 million tons of grain is enough to feed nearly 450 million people for a year” — assuming 1.2 pounds of grain each, daily.

In short, car engines are burning the crops that feed a half-billion people. That has to hurt. …

President Bush announced April 14 that the U.S. would provide $200 million in nutritional aid to poor countries ripped by such unrest. This may feed starving rioters, but it perversely requires that Uncle Sam allocate fresh taxpayer money to scour the mess he created by spending $8 billion in ethanol subsidies.

This is like buying a new hangover cure every morning after closing a new bar every night.

If this keeps up, President Bush may have to direct some of that food to a Western Hemisphere nation called the United States of America.

As shocking as it sounds, The New York Sun reported Monday that the global rice shortage has struck home. American citizens have begun to experience food rationing in our rich, blessed country.

“Due to the limited availability of rice, we are limiting rice purchases based on your prior purchasing history,” read a sign above a shrinking rice supply at a Mountain View, California Costco store. Each customer was limited to one bag of rice. A shopper who tried to buy two bags found one of them pried from his hands and thrown back on the store shelves, in something akin to Cuban-style egalitarianism. While such scenes have yet to erupt nationwide, the Sun found that limited stocks of rice, flour, and cooking oil are causing purchase limits and hoarding by consumers trying to lock in today’s high prices (fearing even higher future prices) or simply to acquire products that soon may be unavailable. …


Congress should abolish federal ethanol subsidies, mandates, and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imports — including Brazil’s cheaper, cleaner, sugar-based ethanol. If scientists can develop ethanol that neither starves people nor rapes the Earth, splendid. However, this enterprise must not rest upon morally repugnant, ecologically counterproductive, economically devastating, government-ordered distortions.

It’s time for emergency legislation to repeal ethanol-market meddling. The federal program began as a sop to U.S. grain growers — arguably the most pampered and endlessly entitled people this side of the Saudi royal family. It has grown into a cancer on global food markets. 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. Compared to the global chaos that ethanol is fueling, this is a tolerable, one-time investment to pry these farmers’ and their Washington enablers’ hands off of our necks.

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