Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ethanol, Corn, Food Prices ... Why Politics Sucks!

Should corn be used for feed and food or ethanol?

Who should decide? The free market or the government knows best gang?

And is there really much difference between the Depublicans and Remocrats on this issue? Do the views, let alone best interests, of We the People matter to the pols?

Ethanol Mandate Lose Support Amid Drought says this about the politicians, including both presidential candidates, and their views on government interference with the free market and their favoring of the ethanol lobby :

"A severe drought driving up U.S. food prices is shifting the politics of ethanol, prompting members of both parties to question policies favoring the corn-based alternative fuel that have long held sway in the nation's capital.

Farm-state voters and lawmakers have for decades protected subsidies for the industry and have recently fended off attacks on the government mandate, first established in 2005, to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into U.S. motor fuel. But there are signs that support for the mandate is fraying and that lawmakers and the White House may face pressure next year to put ethanol policy on the agenda.

This month, four Republican and three Democratic governors asked the Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver of the ethanol mandate, pointing to record prices for corn that are causing sharp rises in the feed costs of livestock producers in their states.

"Put simply, ethanol policies have created significantly higher corn prices, tighter supplies and increased volatility," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Republican, in an Aug. 13 letter to the EPA.

The EPA opened a review of the request this week. To waive the mandate, the agency says it must see evidence that the policy itself is causing severe harm to the economy.

The ethanol industry says that less than a quarter of the nation's corn supply is used for ethanol, and that ethanol producers are already scaling back production. "It is not the ethanol industry that is causing the economic harm; it is Mother Nature," said Tom Buis, president of the ethanol trade group Growth Energy, in a statement responding to Mr. Beebe's letter.

More than 150 members of the House and 33 senators have also written the EPA requesting the waiver. Few of them hail from the upper Midwest, home to most U.S. corn production. Some, however, have joined with Corn Belt lawmakers to support ethanol subsidies in the past. . . .

The November elections could decrease the ethanol lobby's political clout. Sen. Herb Kohl (D., Wis.), a stalwart ethanol supporter and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee's agriculture panel, is retiring. Wisconsin's former governor, Republican Tommy Thompson, is leading in the race for the seat.

When Mr. Thompson made a run at the presidency in 2008, he toured Iowa in a Winnebago fueled by ethanol, according to a report at the time by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. But this year, he told a tea-party group in Wisconsin, "I used to support ethanol. I don't anymore. I made a mistake," the paper reported. . . .

Both President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney have said they support the federal mandate for using ethanol in motor fuel, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. Mr. Romney has shown more skepticism of renewable-energy subsidies generally, writing in his 2011 book that "once an industry is up and running, the disadvantages of subsidies outweigh their benefits.""

Summing Up

Subsidizing ethanol and increasing food prices as a result is another example of why politics sucks.

The free market is perfectly capable of allocating how much corn goes where by selling to the highest bidder. And not by giving a government agency the power to allocate the corn crop to ethanol or anything else.

In a free market, there would be no ethanol.

Unfortunately, however, the special interests have more clout with our government than We the People do. We're just supposed to shut up and pay the higher food and fuel bills.

It's time we demanded that our "public servants" begin serving the public. I'll vote for that.

Why does it take a drought to get these issues on the congressional discussion table?

If it's the heat, then by all means let's turn up the heat on Obama, Romney and the rest of the government knows best gang, too.

Oh, I almost forgot. Iowa is an important swing state in the fall election. I guess that means We the People will just have to wait until 2013 before anyone in Washington takes this issue seriously.  And maybe not even then.

And that, my friends, is just one more very good, if sickening, example of why politics sucks.

We the People -- all of us -- need to get mad as hell and resolve not to take it any more.

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment