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Spoiled Milk and Bad Gas: Something Stinks

If you are crazy enough to desire this nation’s highest executive office your first big step is through Iowa.  If Iowa dumps you, your chances are slim.  Consider now why ethanol is such a popular commodity in Washington.  It may sound corny (get it?), but the road to the White House starts at the beginning of a corn farmer’s field. 

It’s no wonder that ethanol, as a gas additive, has been pushed over the past decade.  Combine the Iowan POTUS factor with the environmental push for alternative fuels, the demonizing of oil (and big oil), and that American farmers produce nearly 40% of the world’s corn and you’ve got a recipe for a political lust product. 

Al Gore admitted to as much last November when he said,

First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.  One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president

Al Gore wasn’t the only environmentalist pushing ethanol as an additive over the past decade; almost all environmental groups were praising the product.  Brazil’s sugar based biofuel conversion was touted as proof that we can break from our “addiction” to imported oil. E-85 and flex-fuel cars became a hot commodity when gasoline prices began to sore in 2006.  Congress and President Bush looked like heroes when they basically guaranteed ethanol’s vast expansion with The Energy Policy Act of 2005 which mandated the use of 4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2006, increasing each year toward an annual consumption of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 (and expanded further in 2007 to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015).  The result, of course, was an immediate demand in corn and thus an upward shift in prices. 

Of course the government was able to make such promises based on the amount that they were going to subsidize.  Corn became a hot commodity, not because the market demanded it, but because the fed mandated it.  One thing that we conveniently tend to forget is that whenever the fed mandates a flux in the market the unintended consequences are damning.  Corn ethanol is no exception.

 It wasn’t long before the environmental groups jumped off the corn ethanol bandwagon when they realized it wasn’t environmentally friendly.  Ethanol producers had to use coal and non-biofuel to create, transport, and refine the final product at a rate that ended up more hurtful than helpful.  In fact, many environmental groups are even fighting all forms of biofuels since they require land clearing in order to produce a crop.  Al Gore and many other “green” groups are now fighting ethanol.  They’ve even teamed up with Jim Inhofe, the bane of all things considered “green”.  Just this week he found himself making the same arguments as Mr. Gore and the Friends of the Earth; that is, that we should stop subsidizing corn ethanol.

 Another unintended consequence is real to all of us – our food is more expensive.  It’s not just your corn either.  When more acres of farm land are being used to produce the heavily subsidized corn farmers the supply side of other vegetables goes down, raising the price.  It’s not just our veggies either.  You may hate corn, but the guy between the buns of your hamburger loves the stuff.  Unfortunately, much our nation’s cattle feed is made of corn, barley, wheat, and oats.  The price on all of those commodities has gone up due to corn’s mandated spike.  This means that your steak, brisket, burger, and roast go up with it.  Oh, and you might as well throw your poultry and pork in with that. 

 If the price of food means a lot to you, imagine what it means for the people living in poorer countries.  Our commodities market affects the rest of the world.  Mexican citizens, for instance, use corn as a staple to their diet.  After Bush and Congress starting messing with the corn markets the poor of Mexico didn’t rush out in excitement to buy a “flex-fuel” vehicle, they watched their tortilla prices get jacked up 55 percent.  Now the country is more unstable than it has been in decades and we wonder why.

 It’s not just our hemisphere that suffers from high food prices either.  Egypt is another example of what can happen when bad government meets hungry citizens.  The fall of the dollar coupled with the drastic rise in food prices in Egypt helped create the chaos that has gripped the world’s attention.  The problem with Egypt is that their nation’s current state potentiates the rise of anti-American extremists coming to power and thus undermines our security.  Does anyone think that the fallout in Egypt is favored to create a more stable middle east?

 Sure, American farmers cashed in on ethanol subsidies by changing their wheat fields to corn fields – but the Egyptian father who can’t buy bread isn’t celebrating the windfall.  They aren’t rejoicing in the streets because Americans went from using 7% of their corn for ethanol in 2001 to 39% in 2010 with 2 billion more bushels grown in 2010 than in 2001.   That’s not a fun fact for the poor of the world

 Luckily we have a wise government who can see these crises and put a stop to the root they both started and continue to perpetuate…right?  False.  The EPA just approved an increase in the ethanol blend from 10% to 15%.  The ethanol industry cheered, environmentalists sulked, and the poor of the world heard a quiet grumble in their bellies.  The National Association of Clean Air Agencies said that “burning higher ethanol blends would result in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides, an ingredient of smog, and other harmful pollutants.”  Obama’s administration apparently made the E15 decision before the midterm elections last year…Having Big Corn in your corner is more palatable than big oil these days. 

 This isn’t the only new help “Big Corn” is getting from the fed in spite of the mounting evidence of harm corn ethanol is doing.  Congress just extended the 45 cents a gallon tax credit on ethanol, and a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on imported ethanol.  This keeps the price of corn artificially inflated here in America but the tariff keeps people buying in America.  They’re also just doing weird stuff like taking caffeinated, alcoholic beverages off of the shelves and turning them into ethanol.  It’s a drop in the bucket, but still evidence to our new “addiction”.  What the hell else can we turn into fuel? 

 In the end, this problem has little to do with corn, sugar, gasoline, or evil beverages.  We are looking directly in the face of a monster called “Out of Control Government”.  Only an out of control government could force dairy farmers, for instance, to treat milk spillage as an oil spillage. The consequences of paying people to sit around just to find out what else they can do to make our lives “safer”, our products “cheaper”, our lifestyles “healthier”, and our choices “better” has never been more dire in this nation.  Our government has ripped the leash away from the hands of its citizens and we have got to control it before it bites everyone (to include us) in the hind end.


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  • John Carey February 5, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Excellent Post Right. Environmental groups are now attack wind power because of the danger they pose to birds. How I miss the good ole days when we were drilling for oil. They have turned our national energy policy into a political football and it is no longer what policy is best for our country; it’s who environmental ideology can be sold to the masses in a believable way. The truth is when government decides it must tinker with the free market to secure environmental justice for the green police we all lose in the end.
    John Carey recently posted..Spoiled Milk and Bad Gas- Something StinksMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan February 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      Yup…environmentalists will always mess with crap with the idea that they’re doing good. Unfortunately they usually only mess something else up. It’s what happens when you play G-d. A buddy of mine one said that, assuming environmentalists were right and able to get their way, they’d push us into an ice age in an attempt to keep from global warming…only to create a new breed of environmentalists who demanded global warming to keep from an ice age. I’m sick of them.

  • Mike February 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Thankfully there are still a few places you can still buy fuel unadulterated with Ethanol. I buy from them when I can even though they’re usually a few cents higher on the gallon.
    Mike recently posted..Tingles not so Tingly AnymoreMy Profile

  • Matt February 5, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    I think we always have to remember that the environmental movement, at the top levels, has nothing to do with the environment. It is an attack on capitalism. Yes, there are some people that profit from it, and politicians are bought and paid for, but in the end, all of this is to collapse our civilization.

  • Robo-Love Saturday: WTF Edition February 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    […] Spoiled Milk and Bad Gas: Something Stinks […]

  • […] Via Sentry Journal […]

  • […] Journal talks about the foolishness of the push for ethanol over the past decade… Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax […]

  • […] to be lies. A Conservative Teacher has a post on how we might have sold out yet another ally. The Sentry Journal is discussing ethanol, and the green movement nonsense. Makes my Brain Itch has a post about strange traffic. The Robot is covering the “civil […]

  • RightHandMan
    RightHandMan February 6, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    Thanks for all of the links! Happy SB Sunday guys.

  • Greg February 6, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Big government is out of control, this is clear. It isn’t clear whether global warming is a fact, what causes it if it is indeed occurring, and if we returned to our pre-historic lifestyles we’d still see dramatic changes in climate.

    We use oil because it is the cheapest and most efficient method, period. When it isn’t if left alone the free-market will do just fine in determining the cheapest and most efficient source of fuel. There are just to many bureaucrats in Washington that develop programs that sustain there existence.
    Greg recently posted..Wikileaks Exposes- The Plumbers Crack ConspiracyMy Profile