We are now starving ourselves to feed our cars.
The United States Federal Government’s new policy of subsidizing domestically-grown, corn-based ethanol fuels is now beginning to seriously impact world food supplies, and has consequently lead to the first sustained rise in food prices since the 1960s. The Economist says to expect your food budget to jump from one-seventh of your income to one-quarter for the foreseeable future!
What other options are there? Well, I agree with the environmental movement that pollution is an evil, and that fossil fuels are not a sustainable bedrock of our global economy. Plug-in electric cars, higher-density living, nuclear energy, all of these are grand ideas. They represent a clear-minded movement to end chemical aggression. However, too many ‘green’ politicians in the Western World are taken hostage by farmer’s interests – because they vote, they fund, and they’re stubborn. The problem with so many special interests is that the party gaining advantage is concentrated while the disadvantaged are widespread. But this issue will hit you, yes you, right where it hurts: your ability to put bread on the table.
The solution is clear, but it will require some adjustment. Farmers in the Western World have to start playing fair. No more subsidies! If you can’t cut it without help, then maybe your energies are better directed in another sector of the economy. America is a fertile country; farming will not cease altogether, so rest assured you proponents of agricultural self-sufficiency. What will happen is that farming will continue to centralize, mostly because having a family farm sounds about as fun to most 21st century denizens as having a family mine or factory. What will happen is that resources, human and otherwise, will be freed to grow the world economy in myriad, unpredictable ways. What will happen is that we will be healthier and more fruitful: no more corn subsidies means the end of high-fructose corn syrup (instead of cheaper and healthier cane sugar), ethanol (except maybe the cheaper Brazilian variety), and those taxes used to pay farmers to not grow food.
When milk crosses $5/gallon, remember who your friends are. Your friends want you to eat well, sleep in peace, and live happily. Your friends are probably libertarians, so make an effort to meet them. And your enemies? They are the corrupt officeholders, and their supporters, who would fill up their SUV with enough grain to feed a human being for a year – all the while using that human’s tax dollars to distort the market mechanisms that would normally protect him from this madness.