Food prices in America are going up and up. We’re not starving, thank goodness, but we are seeing more and more of our money go to groceries. Many see a direct connection with ethanol (i.e., using food to power cars) and rising food prices. Thus, despite the challenging drought, the administration is pursuing ethanol-based policies that keep prices inflated:
A drought is currently driving down corn production. The shortage of feed is forcing livestock producers to slaughter animals early, putting downward pressure on meat prices in the short run and guaranteeing shortages and higher prices next year. But nature is not the biggest factor in this crisis — the government is. Specifically, the federal government’s ethanol mandate, which requires that 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be produced in 2012.
Thanks to the ethanol mandate, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop now goes into the production of a useless fuel that hardly anyone would buy if the government didn’t require it. That’s up from just 17 percent in 2005, before the mandate went into effect. Only 36 percent of the corn crop now goes for feed, and 24 percent goes for food.
Obama could solve this problem instantly by suspending the federal ethanol mandate — something his EPA actually can do unilaterally and legally. Instead, Obama will buy up meat — a move that meat producers say won’t help them much anyway. “It doesn’t solve the problem of having enough affordable corn next summer,” industry analyst Steve Meyer told Reuters. “Without changing the ethanol program, nothing can be done,” he said.
It’s bad enough that ethanol is hurting our pocketbooks at home. What’s scary and tragic is that the diversion of food crops may be causing revolutions elsewhere. Smart thinkers have posited that the government obsession with ethanol, which results in crop diversions and high food prices in marginal economies, may have led to the Arab Spring:
While the mainstream media focuses on the political aspects of this turmoil, they are overlooking the impact of rising inflation, driven mainly by record food prices. For example, former Bush advisor Dan Senor notes that Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer. Yet because of skyrocketing prices, Egyptian inflation is now over 10 percent, while some experts estimate that Egyptian food inflation has risen as much as 20 percent.
To be fair, not all of the food inflation can be blamed on the Fed. A good part of this problem can also be placed at the doorstep of bipartisan U.S. policies to subsidize ethanol.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2001, only 7 percent of U.S. corn went to ethanol. By 2010, the ethanol share was 39 percent. So instead of growing wheat, our farmers are growing corn in order to cash in on ethanol subsidies. Egyptians who can’t afford to buy bread and have taken to the streets in protest might be very interested to know this.
Not even Al Gore still believes that ethanol provides any environmental benefits.
More simply stated, the obsession with useless ethanol, all in the name of saving us from Gaia’s wrath, is starving people.
It occurred to me that this isn’t the first time that governments have taken to killing people in order to placate Gaia. A little digging yielded this summary about the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. Keep in mind as you read it that, in the 21st Century, every single itch and twitch in the weather — every heavy rain, heat wave, cold spell, etc. — is blamed on Gaia’s anger that we’re flooding her with CO2 (emphasis mine):
For hundreds of years, human sacrifice is believed to have played an important role of many of the indigenous tribes inhabiting the Valley of Mexico. However, the Mexica brought human sacrifice to levels that had never been practiced before. The Mexica Indians and their neighbors had developed a belief that it was necessary to constantly appease the gods through human sacrifice. By spilling the blood of human beings onto the ground, the high priests were, in a sense, paying their debt to the gods. If the blood would flow, then the sun would rise each morning, the crops would grow, the gods would provide favorable weather for good crops, and life would continue.
Over time, the Mexica, in particular, developed a feeling that the needs of their gods were insatiable. The period from 1446 to 1453 was a period of devastating natural disasters: locusts, drought, floods, early frosts, starvation, etc. The Mexica, during this period, resorted to massive human sacrifice in an attempt to remedy these problems. When abundant rain and a healthy crop followed in 1455, the Mexica believed that their efforts had been successful. In 1487, according to legend, Aztec priests sacrificed more than 80,000 prisoners of war at the dedication of the reconstructed temple of the sun god in Tenochtitl’n.
Just to be clear, I’m not accusing Progressives of deliberately engaging in human sacrifice. Indeed, it’s ridiculous to compare converting corn to fuel, which has a byproduct of revolution and starvation, on the one hand, with deliberately and directly cutting the hearts out of 80,000 prisoners, on the other hand. Nevertheless, I do think there’s a straight, albeit very thin, line between the primitive thinking of the Aztecs — “earth angry, kill people” — and the so-called “sophisticated thinking of the Progressives — “earth angry, who cares how many people we kill.”