Carpe Diem

Quotation of the day on demon ethanol

… is from the WSJ editorial board on “demon ethanol” (Paul Krugman’s term), which most people are now viewing as one of the most misguided public policies in US history:

In its zeal to impose the ethanol boondoggle, Congress has mandated it, subsidized it, and protected it from competitors. Now some Senators are siccing prosecutors on those who still won’t get on their ethanol cornwagon.

That’s the gist of a recent letter from Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, demanding the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission investigate the oil industry for “anticompetitive practices aimed at blocking market access for renewable fuels.” That’s Senatorial Cornspeak for saying oil companies should have to put their gas stations in the service of Big Ethanol.

Having mandated huge volumes of a fuel that has little willing market, the ethanol lobby is bullying auto makers to warranty cars that use damaging E15, pushing legislation to require more flex-fuel vehicles, and now using the threat of investigation to force the oil industry into selling a rival product. All this for a fuel that raises gas and food prices and has no anti-pollution benefits.

If ethanol is the miracle its supporters claim, it shouldn’t need a mandate or subsidies. And it shouldn’t need to bully the oil industry to do its selling for it.

MP: As I’ve mentioned before, anytime you have Paul Krugman agreeing on ethanol with such a diverse group as the Manhattan Institute, the WSJ, Reason Magazine, the Cato Institute, Investor’s Business Daily, Rollingstone Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, John Stossel, The Ecological Society of America, the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, George Will, and Time Magazine, you know that ethanol has to be one of the most misguided public policies in U.S. history.

25 thoughts on “Quotation of the day on demon ethanol

  1. …you know that ethanol has to be one of the most misguided public policies in U.S. history.

    Indeed. When will Benji’s boyfriend get the message?

      • Gadfly–
        I post here, sans ad hominen arguments, that ethanol is largely the creation of red-pink state rural congressmen, enacted and mandated under President George “I am an ethanol man” Bush jr. I voted for Bush jr. btw, but only the first time and that may be the last time I vote for the Grifters on Parade, the GOP.
        Ethanol is mostly GOP pink moonshine, part of an elaborate and extensive set of crutches for the most socialized and subsidized people on earth: Rural Americans.

        • It has been pointed out to “Benji” on many occasions that almost all of the money involved in ethanol subsidies go to rich leftists, living in blue states, through their stock ownership of companies that benefit from such subsidies. That fact, however, seems just too much for him to grasp.

          • Che is Dead-

            Given that Red-Pink State Senators and Representatives stake their careers on getting ethanol extended, you are saying that the GOP if full of useful idiots, simpletons, dupes, and knaves.

            Please cote evidence for your statement.

          • Ethanol subsidies, like all farm subsidies, are paid almost entirely to large agribusiness. Most of the stock of these agribusinesses are held by wealthy blue state liberals. The average farmer gets next to nothing.

            “From 1995-2009,” reports Environmental Working Group, “the largest and wealthiest top 10 percent of farm program recipients received 74 percent of all farm subsidies, with an average total payment over 15 years of $445,127 per recipient.” … Most farmers, in fact, manage with a minimum of federal help because they raise commodities that don’t get subsidies. — Reason

            City Dwellers Got $394 Million in Farm Subsidies, Watchdog Group Says, FOX Business

            A load of crop, New York Post

          • And now, the Democrats have moved to make it more difficult to find their wealthy, freeloading patrons on the farm subsidy gravy train. I wonder why?:

            Identifying some individuals who receive generous federal crop subsidies without going anywhere near a farm has gotten trickier.

            The Department of Agriculture, which paid $15.4 billion in 2009 subsidies, is no longer centralizing the data that made it easier to pinpoint individuals who receive farm payments through their affiliation in farming corporations, co-ops and other types of business partnerships.

            “Recipients can hide behind ‘paper farms’ and reap thousands of dollars in a taxpayers program without being accountable for it,” said Don Carr, a spokesman for the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

            [...]

            Why did the USDA discontinue the [...] database? A provision in Congress’ 2008 farm law no longer requires the department to release this type of information. The new language says that the USDA “may” release the data instead of the USDA “shall” release it.

            “The USDA said they don’t have the money to do it, so they’re not going to do it,” Carr said.

            http://www.publicintegrity.org/data_mine/entry/2100/

            http://reason.com/blog/2010/05/24/government-backslides-on-agric

          • Like always, Benji lays down his usual tripe and then runs away when called out. He’ll be back again next opportunity to run the same worn-out play. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

  2. Trying to select the most misguided public policy in US history is a bit like trying to select the worst Mariner baseball team in history.

    • Creating a narco-theocratic but easily collapsible nation in Afghanistan, at a $3 trillion cost and counting (Obama seems clueless as to how to get out of this Bush jr. rabbithole) is perhaps the USA’ s most misguided policy. But only perhaps…

  3. I would concede, though, that Obamacare might be a pretty close contender for most misguided (or unguided).

    John McAfee, founder of McAfee, Inc. made this point in an interview:

    McAFEE: Well, here’s the problem — it’s not something software can solve. I mean, what idiot put this system out there and did not create a central depository? There should be one website, run by the government, you go to that website and then you can click on all of the agencies. This is insane. So, I will predict that the loss of income for the millions of Americans who are going to lose their identities — I mean, you can imagine some retired lady in Utah, who has $75,000 dollars in the bank, saving her whole life, having it wiped out one day because she signed up for Obamacare. And believe me, this is going to happen millions of times. This is a hacker’s wet dream. I cannot believe that they did this.

    • That is kind of a misnomer. The entire Midwest is dependent on corn Illinois Wisconsin Minnesota Indiana Ohio Missouri North and South Dakota. Nebraska and I believe Kansas.

      Now you understand why this corn stuff goes through? Iowa really represents the entire Midwest’s farmers. No one would pay attention if it was just Iowa.

      • But the point is with the emphasis on the Iowa caucuses by the media candidates must favor ethanol or they would loose Iowa and be kicked out of the race in most cases. Yes the other states are important. Note that you have 20 senators from those states, of both parties, and that also as noted improves the chances.

        • That may be your point, but lets take Iowa off the map. There would still be great pressure to support ethanol because there is still plenty of industrial corn being grown in other states and families work for ADM “supermarket to the world” to produce the stuff, and in the Midwest their fuel is cheaper because of the ethanol subsidy (mid grade is 10 – 15 cents less than regular)

          Folks like to blame Iowa, but it is really the whole Midwest region. You think in Ohio they would be more likely to vote for a Pres candidate who openly hated ethanol?

          Please don’t mistake my explanation for support of corn based ethanol – I don’t support it, but when I point out flaws in other’s arguments they tend to jump on me like I am Mr Corn Ethanol himself.

      • Corn farming represents a tiny share of economic activity in urban Midwest states, particularly in MO. But farmers are an influential lobby in almost all states which is why this policy is a senate priority- the senate is subject to statewide pressures.

        • 3: Points

          1: It does tend to be a larger portion of income for states with smaller populations. Nebraska, the Dakotas.

          2: Even in large states like California, by far the largest industry is agricultural produce, same for Florida, so it is an industry politicians have to recon with. It isn’t a minor small industry at all.

          3: If you include the secondary and tertiary markets – farm output is even larger. You have the farmers, their suppliers, and then those dependent on output, like corn processors (whether making Ethanol, Pet food, or Crunchberries) and then it goes all the way to grocery stores, that depend on a stable supply of farm products. I know you might be thinking, these tomatoes are a lot less removed from corn – but remember the corn is used for animal feed, industrial starches, sweeteners for soda, and Pecan Pie, if you look it is used just about everywhere. And I didn’t even mention transportation and export (I believe until recently it was our biggest export) There are lots of folk beyond just the farmer with an interest in making corn. And any of these folks could get pissed off.

          Now even with my “points” should politicians stand their ground and say – yeah corn is great, but it needs to stand on its own. Yes. Is it politically feasible – it is hard to say with 100 million folks close to the industry, you could lose a few states. -What if the next GOP candidate lost Iowa, Indian and Ohio because of a corn stance?
          3:

  4. The failures of the Republic’s political processes are many and grow in number every day . They remind one of the same failures of the years 1845 -1860 .Read the history . It is rather scary . Four years later , succinctly , Lincoln said ” And the war came ” Have a nice day .

    • And your point is what? The Republicans in the pre 1860′s were the big government types, Lincoln was their icon. The parties have traded places and yes it is scary.

  5. Just a note – though I have said this before.

    Ethanol in itself is not bad. It is just a form of fuel with advantages and disadvantages, like any other fuel.

    What is bad is the inefficient way in which we produce ethanol, and the subsidies that go into production. There are alternate ways to make the stuff. For instance ethanol from Natural Gas is competitive with regular gas at around the $4.00 per gallon mark.

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