17 February 2007

Teach the Boobs Economics

Now the poor in Mexico are facing hunger because the price of corn is rising on speculation, because the US is planning to up the percentage of ethanol (made from corn) in auto fuel. But that would require re-directing a substantial fraction of US corn production from food and animal feed to fuel. This in turn would raise corn prices. Moreover the demand for more corn acreage would displace other grains, like rice, and drive up the price of rice as well. And the poor of Mexico can't switch to wheat flour because they need the nutrients in corn flour to complement the rest of their diet. So, we are driving up the price of corn and rice worldwide, and pushing more poor people into malnutrition. Why?

The idea was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. But (duh!) to make ethanol you have to heat the corn mash using - you guessed it - fossil fuels. The net result is that the ethanol will have a bigger "carbon footprint" in the atmosphere than the gasoline it is supposed to replace.

In other words, we are starving people and polluting the air so that our legislators and regulators can make a show of caring for our environment. I'm tired of people who know nothing but politics trying to run our world when they don't understand how it works.

So here's a resolution for you: Let's require all newly elected federal and state officials to take a three week crash course in Economics and Energy before they assume office. Heck, let's make them retake the course every time they are re-elected.

The effort on their part to learn the course material would be an act of loving their neighbors, namely us - the people they presume to govern.


postxian said...

Exactly John. I think we could let them substitute a course in ecology, which is really the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Blind Chihuahua:
Take a look at this link putting to bed the very issues you've brought up. I'm looking forward to your response.


Scooper said...

Hmmm. It appears the study I was thinking of was published in 2005, and has since been re-thought. See The Wilson Center for the original article as well as articles they have published since. I think the ultimate solution to the corn/ethanol problem will be to use the cornstalks instead of the corn itself to generate the ethanol, and good ol' nuclear power (and solar, where practical) to generate the energy for the distillation. But even better would be a hybrid electric-hydrogen powered vehicle.