Fueling up on the food supply
Which do you prefer: Loading up on gasoline or eating tortillas? I know how Mexican peasants would respond to the question. They can live without gasoline, but living without corn would mean living without tortillas–and that’s unthinkable.
Eureka! Corn to fuel–why didn’t we think of it years ago? In the beginning, everyone embraced ethanol as the answer to the world’s energy problems. It would bring more business to farmers and it would improve the environment a one-two punch that had the farm lobby and environmentalists in bed together. The petroleum industry was in on the fun, too, making for a high-powered threesome.
Before long, our elected “wise men” in Washington (they’re known as Congress, which is also known as a “parliament of fools”) jumped on the corn wagon. They rushed in with a diktat to the oil refiners: “Thou shalt blend 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels, such as ethanol, into the nation’s gasoline supply by 2012.” (That’s from the Energy Policy Act of 2005.)
Even now, most of the gasoline you pump into your vehicle is 10% ethanol. (It’s called gasohol.)
There’s just one problem: There’s not enough corn to go around.
When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, it set us up for a whole host of problems. To get a glimpse of the future this kind of government regulation will inevitably bring, take a look at what’s happening in Mexico.
The Mexican government reacted irrationally to the gasohol craze. The result: a serious corn shortage in the food industry in Mexico. Diverting corn to gasohol production has created a state of near-revolution there. Don’t think the same can’t happen here.
For starters, there isn’t enough land in the entire U.S. to accomplish what Congress is mandating. We simply cannot grow enough corn to feed people and to feed the mammoth gas-guzzlers that Americans so adore.
But beyond that, the “barnyard lobby” (meat, livestock, and poultry) says the high price of corn is going to kill them if the government continues the mad pursuit of hooch before humans. For now, I’ll ignore the fact that most livestock shouldn’t eat corn anyway, and focus on this: The price of corn-based animal feed has increased 60 percent since 2005. And of course, in the end, the high cost of production is going to mean more money out of your pocket as well.
Ultimately, using corn to make gas is no better than using chewing gum to plug a leaking dam. It’s a ticking time bomb.
The petroleum industry (which knows it has nothing to fear from Wild Turkey or Jack Daniels as a fuel substitute) has now changed its tune and has come out in opposition to this reckless and dangerous legislation. The American Meat Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and pork and dairy interests have also taken a clear stand against gasohol.
Unfortunately, the grain and bean producers are not as vociferous. They’ll simply switch to corn production. Why grow black beans and chick- peas when you can be subsidized by the givement for growing corn? Are we becoming a one-crop nation? Who’s going to feed the working people? The hogs and chickens? The vegetarians?
And remember that almost all of the hard liquors are made from GRAINS–vodka and bourbon from corn, Scotch from barley, and Canadian from a blend of several grains. Would a shortage of corn mean a shortage of liquor?
Are you prepared to pay $100 for a “cheap” bottle of hooch?
“I don’t drink,” you say. Well, then how about a $20 taco or a $10 loaf of bread?
Soybeans and sugar get two hearty thumbs up
As I have often said, I get a lot of good nutritional and medical information from financial newsletters. In a special report, Kevin Kerr (from the Daily Reckoning) had this to say about the ethanol craze: “In the commodities arena, soybeans as biofuel seem to be getting much more interest and is likely a much more viable alternative. The other market that could be a real sleeper here is sugar.”
Now there’s an idea worth looking into. Soybeans and sugar are two non-foods that we need to eliminate from the diet, anyway. What better place to dump them than into our gas tanks? Convert sugar and soy into booz-ahol and you have a trifecta: elimination of two of the worst nutritional disasters of the modern world and creation of a biofuel from useless plants. What a deal!
Maybe we could start dumping fluoride in our gas tanks as well. At least then we wouldn’t be forced to drink the poisonous stuff. (But a word of caution: Your car will die an early death from neuro-fluorosis.)