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October 01, 2010

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Both of these market solutions have tended to do very well.

If that's so to a sufficient degree, then we should phase out the subsidies.

Promoting transparency and preventing fraud is a neutral government action. Picking market winners because the government 'likes' the corn lobby better is not.

I agree. As noted here, I'm not in favor of the corn subsidies.

I'm neither for nor against public subsidies for agriculture. I support, in principle, government intervention in the private economy when a useful public interest is involved.

IMO, the corn subsidy isn't really doing anything useful. It certainly doesn't appear to be creating a better outcome than no corn subsidy would do.

So IMO it's time for it to go.

It has a constituency, but everything (including ending the corn subsidy) has a constituency.

The rest of those produce you list just don't pack the caloric punch of corn.

The "caloric punch" of corn is one of the reasons I'm against subsidizing it.

And, besides, people don't like vegies all that much.

We are now firmly in "different strokes" territory.

You could live on corn, but not those other produce.

Sorry, but demonstrably false.

It took some dirty tricks to get Germans to eat potatos because farmers/peasants are highly suspicious of the unknown (Wat der Bur nit kennt dat fritt er nich = He does not eat what he does not know). The best one was to plant them on the royal fields and to guard them with soldiers (by day). Reverse psychology is not a new invention ;-)
Btw, German history includes a Potato War that had no actual battles but was essentially decided by food logistics with the potato eating Prussians getting the upper hand.

Certainly it's been only in the last couple of years that ethanol for corn has been shown to be not really all that green, and it's been around a lot longer than that.

And yet, it wasn't all that difficult to anticipate that the energy expended growing, harvesting and processing corn into ethanol would likely exceed ethanol's energy output (it takes at least five separate passes with a tractor to put in and maintain a corn crop. Add to this the irrigation needs and the combine to harvest and you can see pretty quickly it was a net loser). Yet, we were assured by the greens that this was the way to go. Hopefully, none of their other predictions will prove to be so erroneous.

Yet, we were assured by the greens that this was the way to go.

What "greens" are you talking about? Please be specific. There certainly are and have been proponents of alternative fuels, not only to help the environment but also to ease our dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol (potentially made from a variety of sources) is seen as one alternative. But who this contingent of "greens" you're talking about who were in favor of subsidizing corn farming? Over and over, people on this thread have taken issue with this "greens" comment, yet you continue to repeat it without substantiation.

Brazil is energy independent based partly on its ethanol production. But its ethanol is made from a much more efficient sugar cane. Perhaps the "greens" you are talking about were thinking of Brazil? Or what, exactly?

It's distracting to discuss what general groups like greens or conservatives say or have said. There are specific people and specific organizations that have specific ideas about various alternative energies.

I can say that I personally was, a number of years ago, excited about the potential for corn-based ethanol, but that it didn't take very long for me to find out that the return on energy invested was not advantageous. I now strongly oppose subsidizing corn-based ethanol.

Why should I care what an undefined category of greens might think? Let's discuss the ideas and, to the extent possible, who, specifically and identifiably, is pushing what?

"." and not "?"

Just to inject a note of levity....

An old Slate article on the corn -> ethanol issue contains this:

David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University who has been studying grain alcohol for 20 years...

That, my friends, is nice work if you can get it.

An old Slate article on the corn -> ethanol issue contains this:

David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University who has been studying grain alcohol for 20 years...

That, my friends, is nice work if you can get it.

As if the rest of us haven't been doing our parts pro damn bono for much longer.

I've got a colleague in the economics department who studies the various aspects of economic development of alcoholic brands, He just spent a month in the states touring Kentucky bourbon sites. He then comes back to Japan and meets with various folks related to the sake industry to share what he has learned. He previously spent a number of years doing the same for Scotch.

And I chose to do linguistics. Maybe in my next life, I'll be smarter.

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