Tuesday, April 22, 2008

 

Why the Obamas have to pay more for Arugula

A wise man noted not too long ago:

“So-called progressivism is practically a self-perpetuating movement: In trying to solve problems in one generation, it creates new ones for it to solve in the future.”

Well, not too wise – apparently the process has sped up considerably:

The willingness to try, fail and try again is the essence of scientific progress. The same sometimes holds true for public policy. It is in this spirit that today, Earth Day, we call upon Congress to revisit recently enacted federal mandates requiring the diversion of foodstuffs for production of biofuels. These "food-to-fuel" mandates were meant to move America toward energy independence and mitigate global climate change. But the evidence irrefutably demonstrates that this policy is not delivering on either goal. In fact, it is causing environmental harm and contributing to a growing global food crisis.” Ethanol's Failed Promise

Ah yes, nobility in even their most obvious and predictable failures.

Just how bad the food crisis is was spelled out elsewhere in the Post:

“More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of sharply rising food prices, which has sparked riots around the world and threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children, the top U.N. food official said Tuesday.” World Faces 'Silent Tsunami' of Rising Food Prices, U.N. Food Official Says

That second article is much more reluctant to blame biofuels production; in fact, it seems to not have any clue why food prices might be rising. Here’s the only stab at the cause:

“The increasing use of crops to produce biofuels has been criticized as contributing to food shortages. While Britain and the European Union have called for greater use of biofuels, [Prime Minister] Brown said Tuesday that "we need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment."

Huh? How can you acknowledge a food shortage and at the same time wonder if taking food out of circulation might contribute to a food shortage? Does anyone get to wonder if watering their lawn contributes to a water shortage?

And does anyone read Adam Smith anymore?

“In some parts of the world, Sheeran [of the UN] said, the [World Food Program] needs to provide food to people who have none. In other countries, she said, food is plentiful but prices have risen so much that people cannot afford it. She said the WFP is considering programs in those countries to provide cash assistance or emergency food vouchers.

“Food experts have said such programs could help lower domestic food prices without hurting local farmers…”

So food is plentiful but the prices are too high. Well, somebody is paying those prices – prices that no one can pay don’t tend to stay around long…and high enough prices – like so much in this world – is a reason why the food is plentiful. And it is journalistic laziness to cite “food experts” on the economic effect of certain programs. In what universe do providing cash and cash equivalents somehow lower prices?

But I could be simply misreading all this as incompetence. After all, one way to reduce mankind’s carbon footprint is to reduce mankind…

Happy Earth Day!

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