Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stop the Ethanol Insanity!!!

As usual, when it comes to subsidizing ethanol, bad politics is clobbering good economics. There are no scientists or economists who will tell you that ethanol from corn is a good idea, only politicians and farmers. Anyone with half a brain would know that subsidizing ethanol from corn is a losing proposition. In fact, we consumers get to pay twice for this stupidity: our tax dollars go to the ethanol industry, and our food prices skyrocket as supplies of other foods decrease because more acreage is planted as corn.
I was willing to write this off as just another case of unstoppable idiocy, until I read this story in The Economist:

A shortage of hops threatens Christmas

JUST as the festive season gets going, drinkers in America are finding their favourite beer suddenly more expensive or even—horrors!—not available at all. Hit by price increases and shortages, many breweries, particularly the small “craft brewers” and the even smaller microbreweries, are being forced to raise prices, make do with modified recipes or shut off the spigots altogether.

The humble hop, the plant that gives beer its distinctive flavour, is the main problem. Many farmers in the Pacific north-west, where America's hop production is concentrated, have turned to more profitable lines—especially corn, which can be made into ethanol. The decrease in hop production, put at some 50% over the past decade, has sent prices through the roof. Brian Owens, the brewmaster of the O'Fallon Brewery near St Louis, Missouri, says that the variety he once bought for $3 a pound (0.45kg) now costs five times that. Many smaller breweries cannot find what they need at any price. Industry giants like Anheuser-Busch and Miller are better off, thanks to long-term contracts. But even Anheuser-Busch has been forced to raise prices for its six-packs.

A shortage of good beer? This has gone far too far!!!

Rise up America. Write your Congressmen. Better yet, slap them around. Make them stop now. We already pander to farmers like babbling idiots, but this is threatening the great American lifestyle, and I won't take it anymore!

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