Amidst the firestorm of bad press over the global food crisis, the US government is having another DOH! moment, that is, another negative side effect of government policy has slapped us in the face. This side-effect, like others in recent years, was OBVIOUS and should have been expected if anyone took a few moments to think about it (isn’t that the job of our government?).
Bio-fuels were all the rage in W’s reelection year, and everyone was loving ethanol, hydrogen and biodiesel, but nobody worried for a second about the implications of using a global food staple as fuel to push our chunky behinds down the road. In the case of Ethanol, which the government has mandated we use, corn is now in higher demand because it’s the basis of ethanol production. Globally, people who don’t even have access to ethanol gasoline, much less cars because of poverty, are now paying more for the corn that feeds their families on a daily basis. For what? They’re paying more so Americans can feel less “dependant on foreign oil” and “greener.”
As the price of corn soars, so does the demand for other, cheaper grains, which has the adverse but assured effect of pushing up their price as well. The net result is non-discriminate inflation of all food prices, and the finger of blame should be rightfully pointed at the impulsive energy policies of the US government.
Since Americans are up to their ears in food, it’s no surprise this catastrophe wasn’t anticipated. It’s easy to imagine, however, scenarios in which America would have had great foresight—if, for example the government proposed that ethanol extracted from coffee beans, malt, barley and hops would be forced into the country’s gas supply. The prospect of 5 dollar extra small cappuccino’s and 10 dollar six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon would certainly scare us straight. If that were the case, maybe the food crisis would have been averted altogether.