America has a problem: obstinate politicians, the Obstinacy in Chief, especially.
Almost any policy high-lighted at some point in the last few years could serve as an illustration of this point, but let’s choose the once-popular “green” pro-ethanol policies.
George W. Bush pushed ethanol, and Barack Obama doubled-down on the subsidy, making it a centerpiece for his low carbon-footprint notion.
It has not worked.
What it has done is create what environmentalists are now calling “an ecological disaster.”
It created a land rush that swallowed vast tracts of land sporting alternate uses, including millions of acres of conservation land, including wetlands. And the huge amounts of insecticide and fertilizer used in the effort have poisoned wells and water supplies as well as rivers and the Gulf of Mexico.
All to plant more corn than the market demands.
But is it doing what the government wants, and Obama demanded — the whole reason for this goofy program after all?
“The government’s predictions of the benefits have proven so inaccurate,” write Dina Cappiello and Matt Apuzzo for the Associated Press, “that independent scientists question whether it will ever achieve its central environmental goal: reducing greenhouse gases. That makes the hidden costs even more significant.”
Over-production, higher costs, externalized burdens — typical for a government subsidy. But what can we do about it?
In early 19th century Britain, Richard Cobden and John Bright started the Anti-Corn Law League, which successfully opposed the biggest protectionist program of the age. We could use another such vital force, this time to oppose the idiotic subsidies that raise food prices internationally as well as wreak havoc on land in the Mid-West.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.