Rich Tucker

Indeed, famine and food shortages are almost always man-made.

In China, Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” triggered a famine that killed an estimated 20-30 million people. In Ukraine in the 1930s, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin triggered a famine that killed an estimated 10 million people. And in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge caused famine as part of its murderous communist revolution. About half the country’s population was killed.

In the hands of a cruel government, or in the absence of effective government, food becomes a weapon.

Of course, the U.S. is far from perfect. Because of federal policies, about 40 percent of our corn crop is converted into ethanol and burned instead of being used as food. The governors of seven states had asked the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend its renewable fuel standard program, so corn could be sold as food instead of fuel. But last week, EPA refused. Think of that every time you see the warning on a gas pump that its fuel contains 10 percent ethanol.

Also, think of this: a key reason the U.S. tried to develop biofuels in the first place was so our country could reduce its dependence on imported fuel. But just last week, the International Energy Agency announced we may do that on our own. The U.S. is expected to be the world’s largest oil producing nation by 2020, mostly because of hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking allows companies to get at oil and gas in tight rock formations. It’s been used for decades. But private companies, seeking profit because the prices of fossil fuels have been rising, have managed to expand it and put it to use on a large scale. It’s the free market at work.

Our Founders wrote a Constitution that encouraged economic growth and protected property rights and markets. We’ve all reaped the benefits, in food, energy and thousands of other ways. That’s something to celebrate, this week and every week.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.