Walter E. Williams

Congress' solution to our energy supply problems is not to relax supply restrictions but to enact the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that mandates that oil companies increase the amount of ethanol mixed with gasoline. Anyone with an ounce of brains would have realized that diverting crops from food to fuel use would raise the prices of a host of corn-related foods, such as corn-fed meat and dairy products. Wheat and soybeans prices have also risen as a result of fewer acres being planted in favor of corn. A Purdue University study found that the ethanol program has cost consumers $15 billion in higher food costs in 2007 and it will be considerably higher in 2008. Higher food prices, as a result of the biofuels industry, have not only affected the U.S. consumer, they have had international consequences as seen in the food riots that have broken out in Egypt, Haiti, Yemen, Bangladesh and other nations.

What's the congressional response? On May 1, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, convened a hearing on rising food prices saying, "The anxiety felt over higher food prices is going to be just as widespread, and will equal or surpass, the anger and frustrations so many Americans have about higher gas prices." Congress' proposed "solutions" to the energy and food mess they've created include a windfall profits tax on oil companies, a gasoline tax holiday for the summer, increases in the food stamp program and foreign food aid. These measures will not solve the problem but will create new problems.

Americans are rightfully angry about higher energy and food prices but their anger should be directed toward the true villains -- the Congress and the White House.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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