It is always foolish for a country to order the burning of its food supply, but it takes a special kind of depravity to do it in the midst of a severe drought.
As gas prices climb back toward $4 a gallon, the Obama administration -- facing a tough re-election campaign and rising Middle East tensions -- is once again considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. For years, administrations have bought and stored oil for emergencies, in fear of a cutoff of imported oil, as happened during the Arab embargo of 1973-74.
Ethanol, because it’s popular in corn-growing states such as Iowa and Nebraska, was once thought to be politically untouchable. But at the end of last year lawmakers finally scrapped a tax subsidy that paid refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline. The subsidy had cost Americans some $20 billion over three decades. “Fiscal conservatives joined liberal environmentalists to kill it, with help from a diverse coalition of outside groups,” The New York Times explained. And, as politicians must have noted by now, the world didn’t end.
The question at hand is whether the US agriculture secretary is an economic dimwit, a shill for the Obama administration, a shill for corn producers, or some combination thereof.