In noted economist Henry Hazlitt’s book, entitled ‘Economics in One Lesson,’ the one lesson is this: good economic policy takes into consideration the effects of that policy on everyone over the long term, bad economic policy takes into consideration the effect on only a small section of affected individuals over the short term. In the 23 chapters that follow examining different aspects of economic policy, controlling supply, controlling pricing, controlling wages, etc.; his overall arching theme is for every dollar the government takes from the taxpayer and artificially puts where it believes it belongs, is a dollar taken out of the economy from where it would flow naturally and do the most good.
This has been positively proven in the Ag sector. Policies that were supposed to stabilize income has led to years of boom & bust in farming & ranching. Policies that were supposed to protect & promote “family farming” has led to its decline & consolidation. Policies that were supposed to help protect our water & soil have led to government land grabs and prosecution of individuals for daring to take initiatives on their own; without government approval, to try, and do so. The case for ethanol is no better.
Now I recognize that there are strong views on both sides of this position, but let us first examine a few facts. First and foremost, I do not believe in the taxpayer subsidizing any private business. The printing press, steam engine, internal combustion engine, airplane, light bulb, personal computer and many other inventions that changed the course of human history; were not the result of the government wanting to improve individuals’ lives, but the result of people looking to improve the lives of themselves. Also they were improving the lives of their families, through their personal efforts; and were actually, as in the case of the airplane, achieved by individuals after government efforts had failed.
Second, we have some of the most productive farmland here in North America. The American farmer & rancher is the best in the world and stands in no one’s shadow. America leads the world in production technology & equipment. Lastly, whether it is commercial, non-gmo, or organic; the food we produce is the best on the planet and everyone wants it. Given all this, good economic policy would be doing exactly what the President is trying to do. Renegotiating trade policies that have put the American farmer and rancher at a competitive disadvantage for years, when trying to export our Ag products to foreign nations. Rewriting the tax code to allow people to keep more of their money. And reducing the red tape that has shackled the entire spectrum of businesses in our Nation. We also need to address the increasing age of the American farmer & rancher and develop a way to get younger individuals onto their land. I have already outlined such a plan and encourage you to read it.
This type of plan is long term and is contingent on considering the best interests of everyone involved. It is based on the free market, selling the best product at a price the consumer is willing to pay and in this case a product they can not do without and for which they are willing to pay more to obtain. Other nations want our beef, pork, chicken and other products because they are the best and they need our corn and soybeans because they can not produce enough of it on their own. Ethanol on the other hand is a short term solution aimed at a small section of the economy that, as we have continually seen, is dependent on the whims of the powers that be. It is a product that the government has to force people to use, like Obamacare, and therefore will always be met with consternation. As stated, I do not believe in subsidizing the oil, gas, wind or solar industries either; I believe in letting the free market, the people, decide what is best and drive innovation to improve the world. It always has and always will. Anytime the government steps in to improve things, it screws it up.