[H]ere are two potential Republican presidential candidates lining up to endorse what amounts to an ongoing bailout of agribusiness and energy companies. Even if ethanol didn’t lead to higher food prices worldwide, doesn’t the conservatives’ supposedly principled objection to bailouts apply here?
By Steven Horwitz at The Freeman
we can turn to the recent endorsement of ethanol subsidies by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Ethanol, a fuel made from corn, has been widely criticized for a variety of reasons. Most common is that it converts corn — which could be used for food — into fuel, and very inefficiently at that. This raises food prices in the United States and around the world. By providing subsidies for ethanol, the government steals food from the world’s poor to enrich large fuel producers and agribusiness.
Isn’t this the point many conservatives keep making about Obama’s policies toward the banks or auto companies? Haven’t they rightly said that keeping failing banks or auto companies afloat with government dollars just throws good money after bad and prevents those firms from learning from their mistakes? Yet here are two potential Republican presidential candidates lining up to endorse what amounts to an ongoing bailout of agribusiness and energy companies.
But the worst part remains the hypocrisy. Both Gingrich and Santorum have now lost whatever small amount of credibility they had in criticizing Obama for being a socialist. After all, what are the ethanol subsidies if not cornfield socialism?
But that doesn’t change the fact that ethanol subsidies are no less socialistic than the Obama interventions that conservatives like Gingrich and Santorum decry as socialism. Too bad for the poor who must pay more for their food that those guys don’t get it.
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