“Practical” Political Solutions

One of the many petty and feeble criticisms leveled often at libertarians is that they just do not understand how the real world works. According to the critics, libertarians do not understand the practical side of things; they are not pragmatic enough in their thinking. So let us take a look now at a “practical” solution from a “pragmatic” non-libertarian politician.

I will try to explain briefly. The overall situation is basically like this:

To solve one problem that did not really exist, the federal government mandated use of ethanol in gasoline. Ethanol (which does little to reduce the need for oil and reduces your automobile’s gas mileage) is made from lots and lots of corn. This necessarily takes corn away from the food market. Which drives up the price of corn in the food market and therefore also makes more expensive other foods that use corn in one form or another. This year there is a drought in places where corn is grown. Which reduces the supply of corn further, which drives up the cost, et cetera. So thank the federal government for your rising food bill.

But wait, this gets better. And by better, I mean more “practical”.

The drought also means livestock ranchers have to slaughter their animals early in the season because they cannot get the feed they need for the animals. This puts a lot of meat on the market early, which temporarily drives down meat prices. But later there will be a shortage, which, you guessed it, will drive up prices. And the drought also means that there will be a greater shortage of corn later. And you know what that will do. But do not fear. President Obama, whom we know cares so very much for the poor and the middle class because he tells us so, has a solution. Did he decide to end the ethanol mandate? No. According to The Washington Examiner on Monday the President said:

“Today the Department of Agriculture announced that it will buy up to $100 million worth of pork products, $50 million worth of chicken, and $20 million worth of lamb and farm-raised catfish,” Obama explained to reporters in front of a drought-stricken cornfield.

“Prices are low, farmers and ranchers need help, so it makes sense,” Obama explained. “It makes sense for farmers who get to sell more of their product, and it makes sense for taxpayers who will save money because we’re getting food we would have bought anyway at a better price.”

Got that? That temporary reduction in meat prices just got a little smaller because the federal govermment is going to use tax payer dollars to buy up $170,000,000 worth of meat. Ranchers need help. No, really, that is what he went with as justification. And farmers get to sell more product. More than what? More than would have been bought by average consumers?

So you see, rather than do something impractical that would have actually helped farmers and ranchers in the long run, and would have helped reduced food prices in the long run, the oh-so-very “practical” solution is to make everything more expensive in the long run. I bet you feel better already, knowing how practical it is for you to spend more money on food.

The Examiner explains:

Thanks to the ethanol mandate, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop now goes into the production of a useless fuel that hardly anyone would buy if the government didn’t require it. That’s up from just 17 percent in 2005, before the mandate went into effect. Only 36 percent of the corn crop now goes for feed, and 24 percent goes for food.

Obama could solve this problem instantly by suspending the federal ethanol mandate — something his EPA actually can do unilaterally and legally. Instead, Obama will buy up meat — a move that meat producers say won’t help them much anyway. “It doesn’t solve the problem of having enough affordable corn next summer,” industry analyst Steve Meyer told Reuters. “Without changing the ethanol program, nothing can be done,” he said.

The higher corn prices caused by the mandate and the drought have also driven up the price of ethanol by 33 percent since May, which means — again, thanks to the mandate — higher gas prices at the pump. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of gas rose 16 cents in July, an all-time record hike for that month. Prices rose an additional eight cents just last week. Gas is already more than four dollars a gallon in California and is expected to go higher.

This is the way “pragmatic” policies work. Seriously folks, this is what happens when you vote for “pragmatic” politicians.

Oh, I know, libertarians just don’t understand. Really? Politicians ignoring the real world, on-the-ground consequences of rising prices that the government policies are causing, this is somehow pragmatic to your thinking? Is this an example of the kind of understanding you think makes for good government?

Another silly criticism often directed at libertarians is that they do not understand what the “real” effect of their policies would be. Seems to me, the ones who do not understand the effects of their policies are all these supposedly pragmatic people who keep supporting these supposedly practical policies with all these highly negative consequences.

And this corn and meat issue is just one example. There are many more. The “war on drugs”, the housing market bubble, the federal debt, and on and on. This kind of pragmatism we would all be better off without. I will take libertarian ideas over this kind of “practical” solution any time.

One Response to ““Practical” Political Solutions”

  1. People who say libertarians do not understand how the real world works are the same folks who have never studies economics. I was shocked the day we studied price floors and ceilings and I saw what the actual effect was of these regulations.

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