Tuesday, November 23, 2010
As much as we never expected to say it, Al Gore has finally shared an inconvenient truth that is genuinely instructive and important for people to hear.
Specifically, the former vice-president and alleged environmentalist is admitting that the multi-billion dollar ethanol subsidies that he backed during his run for the presidency weren't actually so good for the environment, for energy, or for the economy...but were darn good for attracting votes from corn farmers.
And what makes this so instructive is that it provides a great window into how government really works, and the unintended consequences of bureaucratic meddling.
Turning corn into alcohol is a process that actually uses as much or more energy (those evil old fossil fuels, no less) as the resulting ethanol will produce when put into your gas tank. So there's no benefit to the environment, and no lessening of dependence on foreign suppliers.
And to make sure that there was plenty of corn available for this expensive and nearly useless process, the government offered multi-billion dollar price subsidies to farmers and gasoline producers... causing the price of corn to go up, and the amount available for other purchasers to go down.
And who are those "other purchasers?" That would be you and me, the people who eat corn, or eat meat that was raised on corn, or use any of the millions of grocery items that contain ingredients like corn syrup. The price of all of these items went up...because our tax money was forcing them to go up.
Not for the environment. Not for energy policy. But to buy votes from farmers - even if it meant our elected officials needed to lie about the "science."
Frankly, we appreciate Mr. Gore's sudden and surprising attack of candor as the cash-strapped U.S. considers extending the subsidies (currently $7.7 billion) for another year.
And we hope that if he has any other "inconvenient truths" on his conscience, he doesn't wait quite so long to share them.