How many times do we need to learn this lesson? Central planning, big sweeping, one size fits all policies do not work. They are filled with waste, crony capitalism, and all sorts of unintended consequences which often are worse than the issue the original policy was created to ameliorate.
This is absolutely the case with corn ethanol subsidies.
Such subsidies are by nearly any measure bad for the environment, bad for hungry people, and encourage (mostly legal) corruption.
But corn subsidies are good for corn farmers who happen to control who wins in the most important presidential caucus. Ethanol is a gift, given by both establishment parties to a constituency they seek to woo. The poor, the environment, and the taxpayers pay for this ongoing courtship however.
With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. And when President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline, Bush predicted it would make the country “stronger, cleaner and more secure.”
But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.
As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.
Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.