Saturday, February 20, 2016

Republicrats v. Depublicans (Part Three)

Let me begin by apologizing for the second political post in a row. In my defense, though most of my posts have a central theme, they do tend to wander around a bit to keeps things interesting and avoid pomposity. For example, last week's Poh-LIH-Ticks & Stickies was about politics, my grandkids, and revealing a bit more about what your life will be like once I become the king of America. But mostly it was a thinly veiled attack on limousine liberals and socialism.

What follows is an attack on the corn lobby and I've deliberately waited until the Iowa cauci are behind us because this serves as an illustration of how special interests get away with spending other people's money. They keep a relatively low profile and don't get so greedy that they attract unwanted attention. Oh, and this post is also about economics.

Economists spend a great deal of time and effort studying the effect of incentives on people's economic behavior. When I decided to study economics in depth by taking a class in both macro and microeconomics at my local community college I encountered the word, defined variously, waiting for me around many corners and often hiding behind  rocks, trees, hedges and the like. The most fundamental definition of the concept I encountered was when my fellow aspiring scholars and I were taught, early on, that all things being equal, higher prices = fewer sales, lower prices = more sales. Who knew?

Being economics, this lofty notion was explained and elaborated upon (at great length) via a concept called the demand curve. The phrase, all things being equal, in economic speak, is ceteris paribus, which sounds way cooler. Well, at least until you discover that ceteris paribus, when explained and elaborated upon (at great length), is only a sort of logical place marker, a fictional convenience, because all things are never equal. It's a highly condensed way for economists to acknowledge, as a weather forecaster will if cornered, that while something is generally or probably likely to happen, all things considered -- we admit that one variable, many variables, variables that no one has discovered yet, or known variables interacting in ways they never have before -- could result in a tornado (or an economic depression).

But all things considered, at least the ones we've thought of/are aware of, it won't rain today, unless it does.     

Discovering and reading "Economics In One Lesson," by Henry Hazlitt (see my post, Macroeconomics, 8.19.15) saved me from taking any advanced classes in the field. I wouldn't call it light reading exactly, but, it is compared to taking a class taught by an economist. Or at least an instructor that someone's deemed qualified to teach economics. Don't get me wrong, I developed the highest respect for my instructor for both macro and micro... the day he finally got around to telling us that the he thought much of the mainstream economic theory in the textbook we were using was bonkercockie. From then on I ...

[Please forgive the interruption. The gentlereader and my muse, the ones that peer over my shoulders as I write, both of whom I've been ignoring despite their repeated attempts to interrupt me because they think I've wondered down the wrong path -- considering the title of this post -- debased themselves by administering simultaneous wet willies in order to get my attention. However, I was just carefully laying the groundwork before pointing out that...]

... Politicians from both sides of the aisle, many some of whom may have started out as idealists, are as subject to incentives as everyone else. The recent Iowa cauci unambiguously prove my point.

The Republicratic party is the party of small government and maximum freedom. Think rugged individualism personified by a proud Iowa farmer sitting on the front porch of his rustic but meticulously maintained farmhouse. He's sipping coffee from an ISU coffee mug and watching the sun rise over the seemingly endless acres of corn fields that have been worked by his family for generations. He's a happy man. Being on the receiving end of the high corn prices guaranteed by The Gubmints byzantine tangle (google ethanol subsidies and try to make sense of what you find, I double dog dare you) of subsidies, programs and regulations will do that for a fella. He, his lovely wife Connie, his all-American family and almost everyone he knows personally, vote for republicrats. Hell, his dog would vote for republicrats if it was legal to do so. Unless, of course, the republicrat in question was one of the poor misguided souls that don't understand the ethical nuances involved and objects to the fact that everyone that eats corn is helping to pay Juniors tuition at ISU (it's a family tradition). If you're unaware of Iowa's popular republicratic governor, Terry Branstad (recent beneficiary of 15 minutes of national fame) and his son, Eric Branstad (that works with a group called America's Renewable Future), googling will provide a much more entertaining and easily understood narrative than trying to make sense of the ethanol debacle.

The Depublican party, the party of ginormous gubmint and Gubmint and tossing all the money into a giant pot to then be divvied up equally by all the kids on the playground (some kids are more equal than others) also stands with the corn farmers. The Billary, who opposed subsidizing corn farmers when she was in the senate, has since seen the light. Interestingly, the Algore, once a supporter, now stands in principled opposition. Having FU level wealth, squared (net worth estimated by Forbes to be at least $300,000,000, even richer than the party's 2012's designated poster boy of greed, Maleficent Mitt), and no longer interested in running for public office, affects some people that way.

Here comes the best part.

There's a big, honkin' fly in the bipartisan ointment love lube. Even the Algore acknowledges that ethanol creates more carbon emissions than fossil fuels. The Gubmint not only chooses to ignore this inconvenient truth, it's decided to do what it can to increase the use of ethanol. How? Well, since all cars manufactured prior to 2012 can't use gas that contains more than 10% ethanol without damaging the engines, and, since less than half of all cars manufactured since can, and, since blends that contain more than 10% ethanol also damage gas stations, The Gubmint gotta do what The Gubmint does. The Department of Agriculture has stepped up to the plate and is spending a $100,000,000 of other peoples money in the form of grants to the gubmints to enable them to help gas stations upgrade to equipment that can pump gas with more ethanol in the mix.

What have you learned Dorothies gentlereaders? The Gubmint teat corrupts us all. As for me, please contact me if you'd like to invest in my plan to form a consortium and buy up as many farms suitable for raising corn as possible.

Have an OK day.                                                                                

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016 

If you wish to like, react, leave a comment or share -- please scroll down. 

Mobile gentlereaders, if I've pleased you, there's additional content to be found via laptop and desktop.