Benchmarks of seriousness

I was taking an advanced economic history class during the Republican “Revolution” of 94. Someone asked the professor if there was any historical precedent for radical change following a big party switch in Congress alone. He cited many near examples I don’t remember but then said “We’ll know if they’re serious about cutting spending if they get rid of farm subsidies.”. It’s now more than twelve years later and farm subsidies are going strong.

I was reading this interview with George Schulz and he, talking about oil dependence, had the line

I won’t believe we’re serious about it until we’re willing to remove the tariff on import of ethanol. And take quotas off sugar and a few things like that.

which is a fine benchmark to tell if anyone really cares about oil dependence. Support for nuclear power is a good one too.

For some technical background; American ethanol production is one of the least efficient efforts in the world, largely because we make it from corn (which we have a lot of) which is a poor source material. Sugar (of which we grow very little) is a far better source material. The American climate is not well suited to grow sugar, but it is well suited to grow corn. Both the corn and sugar lobbies are well organized and powerful and benefit greatly from subsidies and tariffs.

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