Monday, June 11, 2007

The REAL Ethanol Story

All this talk of Mexican food and ethanol has compelled me to post this late-May story I was going to just let slide. The real ethanol tragedy is its effect on the price of tortillas. I hear the tortilla manufacturers are really just fixing the prices. They are making record profits off the tortillas. I hope the Mexican legislature investigates. Maybe they need a tortilla windfall profit tax...


Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Maybe this will force US food manufacturers to wean themselves off corn syrup dependency for food. High prices for biofuel may inadvertently help decrease the American obesity epidemic on a chemical-biological level.

The higher corn prices are already driving up the costs of certain meats in the United States, as corn is the main feed for livestock. Perhaps, with the price of corn going up, the price of luxry meats will go up as well, and encourage more realistic eating habits among the American consumer.

Perhaps increasing prices will encourage more economic activity in the Mexican agricultural industry and increase demand for low wage workers, as it might also do for other Central and South American nations. Such a thing may decrease the migration across the border into the United States and perhaps lead to a decrease in incentive for certain illegal activities in the border regions.

This ethanol stuff may end up being a magic bullet, after all. Who knew?

Dante said...

Don't kid yourself, Pat. ALL meat is luxury meat. I think we've all seen the chart with all the ears of corn and the single cow. Besides, the more expensive cuts of meat tend to be the better for you. My t-bone might not be nutritionally optimal, but it's a heck of a lot better for me than the $.99/lb ground beef in the plastic tube wrapping.

And America's eating habits are far more behavioral than economic. Making food more expensive would probably help stop that behavior but only in the same way that cutting off your arm might get rid of a hangnail.

My only real concern with ethanol is making it from corn. We really should be using cane sugar but a certain long-held grudge prevents us from buying the cheapest cane sugar on earth.

Christopher said...

...shouldn't we instead be moving away from an old model that follows these four steps
1) buy car
2) buy fuel and burn it
3) buy more fuel and burn it
4) keep buying fuel and burn it

and instead adopt this model?
1) buy car
2) a)insert canister of hydrogen on semi-annual basis
b)car refuels itself

Ethanol/flex fuel and rechargeable electric vehicles should merely be viewed as transition technologies, with a 3-5 year expiration date at best. Research and subsidies should instead focus on hydrogen fuel cells, solar energy and technologies that combine the two.

Far from pipe dreams, self/semi-regenerating power systems are viable, but have received little attention thanks to the hardworking folks in certain agriculture circles.