Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Path to Fascism. From controlling sugar to Socialist healthcare

I hate using dictionary definitions.  I've seen it done in too many books and they always lose me.  So I will quote Wikipedia which is hipper and better than any dictionary.  Skipping all the social aspects of Fascism, Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Fascism advocates a state-controlled and regulated mixed economy; the principal economic goal of fascism is to achieve autarky to secure national self-sufficiency and independence, through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.  It promotes regulated private enterprise and private property contingent whenever beneficial to the nation and state enterprise and state property whenever necessary to protect its interests.
We'll let that stand.  I won't add to it.  But let's look at where we were and where we are.

I've been a chemical engineer now for 32 years.  I've been involved in a wide cross section of chemical and industrial technologies.  I first got my start in the food and specialty chemical industry.  Back in the late 70s and early 80s several companies were involved in setting up the infrastructure of high fructose corn syrup.  We shortened this to HFCS.  That dreaded, poisonous concoction that has everyone up in arms.

The whole HFCS debacle is a load of shit.  Fructose is found everywhere in nature.  The primary source being honey and fruit.  But this blog post is not about that.  I don't want to dispute it.  In fact, I want to do just the opposite.

I want to agree with all of those people who HATE HFCS.  At least, for the purposes of this post.

How did we get here?  Why is it we use HFCS as a sweetener instead of cane/beet sugar?  There is a good answer.  And it is why were are where we are:

GOVERNMENT.

Due to government control, sugar prices have been kept artificially high:
In order to understand the debate over sugar price support programs, it is necessary to understand what tools are used to enact these programs. Contrary to popular belief, there are no direct subsidies to sugar farmers. Instead, a complex system of price support loans and tariffs are employed by the United States government to manipulate domestic market sugar commodity prices to keep them among the very highest anywhere. The simplest way to describe the loan system is as a means to keep the price of U.S. sugar high, and the easiest way to describe the tariff system is as a means to create barriers to competition which would result in bringing those artificially-high domestic prices back down to international market levels.

...

The international sugar surpluses of the early 1970s convinced Congress that sugar price support programs were no longer necessary. Consequently, Congress did not renew the legislation authorizing the price support programs. Ironically, the years immediately following the expiration of this legislation saw a sharp rise in international sugar production. Congress rushed to reinstate price support programs for the crop, known as the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977. Through this act, loans became an integral part of the sugar price support programs, and the tariff system took on new importance in maintaining the sugar price floor, or market price objective. Again, according to the American Sugar beet Growers Association website, the new legislation reinstated import restrictions to protect sugar support loans: "To encourage processors to sell their sugar in the marketplace rather than forfeit it to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), import duties and fees were used to maintain the domestic sugar price at a level called the market price objective."
1977.  An important year.  In fact, Wikipedia covers this, too:
A system of sugar tariffs and sugar quotas imposed in 1977 in the United States significantly increased the cost of imported sugar and U.S. producers sought cheaper sources. High-fructose corn syrup, derived from corn, is more economical because the domestic U.S. prices of sugar are twice the global price and the price of corn is kept low through government subsidies paid to growers. HFCS became an attractive substitute, and is preferred over cane sugar among the vast majority of American food and beverage manufacturers. Soft drink makers such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi use sugar in other nations, but switched to HFCS in the U.S. in 1984. Large corporations, such as Archer Daniels Midland, lobby for the continuation of government corn subsidies.
So, here we are.  We've drunk ourselves stupid and FAT with HFCS saturate beverages.  HFCS, apparently a huge contributor to diabetes and high blood pressure, is still with us.  What should the response have been to rid us of this human version of DDT?

Do I think HFCS is a main cause of obesity?  What does it matter?  Everyone else seems to think so.  Check here.  And here. And here. And here. And here. Here.  Here.

The answer should have been to allow free trade of sugar!  Get rid of the trade barriers, the government backed loans!  Let the markets determine the price!  But the problem is we are way too far down this road.  Too many companies and farmers are invested in HFCS.

So, instead what is our response?

Obamacare.

In other words, more government control.  More government spending.

More government.

Fascism.

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