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UN Deletes Article Titled ‘The Benefits of World Hunger.’ Was It Real or Satire?

The author of the article in question told FEE it was not a parody.


UN Chronicle, the official magazine of the United Nations, recently deleted a 2008 article titled “The Benefits of World Hunger.”

The article, which now leads to an “error page,” was written by George Kent, a now retired University of Hawaii political science professor. In the article, Kent argued that hunger is “fundamental to the working of the world’s economy.”

“Much of the hunger literature talks about how it is important to assure that people are well fed so that they can be more productive,” Kent wrote. “That is nonsense. No one works harder than hungry people. Yes, people who are well nourished have greater capacity for productive physical activity, but well-nourished people are far less willing to do that work.”

UN Chronicle deleted the article after it began to cause a stir on social media. The magazine said Kent’s article should not be taken literally, contending that it was a work of parody.

“This article appeared in the UN Chronicle 14 years ago as an attempt at satire and was never meant to be taken literally. We have been made aware of its failures, even as satire, and have removed it from our site.”

At first glance, there seems to be little reason to doubt the United Nations. As some writers have noted, previous works written by Kent include Ending World Hunger, The Political Economy of Hunger: The Silent Holocaust, and Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food.

These titles hardly suggest that Kent sees global hunger as a good thing. In light of this, some contended that he was taking an approach not unlike Jonathan Swift, whose famous essay “A Modest Proposal” cheekily argued that Irish families should alleviate their mean condition by selling excess children to the wealthy for food.

After reading the UN’s tweet, Yahoo’s report, and several other pieces of commentary on the subject, I initially agreed that Kent’s article likely was written as satire. However, closer examination and a brief conversation with Kent revealed that is not the case.

First, it’s important to note that Kent himself denies the article was intended as a form of satire.

“I don’t think the UN would have published it if they thought it was satire or advocacy,” Kent told Climate Depot in a recent phone interview.

In the interview, Kent explains he was not advocating global hunger but was intending to be “provocative” by saying certain individuals and institutions benefit from global hunger.

“No, it is not satire,” Kent told Marc Morano, founder and editor of Climate Depot. “I don’t see anything funny about it. It is not about advocacy of hunger.”

I reached out to Kent and asked if the quotes were accurate, and he told me they were, adding that he intends to publish a paper this fall that will further detail his views.

“Marc understood me very well,” Kent told me in an email. “I hope my current paper on who benefits from hunger helps to make my position clear to everyone involved in this discussion.”

Additionally, the article’s concluding paragraph supports Kent’s claim that the work was not designed as either satire or advocacy. A careful reading of the text suggests Kent is being quite literal when he writes that some people benefit from global hunger.

“For those of us at the high end of the social ladder, ending hunger globally would be a disaster. If there were no hunger in the world, who would plow the fields?” Kent wrote. “Who would harvest our vegetables? Who would work in the rendering plants? Who would clean our toilets? We would have to produce our own food and clean our own toilets. No wonder people at the high end are not rushing to solve the hunger problem. For many of us, hunger is not a problem, but an asset.”

One senses in these words disapproval. The global poor exist because the wealthy require them to exist. Global hunger exists because humans are simply not doing the moral and necessary things to eradicate it.

But what are those things? A glimpse at Kent’s 2011 Ending Hunger Worldwide offers a clue. In the summary of the book, readers are told the keys to tackling global hunger are “building stronger communities” and challenging “dominant market-led solutions.”

In Kent’s view, one gathers, global hunger is not a complex problem that is being addressed by free market capitalism; it’s a moral one that requires empowering intellectuals like Kent to solve it.

It’s also worth noting that reviews of Kent on Rate My Professor—which gives him a rating of 1.9 out of 5—suggest he’s, well, perhaps a bit of an ideologue.

“Avoid this man with your life. Very opinionated and if your opinion differs, you will fail. He’s the worst professor i’ve had,” one reviewer wrote.

“Horrible professor if you are not politically aligned with his values you WILL FAIL,” another contended.

“Very opinionated and unhelpful,” opined another. “Very critical and extremely boring. Unsupportive and irritating.”

Whether Kent is a good professor or not, or whether his article was satire or literal, are questions that ultimately do not matter a whole lot in the larger scheme of things. What does matter are the policies that cause global hunger and the policies that alleviate global hunger.

And on this front, there has been stunning progress in recent decades. As Our World in Data shows, the percentage of undernourished people in developing countries has plummeted in recent years, falling from 35 percent in 1970 to 13 percent in 2015.

How this happened is not a mystery. As economist Bob Murphy noted in FEE.org, the proliferation of free market capitalism has “gone hand-in-hand with rapid and unprecedented increases in human welfare.”

“As the World Bank reports, the global rate of ‘extreme poverty’ (defined as people living on less than $1.90 per day) was cut in half from 1990 to 2010. Back in 1990, 1.85 billion people lived in extreme poverty, but by 2013, the figure had dropped to 767 million—meaning the number of those living on less than $1.90 per day had fallen by more than a billion people.’”

Ironically, no better example of this can be found in recent decades than China, which has achieved nothing short of an economic miracle in recent decades. China saw its percentage of underweight children fall from 19 percent in 1987 to 2.4 percent in 2013. As recently as 1990, 66 percent of Chinese people lived in extreme poverty. By 2015, that figure was less than one percent.

How did China achieve this economic miracle? By pivoting to privatization following the death of Party Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976), as I pointed out in 2019.

In 1979, China adopted its “household responsibility system,” giving many farmers ownership of their crop for the first time. This was followed by Communist Party leaders opening China to foreign investment, curbing price controls and protectionism, and implementing mass privatization of its economy.

The “market-led solutions” that Kent has disparaged have worked wonders for hunger alleviation. The same cannot be said for initiatives hatched by the central planners at the United Nations, the organization that published Kent’s controversial article on hunger.

Sri Lanka’s current food crisis stems directly from an effort to shift the country’s agriculture sector to organic farming, which saw the import of fertilizers banned and led the country to become an importer of rice instead of an exporter virtually overnight.

Many writers and thinkers are blaming Sri Lanka’s crisis on the global rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), which was started in 2004 under the auspices of—you guessed it—the United Nations to encourage “sustainable development.”

And people are right to blame ESG. Writing for the World Economic Forum in 2016, economist Joseph Stiglitz said “Sri Lanka may be able to move directly into… high-productivity organic farming…”

Sri Lanka did. By doing so, the nation earned an ESG score of 98/100—and caused a food crisis that resulted in one president’s resignation and food insecurity for millions of people.

This is a tragedy. And while George Kent is clearly wrong—there are no benefits to world hunger—one begins to understand why his 15-year-old article published by the United Nations is suddenly sparking so much interest

It’s not just Sri Lanka, after all. The NetherlandsCanada, and other countries are all making headlines with food schemes that are likely to goose their ESG score—but cause serious problems at a time when global hunger is on the rise for the first time in decades.

In light of current global policies, anti-population rhetoric, and the track record of twentieth century collectivist food schemes—HolodomorCambodia, and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which saw tens of millions starve to death because of government policies—George Kent’s “The Benefits of World Hunger” article hit too close to home.

(Editor’s Note: We’ve posted George Kent’s 2008 entire article below since the United Nations removed the article from their site so readers can determine for themselves Kent’s purpose in writing the article.)

We sometimes talk about hunger in the world as if it were a scourge that all of us want to see abolished, viewing it as comparable with the plague or aids. But that naïve view prevents us from coming to grips with what causes and sustains hunger. Hunger has great positive value to many people. Indeed, it is fundamental to the working of the world’s economy. Hungry people are the most productive people, especially where there is a need for manual labour.

We in developed countries sometimes see poor people by the roadside holding up signs saying “Will Work for Food.” Actually, most people work for food. It is mainly because people need food to survive that they work so hard either in producing food for themselves in subsistence-level production, or by selling their services to others in exchange for money. How many of us would sell our services if it were not for the threat of hunger?

More importantly, how many of us would sell our services so cheaply if it were not for the threat of hunger? When we sell our services cheaply, we enrich others, those who own the factories, the machines and the lands, and ultimately own the people who work for them. For those who depend on the availability of cheap labour, hunger is the foundation of their wealth.

The conventional thinking is that hunger is caused by low-paying jobs. For example, an article reports on “Brazil’s ethanol slaves: 200,000 migrant sugar cutters who prop up renewable energy boom”. While it is true that hunger is caused by low-paying jobs, we need to understand that hunger at the same time causes low-paying jobs to be created. Who would have established massive biofuel production operations in Brazil if they did not know there were thousands of hungry people desperate enough to take the awful jobs they would offer? Who would build any sort of factory if they did not know that many people would be available to take the jobs at low-pay rates?

Much of the hunger literature talks about how it is important to assure that people are well fed so that they can be more productive. That is nonsense. No one works harder than hungry people. Yes, people who are well nourished have greater capacity for productive physical activity, but well-nourished people are far less willing to do that work.

The non-governmental organization Free the Slaves defines slaves as people who are not allowed to walk away from their jobs. It estimates that there are about 27 million slaves in the world, including those who are literally locked into workrooms and held as bonded labourers in South Asia. However, they do not include people who might be described as slaves to hunger, that is, those who are free to walk away from their jobs but have nothing better to go to. Maybe most people who work are slaves to hunger?

For those of us at the high end of the social ladder, ending hunger globally would be a disaster. If there were no hunger in the world, who would plow the fields? Who would harvest our vegetables? Who would work in the rendering plants? Who would clean our toilets? We would have to produce our own food and clean our own toilets. No wonder people at the high end are not rushing to solve the hunger problem. For many of us, hunger is not a problem, but an asset.

AUTHOR

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Cost-Plus Lunch! Who’s really to blame for rising prices?

Why are restaurants adding “inflation fees” to their checks?


A group of friends had just finished a meal at Romano’s Macaroni Grill in Honolulu when one of them noticed something odd about the check. As a local television news station reported in April, a “Temporary Inflation Fee” of $2.00  was nestled inconspicuously between the $4.50 Flavored Tea and the $14.00 Spinach & Artichoke Dip.

The restaurant chain’s website explained that the charge was added to “partially offset… operational cost increases” due to unusual economic conditions including “global supply chain shortages and ever-growing pressure from inflation.” The statement said, “we believe these burdens will eventually pass,” which is why they resorted to a temporary surcharge instead of simply raising the listed prices. An alternative explanation is that surcharges that show up on the check but not the menu are a sneaky way to try to raise prices without losing customers.

The Wall Street Journal recently cited this incident as part of a general trend:

“Lightspeed, a global developer of point-of-sale software, said fee revenue nearly doubled from April 2021 to April 2022, based on a sample of 6,000 U.S. restaurants that use its platform. The number of restaurants adding service fees increased by 36.4% over the same period.”

The Journal cited industry analysts who basically agreed with Romano’s, explaining that:

“…this wave of surcharges is mostly being driven by restaurants trying to cope with the impact of rising inflation and a tight labor market on their bottom lines.” (…)

“​​Inflation and the pandemic posed particular challenges for the restaurant industry. The average price of supplies for a restaurant operator increased by 17.5% since last year, according to NPD Group. By comparison, consumer spending at restaurants rose 5% during that time.

The increase in surcharges is a way for businesses to recoup at least some of those costs, said David Portalatin, a food-industry adviser with the group.”

In media coverage of today’s rising prices in general, this has become a prevailing narrative: “businesses are passing their rising costs onto consumers.”

While superficially plausible, this gets the economics of prices the wrong way round.

The explanation refers to “cost-plus pricing,” which is the business practice of setting prices by starting with your costs and then adding a markup.

Of course, nothing in economics says that a business owner cannot use this method to decide on a price to quote. Surely, some do exactly that. But it is only a heuristic and it is not what fundamentally drives price changes.

Just as “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” (TANSTAAFL), there ain’t no such thing as a cost-plus lunch.

To explain price increases as resulting from “passing costs on to the customer” is to implicitly embrace a “cost of production” theory of value and prices, which, in a nutshell, maintains that costs determine prices.

Of course, costs are prices, too. A business’s “costs” are the prices it pays for factors of production (land, labor, and capital goods). So, in a bigger nutshell, this theory posits that “factor prices determine product prices.”

But this is the exact opposite of how an economy actually works. As Murray Rothbard wrote in his economics treatise Power and Market, “Prices, however, are never determined by costs of production, but rather the reverse is true.” In other words, it is anticipated product prices that determine factor prices: prices that determine costs, not the other way around.

This insight was one of the great discoveries that resulted from the “Marginal Revolution” of economics in the 1860s and 70s. This was a literal “revolution” in the sense that it showed the old economic paradigm to be upside-down and then turned it right-side-up.

Before the Marginal Revolution, the “classical economists” largely subscribed to Adam Smith’s cost-of-production theory of value or David Ricardo’s labor theory of value. The latter, like the former, derived the value of products from the value of factors: specifically the factor of labor. (Incidentally, Karl Marx largely based his exploitation and class war theories on Ricardo’s labor theory of value.)

For example, classical economists might have traced the high value of a bottle of fine wine to the high real estate value of the vineyard and/or the amount of labor that went into producing the wine.

But the Marginal Revolutionaries—William Stanley Jevons, Leon Walras, and Carl Menger—upended that paradigm. They and their followers (especially the Austrian school of economics, founded by Menger) explained that the value of a good is based on its “marginal utility,” which is the usefulness for want-satisfaction of an additional unit of a good. And what’s useful about a factor of production is that it can help produce useful products.

For example, the utility of a wine vineyard is that it can yield wine grapes. The same goes for the utility of a vineyard worker’s labor. And the utility of wine grapes is their contribution toward producing enjoyable wine.

So Austrian economists do the opposite of what the classical economists did. Austrians trace the real estate price of the vineyard and the wages of the vineyard worker to the anticipated value of the wine at the end of the production line.

The insights of the Marginal Revolution made it clear that prices determine costs (product prices determine factor prices), not the other way around, and that ultimately consumer preferences determine all prices.

(Note: Alfred Marshall tried to reconcile the classical cost-of-production theory with marginal utility theory in a “neoclassical synthesis” that has influenced mainstream economics to this day. See here for Murray Rothbard’s Austrian critique of that attempt.)

So the “cost passing” explanation of rising prices is a retrogression to a long-overthrown economic paradigm: the economic equivalent of forgetting the heliocentric Copernican Revolution of astronomy and explaining planetary movements using the archaic geocentric model of Ptolemy. Just as the sun does not revolve around the earth, consumer prices do not revolve around producer costs: quite the opposite.

Many on the political left blame corporations for “price gouging” in order to fatten their profits. But blaming rising prices on profit-seeking is like blaming a plane crash on gravity.

Gravity is always pulling down on planes. To explain a plane crash, you have to explain what happened to the factors that had previously counteracted that downward pull. Why did gravity yank the plane down to earth when it did and not before?

Similarly, businesses are always seeking profit and are always ready to raise prices if that is what will maximize profits. To explain precipitous price hikes, you have to explain what happened to the factors that had previously put a lid on that upward price pressure. Why did profit-seeking propel prices skyward recently and not in 2019?

This question is also tricky for those (including some on the political right) who blame rising prices on rising costs. If businesses can preserve profits by raising prices now that their costs are higher, why wouldn’t they have increased profits by raising prices before when their costs were lower?

A business’s customers don’t care about that business’s costs. They care about value. Based on the value they expect from a product, there is a limited price range they’d be willing to pay for any given amount of it. That translates into the market demand for the product: the quantity of a good that would be bought at any given price point. The value of, and demand for, a product does not fluctuate with its production costs.

Even businesses don’t (or at least shouldn’t) really care about past costs when it comes to pricing. Past costs are sunk. Whatever was spent to produce it, at any given moment a business has a given inventory. Its best interest is to price that inventory so as to maximize revenue given current demand. Based on that definite demand, raising prices past a certain point will result in less revenue, regardless of past costs. If the most revenue they can hope for is less than their past expenditure, that’s just the way things turned out. They can learn from that error and from those losses by spending less and/or differently in the future. But they cannot change the past or defy the economic reality of the present.

As economist Jonathan Newman told FEE in an interview:

“There is no change in costs that directly affects the revenue-maximizing price. If the prevailing market price is one that maximizes revenue for the firm, then it is impossible for the firm to ‘pass on’ costs to the consumer by increasing prices, because this would result in less revenue.”

Newman reminds us that, “factors of production are valued because they help us make consumer goods, not the other way around. What consumers are willing to pay for consumption goods determines what entrepreneurs are willing to pay for land, labor, and capital goods.” He offers an extreme example to make this point:

“Suppose that tomorrow the government decides to tax the sale of ink for ballpoint pens at $1 billion per mL. Would pen makers be able to carry on as usual and pass this increased cost on to consumers? Would consumers be willing to pay $1,000,000,000.25 for a pen? Of course not. Anticipated consumer demand is a limit on what producers will pay for inputs. More expensive inputs does not mean consumers are ready to pay a higher price for outputs.”

So if “cost passing” isn’t what’s driving up prices, what is? Newman points to monetary expansion by central banks, especially the Federal Reserve:

“I suspect that many firms will be able to get away with increased prices because of this. Even if their stated intention is to ‘pass on’ or share costs with their customers, the increased demand from the trillions of dollars that have been injected into the economy over the past couple years is what really makes their price increases both necessary and feasible.”

It is important to note that monetary price inflation is also not “passed on” from suppliers to customers, as “inflation surcharges” might lead you to believe. Again, the reality is the reverse of that. Extra money enables customers to bid up the prices charged by their suppliers, who in turn use the extra money to bid up the prices charged by their suppliers, and so on. That is how new money raises prices across the board (although, unevenly) as it circulates through the economy.

Another contributing factor to rising prices, at least in many specific industries, is today’s supply chain crisis. To an extent, Romano’s and industry analysts are right to blame rising restaurant prices on supply constraints. But they are wrong to characterize it as a matter of “passing on” or “recouping” costs. Rather, it is a matter of greater scarcity translating into a higher marginal utility of certain goods and thus higher prices.

For example, a major factor in today’s high food prices is undoubtedly the war in Ukraine. Both Ukraine and Russia were major exporters of grain. But, owing to Russia’s blockade of Ukraine and the West’s sanctions on Russia, grain exports from both countries have been throttled.

As a result, food processors have less grain to produce foodstuffs like, for example, macaroni. And as a result of that, restaurants have less macaroni to produce macaroni dishes. And when there’s less of something, its price tends to go up. That is probably one of the reasons why the Honolulu diners at Romano’s Macaroni Grill discussed above paid $11.00 for “Signature Mac & Cheese Bites.”

This phenomenon is not “passing on costs.” It is the rippling repercussions of economic destruction and impoverishment. The word “passing” implies that consumers are impoverished while producers are not. But that is not the case. Diminished production and greater scarcity impoverish everyone involved.

It is also confusing to call that “inflation,” although both academia and the media tend to lump all price increases together under that term. For any given increase in prices, part of it may be caused by monetary expansion, and another might be due to supply constraints. Personally, I think it would be clearer to call only the former, and not the latter, “inflation.” Price increases due to an increasing abundance of money should be distinguished from price increases due to a declining abundance of goods and services, although the former very frequently causes the latter (especially by creating economic bubbles and crashes).

Especially since the advent of the Covid crisis in 2020, we have suffered plenty of both. Central banks have been driving up prices with money printing sprees undertaken to finance government spending sprees. Governments have also been driving up prices by sabotaging supply chains through lockdowns, business shutdowns, wars, trade restrictions, and other policies of mass economic destruction.

As prices continue to rise and living standards continue to drop, it is important to understand how it is happening, why it is happening, and who is truly to blame.

AUTHOR
Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor-in chief of FEE.org.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

How CO2 Supply Chain Mayhem Almost Caused a Meat Shortage in Britain

In recent months, many of us have faced empty shelves, long lines, and frustrating delays as supply chains have seized up around the country, and indeed the world. Some have argued that the government should step in to fix these issues, blaming the problems on “corporate greed” and “the free market”. But while it may be tempting to blame private companies for our current woes and see the government as the savior, the reality is not that simple. Indeed, far from being the solution, government intervention in the market is arguably the primary cause of these problems in the first place.

A good case study for this issue is Great Britain. Back in September, the nation’s supply chain issues got so bad that they almost had major disruptions in their food supply. The UK government has been intervening in an attempt to fix the problems in the short run, but the situation is still extremely precarious.

So who is responsible for these issues? Well, let’s follow the supply chain link-by-link and see if it can lead us to the culprit.

The immediate problem that food producers are facing is a shortage of food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2). The meat industry is particularly affected by this shortage, since CO2 is used in many meat production processes. But aside from that, the gas also plays a key role in modified atmosphere packaging, which is used to prolong the shelf life of many food products. It’s also used in carbonated drinks (hence the name) like beer and soda, and in its solid form as dry ice it is used to keep fresh food cool during transportation.

Why is there a shortage of CO2? Well, most food-grade CO2 comes from fertilizer plants, because CO2 is a byproduct of the fertilizer manufacturing process. These plants, however, have been producing far less CO2 than normal. So to understand why there’s so little CO2, we need to investigate the fertilizer plants. This brings us to the next link in the chain.

Two of the biggest fertilizer plants in the UK are owned by a company called CF Industries. Together, they normally produce about 60 percent of the UK’s food-grade CO2. However, these plants were actually shut down for a large part of September, which drastically reduced the UK’s CO2 production.

The reason they were shut down is because natural gas, an essential part of the fertilizer process, has been very expensive in recent months. With the price of this key input so high, it was actually uneconomical for the plants to operate, so they decided to shut down temporarily in hopes of restarting their operations once the price of natural gas came back down. But why is natural gas suddenly so expensive? This brings us to the third link in the chain.

First, to say that natural gas prices are high in Britain is really quite the understatement. According to Industry group Oil & Gas UK, wholesale prices for gas in September were up 250 percent since January, and had increased 70 percent since August. As one UK energy CEO remarked, this is “the most extreme energy market in decades.”

So what’s causing the high prices? A number of factors. High global demand has played a role, especially since roughly 60 percent of the UK’s natural gas supply is imported. Lower solar and wind output have also been factors, as well as outages at some nuclear stations. The cold winter in 2020 also resulted in depleted stocks (since people use natural gas to heat their homes), and several gas platforms in the North Sea have closed to perform maintenance that was paused because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

But one of the biggest sources of price volatility is the dearth of natural gas storage facilities in the UK.

“The UK currently has very modest amounts of storage, less than 6% of annual demand.” writes Michael Bradshaw, a Professor of Global Energy at the University of Warwick. “In Germany, France, and Italy, storage covers about 20% of annual demand,” he continues for context. Another report noted that the UK has enough storage to last for about 7 days, whereas Germany and France have roughly 90 days of storage.

While storage is far from the only factor affecting natural gas prices, it certainly plays a significant role. But why does Britain have so little storage capacity? This brings us to the final link in the chain.

One of the reasons for Britain’s low storage capacity is that a storage facility called Rough, which used to provide a significant percentage of the UKs natural gas storage, was decommissioned in 2017 as a result of age-related deterioration.

Industry leaders were concerned about the resulting lack of storage at the time, and have been warning about the issue ever since.

“Rough makes up an impressive 70% of the UK’s storage working gas volume,” Timera Energy noted back in 2017, when permanent closure was still being deliberated. “This can be contrasted with Rough’s contribution to the UK’s daily deliverability, at around 25%. And it is the deliverability that the UK market will miss most.”

They go on to explicitly discuss the likely impact of the closure on the price of natural gas. “The loss of deliverability should boost spot price volatility as it reduces the buffer of supply flexibility available to respond to swings in daily demand…The loss of working gas volume is likely to mean that supply shocks…have a sharper and more prolonged price impact.”

The need for more storage was reiterated in 2019 by another industry leader named InfraStrata Plc. “There is more demand in the market than we can satisfy,” said John Wood, the CEO of InfraStrata. “The market in the U.K. is sending out strong economic signals for additional gas storage capacity.”

So why wasn’t more storage built? Well, as it turns out, natural gas storage is taxed and regulated very heavily in the UK, much more so than other industries. Indeed, one of the largest gas storage operators in the country, called Storengy, explicitly called attention to these problems back in 2018, pointing out the “punitive” and “extortionate” tax levels that are applied to storage facilities as well as the numerous regulations that burden the industry.

As a result of these barriers, many potential storage projects have remained on the shelf, since they are prohibitively expensive in the current business environment. Thus, even though the demand is clearly there, the market has been unable to meet it, because taxes and regulations have severely crippled the industry.

This analysis is hardly exhaustive, of course. But at least with respect to the storage issue, it seems clear that government intervention in the market is the primary cause of the food supply chain disruptions.

One of the interesting things about this story is how it highlights the plethora of people, items, and systems that work together to keep our grocery shelves full. First, we discovered that food producers rely on CO2. That led us to investigate fertilizer plants and the crazy natural gas market, and then from there we explored natural gas storage and learned about the many ways that government intervention has been crippling that industry. Of course, most people wouldn’t intuitively connect gas storage regulations with food availability, but the rippling unintended consequences of these policies are very real nonetheless.

In his famous essay “I, Pencil,” Leonard Read similarly draws attention to the “innumerable antecedents” of everyday items, such as the seemingly simple lead pencil.

“Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents,” Read wrote, speaking as the pencil. He goes on to discuss some of the many ancestors of the pencil, the people and things that went into producing it, and he points out how they all depend on one another. Indeed, you can’t mess with the trucking industry without impacting the production of pencils, just as you can’t mess with natural gas storage without impacting food supplies.

With that said, trucking and natural gas are not only ancestors of pencils and food. They are also ancestors of many other products, and this leads to an important insight. In reality, it’s actually somewhat misleading to speak of supply chains, as if the economy consisted of independent, linear processes. The economy is much more accurately characterized as one giant supply web, a multiplicity of interconnected processes that all depend on each other in various ways.

With this in mind, it quickly becomes apparent why interfering with the economy can be so dangerous. When the government breaks one part of the web, they aren’t just impacting one chain, they are creating countless unintended consequences, many of which are impossible to foresee.

If we’re lucky, those consequences will only lead to higher prices. If we’re not so lucky, empty grocery shelves await.

To address the looming crisis, the UK government ended up bailing out CF Industries, the company that owns the fertilizer plants. The deal, which was finalized on September 21, resulted in one of the two plants resuming operations, with the UK government providing “limited financial support,” which the Environment Secretary later clarified was “going to be into many millions, possibly the tens of millions [of euros].”

Since then, the government has brokered a deal between CF Industries and its CO2 buyers. Though the details are unclear, the government seems to be involved in setting the price of CO2, which would constitute even more intervention in the market.

But intervention is not the solution here. When governments intervene, they inevitably distort price signals, leading to increasingly inefficient outcomes. The real solution is for the government to stop causing the problem in the first place by removing the taxes and regulations that are standing in the way of the natural gas storage market.

Granted, it will take some time before the storage market can adjust, but even in the interim, the best way to address these problems is to let markets and prices do their thing.

COLUMN BY

Patrick Carroll

Patrick Carroll has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and is an Editorial Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Will Sell Tesla Stock Right Now’: Elon Musk Challenges UN To Explain How $6 Billion Can Solve World Hunger

Elon Musk vowed Sunday to sell his Tesla stock if a United Nations (UN) official could prove the claim that a fraction of the billionaire’s wealth could put an end to world hunger.

Musk, who is currently the richest man in the world, reacted to a recent statement by UN World Food Program (WFP) Director David Beasley, in which the official asked for only 2% of Musk’s fortune to alleviate an acute hunger crisis.

“$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated,” Beasley said at the time, according to CNN.

“If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it,” Musk tweeted, adding that the data had to be “open source accounting” for the public to check its accuracy.

“Headline not accurate. $6B will not solve world hunger, but it WILL prevent geopolitical instability, mass migration and save 42 million people on the brink of starvation. An unprecedented crisis and a perfect storm due to Covid/conflict/climate crises,” Beasley responded in the thread.

The WFP director then proposed discussing the issue in person, quipping that the matter was not “as complicated as Falcon Heavy,” a SpaceX rocket, and promising to be “on the next flight” to Musk if he agreed.

“Please publish your current & proposed spending in detail so people can see exactly where money goes. Sunlight is a wonderful thing,” Musk replied to the proposal.

COLUMN BY

SHAKHZOD YULDOSHBOEV

Contributor.

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Obama visits Chipotle, pledges to bring more viruses to U.S.

BOSTON, MA — Yet another Mexican food chain became a victim of ethnic profiling by food-borne stomach viruses this Tuesday, when 80 Boston College students were sickened after eating at a nearby Chipotle restaurant, said a representative of the Movement for Nutritional Justice, a civil rights group monitoring cases of digestive inequality and oppression. The media was quick to call this “the worst attack since Taco Bell,” referring to the 2006 E. coli poisoning spree.

Equal redistribution of virusesMovement for Nutritional Justice organized a rally today protesting what they describe as a racially motivated assault by food-borne microorganisms, pointing to a pattern of discrimination against Mexican food chains, and demanding an equal redistribution of food-borne diseases in all ethnic restaurants.

They were joined by a number of virus and bacteria advocacy groups who expressed grave concerns over a possible backlash against all viruses and bacteria, many of whom had nothing to do with the Chipotle “lone wolf” outbreak, and urging Americans to stay away from using hand sanitizers and performing similar actions “driven by fear and Virusophobia.”

The protesters held dozens of printed signs that blamed Virusophobia on propaganda by big pharmaceutical companies who profit from our fears by selling antibacterial products. Statements in other signs ranged from “don’t blame all viruses for the actions of the few” to “embrace fever and vomiting as symptoms of diversity,” “diarrhea to those who say viruses cause diarrhea,” and “Virus will dominate the world.” These somewhat contradictory signs were often held by the same people, many of whom seemed to share membership in all of the attending groups.

The responsibility for the Tuesday attack was claimed by Norovirus – a little-known group of stomach viruses who experts say are not affiliated with the notorious international syndicate of E-coli bacteria, known for the recent simultaneous attacks that made 52 people in nine states sick after eating at Chipotle restaurants.

While the methods and modes of operation of both groups are similar – diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever – experts claim that Norovirus is far more likely than E. coli to cause vomiting.

It remains unclear whether the Chipotle attackers acted on their own or in direct contact with the virus command center, but a Facebook post on the Norovirus page, now removed, praised the attackers for promoting the global state of diarrhea. The post also contained a group photo of the attackers, showing them under a sign with the words “Virus will dominate the world,” similar to the signs at the rally only much smaller.

Nutritional justiceU.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged to a virus advocacy and lobbying group that she would take aggressive action against anyone who used “anti-Virus rhetoric” that “edges toward hygiene.”

Speaking to the audience at the Virus and Bacteria Advocates’ dinner at a generic ethnic restaurant, Lynch said her “greatest fear” is the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Virus rhetoric” in America and vowed to prosecute anyone guilty of advertising anti-bacterial hand soaps, bleaches, and other household cleaners.

President Obama addressed the nation today from Chipotle Grill, stating that “viruses and bacteria are woven into the fabric of our country since founding” and asking Americans to restrain from Virusophobia.

“If we begin to complain about vomiting, if we hate diarrhea – that’s not American. That’s not who we are,” the President said, pledging to bring thousands more viruses and bacteria into American neighborhoods by the end of his presidency.

EDITORS NOTE: This political satire column originally appeared on The Peoples Cube. Trump has called for a ban of all viruses to America.

Ethanol: Lies, Myths and the Immorality of using Food for Fuel

We have written about how using food for fuel is immoral because of the over 1 million people, mostly children, who die each year of starvation. Using corn based ethanol raises the prices of everything that depends on this food product from the cost of meat, cereals and every corn based product.

Not only is ethanol bad for the starving poor it is also bad for your vehicles engine, whether it be a car, boat or motorcycle. The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) in an email exposes the myths behind the ethanol special interests.

The AMA in an email titled “Stop the decade of E15 misinformation: Urge your representative to protect your access to safe fuel” states:

The first 10 years under the Renewable Fuel Standard, established in 2005, represent a decade of misinformation from the ethanol lobby concerning safe fuel for your motorcycle.

To protect your access to safe fuel, urge your representative to cosponsor the RFS Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 704). The American Motorcyclist Association needs your help to pass this bill. You can send a prewritten email to your representative immediately by following the “Take Action” option and entering your information. The AMA encourages riders to personalize their message by drawing on their own personal riding experiences.

In an effort to prohibit the spread of E15 fuel, which contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume, the AMA supports H.R. 704, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Peter Welch’s (D-Vt.). The bipartisan bill would amend the Renewable Fuel Standard to recognize market conditions and realities. It also would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from allowing any station to sell gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol by volume and require those already selling it to stop.

In other words, the sale of E15 will not be permitted if this legislation becomes law.

The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and all-terrain-vehicle fuel systems and engines from the inadvertent use of E15. Allowing the higher ethanol blends to become more readily available greatly increases the chance of misfueling.

In October 2010, the EPA approved E15 for use in model year 2007 and newer light duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles). In January 2011, it added model year 2001-2006 light duty vehicles to the approved list.

Passing H.R. 704 will help protect the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in use on America’s roads and trails that are not approved to use E15, and the riders who depend on safe fuel for their operation.

Preventing inadvertent misfuelings has been one of the AMA’s top priorities, because motorcycles and ATVs are not designed to run on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent, and many older machines favored by vintage enthusiasts have problems with any ethanol at all in the fuel. Using fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol can void the manufacturer’s warranty, potentially leaving motorcyclists with thousands of dollars in additional maintenance costs.

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EDITORS NOTE: The AMA offers readers the opportunity to join the conversation with us by sharing the E15 fuel issue on Facebook and by clicking here to
Take Action.

“I Will Always Remember Where I Was When Cecil The Lion Was Killed”

This is the state of the world today. “I Will Always Remember Where I Was When Cecil The Lion Was Killed,” Duffel Blog, August 3, 2015 (thanks to David):

The following is an op-ed written by “Mohammed,” a Syrian War Refugee.

I am sorry it is taking me so long to post my outrage over Cecil the Lion. My village has been without electricity for the last week after the Americans bombed our power plant. I had to walk for two days — hiding from ISIS along the way — before I found this Internet cafe. But my anger over the death of Cecil is still hot as the desert sands.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard what had happened.

It started off as a normal day for my town, with the Syrian Air Force dropping barrel bombs on several neighborhoods and a local school. As I dug the bodies of several women out of the rubble, one of the other rescue workers asked if I’d heard that Cecil the Lion was killed.

I froze in shock, dropping part of what I assume was once a human arm on the ground. “Not Cecil the Lion!” I exclaimed. “Not him! Truly, is there no innocence left in this world?” I cried harder than when we discovered my brother was gay and ISIS forced us to throw him off a building.

The rest of the day was a numb blur: watching my neighbor getting beheaded by Sharia enforcers, foraging for food in bombed-out buildings, burying my daughter after she died of cholera, and registering my outrage that rich Americans can fly anywhere in the world and kill whatever they want.

My entire family — the ones not gassed to death — are also in shock. My sister was beside herself with tears from the acid that was flung in her face, but I am sure her tears were meant for poor, majestic Cecil.

It is times like this I thank Allah that my wife was kidnapped into sexual slavery last year and was spared the horror of learning what happened to this beautiful and majestic creature.

I often wonder what is wrong with America. You do not hear stories like this in Syria, partly because we already killed all our lions but also because we killed all our dentists….

Read the rest here.

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GMO Wars: Greens Exploit Widespread Science Ignorance

I frequently have to tell people that I am a science writer, not a scientist. The only science course I took in college was zoology and I passed it only because my paper on Procyon Lotor—raccoons—demonstrated an ability to do some good research and present it cogently.

In the decades since then I have had the opportunity to write about many science-based topics and it became evident that a huge portion of our society and worldwide is ignorant of how science functions and the incredible advances for mankind that it has provided.

It is this ignorance that is constantly exploited by the many environmental groups. Scaring people about the climate has been their bread and butter for decades, but a natural cooling cycle that is approaching two decades in a few years is killing that goose that laid so many golden eggs. The same is occurring for “renewable energy” as Europe is beginning to regret pouring billions into wind energy while multi-million U.S. subsidies are on the chopping block as well.

The “food police” are generating a scare campaign about genetically modified food crops. As Dr. Jay Lehr, the Science Director of The Heartland Institute, pointed out in a December 2013 article, “Not one single human has been harmed by genetically improved food.” So, naturally, some Greens are pushing to have everything made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) subjected to warning labels.

Do you know who the first environmentalists were? Farmers! It is the original “green job” because farmers were among the original users of renewable energy—the solar power—to grow their crops. They used wind power to draw water and grind grain into flour. They built irrigation systems to make more efficient use of water.

When the United States declared its independence the nation was largely composed of farmers. Now less than two percent of the population grows enough food to feed all of us and have plenty left over to export. The current exception to this is California’s central value when farmers have been denied water to save the lives of bait fish, smelt. They’re getting no help from the federal government either.

Throughout the last century the American Farm Bureau Federation and state farm bureaus were leaders in conservation tillage, well-water testing, and many other environmental improvements. As one observer noted, “Long after the current excitement about the green economy has worn off, American farmers and ranchers will remain green collar workers as they have always been—efficient producers of food, fiber, and fuel and stewards of natural resources.

In the meantime, we are subjected to celebrities like Al Gore, Bill Maher, and Daryl Hanna, who have no science degree. The outspoken actors, Ed Begley and Leonardo Dicaprio only have a high school diploma and many others who opine on environmental issues are literally high school dropouts. A long list of news media personalities has no science degree. They include ABC’s Sam Champion, NBC’s Matt Laurer, and CBS’s Harry Smith. CBS’s Scott Pelley is a college dropout.

Among the scientists, many have degrees in areas that do not reflect meteorology or climatology. They include Bill Nye known as the “science guy” who has a degree in mechanical engineering.

As Dr. Lehr points out, “There is little food on the plate of humans anywhere that has not been genetically improved.” This goes back four thousand years to the creation of wine. In 1862, an Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel began to crossbreed simple garden peas to improve their taste, yield and strength. Thirty years later his work on the subject was published in the journal of the Royal Society of London, “and the new agricultural science of hybridization was born to improve our food.”

Wheat_harvest

Wheat harvest on the Palouse, Idaho, USA. Photo by USDA.

Writing in the February edition of Wheat Life, a publication for Washington state farmers, John Moffatt, a wheat breeder for Syngenta, noted that “Wheat is not only the largest crop in the world with acreage surpassing that of even corn and soybeans, it is also one of the most complex.” Sygenta is one of North America’s leading wheat genetic research companies, responsible for helping farmers grow profitable wheat with research that begins with seeds that undergo a certification process. Their crop varieties consistently outperform saved seed in yield, quality and test weight.

“If genetic labeling laws are passed throughout the United States,” warns Dr. Lehr, “it will severely set back the scientific and human health benefits of genetic food advances. Billions of people around the world have consumed genetically modified food since it became widespread during recent decades. Billions more will benefit from such foods in the coming decades.”

Meanwhile, the Green liars will continue to wage war on humanity. From Paul Ehrlich who in 1968 forecast global famine to the Club of Rome that in 1972 predicted exhausted resources and famine and then had to recant the forecasts in 1976, to an endless series of “science” lies before and since, it behooves us all to be wary and skeptical of their claims.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those scientists who have greatly enhanced the lives of the seven billion with whom we share planet Earth. We owe a lot to the farmers who, thanks to scientific breakthroughs in genetics, are feeding us.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Mateusz Opasiński. Mateusz Opasiński does not endorse the author or his use of the work. This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

REPORT: Child Obesity Caused by Single Parent Households

In 2010 Michele Obama made it her mission to address the “child obesity epidemic”. The goal of Mrs. Obama is to reduce child obesity from the current 20% of all children to 5% by 2030. WebMD reports, “To accomplish this, the plan makes 70 recommendations for early childhood, for parents and caregivers, for school meals and nutrition education, for access to healthy food, and for increasing physical activity.”

According to WebMD, “Obesity is an excess proportion of total body fat. A person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight. The most common measure of obesity is the body mass index or BMI.”

“U.S. kids haven’t always been obese. Only one in 20 children ages 2 to 19 was obese in the 1970s. But around 1980 child obesity began to rocket to today’s stratospheric level: Nearly one in three kids is overweight or obese, and nearly one in five is frankly obese,” notes WebMD.

What is the cause of this stratospheric increase in child obesity? ANSWER: Single parent households.

In July 2010 the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reported, “Prevalence of childhood obesity and its complications have increased world-wide. Parental status may be associated with children’s health outcomes including their eating habits, body weight and blood cholesterol.” [My emphasis]

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the years 1988–1994 provided a unique opportunity for matching parents to children enabling analyses of joint demographics, racial differences and health indicators. Specifically, the NHANES III data, 1988–1994, of 219 households with single-parents and 780 dual-parent households were analyzed as predictors for primary outcome variables of children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), dietary nutrient intakes and blood cholesterol.

The NHANES survey found:

  • Children of single-parent households were significantly more overweight than children of dual-parent households.
  • Total calorie and saturated fatty acid intakes were higher among children of single-parent households than dual-parent households.
  • On average, Black children were more overweight than children of other races.

The study results implied a strong relationship between single-parent status and excess weight in children. The NHANES survey states, “Parental involvement in the development of school- and community-based obesity prevention programs are suggested for effective health initiatives. Economic constraints and cultural preferences may be communicated directly by family involvement in these much needed public health programs.”

Mark Mather from the Population Reference Bureau reports, “In the United States, the number of children in single-mother families has risen dramatically over the past four decades, causing considerable concern among policymakers and the public. Researchers have identified the rise in single-parent families (especially mother-child families) as a major factor driving the long-term increase in child poverty in the United States.” To read the full report click here.

Data from the Sarasota County School Board shows that since President Obama took office the number of children who are classified as obese is Sarasota public schools has risen as the children progress from Grade 1 – to Grade 3 – to Grade 6. The cohort obesity numbers go down at Grade 9. For example, 15.7% of students in Grade 1 in the 2008/2009 school year were obese. In 2011/2012 school year 18.8% of students in Grade 3 were obese. An increase of 3.1% of students in grade during school year 2008/2009 18.8% were obese. In Grade 6 that cohort increased to 20.1%. The Grade 6 cohort in 2008/2009 data was 21.5% and in 2011/12 dropped to 17.6%.

Public schools do not keep data on obese children who live in single parent households. 

Many are questioning whether the First Lady is addressing the root cause of child obesity – single parent households. Some see this health initiative as expanding government control of parents and children. Setting caloric standards is the first step in setting eating limits. Limits lead to control of food sources, leading to the redistribution of calories. Should not we be focused on the rising number of single parent households?

Perhaps it would be better for the First Lady to focus on increasing the number of traditional two parent families? After all, she has a traditional family and her husband and children all have normal weights according to the BMI calculator.

JUST FOR FUN:

As an aside, Watchdog Wire looked at some well known public figures and calculated their BMI scores.

Using the BMI calculator we determined that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, who is 6′ 3″ tall and weights 236 pounds, is overweight. If Tebow gains 5 pounds he will be categorized as “Obese Class 1”. In fact the entire New York Jets offensive and defensive lines are obese.

Muscle Chemistry lists the height and weight of actors. Those in Hollywood who are overweight according to the BMI calculator include: Whoppi Goldberg, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Sylvester Stallone is rated as Obese Class 1.

Higher Gas Prices Add to Economic Slump

Courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

Unemployment is at 8.3 percent. The economy is sputtering at 1.5 percent growth. Food prices are rising due to drought conditions across the country. And gas prices are up again, pinching Americans’ summer budgets. It is past time for the President and Congress to pursue smart policies that would put us on a path to relief.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the current national average for regular is $3.66 per gallon. That’s up 28 cents per gallon from a month ago, and July had its biggest price jump since AAA started tracking prices in 2000. To see the average for Florida click here.

There are many factors affecting prices that we cannot control—worldwide tensions, especially in the Middle East, can drive up oil prices. Global demand, especially from China and India’s rapidly growing economies, continues upward.

But after three years of adding regulatory hurdles and blocking exploratory access and development, President Obama’s policies are helping keep prices higher than necessary.

If the President truly wanted to lower gas prices, he would work to increase supply. But when given the opportunity, he has done the opposite. He turned down the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada. His Administration has made it even harder for companies to explore and extract domestic energy resources by canceling, delaying, or withdrawing a number of lease sales for exploration and development. Meanwhile, huge swaths of federal lands have been put off limits for energy exploration.

Domestic refinery outages have had a recent impact on gas prices. Two of the factors holding back domestic energy production are regulatory red tape and litigation—and these, we can do something about. As Heritage’s Nicolas Loris notes:

Environmental activists delay new energy projects by filing endless administrative appeals and lawsuits. Creating a manageable time frame for permitting and for groups or individuals to contest energy plans would keep potentially cost-effective ventures from being tied up for years in litigation while allowing the public and interested parties to voice opposition or support for these projects.

We don’t have to stand still. Congress could alleviate the energy crunch in 10 different ways by taking action on things we can control, like restrictions on oil shale development and offshore drilling.

One of the most common objections is that increasing domestic oil production takes too long and would not impact the market for at least a decade. The longer people make this argument, however, the longer it will take. The sooner we make investments in domestic energy, the sooner those benefits will be realized. And with some serious reforms, some of this oil can reach the market in much less than a decade.

Gas prices aren’t under the control of any one President. But Americans shouldn’t settle for policies that restrict oil exploration, refining, and production and artificially drive prices higher.

MORE FROM THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION:

High Gas Prices: Obama’s Half-Truths vs. Reality

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Republicans and Democrats Alike Want Higher Food, Fuel and Energy Prices

Gallup Politics recently did an Environmental poll (see the below chart). The results shows that a majority of Republicans and super majority of Democrats favor actions that will lead to higher food, fuel and energy prices. While there are more Republicans that favor opening public lands to exploration and drilling the end results of their support for policies like increasing regulations to reduce “emissions and pollution standards for businesses” means higher costs for all consumers.

Americans polled may not understand the difference between “emissions” and “pollution”.

Emissions/greenhouse gasses, e.g. CO2, primarily occur due to water evaporation from the earth’s oceans and seas. When 50% of Republicans want government to “impose mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions” many consumers wonder if they understand that we cannot control water evaporation from happening. The EPA recently issued a CO2 emissions ruling that impacts all of U.S. coal fired plants and will cause many to shut down because they cannot meet the new standards. This will drive up energy costs and thereby food costs.

Government spending on solar and wind power has been a disaster with many of the companies failing to produce a cost effective product, moving their operations to China or going bankrupt. All of these companies are a further drain on our economy because they are not producing cheap and reliable power, they are producing just the opposite, which drives up energy costs and thereby food costs.

While Republicans generally favor opening public lands to oil, natural gas and oil shale exploration and production, nearly half want stronger enforcement of environmental regulations and higher emission standards for automobiles. One negates the other.

The environmentalists are licking their lips at these numbers.

The pollster’s state:

Gallup has tracked seven of the eight proposals periodically since 2001. Support for all but nuclear energy has declined since last measured in 2007, with the largest drops seen for spending government money to develop alternative sources of fuel for automobiles, strengthening enforcement of environmental regulations, and setting higher auto emissions standards.

These declines could be due to Americans’ reduced priority in the last several years for preserving the environment at the expense of economic growth, an outgrowth of the economic downturn. However, they are also likely to stem from heightened public concern about government spending and regulations specifically, particularly among Republicans.

Some do not find these numbers low enough to keep Republicans, in an election year, from stopping the power grab by the EPA. If this is a campaign issue then the consumer loses. As food, fuel and energy prices rise so will inflation. The column “Our Bubble Government” notes that inflation will burst both the dollar and debt bubbles. The higher the cost of goods and borrowing the more likely the current recession will last or deepen.

From this Gallup Environment poll some see trouble brewing on the horizon and its name is – inflation.

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