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the problem with corn ethanol and big-government’s short-sightedness

Q: Do you deny global warming? Is Obama right to invest money in green technology? If you don’t deny it, and don’t think Obama is right, what is your solution?

A: I try to look at global warming the same way I look at all other serious issues: as objectively and open-minded as possible.

Just look at the mess government created with ethanol. Congress decided that we needed more biofuels, and the best choice was ethanol from corn. So we subsidized corn farmers at the expense of others, and investment in other types of renewables was crowded out.

Now it turns out that corn ethanol is inefficient, and it actually takes more energy to produce the fuel than you get when you burn it. The most efficient ethanol may come from hemp, but hemp production is illegal and there has been little progress on hemp ethanol. And on top of that, corn is now going into our gas tanks instead of onto our tables or feeding our livestock or dairy cows; so food prices have been driven up. This is what happens when we allow government to make choices instead of the market; I hope we avoid those mistakes moving forward.

this is the kind of insight and logical-factual explanation we’ve come to expect and adore from Dr. Paul. as a Ron Paul supporter, I highly recommend this read at freakonomics: Ron Paul Answers Your Questions, Part Two.

[via slantback]


  1. Wait a second, isn’t Ron Paul a part of the gov’t? So basically he’s saying don’t listen to him. Sounds like a case of the Epimenides paradox.

    Me, I’m more a fan of Eric Schmidt’s approach.

    Another good read: The Free Market Fairy.

    Posted on 24-Nov-08 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  2. Oops, I totally wouldn’t have included that third link if I’d reread it before commenting and discovered the name-calling in the second sentence. Was not my intention to be combative :) If you can overlook that, I think it’s a rather provocative essay.

    Posted on 25-Nov-08 at 10:23 am | Permalink

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