Ethanol: A Subsidy-Fueled Gold Mine
How do you make ethanol? By mixing corn with our tax dollars.
From an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
The ethanol industry wasn't born, it was built, one government act at a time.
During the 1970s energy crisis, turning corn into fuel seemed like a cool idea, but it wasn't economical. So the subsidies began. Then protection from foreign imports.
During the 1980s farm crisis, Minnesota officials hoped ethanol could lead a rural revival and offered subsidies so generous that farmers could build ethanol plants practically for free.
Still, ethanol struggled. So the 1990s brought laws encouraging ethanol use. Then laws requiring it. Then more laws, requiring more ethanol.
Today, at long last, ethanol has entered its golden age, thanks to three decades of government subsidies and the more recent run-up of oil prices. But if ethanol's fortunes have dramatically changed, ethanol politics have not. All across the Corn Belt, there's scant debate about whether ethanol needs more government help — only how much more to give.
"Ethanol was always seen as an 8-year-old kid that needed to be taken care of, but now it's a 27-year-old graduate student with a Ph.D. from Harvard that wants to live at home with mom and dad," said Michael Swanson, vice president and agricultural economist at Wells Fargo.