The sugary mess

I’m told, on the front page of my Advocate today: “Tax Concessions possible.” Well, I bet they are, what with the newly shellacked halls of Congress. Still, it’s not so nice to watch this tiny group of people debate how much money of ours we might be able to keep. And Obama “reiterated his opposition to a permanent extension of current tax rates” for those he says are rich. By his reckoning that would be individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. I think Obama hangs out in the third and second worlds too much. The developing world, as it is sometimes called, is where $200,000 might indeed be “rich.” But here in the USA, in the country most people agree he’s president of, I’d say it’s pretty darn middle class, and in fact, we should be encouraging people to push for the $200,000 life. Ain’t that what the college pushing is? With the average house some $150,000, more or less, and much more in favored spots, $200,000 hardly gets the drapes up. I’d even venture that many of the people losing their houses to foreclosure are $200,000 a year folks. I’d say most small business owners who employ oh so many people would fall into this category. And professionals, the college students of yesteryear, yes, they too, they’re the “Rich” — why, nearly everyone is the “rich” in America. That’s what makes the place so darn wonderful. What is that man thinking?

Speaking of putting the drapes up, though, don’t you think it’s sort of unfair to gay couples, who must have their wealth seized individually rather than jointly? Or can’t we all cooperate to just make not only the tax cuts permanent, but also rid us of the IRS. There’s got to be a better way. Surely simplifying the morass has got to be better. And what is it with the see-saw of tax rates? Up and down they go, depending on who’s in office. That’s part of the problem with the business cycle. Businesses gear their business to this threat of up or down tax rates, and thus the amount of business, which translates directly into the amount of employees, and oh so much more, goes up and down. So find a tax system whose rates stay the same, forever, and is simple to comply with, and who knows, the whole economy might go, um, boom.

And then, down on the bottom of the front page is “Republicans wrestle with farm subsidies.” Yes, well, sort of like wrestling an alligator, no? But it’s got to stop too. The new guys in the mush of the swamp, the TEA Party and any old line Republicans who might be around (and more importantly for themselves, who want to stay around,) will have to win the match. Yes millions and billions and “generous farm support” goes to this district and that. But the money comes from this district itself and any other that might be lying around with a wallet to be snatched. For the money to pay farmers to grow or not grow food in this or that allocation area, for this or that price, to be sold hither or yon, or merely warehoused until someone forgets it’s there, must come from the state into which the farm aid pours generously. And thus, we have the bizarre situation of a lower class inner city black mom working to raise a few kids being taxed to pay a peanut farmer to keep the price of peanut butter high. And then the peanut farmer is taxed to pay for food stamps given to the mom so that she can buy peanut butter at the high, though “fair” I’m sure, price. And this is rational? Even more strangely, because the growing of peanuts is restricted to the peanut growing allocation area, no enterprising farmer can enter the peanut gallery and see if he can make a buck. Why, he might even hire someone! The horrors. No, this nation has exactly as many peanut farmers on exactly as many peanut growing acres producing exactly as many peanuts as the great peanut gods in the earth itself have decreed, and a committee in Washington too.

Then too, sugar, always one of my favorites. Good old Cane Sugar — “the other white powder.” For it’s a drug too. There’s fields of the stuff spread across just four places in the US. Hawaii, Southeast Texas, South Louisiana and the western half of Palm Beach County, Florida. It’s like right out of the “sell ’em down the river” movie plantations. Just acres and acres of tall cane or sweet burning stubble. Amazing to drive through. Now, I’m going to simplify this, for I’m no detail man. And perhaps it’s not dollar for dollar, but still, it’s a good illustration of the mentality of the perpetrators of this morass, and the difficulty of unwinding it all. I pay Congress folks to figure out the details. I send them there with my ideas on how the country should be. Obviously, the voters did not like the way many of the old crop was doing things. And I’m sure more than a few more stalwarts are going to go next time ’round. Good, I can’t wait. And perhaps sugar won’t be solved in the next two or even six years. Who knows how long it will take to solve? But it’s a problem. Here’s how:

In all four of these places the price of sugar is kept high to support the farmers, whether through outright grants of money, or price supports, or price minimums set by government. Let’s say each sugar growing place gets a Billion Bucks of support. That’s four billion bucks.

Because each region is essentially unsuited environmentally to growing sugar these regions must be constantly refurbished, realigned, impregnated with native species, redone, and mediated and remediated, and taken care of, and all that green stuff to make sure that the sugar growing doesn’t cause too much damage to say, Hawaiian native species, or the Everglades, or even the marshes of Louisiana, and of course the environmental impact statements by the Depts. of Commerce, Agriculture, Energy (there’s oil under a lot of the sugar, weird eh?) and who knows who else. Oh yah, taking care of the run off from the fertilizers and pesticides. I’d put, roughly, a Billion Bucks of enviro-stuff per region. That’s four billion bucks.

Now, it turns out that in many poor struggling countries down in Central America sugar grows perfectly fine with hardly any fuss and muss. Though because they’re prohibited from selling their sugar to us, and we’re prohibited from buying it (I like that there’s a law prohibiting both the sale and purchase, it’s comprehensive, and obviously they really mean it, no sugar trade!) those countries don’t make as much money as they might, and thus they often require “foreign” aid to help them through the night. Yes, well, that’s our tax dollars too. And so let’s say it’s a Billion Bucks each for just four countries that don’t make enough money from sugar. That’s four billion bucks.

And then, because the price of sugar is so high here, artificially of course, the American consumer loses the opportunity to use sugar money on something else. For if they were able to buy sugar cheaper from Guatemala than perhaps they’d have more money to say, put in kitchen counters. Let’s say that this extra cost, and the lost opportunity is divided equally among the four sugar palaces of the US, and so we can say, oh, a Billion Bucks in this. And that’s four billion bucks.

Alas, Americans are not happy doing the hard labor of sugar farming. Especially since our president and government wants each and every one of us to have a college degree in community organizing and social services and helping the downtrodden. I mean, really, who wants to spend four years learning the principles of government espoused in St. Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, which was taken up by Karl Marx, where everything is blissfully run by elite committees, and then go thresh sugar cane? Marx never had a real job, why should any of his followers? Anyway, that means that immigrant labor must come in from, oh, Guatemala, to pluck sugar grains from 12 foot high cane stalks oh so much closer to the consumer. Fortunately, they only need the very services that the newly college educated Americans were trained to do, but alas, none of the college educated want to live out there at the edge of the sugar cane fields. Meanwhile, provisioning all these immigrants, and taking care of any ancillary problems like health care and fire protection, well, that costs about, you guessed it, a Billion Bucks per region. Which that’s, yep, four billion bucks.

So if the five part problem of sugar is “wrestled” with by Republicans, and the alligator (and sagely, like an omen, there’s alligators in the sugar fields of three of the four regions, yet another problem, but not a billion’s worth,) is taken down and made into steaks and handbags, then we might save some $20,000,000,000 – twenty billion bucks (is that enough zeros?) — wow!

And if only a few more “concessions” were made by those snorting the white powder of sugar cane here in America we wouldn’t have so much “wrestling.” Why we might even solve some of this nonsense. So get to work, and refresh yourselves, you Congress folks, with TEA, and get to the wrestling, and concede nothing, and end the sugary mess.

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