Monthly Archives: December 2007

The Price Of Government Comes Home

The government believes you should use ethanol as a fuel. They have enacted policies to incentivize ethanol production. Those policies, as I pointed out here, have unintended consequences:

But let’s look at what’s happened. First, we started hurting poor Mexicans by threatening their access to affordable corn tortillas, a staple of the diet for the impoverished in that country. Then, it was found that the high cost of feed corn for animals will end up resulting in high costs and lower supply of meat. And now, it’s spreading to milk. You know, full of calcium, the stuff we tell children will give them strong bones? Great work, Congress!

And now it’s hit me square in the gut, in my beer supply:

I’ll explain what’s happened to the price of Malt and Hops and why, what can be done about it, and why you are going to see prices jump likely between 15 and 25% on the retail end for Craft brews in a matter of weeks.

In late September I was told by another brewery that malt was going up about 40% and hops 30 to 40%. I started calling suppliers and they confirmed this was true, and also that they have no prices locked in yet. Additionally, I was informed that many farmers are not honoring their contracts to the fullest extent (don’t blame the farmers please) due to the crazy price situation that’s evolving in crop farming, with corn being twice the price it was last year.

What does corn have to do with it? Our supplier tells us that with Uncle Sam’s push and financial support for ethanol the price of corn has doubled and many farmers grew corn instead of barley this year. In the UK, where the EU has also required ethanol production, rape seed is the crop of choice and again, a lot more profitable than growing barley and wheat. Couple this with bad weather and growing conditions this year and in Europe and you have a crisis in barley supply. We were told this was coming in early summer, but we assumed our malt company might have meant a 10 to 15% increase in price, not this. When we finally got nailed down pricing last week, one malt price was up 45% and the other up 56%.

As a homebrewer, I just felt this pinch. I knew it was coming eventually, but wasn’t sure how soon or how drastic it would be. I needed to buy some malt for this weekend’s brew session, and went to my usual supplier, who usually has the best prices on just about everything. I was shocked to see that malt prices had jumped 30-50% (depending on variety) since my last order in November.

I’ve been further dealing with the effects of a worldwide shortage of hops, as supply has become inconsistent and prices have shot up, but I can at least blame that on the market. There are some very natural supply-and-demand forces that have affected that market over the last decade, and the market will respond to increase supply. And, to be fair, there are weather-related reasons that the barley crop was not as plentiful as past years. But when government steals my tax dollars and uses them to further exacerbate shortages in the things I want to buy, it’s a double-whammy, and it makes me resent them even further. Instead of having natural supply-and-demand, there is entirely unnatural and inefficient government-created demand that is taking away the incentive to supply malt.

The last thing I need is government policies creating additional cause for shortages. It may be rather “unimportant” that I homebrew beer. And after all, as a hobbyist, I’m willing to spend plenty of money on my hobby, as my constant equipment purchases show. But I look at brewing as a potential future career, and watch as struggling breweries are now forced to deal with this shortage and hope that their consumers are willing and able to afford price increases.

For me, this is an annoyance. For some craft brewers, this might be the difference between being able to stay afloat in business and shutting their doors. It may just be beer, but as I pointed out when discussing the milk, tortilla, and meat price increases:

Simply put, look at how the cost of government is affecting your food. In addition to all the farm subsidies, price supports, and all the other nonsense, they decided to make a completely separate mandate regarding ethanol in the energy supply. What happens? Your cost of living goes up, and your standard of living goes down.

They’ve made some lobbyists and farmers very rich with these policies. And being politicians, they’ve been using your money– not theirs– to do it. They take your taxes, use them to create incentives which make what you want to buy more expensive, and then (especially in the example of beer) tax the hell out of the end product anyway.

I realize some of our readers are in favor of government. So please, can you even attempt to justify this? Why should I be paying three different ways for the government to make some farmers very rich?

John Stossel & Ron Paul On Respecting The Constitution

Say what you might about Ron Paul and his supporters, but he’s the only candidate in the race who talks about following the Constitution and actually means what he says:

Paul talks a lot about the Constitution, more so than any other candidate.

“We’ve had a grand experiment in this country where we emphasize freedom. If you read the Constitution, the Constitution was designed to protect individual liberty, to restrain the government. But we have forgotten that.”

Restraining the government the way our founders intended, he says, would eliminate many of the regulations and federal programs we have today.

And he’s got one of the best lines of the campaign when he responds to the suggestion that his ideas are old-fashioned:

“Freedom is new, tyranny is old, it’s ancient,” Paul retorts.

Again, it’s a shame that ABC isn’t broadcasting any of this on television, but the message of freedom is still getting out.

Previous Posts:

John Stossel Interviews Ron Paul On Legalizing Drugs And Prostitution
John Stossel Talks To Ron Paul On The Proper Role Of Government
John Stossel & Ron Paul On Foreign Policy
John Stossel & Ron Paul On Immigration
John Stossel & Ron Paul On Health Care

Iowa’s Pink Locker Room — Federal Issue?

Many years ago, coach Hayden Fry of the Iowa Hawkeyes chose to paint the visiting team’s locker room pink. In the world of big-time college football, he believed that putting his opponents into a pink locker room would pacify them and give the Hawkeyes a better chance for victory.

Such a sentiment, though, doesn’t quite fly in the “enlightened” world found on college campuses today:

A former University of Iowa law professor plans to file a Title IX complaint alleging the University of Iowa’s insistence to maintain Kinnick Stadium’s pink locker room is ‘‘a civil rights issue.’’

Jill Gaulding, who left Iowa in 2005 and practices law in Minnesota, led a protest Nov. 17 outside Kinnick Stadium and gathered signatures for a petition to change the locker room.

She said she plans to file the federal complaint ‘‘in the next several weeks.’’

‘‘I’m interested in asking the Office for Civil Rights to investigate, and if they find that there’s a problem — which I hope that they will — we’ll see what happens then,’’ she said.

In 1979, former Iowa Coach Hayden Fry painted the visiting locker room pink for two primary reasons. He claimed the color has a passive effect on opponents. And, according to his biography, ‘‘pink is a often found in girls’ bedrooms, and because of that some consider it a sissy color.’’

Gaulding contends the pink locker room represents a harmful message ‘‘because of the impact it can have in our brains.’’

So we’ll go crying to the feds. We’ll define ourselves by our surroundings, and if they’re not exactly how we think is fair, we’ll run to the authorities to “make the bad men stop”. Just think what impact that lesson will have in our brains!

The color of a locker room is not against any rule of football or the NCAA. For opposing players, it should be seen as a fair bit of “psychological warfare”, and addressed as such. For a good coach or a good team, it can be used as a motivating factor to beat the team that you’re facing. The coach, for example, could explain to his players that it’s a sign of Iowa’s disrespect, motivating them to prove themselves. Which is exactly what I think would be the response to this:

‘‘Well, ask a question of your readers about whether Iowa should hang a banner across the opposing team’s locker room that said you’re a bunch of sissies,’’ she said. ‘‘Because if you think there might be a problem with that, then you should agree that there might be a problem with the pink locker room.’’

Oppose it? I’m guessing any opposing coaches would love to walk into the locker room and see that. College football is a highly emotional game, and if you really want to get a 20-year-old testosterone-fueled athlete to give his all in a game, trying to attack his manhood is a pretty simple factor. As a Purdue fan, I would think that the Boilermakers would be motivated by such a banner, not cowed into submission.

There are a lot of lessons that our young people need to learn before they enter real life. I’d say one of the most important is that often the world doesn’t quite do exactly what you like, but that you should suck it up and win anyway. It may take the form of an opposing team having a pink locker room, or it may have to do with a coworker who tries to take credit for your accomplishments to further his own career at your expense. Running to the feds might get your locker room fixed, but it will make you look like a crybaby. Running to human resources might get your coworker reprimanded, but it will destroy the level of respect that most of your other coworkers have for you.

The feds have no place in this, although I can’t say they’ll keep their noses out of it. Barring any NCAA rules prohibiting this, it’s a question for the University of Iowa as to how to balance their desire for political correctness with their desire for football success. The school’s administration is not changing, and while I have no problem with social pressure being exerted on them to change (such as the protest this lady led to get it changed), but to put this in the hands of federal judges is downright ludicrous.

John Stossel & Ron Paul On Health Care

In the fifth part of his Ron Paul: Unplugged series, John Stossel talks to the the Texas Congressman and Medical Doctor about health care:

“We’ve had the government involved in our medical care system since the early ’70s, we’ve had managed care. And all of a sudden, nobody’s happy with it,” Paul said in our interview.

Paul has even gone as far as taking the lonely position of saying government shouldn’t provide health insurance for poor children.

What would happen to those kids under his administration? Paul replied by talking about his early experience as a doctor.


“Should we move to, toward a socialized system, or should we look to the marketplace to help us sort out the problems we have in medicine? My argument, of course, is always looking for the answers in the free market, in private choices, and in individuals dealing with those problems, rather than depending on the state.”

Considering that the health system in this country has gotten worse as government involvement in health care
has become more pervasive, Paul’s ideas make perfect sense to me.

Previous Posts:

John Stossel Interviews Ron Paul On Legalizing Drugs And Prostitution
John Stossel Talks To Ron Paul On The Proper Role Of Government
John Stossel & Ron Paul On Foreign Policy
John Stossel & Ron Paul On Immigration

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