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Tom Vilsack and the Morality of Ethanol


By William Warren

Yet another former Clinton supporter has been tapped to a post in President-elect Barack Obama's future cabinet, joining the likes of Mrs. Clinton herself, Eric Holder, and the ever-elusive Rahm Emanuel. According to reports, Tom Vilsack, the former two-term Governor of Iowa, will be applying his purported Midwestern farming knowhow as Mr. Obama's future Secretary of Agriculture.

Upon reading over the plethora of news articles trumpeting Mr. Vilsack's selection and credentials, a number of key words and phrases continually jump out at the careful reader: “Ethanol,” “Carbon credits,” “Cap and trade,” “Emissions caps,” “Ethanol,” “Carbon credits,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Hammered again and again, this repeated eco-phraseology is meant to bolster confidence in America's future Corn Czar. However, much like a pounding hammer, the reverberation of these terms means Americans are in for a considerable headache under Obama's new cabinet selection. The world's hungry—whose livelihood hinges on cheap corn and grain—may be in for a stomach ache of mortal proportions.

Tom Vilsack is a champion of economy-crippling—and nation starving—environmentalist energy policies. He carries an extensive record of supporting ethanol production and even ran for president on a platform of drastically reducing America's carbon emissions. Although short-lived, one of his presidential campaign promises was to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by the year 2050. He also promised to force all new power plants to emit no carbon dioxide by 2020.

During last summer, Mr. Vilsack was also one of the leading proponents of the Lieberman-Warner bill which called for a draconian reduction in emissions via the implementation of a “cap and trade” system. Fortunately for America's businesses and industries—not to mention her struggling economy—the bill failed in Congress.

Most troubling of all, however, is Mr. Vilsack's firm allegiance to ethanol and the production of controversial biofuels.

Coming from a corn state, the Iowa Governor is something of a fool for bio fuel. Among other strategies, Mr. Vilsack views ethanol production as one of the key strategies necessary to wean America off oil and stop those evil greenhouse gasses.

However, when asked in a Minnesota Public Radio interview what he thought about ethanol production in the United States and its clear links to exacerbated starvation among the world's poor populations, the Governor rejected the notion. According to Mr. Vilsack, such food crises were actually a result of—surprise, surprise—global warming:

“I'm not convinced that the food shortages to the extent that they exist are a result of a significant redirection of grains into ethanol production…I think, frankly, higher energy costs, the cost of oil and petroleum, weather patterns in many parts of the globe, more intense storms, longer drought areas, more flooding, there are multiple reasons for this…”

“…To the extent that they exist” is quite a callous comment coming from the noticeably well fed Mr. Vilsack. In case the rather insensitive former governor missed the story, food prices are skyrocketing, people are suffering, and ethanol is to blame. United Nations expert Jean Ziegler called ethanol production a “catastrophe” and a “crime against humanity.” In his own foreboding words:

‘‘The effect of transforming hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tons of maize, of wheat, of beans, of palm oil, into agricultural fuel is absolutely catastrophic for the hungry people.''

The hungry people, “to the extent that they exist,” are obviously of little concern to Tom Vilsack.

Conversely, the former governor is more concerned with blaming any food shortages—whether or not they exist in his eyes—on weather patterns. And weather patterns he in turn blames on “Global Warming.” As Mr. Vilsack claimed in an earlier interview on PBS's WIDE ANGLE, any unfortunate aspect of our modern planet's climate is conveniently linked to “Global Warming”. As he made clear in the interview:

“[INTERVIEWER]: But you have to draw, don't you, a very tight correlation between the floods, the fires, the droughts, the hurricanes, the this and the that to the [Global Warming] issue.

TOM VILSACK: You do, and it requires a sophisticated understanding of what happens when the Arctic icecap melts and sea levels rise and things get warmer and how that impacts and affects weather patterns.”

So, in a tragic twist of logic, Mr. Vilsack's callous “solution” to the highly questionable crisis of “Global Warming” is more ethanol production—the genuine cause of the very tangible crisis of starvation and food shortages. Ignore the fact that corn prices doubled from 2006 to 2008—the years in which ethanol production were energetically implemented. “Global Warming” is to blame.

Therefore, as America's Greens shove corn into their gas tanks by the bushel, the hungry Haitian or starving Bangladeshi is supposed to blame “Global Warming” for their bloated stomachs and empty wallets. If actual human lives weren't at stake, such reasoning would be almost laughable.

To make matters worse, Mr. Vilsack views the issue of “Global Warming” through a moral—perhaps even religious—lens. As he smugly said in the same PBS interview:

“This is a moral issue. This is not just an economic issue, it's not just an environmental issue. It is a moral issue for many, many around the globe. And the failure of the United States to repeatedly join the international community and to, as the international community has been pleading us to do, to lead this effort, I think their reaction was a human one, was ‘you're not stepping out when you need to. We recognize we can't do this without the United States' leadership.' Terribly disappointing.”

“Global Warming” and ethanol production may indeed be a moral issue—but not in the way Tom Vilsack sees it. It's more of a moral issue in the tradition of “Thou shall not murder.”

That moral code, however, matters little to modern liberals.

Nevertheless, if “Global Warming” is a moral issue, then Mr. Vilsack and the rest of Barack Obama's future cabinet plan on legislating quite a lot of morality upon assuming the reins of leadership. Carbon credits, cap and trade, emissions standards, and increased ethanol production will be as predictable as liberals blaming Bush.

Also predictable will be the continued decline of American businesses as they struggle under the weight of the Obama administration's burdensome energy policies.

Likewise predictable—and significantly more disturbing—will be the hordes of Third World children striving in vain to fill their stomachs—while the American people are forced by smug “moral” government to fill their tanks instead.

William Warren is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.


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