by Mel Griffith
Have you noticed that every time the government tries to fix a problem, they end up creating several new problems that are worse than the original one, though they don't always succeed in fixing the first one. Right now we are beset by high fuel prices, high food prices and high prices for fertilizer needed to grow more food. All these problems were caused by inept government efforts to fix previous problems. Back about 1970, the government decided to fix all environmental problems, real and imaginary. In pursuit of this dream, they stopped everybody from drilling for oil everywhere that there was any oil, such as the coasts of Florida and California and in Alaska, though there wasn't much danger to the environment, and nobody in Alaska to be bothered if there were. Instead, they bought oil from dictators in the middle east and elsewhere, who didn't tolerate any nonsense from fanatics.
To further appease environmental nuts, they made it nearly impossible to build new refineries by cranking out regulations. Just in case anybody worked their way through the maze of regulations, they also made it possible for fanatics to tie up projects indefinitely with frivolous lawsuits. It's not surprising that nobody wanted to invest billions trying to build new refineries. Its also not surprising, except perhaps to government bureaucrats, that once oil suppliers had us over a barrel they did the logical thing. They cut production and jacked up prices. The obvious solution to this problem, which was to undo their mistakes and start drilling for oil, amazingly escaped the bureaucrats. Instead, they set about creating another problem to fix this one. They would just convert food into fuel. They haven't converted enough to make much difference in the oil supply, but plenty to send food prices through the roof. That means that more food needs to be produced, which in turn means that more fertilizer is needed, especially since less productive land needs to be brought into production. Unfortunately, producing fertilizer, especially nitrogen fertilizer, requires lots of energy. Just when lots of fertilizer is needed to fix the food problem the government created trying to fix the oil problem it created trying to fix the environment, the fertilizer supply is also a victim of the government's efforts to fix things.
Now our presidential candidates want to fix global warming, the Iraq war, the economy, health care and everything else they can think of. Imagine how many new problems we will have by the time they get through trying to fix all those.