My Solution to Everything? Illegal Drugs!

For me, it was just an ordinary Tuesday: After taking a hot shower followed by a quick dusting of baby powder (corn starch), eating a delicious (corn) muffin for breakfast and pressing my shirt with (corn) starch while getting dressed, I jumped into my car and filled it up at my local gas station with gasoline containing 10% (corn-derived) ethanol. At lunch, I enjoyed a burrito loaded with (corn fed) chicken, sprinkled with corn kernels, and wrapped in a soft  (corn) tortilla, along with a bag of (corn) tortilla chips and a spring water in a biodegradable PLA (corn plastic) bottle. Finally, for dinner I enjoyed a 4 oz. portion of (corn-fed) lean beef, and afterward settled down to watch a movie with a big bowl of popcorn (uh…corn).

And suddenly it dawned on me: Wow, America uses a lot of corn!

The surprising part? Less than 10% of our corn production goes to corn products we eat directly, such as cereals and sweeteners – most of our corn crop goes to the production of biofuel (about 40%), followed closely by feed for livestock (about 36%).

With the summer drought reducing corn yields to the lowest level since 2006, prices are up almost 60% since June (according to TradingCharts.com). Despite this, even more corn will be needed for biofuel as the EPA increases the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10% to 15%. Naturally, the price of food will rise, perhaps as much as 3.5% by the end of the year and up to 4% in 2013: Good thing the official inflation rate doesn’t include the price of food (or that corn-ethanol-laced gasoline either).

Swell…just swell.

Hey, I’ve got a crazy, out-of-the-box idea: How about making biofuel from a plant we don’t depend on as food? Sure, growing corn at high yields is easy, but corn produces the lowest amount of biofuel per acre than just about any other plant:

Chart: Oil per acre for various crops.

(Click to enlarge image)

Instead of investing taxpayer money in Chinese-made wind turbines, Finnish-made electric cars, or fancy glass-tube photovoltaic solar collectors (which have now become expensive artwork) why not create an entire new industry around non-corn biofuels?

Consider the jathropa tree: Being toxic, it’s not edible by anything that walks, crawls, flies or swims, and it’s burns too fast for fireplace use. However, it provides over ten (10) times the amount of biofuel per acre than plain-ol’ corn. Heck, it’s already proven itself as an aviation biofuel.

Or, how about marijuana and poppies as the biofuel plants of choice?  Rather than fighting a “war” on illegal drugs, where swarths of these crops are burned, tons seized, users arrested, and many people killed, these crops could become a legally valuable industry, attracting investors, fostering economic growth, adding to our GDP and helping less-advantaged foreign countries. (Anyone recall sugar from the Philippines, tourism & cigars from Cuba, bananas from Latin America? Now, consider biofuels from Columbia, Afghanistan, Mexico… or Texas). There’d be plenty of new jobs for farmers, refiners, and government regulators, and the security used in the drug war could be assigned to other uses – like keeping our Nation safe (or sifting through all the information Uncle Sam’s wants to gather on his citizens… but, I digress). We’d have more corn to keep everyone (except edible livestock) happy, more biofuel to keep the environmentalists and hippies happy, and a viable, legal industry to keep investors, pensioners, Unions, tax-collectors, and car drivers happy. And, “global warming”climate change” be damned: If those Global Warming conspirators are correct, warmer climates only make these crops more viable. They can stop trying to profiteer from the fear of “global warming” and instead profiteer by repurposing an existing, viable, highly profitable, multi-billion dollar industry.

Wow. Did I just propose a solution to food shortages, illegal drug use, oil dependency, national security, unemployment, and depressed domestic & foreign economies all in one blog entry? No need to thank me: Just make sure I get a healthy cut of the profits and my commemorative statue has me looking thoughtful and focused, just like these guys – cuz’ I’m not very good at smiling.

Caveat: I’m also not a agriculturalist, chemical engineer, or economist, so feel free to add your well-considered comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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