Sourpuss Monopolists

by Don Boudreaux on September 3, 2009

in Agriculture, Competition, Trade

Lawrence Graham argues, in a letter in today’s Wall Street Journal, that the quota that Uncle Sam imposes on sugar imports should be raised.  Mr. Graham isn’t quite correct: that quota should be abolished.

The ‘correct’ amount of sugar for Americans to import can be, and should be, determined only by American consumers’ willingness to buy such imports.  The fact that U.S. sugar growers insist that there is plenty enough sugar available under the existing quota is economically and ethically preposterous – as preposterous as would be, say, the insistence of newspaper publishers pleading with government to restrict the amount of news that consumers can buy annually from competing media on grounds that consumers already get plenty enough news from newspapers.

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Justin P September 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm

I really really really don’t like rent seekers.

Anonymous September 3, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Sugar causes so many diseases, we should just ban it.

Surfisto September 4, 2009 at 12:12 am

Would it be possible to raise it a little bit each year or 2 years or some time period so there is no contention? Baby steps to an abolished quota.

Anonymous September 4, 2009 at 12:22 am

For goodness sake, Don!

You and Russ better stop giving them ideas. It seems like half of the ridiculous “so stupid it would be like doing x” comments you make have come true over the last year, so just stop feeding the flames.

"New World Order" September 4, 2009 at 12:54 am

I use stevia as a sweetener, Way more healthy for you. Down side It cost more, but you use less to do the job. Say ¼ tea spoon stevia = 1 cup sugar.

Spider September 4, 2009 at 12:57 am

Thanks for the info, Satan.

The Joker September 4, 2009 at 12:58 am


Anonymous September 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I hadn’t heard of Stevia so I did a quick search. Turns out the Sourpuss Monopolists have their goons in the FDA running protection for them on this front also.


Anonymous September 5, 2009 at 10:30 am

There are a great number of natural and artificial sweeteners. Seems a low risk approach would be to divide your total sweetener usage amongst several of them, thus reduce any unknown dose-related risk that might be associated with any of them.

I wonder to what extent legislation keeps those other sweeteners from the market.

In Loco Parentis September 4, 2009 at 1:09 am

As an American consumer, I hereby demand that my elected officials stop me from buying what I want. Thank you.

Anonymous September 4, 2009 at 2:25 am

I just read in John Stossel’s book “Give Me a Break” how corn growers benefit from the sugar quota because high fructose corn syrup is more affordable than sugar. He notes how coca-cola in Mexico is made with sugar. Has it been established that white refined sugar is more healthy than HFCS?

Anonymous September 4, 2009 at 10:21 am

Even if you were dumb enough to accept the logic of these trade barriers, aren’t we having a sugar shortage right now???

I would have hoped that even a staunch protectionist would argue for lowering quotas during a shortage – or at least not RAISING them. That’s crazy.

Anonymous September 4, 2009 at 10:30 am

The quotas restrict the amount of sugar that may be imported. Raising them allows more sugar to be imported.

Anonymous September 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

tariff… quota… :)

sorry, I’m drinking my first cup of coffee now – wasn’t reading very clearly. Well this was better than when I first read it!!!! I’ll resist editing my first comment away so I don’t look like a dumbass.

Anonymous September 6, 2009 at 8:01 pm

You are correct.

TeeJaw September 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Has it been established that white refined sugar is more healthy than HFCS?

Possibly so. There is some indication, not yet conclusive, that high fructose corn syrup is resistant to insulin in some people and causes high blood glucose levels to remain in our system too long. It’s glycemic index seems to be higher than cane sugar. If these indications prove to be accurate then we might say that the sugar import quotas have not only driven the United States candy industry, along with a few thousand good jobs, to Canada, but also have caused the current explosion in Type II diabetes.

One small thing we can do is to buy Mexican bottled coke (made with sugar not HFCS) that is now available in many grocery stores and restaurants serving Mexican food. It tastes great, like the coke we had when we were kids, and is healthier because cane sugar in limited amounts is not harmful to people susceptible to type II diabetes.

Note: HFCS is in almost everything including canned tomato soup, kecthup, worcester sauce, and just about everything that is refined. To avoid it you have to avoid everything in the center isles of the grocery store, and read the label of everything you buy.

Rob September 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

But is it as economically and ethically preposterous as getting Wal-Mart banned from your city and then insisting “We don’t miss them, we have great supermarkets… we don’t need Wal-Mart.”?,8599,1605388,00.html

Anonymous September 6, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Through the 2008 Farm Act, the U.S. Government sanctions the sugar industry’s cartel. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative jointly administer this economic abomination. Concentrated benefits accrue to both the rent-seeking sugar and corn sweetener industries, while consumers pay diffuse (yet real) higher than equilibrium prices for sugar-containing products. This knowledge comes from experience, because I help to operate the USDA program.

RJ Moeller September 18, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Hey I found your blog today linked from Human Events. I really like what I see. I’ll be sure to regularly stop in.

I am a 26 year old grad student from Chicago and I have a humble little blog of my own (A Voice in the Wilderness) and here’s my latest piece:…et-it-obama/

Keep up the good work. Thanks and God bless!

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Anonymous October 8, 2009 at 1:08 am

Amount of import of anything should be controlled only by the demand for it…seems like a no-brainer! Protectionism takes us backwards

Anonymous October 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Info interessente

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