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An Unsavory Argument for a Sour Policy

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Jack Roney, lead economist for the U.S. Sugar Alliance, insists that “Sugar policy operates at no cost to the government” (Letters, Jan. 14).

A quibble: American taxpayers pay for the customs agents and other resources used to prevent these same taxpayers from buying sugar on open global markets.  These expenses are, in common parlance, costs to the government.

More than a quibble: even if Uncle Sam’s sugar policy “operates at no cost to the government,” it operates at significant costs to Americans.  In 2009, this policy forced Americans to pay 16 cents more per pound of sugar than the world price of 22.1 cents – or, 72 percent more for sugar than we would have paid were there no sugar ‘policy.‘  Given the amount of sugar Americans consume, this fact means that, in 2009, the supposedly ‘cost-free’ U.S. sugar program picked Americans’ pockets to the tune of $2.5 billion.

Supporters of this sour policy deserve to be caned.

Donald J. Boudreaux

I hasten to add that the final sentence of the above letter is not meant to be a literal call for violence against those who don’t hesitate to threaten violence against peaceful people who wish to pay lower, world prices for sugar.