How Government Ruined American Sodas

The truth about high fructose corn syrup

How Government Ruined American Sodas

Image Credits: Alexander Kaiser

Max Raskin | Mises.org


The tongue is a discerning instrument; in the hands of a traveled soda aficionado, it is capable of leading to insightful truths about politics.

To the drinker who has imbibed foreign sodas, this truth stems from the peculiar, yet incontrovertible fact that American soda is not so hot.

Though some blame this phenomenon on the use of aluminum cans over glass bottles, even the most elegant dress won’t make a homely girl comely. Instead, to the trained tongue, the answer is clear: American soda is sweetened with artificial-tasting high fructose corn syrup, while foreign sodas are made with natural cane sugar.

Why would the American public accept such a mediocre substitute?

Whenever the public doesn’t get what it wants and consumer demand is subservient to corporate interest, the most likely culprit is government policy. On the free market, consumers drive production, whereas under a system of protectionist corporatism, politicians and bureaucrats guide the market. With free competition, companies best able to satisfy consumer demand are the ones that expand production and stay in business; the consumer is king.

When a government guarantees profits to those large corporations with powerful lobbies, the market loses its natural regulating mechanism. Instead of weeding out the most inefficient companies, the state subverts the consumer and keeps these companies propped up with corporate welfare. This is particularly true with respect to the agricultural industry.

In the absence of tariffs, importation quotas, and subsidies, the natural tendency of the market would be to produce cheap sugar, which soda manufacturers would then import to sweeten their product. Domestic farmers are naturally opposed to this system because they cannot compete with more efficient foreign firms. So, instead of competing for the dollar votes of the millions of individuals who form the free market, these large corporations employ the power to lobby a select group of politicians to confer them with special privilege. When a businessman tries to secure his profits not through free competition, but through state privilege, he is not acting as a market entrepreneur, but rather as a political, rent-seeking one.

In this case, the political entrepreneur was Archer Daniels Midland, a company that lobbied Congress to pass draconian quotas on sugar importation. But why would ADM, a corn producer, want to artificially raise the price of foreign sugar? A basic lesson of economics is this: when the price of a good is raised, all other things being equal, people cut back on their consumption, and (depending on the elasticity of demand) they look for substitutes.

High fructose corn syrup, which is made from cornstarch (which ADM produces) is such a substitute.

Venal politicians gave ADM what it wanted when Congress passed the restrictions in 1982. So now, in addition to manipulating the country’s tariffs, the Office of the United States Trade Representative sets limits by country on the tonnage of sugar that can be imported annually.

John Barnes of the New Republic points out, “In 1979 the entire corn sweetener industry produced just 1.7 million metric tons. Since the imposition of the sugar quota, industry production has soared to 5.5 million metric tons, more than 80 percent of it accounted for by ADM.”

Furthermore, as James Bovard notes, “At least 43 percent of ADM’s annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM’s corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10.”

While the public has been forced to suffer inferior product, large corporations reap the benefits. The ubiquitous use of high fructose corn syrup did not freely come about on the market, but was rather a product of the protectionist schemes of the federal government.

The story could end here, as it usually would, with the populace swindled because of the state, but thankfully it doesn’t. In spite of the morass of anti-market policies, companies like Jones Soda have sought to satisfy a consumer demand for potable, domestic soda.

In January of 2007, the company switched from high fructose corn syrup to cane sugar. Though it cost the company over $1 million to alter its machinery, CEO Peter van Stolk defended the new sweetening agent, “because it tastes better and they [consumers] feel better about it because it’s pure; it’s sugar. They know what it is.”

Though there has been a controversy over a link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity, van Stolk is a CEO who has little interest in babysitting his clients. Instead, his rationale for the switch was simple: he saw that his customers had been demanding a change in the product, so to make more money, he gave them what they wanted.

The company’s entire product is now made with natural cane sugar, and they have managed to limit the rise in price a modest 5 percent.

Jones Soda is the kind of company that would arise if the state would divorce itself from the economy. Unlike the mega-corporations Coke and Pepsi, Jones caters to the individualist spirit of America. Along with continually changing the photographs on its labels, Jones soda allows customers to individualize their own twelve packs with whatever picture or message they choose. Similarly, with over 64 flavors, including Caramel Cream and Lemon Drop Dead, Jones embodies the personal nature of free enterprise.

Under a system of tariffs, subsidies, and restrictions, we get companies like Coke and Pepsi producing collectivist drinks for the masses. There is nothing exciting about these products because there is nothing exciting about the system that produces them. Interventionism is restrictive; it confines the innovative human mind, while the laissez-faire economy unleashes it.

In the absence of sugar quotas, Jones wouldn’t have to suffer financially for its decision to give people what they want. It would be allowed to give us more flavors, like Bohemian Raspberry flavored with delicious cane sugar. But instead we are confined to brown, industrial strength soda. Ultimately, this is always the choice society must make.

"Pursuing Truth, Defending Liberty"

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in america, freedom, government, health, news, politics, random, real news, truth, uncategorized
Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.

Michael Ellner

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.

Tom Clancy

If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

George Washington

POLICE STATE USA
I'm Gonna Kick Your Ass!
You learn that you either are going to have a police state where you don't have any freedom left, or you're going to build a world that doesn't create terrorists, and that means a whole different way of getting along.

John Shelby Spong

Stand Up to the TSA

Enter your email address to follow Mountain Republic and be notified of new posts by email.

State of Jefferson

Member of The Internet Defense League

MR’s Latest Tweets
If you want to offend somebody, just tell him the truth.

Friedrich Nietzsche



      

       Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11


Dr. Judy Wood - Evidence of Breakthrough Energy on 9/11

9/11 Firefighter Blows WTC 7 Cover-Up Wide Open

Firefighters, Architects & Engineers Expose 9/11 Myths

What Happened at Sandy Hook?

Visit SandyHookJustice.com

JFK to 911: Everything Is A Rich Man's Trick
Police State in Action
The 'Justified' Murder of LaVoy Finnicum (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Cop Shoots Unarmed Man in Back Lying Face Down in the Snow (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Police Shoot Homeless Man Camping In Albuquerque (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Kelly Thomas Beat To Death By Cops (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Cop Shoots Service Dog During Kid's Birthday Party

New Mexico State Police Shoot at Mini-Van Full of Kids

Top 10: Worst Police Beatings Caught On Tape

Visit Mountain Re-Home
A project of Mountain Republic