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If Only Sugar was Produced on Planet Nirvana

In a recent column for the Cato Institute, Daniel R. Pearson lamented “the difficulties of trying to balance sugar supply and demand by government fiat” in an effort to buttress the arguments against the U.S. sugar program constantly being put forward by Big Candy.

“If the marketplace was made open and competitive, there is little doubt that sugar still would be produced in the United States, that some of it still would be imported from other countries, and that consumers would buy some combination of the two,” Pearson wrote.

“If supply and demand were allowed to guide sugar production, marketing, and consumption, resource allocation and economic efficiency would improve a great deal.”


Indeed, life on Planet Nirvana is always special, wonderful and fair.  Unfortunately, we live on Planet Earth, so we’re constrained to deal with the reality of a global sugar market dominated by some of the biggest government subsidy providers in the universe.

And it’s not just sugar export powerhouses such as Brazil, India and Thailand that heavily distort the international sugar market by heavily propping up their homeland sugar industries.  Heck, even third-world Nigeria is getting into the act.  According to a recent story in The Guardian…

“DR Latif Busari, the Executive Secretary of National Sugar Development Council, said on Wednesday that the sugar sub-sector would generate over 180,000 jobs in the economy if well developed. 

“Busari told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that ‘If we implement the National Sugar Master Plan as planned by the Federal Government, it would create over 180,0000 jobs.’”

It’s estimated that around 12,000 Nigerians are employed in the sugar industry presently, many “in packaging foreign sugar.”

However, part of the federal government’s master plan is an outright “ban on the importation of sugar.” And that ban on sugar imports means the nation’s sugar industry will be protected from heavily subsidized foreign sugar, thus creating more jobs outside of import packaging for the hometown folks.

This is the “open and competitive” high-wire market Mr. Pearson wants the U.S. sugar industry to walk across without a net

If we were living on Planet Nirvana, his argument would actually hold water.