NOT-SO-FREE TRADE. Let's see if I understand this. In order to keep domestic sugar cane and sugar beet growers in business, and to cock a snook at Fidel Castro, your tax dollars go to subsidize sugar farmers and to maintain tariff barriers against imported sugar. (Hat tip: Knowledge Problem, who has also noticed the chocolate-factory smell in the West Loop. The chocolate factory is alongside the Chicago and North Western Galena Division, which the young pups insist on calling the UP West Line.) Sugar (including, curiously, Cuban sugar) can be obtained more cheaply in Canada or Mexico where there are no beet and cane farmers to be subsidized. Candy is a manufactured good, hence subject to the North American Free Trade Agreement limitations on duties. The net effect of raising the incomes of U.S. sugar beet and sugar cane farmers is to lower the income of U.S. candy factory workers, as the manufacturing capacity takes advantage of the world sugar price in Canada and Mexico.

There is another part to this puzzle. Your tax dollars also go to subsidize the growing of corn for gasohol. There is a research project or three on the effects of that subsidization on the price of corn-based sweeteners.

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