It is often said that the difference between a good economist (also known as an Austrian economist) and a bad economist is that a good economist is capable of seeing the actual complexity of economic decisions and all of the different affects such decisions had. People who advocate government programs and taxes are bad economists because they can’t wrap their heads around the actual root of most problems, government.
A friend of mine send me a link to a petition that is trying to urge Congress to place a tax on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). To many people this idea sounds grand because HFCS has been linked to an increase in obesity in the United States. What these same people don’t understand is why HFCS was every created in the first place. A bunch of companies didn’t get together one day with an agenda of trying to create an evil product that would harm customers (this seems to be what many people think), they got together because the price of sugar was much greater than the price of corn. Why was sugar so much more expensive than corn? Because there are taxes and quotas placed on imported sugar as well as governemnt subsidies for corn producers.
The combination of these two elements has create an ecosystem where it’s much cheaper to produce HFCS than to use natural sugar. Once again we find that the government is the root of a problem yet people want that very same government to fix it. If you want to stop the use of HFCS don’t demand the government tax it, demand the government remove taxes and quotes on imported sugar and eliminate corn subsidies. Once those two things are done the price of corn will increase and the price of sugar will decrease making the use of natural sugar more attractive.