There are different levels of stupid in this presidential race. There is your normal level of stupid that nearly every candidate will suffer from. Then there is the level of stupid exhibited by the Donald Trumps and their ilk. This is a level of stupid so bad that it requires a suspension of any belief in reality.
Unfortunately Marco Rubio’s defense of sugar subsidies has reached that level of stupidity. While supporting sugar subsidies is something that is expected of a Senator from Florida, even one with the free market credentials that Rubio has established, many people were hoping he would change his position on them now that he’s running for president.
Nope. In fact he supports keeping them because he believes that it would harm our “national security” if we got rid of them.
Asked this month about his support for sugar subsidies, Rubio said he would eliminate them if “the countries that export sugar into the U.S. get rid of theirs as well, and here’s why: Otherwise, Brazil will wipe out our agriculture and it’s not just sugar.”
If we eliminate our sugar subsidies first, Rubio warned, “other countries will capture the market share, our agricultural capacity will be developed into real estate, you know, housing and so forth, and then we lose the capacity to produce our own food, at which point we’re at the mercy of a foreign country for food security.”
Rubio’s argument is nonsensical, if you can even untangle it. Rubio’s argument that the U.S. must subsidize sugar because other countries subsidize it sounds a lot like arguments for the now expired Ex-Im bank, which Rubio opposed reauthorizing.
What the sugar subsidy does is keep sugar at an artificially high price by imposing high tariffs on imported sugar and imposing strict quotas on much sugar can be sold by U.S. farmers. It makes it not worth the cost to import it from nations like Brazil and Mexico. The results are predictable, the sugar subsidy has raised prices of sugar and killed jobs. It has also forced sweet makers to switch to corn syrup in many products.
If the sugar industry dies off completely, which would be unlikely, but if it did; the land and capital involved in sugar production would be liquidated and put to better use. That’s a concept called creative destruction. In a free market system, old and obsolete industries must die in order for new ones to replace them.
Marco Rubio is probably the best defender of free market capitalism of any candidate running for president in any party. This is why it so disappointing to see him embrace Trump levels of stupidity on sugar subsidies.