As gasoline prices continue to climb, people are understandably upset. (Why they aren't more upset with a government that steals half their money is another matter.) In situations like this, all the usual myths about energy are trotted out once again.
One such myth is that ethanol is a solution to our nation's energy needs. A Congressman has sponsored legislation to mandate more ethanol in our gasoline. However, this simply won't work. A recent post at Human Events points out that ethanol mandates actually make things worse. In addition, studies have shown that a gallon of ethanol requires more than a gallon of gasoline to produce. Using ethanol not only wastes money, it wastes gasoline.
Sometimes ethanol is defended as a solution to our dependence on foreign oil, since it is produced domestically. But we need oil to produce ethanol. Barring drastic and unlikely changes to the state of the world, we will never be independent of foreign sources of energy, anyways. What ethanol really is is disguised welfare for farmers.
The lack of economic understanding in this country is highly destructive. It ought to be obvious that people will naturally choose the cheapest way of accomplishing a given job. Hence the most efficient source of energy is whatever people freely choose to use. If ethanol were really a viable energy source, then people would choose to use it without government subsidies and mandates. What sense does it make for the government to pay people to waste money? The case of ethanol is one more example of how government just makes things worse.