By Michael R. Shannon
The really big difference between Republican and Democrat handout recipients is their ability to be sympathetically photogenic. When pressed, the average Democrat welfare recipient can hide the flat–screen TV, stash the cellphone in a drawer and refrain from cigarette smoking. And it's not too much trouble to pretend to fill out the job application or limp convincingly to prove the bad back disability claim as long as photographers and media are around.
The Republican dependency class is another genus entirely. Empathy generating photo shoots and news coverage for these check–cashers is simply a non–starter. Hiding the Rolex, wheeling the executive jet inside the hangar, displacing the butler from the servant's quarters and convincing the first wife to pretend to supervise the caterer is just too difficult to organize.
If Democrat welfare beneficiaries can avoid arrest, making jihad videos and Judge Judy the money continues to arrive completely free of social disapproval.
Not so for GOP crony capitalists. These leeches fight a two front war: Prevent competition and confuse conservatives. They are loud and proud "job creators," economic mainstays and incubators of breakthrough technology! All the favored crony industry requires for total success is billions of taxpayer dollars in perpetuity while the people who supply the tax dollars maintain a discrete and respectful silence.
A disappointing number of 2016 GOP presidential candidates recently did just that in Iowa during the quadrennial Pour Money Down the Cornhole Festival otherwise known as the Iowa Ag Summit.
There Republican presidential candidates worship the ethanol subsidy and praise ethanol entrepreneurs for their selfless addiction to subsidies and environmental fairy tales.
The Renewable Fuel Standards law requires all gasoline refined in the US be 10 percent ethanol. Ethanol is the wonder product, made from corn, which makes gasoline more costly while reducing miles per gallon and increasing wear on internal combustion engines.
Diluting perfectly efficient gas with ethanol is like forcing mom to add sawdust to her cake recipe to protect our valuable flour stockpile. Sure the additional roughage keeps dad regular, but wear and tear on teeth and the occasional oven fire — not to mention that Home Depot flavor — doesn't come close to compensating for the missing wheat.
The same is true for ethanol, all at a cost to taxpayers of $6 billion a year in handouts.
Somehow those facts didn't make it into the spiel GOP mega contributor and summit sponsor Bruce Rastetter made.
Ethanol supporters would have one believe that before the bill was passed requiring refineries to dilute your gasoline, corn grew wild in Iowa and no one was even aware there was a use for the weed, other than the occasional frontier corn fritter. And even after wise agronomists in Washington started throwing money at corn farmers the fuel market was controlled by sinister forces that prevented innovation.
Just like the whale oil cartel prevented widespread drilling for oil until the early 60's.
As columnist Paul Driessen wrote Rastetter's pitch to the assembled candidates was pointed and effective: Failure to support ethanol handouts in Iowa means no victory in the 2016 caucus and no chance for the GOP nomination.
Naturally Big Government Republicans didn't require much in the way of pressure to crumble. Jeb Bush said corny gasoline reduces the demand for imported oil. Mike Huckabee said it's a way for the nation to "fuel itself." (No pun intended.) And Lindsay Graham solemnly stated "Every gallon of ethanol ... is one less gallon you have to buy from people who hate your guts," which makes you wonder when Obama started pumping gas.
Rick Santorum, trying to get someone to pay attention, thought the RFS means something besides oil and natural gas "are allowed into [the energy] stream." And Scott Walker was a profile in cowardice as he abandoned his 2006 call for an end to ethanol subsidies.
Rick Perry split the difference and wanted to end federal ethanol subsidies, but said that individual states could choose to be a foster parent for corn, which is at least a Constitutionally valid stance and would exempt most states that don't grow corn and corn lobbyists.
The only candidates claiming to be conservative supporters of market competition and having the courage to tell Iowa voters the subsidy spigot should be turned off were Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — although Rubio did refer to corn as "maize."
There's an old song about moonshiners called "White Lightening" with a refrain that goes "Mighty, mighty pleasin' my pappy's corn squeezin's." Until Republicans can stop "pleasin'" crony capitalists with subsidies at the expense of the public, taxpayers will continue to be subject to regular "squeezin."
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!).