Kevin Williamson ponders for National Review Online readers the misguided government policies that prop up the sugar industry.

[T]he U.S. sugar industry … is poised to hand taxpayers a bill for $80 million this year, on top of the $3.5 billion a year they skim from consumers in the form of artificially higher prices.

Agricultural output is very high just at the moment (two cheers for global warming!) with a record corn crop on the way and an abundant harvest of sugar cane and sugar beets coming down the pike. Throughout most of human civilization, an unusually strong harvest was a cause of celebration, an occasion for sacrificing a goat or a virgin or a mortal enemy to whatever rustic deity was believed to be in charge of such matters. For us, it means making a sacrifice, too: to a bunch of gazillionaires who own sugar companies.

It works like this: As I have argued here before, the United States does not have a government — it has a bank, and a very poorly run bank at that. The Bank of Uncle Stupid last year lent the nation’s poor, struggling sugar barons $862 million in order to improve their positively Dickensian conditions. With the fat harvest coming in, sugar prices are going down — and the public must, at all costs, be protected from low prices. If sugar prices take just another tiny little tick in a southerly direction, then an unusual provision built into the sugar barons’ loan agreements with the federal government kicks in: They don’t have to repay their loans in cash — they can repay them in raw sugar.

Try that with MasterCard one of these days and see where it gets you.