Big Sugar’s strong appetite for corporate welfare


Algae blooms are impacting Florida’s Treasure Coast just in time to ruin the Fourth of July holiday weekends of visitors.  A state of emergency has been declared. If the bloom doesn’t clear, summer vacations will be canceled; those who make their living in resort areas have already been impacted.

Is this merely the vagaries of Mother Nature? It is not. Instead, this is a case of government-subsidized destruction that is supported by both political parties. Government subsidies for the domestic sugar industry have helped to create the algae blooms. The blooms have been going on for years and have killed wildlife such as dolphins, manatees, and pelicans, as well as causing beach closings.

On top of price supports, the government enforces a system of tariffs and quotas on imported sugar.

One source of the algae is Lake Okeechobee, the second biggest freshwater lake in America. The fertile earth surrounding the lake has supported Florida’s sugarcane industry.  Sugar plantations then send their farm contaminants into the lake. When water levels in the lake get high, the Army Corps of Engineers releases algae contaminated water into the St. Lucie River, a seven-mile estuary connected to the coast.

Runoff from the plantations adds about 15 billion gallons of contaminated water a year to the lake. This contaminated water is low in oxygen and high in nitrogen and phosphorus, conditions which help breed algae.

Cause-and-effect in complex eco-systems is hard to trace. What percentage of the algae growing is due to sugar plantations? We don’t know for sure. What we do know is this, sugar plantations are contaminating the water. In the absence of government subsidies, sugar plantations in Florida might not even exist.

Government Sweethearts

World prices sugar are lower and sometimes considerably lower than the domestic price of sugar. The Manhattan Institute’s Jared Meyer and Preston Cooper explain how government subsidizes the sugar industry:

“The program that supports the American sugar industry has many facets. Most infamous is a subsidy program in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives loans to sugar farmers and allows them to repay those loans with raw sugar if sugar prices fall below 20.9 cents per pound. This program functions as an effective mass purchase of sugar, which drives up prices for consumers and thus doubly subsidizes the industry…

The government also enforces a system of tariffs and quotas on imported sugar, limiting the supply of cheaper sugar that can be imported from abroad. This results in wide spreads between global and domestic sugar prices.”

The cost of all this? Economist Mark Perry explains the cost of the sugar subsidy in 2012:

“By forcing Americans to pay an average of 43.4 cents per pound in 2012 for inefficiently produced domestic beet sugar instead of 26.5 cents per pound for more efficiently produced world sugar, US sugar policy forced Americans to pay a “premium” of almost 17 cents per pound for the roughly 17 billion pounds of American sugar produced last year.  In total, that 17 cent per pound “premium” translates to almost $2.9 billion in artificially inflated costs for the domestic sugar purchased by American consumers and businesses in 2012.”

The high-fructose corn syrup industry did not exist prior to the sugar price support program.

From Big Sugar to Big Corn

One intervention leads to another. The Department of Agriculture sells the purchased sugar at a discounted price to ethanol producers. Ethanol production is another industry which arguably would not exist without government subsidies. Subsidized ethanol production further damages the environment.

Not only is the sugar subsidy costing billions of dollars, but it is also shifting the jobs of confectioners overseas to take advantage of the lower world sugar price.  Trump has proclaimed he will never eat Oreos again because the cookie manufacturer is shifting production to Mexico. Manufacturers in Mexico can purchase sugar at the world’s price; no doubt that influences their purchase decisions.

As importantly, sugar subsidies are helping to destroy our health as Michael Wohlgenant explains:

“The high-fructose corn syrup industry did not exist prior to the early 1970s, when the current sugar price support program was implemented. The industry came into existence only because of the high sugar prices created by the program. Now, however, the high-fructose corn syrup industry accounts for about half of all sugar consumed in the U.S., much of which is used by the soft drink industry. Increasingly, questions have been raised about the possible health effects of high-fructose corn syrup, including its relationship to obesity, diabetes and liver damage. If the program were eliminated, sugar prices would fall and the proportion of high-fructose corn syrup in our diets would decline significantly.”

Subsidizing sugar plantations in Florida makes no more sense than subsidizing pineapple plantations. Theoretically, pineapples could grow commercially in Florida; but Florida pineapples would cost more than those grown in other locations. Thus, the free market utilizes land that could be growing pineapples for more efficient uses. In the same way, if sugar subsidies were ended, land currently utilized for growing sugar cane would revert to high valued uses.

Allowing contaminated discharges into Lake Okeechobee is another form of subsidy. The cost of this subsidy is paid by homeowners whose property values are affected and by the tourism industry whose visitors stay away when impacted beaches are closed or contaminated.  

Walt Disney World resort is a mere hundred miles from Lake Okeechobee. They are known for keeping their property pristinely clean. Why? The ability of Disney to charge premium prices is directly impacted by the quality of the consumer experience. On the other hand, Lake Okeechobee is an unowned resource; and through political contributions, the sugar lobby known as Big Sugar has obtained considerable bipartisan political clout.

Bernie’s Sugar Daddy

For example, in 2014 American Crystal Sugar Company donated to 221 members of Congress, 109 Democrats and 92 Republicans. How about Bernie Sanders? After all he has railed against corporate corruption and many see him as a critic of corporate greed. Sanders supporters take note; he too takes Big Sugar’s money.

Sugar subsidies are an example of the well-known principle that government grows when a program has benefits that are concentrated and costs that are diluted. The sugar industry has a much stronger interest in promoting subsidies then we as individuals have in opposing them. Big Sugar’s millions of dollars of campaign contributions are a small price for them to pay to ensure that their interest comes before the interests of taxpayers, property owners, consumers, and the environment.

When we subsidize something we get more of it. Government subsidy of Big Sugar means we get more sugar, along with greater destruction of the environment.  Environmentalists who favor a larger role for government might want to take note.

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. He blogs at, Giving up Control, and America’s Highest Purpose.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Vote for Karl Dickey for Palm Beach County Soil and Water Conservation District , Group 5

On November 4, 2014, Palm Beach County voters will decide who to elect to the Group 5 position on the Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District (PWCSWCD). The position will be voted on county-wide so all voters will have an opportunity to choose between myself and my opponent.

It is unfortunate the PBCSWCD has been so mismanaged by my opponent and her cronies that it wastes taxpayer dollars without full disclosure to the public. Their website is inadequate and does not include their meeting dates and times. Their budget, which includes expenses of $305,000, should be online and should not just be some pie-in-the-sky pie chart. They should provide a line item income and expense report each quarter on their website. This is what I would have done if I was leading the PBCSWCD, so the public can see how effective the organization is. Additionally, why not have a Facebook page for the PBCSWCD? It costs nothing but time. Put up a Facebook page to educate the public about the PBCSWCD rather than spending that time filling out many meaningless, bureaucratic reports. The PBCSWCD lacks transparency and that is the first thing I will work to change once Palm Beach County voters elect me to the board!

It is understandable why my opponent may not welcome such transparency, as outgoing employee, Sosa Omelio, received $70,440.24 from the PBCSWCD in 2013. This is a jump from $35,220.12 in 2012. I was at one of their meetings concerning Sosa’s retirement and his pay and was disgusted by what I saw which was one of the primary reasons for my running for this office. This District is being terribly mismanaged, plain and simple.

My opponent is either confused or is choosing to deceive the public when she states the PBCSWCD does not receive taxpayer money. The District operates with taxpayer money whether that money is directly received or received calling it a grant. The money comes from taxpayers, plain and simple.

My opponent and a couple of her friends have chosen to mischaracterize what I have stated plainly and clearly regarding the future of the PBCSWCD. To set the record straight, when like-minded individuals created a majority of the board in Seminole County, the Soil & Water District there flourished and became self-sufficient. My aim would be to do the same or what is in the best interest of the taxpayers and the environment.

A vote for me, Karl Dickey, is a vote for open government, better management of the PBCSWCD and your tax dollars! Plain and simple.

Thank you for your consideration,

Karl Dickey

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Karl Dickey, for the non-partisan office of Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District, Group 5

I hope I can rely on your support!

Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District – Group 5

On the November 4, 2014 ballot here in Palm Beach County, my name will appear as a candidate for the county soil & water conservation district and I was hoping to have your support and vote for this non-partisan office.

I am not looking for any money, just your vote in November. We are trying to save taxpayers $350,000. We already have two new board members and with my election to the board we will control the board. With a majority of like-minded members of the board, we will be able to do serious reductions in the budget without negatively affecting the environment.

If you are on Facebook, please ‘Like’ our campaign page:

Thank you,
Karl Dickey

Disclaimer: Paid Pol. Adv. by Karl Dickey, non-partisan candidate for Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation District 5


Bill Wohlsifer on Non Aggression Principle in Environmental Policy

When it becomes apparent that government irrespective of its level fails at its legislated duties, it becomes necessary to revise the operations of policy. Good intentions and sometimes good law inevitably becomes the first victims over the best interests of the citizens. This is indeed the cycle of politics especially in a representative form of government. When competing interests vie for power there will always be winners and losers. Because of the political nature of this competition for interest the need to secure advantage many times replaces the thought of Bentham’s principle which states that the goal of government is to do the most good for the most people.

Read the rest of Wohlsifer’s position here.



Fun & Free Event Shares Advantages of Eco-Smart Living While Benefiting Habitat For Humanity of South Palm Beach County

Continuing the global glow of the 44th Annual Earth Day, Sklar Furnishings ( announces its hosting of its first “ALL THAT’S GREEN” SUNDAY, a free community event to share the advantages of embracing and enjoying a “natural” eco-smart lifestyle while benefiting Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County on May 18th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at its 22,000–square–foot contemporary furniture showroom and design center. An industry leader in green advocacy that forges furniture alliances around the globe with designers and manufacturers that share its strong commitment to the environment, Sklar Furnishings is bringing Tesla, Environmental Strategist Yalmaz Siddiqui of Office Depot, Inc., Shred Trust, eBikes On Demand powered by the Electric Bike Store, Organic Cellar Plus, American Fine Wine Competition, Gourmet Truck Expo (serving up plant-based and organic foods), Eat The Truth with Coco Frey, Cristino Fine Jewelry, and Habitat For Humanity’s ReStores to join its team of credentialed home and office designers and space planners to help drive the year ‘round message of building a greater eco-community.

In addition to having the opportunity to tour its variety of custom furniture lines that are invested in heavily reducing the environmental impact of its operations and use of reclaimed natural materials, event-goers will enjoy a host of green lifestyle showcases, demos, ebike test drives, healthy food samplings, organic and sustainable wine tastings, energy efficiency seminars, onsite estate jewelry re-sales, live entertainment by vocalist Kendra Erika, and special offers, giveaways and chances-to-win.

While Sklar will donate a percentage of sales on event day to Habitat for Humanity of South PBC plus two trees to a Florida forest for each purchase of a wood product, event-goers also have the opportunity to do their part in “repurposing, recycling and shredding” for a cause. To help raise vital funds for Habitat For Humanity, Sklar encourages the community do some serious “Spring Cleaning” and then donate their gently used household discards on event day for resale at Habitat for Humanity ReStores ( They can also bring their old tax and other personal documents to be securely shredded onsite by Shred Trust — for a $5 donation per container — during event hours. Scheduling pick-ups of large appliances, furniture, doors, hurricane shutters and more can also be made at the Habitat for Humanity tent.

“Even though Earth Day comes just once a year, it is critical that environmental awareness and advocacy be a continuous all-year mission,” adds Sklar Co-Owner Rick Howard, who is also president of the North American Home Furnishings Association that champions the independent home furnishings retailer — the nation’s largest organization devoted specifically to the needs and interests of home furnishings retailers, with more than 1,800 members representing more than 7,000 storefronts across all 50 states and several foreign countries.

Sklar’s green commitment started with joining the Sustainable Furnishings Council, a nonprofit balance coalition of industry players founded at High Point, NC that promotes sustainable practices among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike. Thus, Sklar does its part both in business operations of being as eco-efficient as possible and community initiatives such as ‘All That’s Green’ Sunday to raise awareness and encourage reductions in carbon emission, waste stream pollutants, un-recyclable content and primary materials from unsustainable sources.

“As a citizen and tenant of the planet, Sklar Furnishings pledges to continually work toward becoming ‘greener’,” reports Sklar Co-Owner Pat Howard. “Going beyond the obvious best practices, our company partners in creating forests via the National Forest Initiative by donating a tree to one of Florida’s four natural forests for each purchase of a wood product. On event day we will be doubling that donation for each purchase.”

She reported that a significant array of Sklar vendors are also responsible stewards of the planet, as event-goers will find as they tour through galleries featuring American Leather, Huppé, Jesse Furniture, Tonelli Design, Copeland Furniture, Phillips Furniture. All of Sklar’s leather line tanneries now use the eco-friendly method, all wood manufacturers use water-based stains, and several vendors offer selections of organic cottons, and several of its rug vendors use scraps from other industries (i.e. silk tie remnants, nylon hosiery wastes). There are plentiful design applications in glass – from tabletops and shelving to art and accessories – that in itself is “green”.

Committed To Building & Bettering Community Through Support of Habitat For Humanity
Since Sklar Furnishings opened its doors by the entrepreneurial husband and wife team in November 2002, the only independent furniture showroom of its kind in the region has had a strong partnership with Habitat for Humanity that provides “simple, decent, and affordable” housing for low-income families. Sklar donates thousands of dollars in merchandise to the organization that in turn is sold in ReStores, thus being recognized as a recipient of the “I Gave at the House” Award for six consecutive years. With Rick Howard serving on the Habitat for Humanity board of directors, Sklar’s support escalated to underwriting the construction of its first Habitat For Humanity home that was completed and dedicated in October 2013.

“Helping to not just provide shelter, but also instill pride of ownership and a true ‘sense of community’ to those working hard to become first-time homeowners is both gratifying and inspiring as our entire team looks forward to beginning efforts for a second Habitat For Humanity home,” noted Pat Howard, who with Rick Howard will be honored on May 22nd as the 2014 Small Business Leaders of the Year by the Greater Boca Raton Chamber for their professionalism, business leadership, entrepreneurship and community “give back”.


Obama politicizes Keystone XL pipeline to rescue Democrats in November

Yesterday, April 18, 2014, the Obama administration through the U.S. State Department, announced it would delay a decision on whether to permit the Keystone XL pipeline to be built in the United States. The delay is expected to last until after the November, 2014 election, providing cover for Democrats over the controversial pipeline. In its statement, the department said, “The Permit process will conclude once factors that have a significant impact on determining the national interest of the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents.”

Read the rest of the story here.

New study suggests eating vegan is solution to global warming

A new study released yesterday suggests one of the major causes of global warming is the human consumption of cattle and other meat. Meat for human consumption as opposed to fruit and vegetable production causes more chemicals released into the atmosphere which have global climate warming capabilities.

Read rest of story here.

Is it time to "green" your office?

For years, I have been seeking ways to “green” my office. We’ve tried to go paperless ( a few times ), we use recycled paper, we use far less ink then we used to, we scan instead of paper faxing, etc. etc.

But now I found a site where I can order truly environmentally-friendly products from for the office (and even around the house). It’s called, appropriately enough, The Green Office. They carry just about everything anyone would want for an office and more – from desk organizers to coffee filters! They’ve got it all. What is really cool, is you can sort a list of items you are looking at by their “greenness”. This company is committed!

So, goodbye Staples, and hello Green Office!

Is it time to “green” your office?

For years, I have been seeking ways to “green” my office. We’ve tried to go paperless ( a few times ), we use recycled paper, we use far less ink then we used to, we scan instead of paper faxing, etc. etc.

But now I found a site where I can order truly environmentally-friendly products from for the office (and even around the house). It’s called, appropriately enough, The Green Office. They carry just about everything anyone would want for an office and more – from desk organizers to coffee filters! They’ve got it all. What is really cool, is you can sort a list of items you are looking at by their “greenness”. This company is committed!

So, goodbye Staples, and hello Green Office!

Ever hear of Shaklee?

I had never heard of Shaklee until a couple years ago, even though the company has been around for over 50 years. I thought a friend of mine was in the roofing business when he mentioned the name (Shake Masters was what I heard).

What got me motivated about them was his business card – it was on recycled paper and used soy ink! Well, that told me that this was a company which was serious about the purity of the environment. So I checked out the company a bit closer and was very impressed.

The products they offer are safe for both me, my family and the environment. So I switched many things I would normally buy at the grocery store and started buying from Shaklee.

I invite you to check them out and I think you’ll be as impressed as I was.

Go to


Shaklee Independent Distributors reach out to help build greener communities in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Basic-H®

PLEASANTON, Calif. – (April 8, 2010) – Shaklee Corporation, the number one natural nutrition company in the U.S., will be hosting hundreds of events throughout the United States and Canada to help promote environmental responsibility in honor of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary. These events, led by Shaklee Independent Distributors, will range from tree-planting activities to eco-fairs and informational meetings.

In addition to celebrating Earth Day, Shaklee also will be celebrating a significant milestone of its own—the 50th anniversary of Basic-H®, one of the first nontoxic, biodegradable surfactant cleaners in the world. In honor of the anniversary, bottles of Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate—an updated and more concentrated edition of Basic-H—will feature a commemorative seal for a limited time only. Basic H2, the flagship product of the Shaklee Get Clean® household line, provides a super-safe, really powerful, doubly-concentrated clean with thousands of uses. This phosphate-free formula is also concentrated, so it saves money and helps reduce waste compared to ready-to-use cleaners. In fact, the number of Basic H2 bottles sold last year contained the same amount of clean as nearly 1.7 million 26-ounce bottles of conventional, ready-to-use window cleaner—that’s enough bottles to wrap around the earth 11.4 times. Through sales of Basic H2, combined with last year’s sales of Get Clean Starter Kits, Shaklee saved 71 million pounds of greenhouse gases and 31 million pounds of packaging waste.

“There’s only one earth and we have to do all we can to protect it,” says Shaklee Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Roger Barnett. “That goes beyond reducing and recycling. It means reconsidering our options and changing the way we do things. It could be biking to work, using energy-efficient light bulbs, or switching to environment-friendly household cleaning products. If we all make a conscious effort to preserve the planet, imagine the difference we can make.”

The environmental heritage of Shaklee dates back more than 50 years—before Earth Day was established. The company was the first in the world to be Climate Neutral™ certified in 2000, and was recently recognized as an Industry Innovator by the nonprofit group Climate Counts. In 2006, Shaklee initiated a nationwide campaign called A Million Trees. A Million Dreams.™ in collaboration with 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai. As part of the campaign, Shaklee Distributors set out to plant a million trees throughout the U.S.; the millionth tree was planted on Earth Day 2009 at the company’s headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif.

To find out more about Shaklee and our commitment to the environment and the effectiveness of our products go to


About Shaklee Corporation
Founded more than 50 years ago, Shaklee has been a leading provider of premium-quality natural nutrition products, personal care products, and environmentally friendly home care products. In 2000, Shaklee became the first company in the world to be Climate Neutral™ certified to totally offset its CO2 emissions, resulting in a net-zero impact on the environment. With a robust product portfolio, including more than 50 patents and patents pending worldwide, Shaklee has more than 1.25 million Members and Distributors around the globe and operates in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, and China. For information about Shaklee, visit

Interview w/

Karl Dickey was recently interviewed for regarding his campaign for Palm Beach County Commission.


In keeping with our goals of trying to get interviews with all the Libertarian candidates running for office April continues to track them down and ask them pertinent questions. She caught up with Karl Dickey, candidate for County Commissioner in Palm Beach. Her interview is posted here in its entirety. Enjoy!

Q: It’s a conundrum to some people. The wealthy are objects of envy, but heavy progressive taxes only create a class of dependents that are resentful of the hand that feeds them. Meanwhile, as can be evidenced from activities like the Robin Hood Foundation’s, not only are the wealthy indoctrinated to feel guilty about their property holdings, they’re still extraordinarily generous givers. Is Palm Beach getting wise to the indoctrination?

A: Firstly, although I realize many have envy for the wealthy, I do not subscribe to that notion. But more to the question, it would be difficult to know the thoughts of Palm Beachers and their reasons for giving to their favorite charities – whether out of guilt, altruism, or for the potential tax benefits. I do fully support the use of more private charities over the inefficient and often corrupt government-run and government-funded charities.

Read More…

The Environment

Karl Dickey would work to eliminate the sovereign immunity given to the county government as it relates to its contamination of land it owns so it can be a better steward of the environment. Mr. Dickey has been a long-time advocate for the environment. He walks the talk. He has been driving a Prius exclusively since 2005 and is active in the community toward environmental solutions. Our environment would be far better off if naturalist organizations such as the Audubon Society or the Nature Conservancy would take over management of our preserved land in place of our county government. In addition, if we enforced restitution from polluters, even if they are a government entity, the environment would be in far better shape than it is today. Here is one of many examples of how our county government is working against our environment. The best solution to the problems of pollution in Palm Beach County is to get property out of the hands of our government. Overall, private owners take better care of their land and other resources, because they worry about the future resale value of these things. As history has shown, government bureaucrats have no vested interest in the future value of anything under their care. Here is one example of many whereby our county government is a threat to our environment. Please go to this page for an excellent article on our U.S. government’s abuse of the environment.

Karl Dickey to Attend PickensPlan Town Hall

Karl Dickey for Palm Beach County Commission

5970 SW 18th ST #331, Boca Raton, Florida 33433 888.394.0908 Fax: 561.208.6545


Contact: Karl Dickey

Tel: 561.237.5586

Cell Phone: 561.302.9959



Karl Dickey to Attend PickensPlan Town Hall

Boca Raton, FL – The Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship is hosting a town hall meeting at Nova Southeastern University on February 17th at 9AM. T. Boone Pickens and Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO of AutoNation, will be in attendance as will Karl Dickey, candidate for Palm Beach County Commission and who filed for the Governor’s appointment to fill the Commission seat vacated by Mary McCarty.

Topics will include new clean energy technology, development of alternative fuels, and geopolitical dynamics related to energy for today and tomorrow.

Karl Dickey founded the PickensPlan South Florida group with over 600 members and is a longtime advocate for the environment. He is interested in seeing the PickensPlan come to fruition and feels it can happen without a violation to property rights and appreciates its free-market approach.

Karl Dickey said this morning, “I look forward to the town hall meeting so others can learn and we can help vet some parts to the PickensPlan. My only fear is the public is starting to become complacent in their attitude to making real change to their vehicles and use of other energy sources. The public must understand the current gasoline prices they see at the pump is temporary and we need to take this brief opportunity of low prices to make a radical change over the next seven to ten years.”

This summer, Mr. Dickey will host a conference with leaders from various local environmental groups in order to consider three areas we can all agree to focus and bring real environmental change in Palm Beach County. Mr. Dickey said, “We have so many splintered groups in Palm Beach County, each focusing on different aspects to the environment. Together we can find three areas we all agree and together we can make the changes we would all like to see.”

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