Friday, September 15, 2006

A few birds, one stone?

Hrmmmm. . . Interesting: pay Afghan farmers to grow crops used in ethanol production:
Why not send a little cash toward Afghanistan to allow them to develop an ethanol industry? Farmers in Afghanistan are growing opium because it pays the most. This is one instance where throwing money at the problem will solve it. Pay the Afghan farmers more for a different crop. We're already paying our US farmers to grow crops for ethanol production, why not pay the Afghan farmers as well?
This is definitely intriguing, as such a program might take care of a few things that interest me:
1)Heroin is some evil stuff and anything to cut its production is a good thing,
2) It would take away one the Taliban/Al Qaida cash cows,
3) I'm all about getting away from oil dependence, and
4) If done right, it would be legal for all involved.
Will this happen and if so, would it work? I doubt it will happen, as it first of all both makes too much sense and would be controlled by politicians; therefore, it would be doomed from inception to failure. Secondly, how much money are the Afghan farmers actually making off of opium? Not the distributors, but the actual poppy growers out in the fields? According to Michael Yon (one of my favorite reporters), the poppy farmers are getting poorer at the moment, as they are creating a glut on the opium market with their ever-larger crops. Additionally, how much would it cost to build whatever infrastructure is neccesary for such an endeavor? Still, would it be economically feasible to pay what would likely be well-above-market prices for ethanol crops in order to make such a scheme viable for the opium growers? If it can stabilize the Afghan government, which is needed to both curtail the opium trade and to eradicate the Taliban/Al Qaida, then yes, it is probably worth it. There are more factors than a straight-up goods-for-currency exchange at work here. The currently fragmented Afghan government isn't effective, nor have NATO/U.S. forces been able to combat the opium trade. There is certainly a need for something new and different, and an ethanol-for-cash scheme just might work.

Again though, politicians would be in charge, so it'll never happen.

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