Our Dependence on Foreign Chocolate

Tuesday, 24 Apr 2012 08:52 AM

By Ernest Istook

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America is addicted to chocolate. Foreign chocolate.

Most Americans eat chocolate every day. Although the U.S. produces only 6 percent of the world’s cocoa, we consume more than 20 percent.

This is costly and unsustainable. It’s time for government to step in and promote alternatives.

We can expect President Barack Obama to sound this warning soon, “If we really want chocolate security and chocolate independence, we've got to start looking at how we use less cocoa and use sources that we can renew and that we can control, so we are not subject to the whims of what's happening in other countries.”

Today, we are under the thumb of Africa, which produces over 75 percent of the world’s cocoa. That’s an unstable source, which means our chocolate dependency undermines national security.

The problem begins innocently for most of us, usually with a single M&M we sample in childhood. But we quickly become hooked. Now chocolate is a raging $13 billion a year habit. The average American eats 11 pounds of chocolate per year. We gain weight. We get pimples.

The chocolate cartel claims their product is “good for us,” recently promoting supposed health benefits of their product. But nobody is fooled; many Americans remember when doctors appeared in ads that endorsed cigarettes.

Fortunately, alternatives to chocolate exist. American alternatives. With proper federal loans and subsidies these can relieve our cravings and wean us from our addiction to chocolate. And once they have a subsidy of their own, perhaps the candy industry would quit griping about the protectionism of the U.S. sugar policy.

Just as surely as Green Jobs, subsidizing non-chocolate candy is a proven path to prosperity. President Obama should remind us that The New York Times reported how candy helped us survive the Great Depression, so we need this swallow-ready sweets stimulus. Many areas would boom with the candy comeback. For example, dentistry.

Subsidizing Life Savers would demonstrate our commitment to healthcare. And Uncle Sam could provide rehab for chocaholics. (For them, there truly is a 7-step program!)

Our devotion to children is re-affirmed when we provide Dots for Tots.

Some would pull for taffy. The ag sector would delight with Jolly Ranchers. We could even switch over our ethanol subsidies to candy corn!

And for once Congress would be praised for spending on Sprees.

Some chocolate alternatives would be disqualified, however. Promoting Sweet Tarts would probably offend the National Organization for Women. Tootsie Pops would be chauvinistic. And Democrats would block funding for Jelly Bellies, the favorite of Ronald Reagan.

We might also learn whether it’s true that President Obama favors Nerds.

Obama can lead this economic boom by explaining how we should not rely on foreign chocolate anymore than we should rely on foreign oil. Of course, let’s hope he doesn’t mess up his chocolate numbers as he does when he claims we have “only 2 percent” of global oil reserves. But the President deliberately uses the most restrictive definition possible. Obama’s own Department of Energy reports that, “Proved reserves are a small subset of recoverable resources.”

As noted by Investors Business Daily, America’s actual oil reserves are 60 times higher than the president’s carefully chosen number: “The figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil poor, the USA is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all our country's oil needs for hundreds of years.”
Obama uses flimsy and misleading numbers to justify his anti-oil and gas energy policy and his mega-billion dollar subsidies for “green energy” and “green jobs.”

The president would do better to focus on another basic necessity, like chocolate. Later, he could move on to coffee, because we consume 16 percent of the world’s coffee but grow less than 1 percent. And we manufacture less than 1 percent of the world’s TV sets, yet use 17 percent of them. Then there’s olive oil: We produce a tenth of one percent but use 8 percent of the world’s supply.

There are plenty of other examples of how we depend on trading with other nations, just as they are dependent on trading with us.

Too many politicians are addicted to government subsidies and regulation but allergic to free markets. Our real dependence is on government handouts and subsidies. All Chuckles aside, this is serious. Whoever can lead us away from crony capitalism will deserve a great big reward. Maybe a chocolate-free Payday!

Former Congressman Ernest Istook is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read more reports from Ernest Istook — Click Here Now.









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