Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good Advice for Debt Limit Increase

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.

Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion.That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.

Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.

And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.

Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities.

Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, S.2237-8, 3/16/06


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stuff I Find in Books

I have started a new blog that chronicles my adventures in used bookselling. Basically, anytime I find anything funny or strange I will scan it and make a post about it. Check it out.

Stuff I Find in Books


Corn Sugar

As I was scanning an ingredient label recently (unfortunately, I can't recall the product), I noticed something that I'd never seen before - corn sugar. I did some googling, and it seems that it is merely a new name for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I've covered HFCS (here), and I'm not convinced of the extreme evils for which it is blamed. However, I would recommend limiting all simple carbohydrates and getting plenty of excercise. This is easier said than done, of course.

Here are two sources that explain more about corn sugar:

First is an NPR article, from 2010:
Would "high fructose corn syrup" sound so sweet by any other name? The Corn Refiners Association sure hopes so. Last week, the industry group applied to the federal government for permission to use a new name for the ingredient on food labels: "corn sugar."

Whether it's called high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar, the ingredient makes up a significant part of Americans' diets. According to the Agriculture Department, the average American ate 35.7 pounds of high fructose corn syrup last year. That's not such a surprise considering it's used as a sweetener in everything from fruit-flavored drinks and energy bars to jams, yogurts and breads.

The second,, is put on by the Corn Refiners of America, who say:

Health and nutrition experts—including doctors, dietitians, researchers and professional organizations — are in agreement that whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.

One issue I have concerns this statement, as it conveniently omits the large amounts of government subsidies to produce corn and tariffs that keep cane sugar less competitive:

If high fructose corn syrup is the same as sugar, then why don’t we just use sugar?
The introduction of high fructose corn syrup into the food supply was intended to overcome periodic shortages in sugar availability and resulting price increases (as is the case now). High fructose corn syrup also avoided the problems posed by sugar’s instability in acidic soft drinks and fruit preparations, bagged sugar’s handling difficulties, and sugar’s functional limitations in certain foods and beverages.

Much of the debate over the overuse of HFCS could be alleviated by allowing free market forces to determine the true prices of food.

It also appears that corn sugar is used in home beer brewing:

Other sugar posts:
Evaporated Cane Juice: Part I
Evaporated Cane Juice: Part II
Caramel Apples
Sugar and the Environment
Alternative Sugar Names
A Look at Agave
Where to Buy