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OPEC of Sugar Election: Socialist vs. Socialist

Americans insisting on ending the U.S. sugar program in an effort to lead us into a utopian free-market nirvana keep ignoring exactly who our dance partners are.

Take Brazil, for example. The world’s leading sugar producer is preparing to either re-elect an avowed socialist as president next month…or elect a new avowed socialist.

According to her Wikipedia bio, President Dilma Rousseff “became a socialist during her youth” and later “joined various left-wing and Marxist urban guerrilla groups.” She joined the leftist Workers Party in 2000 and was elected president as the party’s nominee in 2010.

Her main challenger, Marina Silva, was described in a New York Times story this week as “participating in a radical theater troupe with ties to Trotskyist groups” in college, where she started down the path to becoming a “hardened Communist militant.” Silva won her first election as a city councilwoman in 1988 under the Workers Party banner, but is now running under the Brazilian Socialist Party.

The two are running neck-and-neck in the polls and are expected to face off in a run-off election on October 26. Regardless of outcome, there’s virtually no chance for a new era of free market government policies being ushered in, including policies related to the sugar industry.

In fact, even with the election on the horizon, Reuters reported a week ago that “Brazil plans to include its struggling sugar and ethanol industries in a tax refund programme that would cost the state about 900 million reais ($395 million) in revenue.”

“Tax refund programme” is Brazilian for “government subsidy.”

This in addition to the government subsidies the Rousseff government has been shoveling to the nation’s sugar industry for years; subsidies that artificially lower the global cost of sugar while nevertheless failing to revitalize the nation’s critical industry. Indeed, Reuters reports that…

“Nearly 50 of Brazil’s cane mills, which once numbered about 400, have closed their doors since the 2008 global financial crisis and another 60 or so have sought bankruptcy protection from creditors.”

The more “help” the Brazilian government has given its sugar industry, the worse the nation’s sugar industry has gotten – while simultaneously creating anything but a free market in which American farmers can compete fairly. The obvious solution is for both Brazil and the U.S. to drop both of their sugar programs.

Maybe after October 26. But don’t bet the sugar farm on it.