SOCORRO, New Mexico (STPNS) -- The cost of gas is killing us. We may ignore it and go on with our lives, more or less as usual, but the fact is, every time we fill up, we have to give up something to pay for the high price of gas.

According to the stock market gurus, ?restaurants are the first thing hurt by high gas prices.? Evidently when we have more money, we eat out more and when the gas pump bites us, we do our biting at home instead of in restaurants.

That?s no big deal, unless you own a restaurant. The fact remains that whether we think about it or not, the price of gas is hurting our lives. Food prices are up also. Oops, now we are facing a pinch in two major areas, food and fuel.



Suddenly things get more serious. Add to these two outrageous costs the high price of medicine, and we are really getting in a bind.

Enter the politicians. As the race heats up to see who will rule over us next, we are going to be buried in anti-Bush, anti-high gas costs, anti-high cost of living ads. Already, particularly the Democrats are hitting us with their ?we must ?invest? in alternative energy.?? Let me tell you why that is a load of bull.

First, ?alternative energy? as it is being applied in America today is a problem, not a solution. That?s right folks, solar and wind energy are not and will never be the solution to our energy problem. Never. What they are is a pie-in-the-sky scheme the politicians are lying to us about, to trick us into voting for them. They are counting on Americans being ignorant about the real source of our problems and therefore believing their lies about ?solutions.?

Here is the truth about the energy crisis. We spend about $300 billion per year for imported oil and gas (plus the military expenses related to those imports), and we can?t afford that.

So politicians just call for a reduction of our oil use by 90 percent to fix the problem. What a joke. That 90 percent (which is 75 percent of U.S. energy) cannot be replaced by alternative ?green? sources. Period.

We have already spent enormous amounts of tax dollars in subsidies for over 30 years on these so-called ?alternative energies,? to get only 0.3 percent of the energy we use from ?alternatives? ? one-third of 1 percent.

These facts scream at us that we are not getting anywhere with this ?alternative energy? fiasco. And any politician who keeps pushing this stuff is a liar out to con you out of your vote for his own personal gain.

Nobody in power could possibly miss the fact that this alternative energy stuff is worthless. The reality of the situation is that America is going to have to behave more responsibly or pay the price. There are no other choices. No politician can make money fall from the sky. Not for energy, not for health care, not for anything.

Back to high gas prices/ high food prices and reducing our oil dependency. Let?s talk about ethanol. Ethanol should be immediately outlawed. Sound crazy? Read on. The truth is that growing corn to make our much-touted gasoline substitute, ethanol, is a major culprit behind the high cost of gas and the high cost of food.

Consider this: Ethanol from corn costs about $1.74 per gallon to produce, compared with about 95 cents to produce a gallon of gasoline.

Worse than that, a Cornell University study shows that powering the average car for one year on ethanol (blend) from corn takes 11 acres of farmland, the same space needed to grow a year?s supply of food for seven people.

Even worse than that, the energy costs to grow the corn and convert it to ethanol equal 131,000 BTUs per gallon.

Now, a gallon of ethanol has an energy value of about 77,000 BTUs, so 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in it.

Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs. Even worse than that, we are abusing our croplands in this loss of energy for the pursuit of the ?alternative energy? fantasy.

This is all terrible, but then there is also the fact that as croplands are converted to ethanol crops (because we are being taxed billions to pay the big corporations to make ethanol), there is less and less land for food crops, forcing up our food prices.

So the $1 billion a year in tax subsidies for ethanol production are not the only costs to consumers.

Normally, 70 percent of corn is fed to livestock and poultry in the US. Take that corn for ethanol and the remaining corn prices rise, forcing up prices for meat, milk and eggs.

We should immediately ban ethanol. ?But wait,? the hardcore eco-idiots or the super-patriots will say, ?I don?t care if it costs more. I?d rather pay the farmers than the Arabs.? Well, to the ecos: You need to understand that corn erodes soil about 12 times faster than the soil can be reformed, and irrigating corn mines groundwater 25 percent faster than it can recharge. Oops.

Environmentally, we cannot afford ethanol. To the ?patriots,? understand this: The average car (at 10,000 miles a year) needs about 852 gallons of ethanol per year to run. Remember, that equals 11 acres of corn. Now multiply that by the number of cars and you will need about 97 percent of U.S. land area to grow the crop.

Not just croplands, all the land. So it won?t be a matter of ?America, love it or leave it,? it will be ?America, we had to leave it to make room for all the corn.?

Lastly, for all us normal folks, if you add up the real costs of ethanol (with the lost energy and the tax subsidies we don?t see at the pump), we are already paying $6.89 a gallon for our gas/ethanol mix.

Alternative energies as they are applied today are a loser. These things are not hard to figure out.

I cannot believe for a second that our ?leaders? don?t know them. So every time a politician tells you he is going to fix the economy by ?investing? in ?alternative energy,? say in your heart, ?liar.? Next week, real solutions.

Rick Coddington is a third-generation native New Mexican. He attended UNM and studied political science. He has lived in Socorro since 1974. His opinions do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.