Sugar Farmers are Morally Superior to Candy Cane Makers

Just as we decided, via the steel tariffs, that Pennsylvania residents are more deserving than Michigan residents (and along the way, made every consumer pay more for goods made out of steel or made with machinery made out of steel), the latest example from the Chicago Tribune shows that we must think residents of Louisiana are superior to residents of Illinois and Ohio (and along the way, raised the price of anything made using sugar):

In the last three years, nearly half of all U.S. candy cane production has shifted to Mexico, industry experts say.

That’s true of the candy cane maker based in this northwest Ohio town, Spangler Candy Co., which recently opened a plant in Juarez that generates half of Spangler’s striped treats.

But the story of the Mexican candy cane isn’t your typical tale of American manufacturers chasing lower wages. It’s more about the cost of sugar than the cost of labor.

Because federal tariffs and subsidies push the price of U.S. sugar far above what it fetches on the world market, candy cane makers such as Spangler are opening factories overseas, where sugar can cost 6 cents a pound compared to 21 cents back home….

Other makers of hard candy have followed a similar pattern, at least in part because hard candy, unlike chocolates which can use corn syrup substitutes, are so sugar-intensive.

In Chicago, for example, Brach’s Confections plans to shut its plant in 2004, forcing about 1,000 workers out of their jobs. The Chicago area, the center of the U.S. confection business, has lost an estimated 3,000 candy-related jobs since 1998.

Yet another example of why making stuff more expensive is a bad way to protect jobs.

Via Dan Drezner, who points out that the recently passed Central American Free Trade Agreement may remedy this situation.


UPDATE: In a post titled “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Matt Y. adds, “In practice, the economical hard-rocker will instead ask for some high-fructose corn syrup to be poured on him, as the price of this ersatz sugar product is not nearly so distorted by the farm dole.”