Best Columns: Biofuel backlash, Courting consumers
People loved biofuels, says Roger Cohen in The New York Times, at least until
Biofuel’s bum rap
People loved biofuels, says Roger Cohen in The New York Times, at least until “everyone decided they were the worst thing since the Black Death.” Fuel made from crops and other plants is now being blamed for everything from “soaring global commodity prices” to “food riots in Haiti.” But that’s “hogwash and bilge.” Food prices are rising, but blame a huge increase in Asians “eating twice a day, instead of once,” rising oil costs, and the tanking dollar—rice is holding up much better in euros. Ethanol isn’t a “panacea,” but it is a “necessary bridge” to our energy future. It will be a viable one, too, if Europe and the U.S. drop their “skewed subsidies.”
The coming rebate race
The U.S. economy is “flirting with recession,” says Jane Porter in BusinessWeek.com, and struggling retailers “desperately want a piece” of your tax rebates. Stores like Sears, Kmart, and Kroger are offering to swap your rebate, plus 10 percent, for a gift card good at their locations. Other retailers, like Home Depot and other home-improvement chains “hammered by the housing bust,” are jumping in, too. Stores that sell “necessities”—groceries rather than “discretionary items”—will fare better. But with rising food and energy prices and a jump in credit-card debt, retailers have their work cut out. “Let the promotional wars begin.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
MOST POPULAR ON THE WEEK
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The case for voting (even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich)
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
Subscribe to the Week