Is the Sugar Quota JUSTIFIED?

justifiedJustified, one of the best written and most entertaining shows on television, premiered last night. I liked this exchange between two drawling criminals:

Where’s the rest of the money?

That’s all we got from the candy company.

Yeah, what candy company is that Dillie?

The one that bought the sugar.

The joke is that we think the criminals are talking in street code about another white powder but, as we learn later, they actually are part of a sugar smuggling operation. The US sugar quota has increased the US price of sugar well above world levels and this has in fact pushed a number of candy companies to the wall. I suspect that few of them have turned to the black market for their sugar although I wouldn’t put this past some unethical confectioners. Nevertheless, sugar smuggling is not unknown.

In the 1980s when the US price of sugar was pushed as much as four times higher than the world price there were many smuggling schemes if not actual sugar-runners. In our textbook, Modern Principles, Tyler and I discuss one scheme where Canadian entrepreneurs shipped super-sweet iced tea to the United States where the “tea” was then sifted and the sugar resold. And from 2000 here is a great moment for US democracy, namely US Senator Byron Dorgan rising in support of legislation:

…to prevent molasses stuffed with sugar from being allowed into this country.

As others have stated, the molasses in question is stuffed with South American sugar in Canada [those Canadians again, AT], and then transported into the United States. The sugar is then spun out of this concoction and sold in this country while the molasses is sent right back across the border to be stuffed with more sugar–and the smuggling cycle starts over again.


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