Your lawnmower won't start.
You're paying more for a wide range of groceries and for eating out.
Your car gets poorer mileage than it once did.
While a range of factors can be behind any one of these problems, a common thread runs through them: They all can be linked at least to some degree to the federal government's multibillion-dollar subsidies for ethanol.
The 46-cent-per-gallon subsidy for ethanol made from corn ended this year, but subsidies for ethanol made with other ingredients remain on the books, and large quantities of ethanol still are required by law to be mixed into the nation's fuel supply.
As such, it should come as no particular surprise when we read that the government-driven diversion of corn from food production to ethanol production still is making us all pay more for food that is linked in any way to corn -- such as beef from corn-fed cattle. It's a simple matter of supply and demand.
"[G]rowers who would grow feed corn have grown corn for ethanol instead," the sales manager of a meat company in West Palm Beach, Fla., told Cox Newspapers. "Since corn is the primary feed for beef, that means cattle prices have reached an all-time high."
Then there is the small-engine damage and the lower mileage for which ethanol is responsible.
The owner of a lawnmower repair shop in Tuscaloosa, Ala., told a newspaper there that he had seen increasing numbers of lawnmowers that will not start because of the damage caused by ethanol. In fact, that accounted for more than 20 percent of the repairs in his shop.
That's not a comforting thought now that the grass-cutting season is upon us.
Even less comforting is automobile fuel efficiency that ethanol can reduce in some cases by up to 30 percent, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
We were not aware that motorists were paying so little for gasoline that it was sensible to tack on a lower-fuel-efficiency surcharge by requiring massive volumes of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply.
But that is precisely the kind of contorted "logic" that results from government propping up unsuccessful, dubious ventures instead of letting free consumer choice drive the market.
That's something to remember when your lawnmower is in the shop -- again.
And when you're opting for soup instead of steak at your favorite restaurant.
And when you're taking out a loan to buy that next tank of gas.
Oh, and most especially when you're in the voting booth picking a president or members of Congress.