Less than 200 years ago, industrializing societies were carbohydrate economies. In 1820, Americans used two tons of vegetables for every one ton of minerals. Plants were the primary raw material in the production of dyes, chemicals, paints, inks, solvents, construction materials, even energy.
For the next 125 years, hydrocarbon and carbohydrate battled for industrial supremacy. Coal gases fueled the world's first urban lighting systems. Coal tars ushered in the synthetic dyes industries. Cotton and wood pulp provided the world's first plastics and synthetic textiles. In 1860, corn-derived ethanol was a best-selling industrial chemical, and as late as 1870, wood provided 70 percent of the nation's energy.
All over America, owners are demanding extravagant subsidies and tax breaks for new stadiums. If communities want to keep their teams, there's often a cheaper solution than giving way to these demands. Follow the example of Green Bay.
In the last Sunday in January, an elated John Elway stood on the gridiron where his Denver Broncos had just beaten the Green Bay Packers 31-24, and announced to millions of worldwide television viewers that the best part about finally winning the Super Bowl was how much it meant to his longtime fans, the people of Denver. Mere months later, the owners of the newly crowned Super Bowl champions announced they might move the team to another city if Denver fails to come up with $250 million for a new stadium -- even though the team itself is valued at only $182 million.