Dear Iowa: Bleep you

Published October 10, 2012

So our brand new generator stopped working. Turns out it’s Iowa’s fault. Really.

We’ve actually had it a couple of months now. I filled the tank and I run it every week or so just to make sure everything’s peachy. Then it wouldn’t start. Luckily my father-in-law was in town and he’s a full-fledged contractor who knows everything about everything mechanical.

Turns out the carburetor got glossed over because of the ethanol in the gasoline. All US gas has at least 10% ethanol so we can justify giving subsidies to Iowa corn growers. But not only is it more expensive than gasoline, less efficient, and the main cause of skyrocketing corn prices — it also clogs the heck out of smaller engines, and in many cases wreaks havoc with plastic parts.

Sophisticated car engines have computers to compensate for the debilitating effects of ethanol, but not the lawnmower-size or smaller you find around a home. So those engines get screwed.

We got lucky that we had a guy on hand who was able to clean out the carburetor and tell us what to do to prevent it. (Drain the carburetor between weekly runs — not hard.)

But thanks to Iowa corn growers and their greed for Federal dollars, lots of generators and other small engines aren’t going to work when people need them.

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