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Government sours US lime crop

Limes aren't particularly important to most people. If you enjoy the occasional gin and tonic, and maybe one or two folk eat them, perhaps, but after that, they're just limes. Yet there is a shortage of them this year, to the point where they're selling at around four times they sold at a year ago. And it's the government's fault. In this case, the government of Florida.

The lime trees in southern Florida became disease ridden in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew back in 2000. To prevent the disease from spreading to the orange and grapefruit groves in the north, Florida ordered quite a lot of the lime trees killed; any within 1,900 feet of an infected tree. It doesn't take any great math skills to realize that, seeing as trees in orchards tend to be quite close together, meant a significant amount of trees were destroyed. Couple that with troubles concerning the Mexican lime crop this year, and we have a lime shortage.

Sure, they're only limes. And sure, this effect wasn't to intentionally harm lime prices in 2014; no one then could have known the now extant problems with Mexican limes. But those aren't really the points. The real point is that we have a case of government probably overreacting (let's be fair and say probably, because we aren't citrus fruit disease experts) and now Florida produces almost no limes, while the limes from Mexico are said to be inferior despite this year's issues.

So what we have is another instant of a government acting rashly. In itself, it truly is no big deal. But multiply it by how many other times many other governments on many other levels act rashly and it's easy to wonder how competent governments can be about things. It's easy to wonder how much it costs us in matters beyond taxation: how many other items cost more because of government stupidity?

At least we're willing to admit we aren't citrus fruit experts.