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  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

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    • Andrew Cuomo, honorary chairman
      Of course he is, the little weasel: ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo will headline an education retreat next month in Lake Placid hosted by hedge-fund managers who support the Common Core standards, charter schools, mayoral control of schools, testing and student-data collection. Cuomo is the “honorary chairman” of Camp Philos, “a philosopher’s camp on education […]
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      I, and others, have noted a number of times that the only nation which handled the financial crisis correctly was Iceland: they bailed out ordinary people, let the banks go bankrupt, and jailed bankers who had broken the law. The only one. Iceland’s population is tiny, but it isn’t size, exactly, that matters, what matters [...]
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Focus on your own Venti

When I first heard about how Mike Bloomberg’s food Nazi rules were going to affect coffee vendors, I thought it was going too far.  In case you aren’t up to date, Bloomberg is turning New York City into a helicopter parent’s wet dream.  There are rules on fat content, calorie labels and now, no sugary drink   can be over 16 ounces.  That’s to prevent you from binging on a “medium” soda while you’re watching a movie at a theater once a month.  {{rolling eyes}} So, let me see, most of the time, I order a bottle of water but Ok, maybe twice a year, I get a Pepsi.  I’m pretty sure that my muffin top is caused by my insufficient exercise, not my soda consumption, which is insignificant as far as calories go.  Nevertheless, I can’t be trusted around a large drink.  Whatever.  Mind you, Bloomberg has no power to stop people from buying multiple 2 liter bottles of soda and OD-ing on them at home, which is where the big problem is.  In any case, I don’t go to the city to see movies and now I have even less incentive to do so.

We rarely drink sugary soda at home.  It’s up there with Wonder Bread as the things we consume almost never.  Your mileage may vary.  But all in all, I don’t think fast food soda and drinks are the biggest problem we face as a nation.  I chalk these rules up to control.  Yep, the past 30 years have been all about how we can’t (or refuse to) control bankers and financiers who want to rob us blind but we *can* stop ordinary people from doing things we don’t like.  Lifestyle control.  Funny how conservative focus so much energy on lust and gluttony but completely ignore the deadly sin of Greed.  Hmmm…

ANYWAY, like I said, the whole drink rule is stupidly intrusive.  And then I read this about what effect it might have on Starbucks:

Then there is Starbucks, which interprets the rules as saying baristas can add sugar to large coffee drinks as long as the customer asks first; the city says the amount must be limited. Rather than spending money now on reprinting menus and retraining baristas, the company is waiting to make changes while officials gauge the response from city inspectors — and the outcome of a pending lawsuit against the rules filed by the beverage industry.

“A majority of our drinks fall outside of the ban, and we’re not expecting to make any immediate changes next week,” said Linda Mills, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, which has more than 300 locations throughout the city.

A typical grande beverage at Starbucks is 16 ounces; venti sizes and above will be affected. Many popular espresso drinks at Starbucks, like caramel macchiatos and pumpkin spice lattes, would be exempt from the restrictions, because they often contain a lot of milk. But Starbucks is unsure how to measure the milk content of the popular Frappuccinos, which are about 60 percent ice.

It’s too bad that it is an intrusively stupid health nanny rule that is forcing Starbucks to look at the sugar content of their drinks.  I love Starbucks flavored coffee drinks like pumpkin spice latte but they put waaaaay too much sugar in them, even in the Tall sizes.  What I want from a pumpkin spice latte is the spice and not to be overwhelmed with sugar.  But you can’t separate them when you order.  It’s either get the full dose of sugar or order half as much sugar (which is still pretty sweet) and get the spice cut in half.   There’s no way to just get all the spice with half the sugar. So, these days, I pass on the specialty concoctions even if I prefer flavor in my coffee.

Oh, the Barrista says, we have a sugar-free version.  Blecchhh.  It’s not the sugar I object to, it’s the amount of sugar.  Americans do have a sweet tooth and it’s apparently 5 times less sensitive than mine.  So, if this makes Starbucks rethink their formulas, then I can’t be too upset with this new rule.  If you absolutely must have 10 tablespoons of sugar in your Venti Pumpkin Spice latte, you can always add more on your own. Starbucks could be fully customizable and I won’t be forced to drink a one-size-fits-all formula based on the preferences of some 28 year old woman in Ohio.

I know, I know, first world problem.

Otherwise, this is a stupid rule.  Wake me when Mark Bittman gets in a snit to regulate the bankers over the LIBOR scandal.

So, all we need to do is add “Leadership Council” to our soiree

I was reading Krugman today about how Starbucks did a Komen with the “Come Together” campaign to make customers pressure their Congress reps and senators to shred the social insurance programs when I decided to look up the infamous “Fix the Debt” website.  It’s run by some shadowy group of rich people called the CEOs Fiscal Leadership Council.

Starbucks does a Komen

The CFLC is populated by the usual suspects of deadbeat corporate executives that we’ve seen in the past 4 years.  The CEO’s of Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and AT&T are on the list.  But so is T. Rowe Price, the 401K specialists.  (There couldn’t be a conflict of interest there, could there?  Nahhhh)  According to the Huffington Post, the CFLC consists of some of the most notorious pension plan underfunders.  Isn’t that sweet?  They are leading us to give up the only means of surviving in old age after they raid their company pensions to pay those M&A bonuses.  Now that’s Leadership.

Then I got to wondering, who commissioned this group?  I mean, was there a Congressional decree?  Did the President assemble this meetup of malefactors?  Because, how else did they get the “Leadership Council” thing in the title?  Who do they think they are leading?  I don’t remember asking for leadership off the so-called “fiscal cliff”.  I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out who appointed these guys, and they are almost all guys.  Wait, let me check.  There are 4 recognizably female names on a list of approximately 150 members. Good job, guys!  Does that mean women can’t be leaders or that they resist being lead?  Clarification is needed here.

And then I started to think, why don’t we left of center unpaid pundits (yes, I do flatter myself. If I don’t, no one else will) have a leadership council or many leadership councils?

For example, where is the Senior Research Investigators Leadership Council that will put pressure on Congress to stop listening to whiny pharma CEOs who keep telling our elected officials that they can’t find good help anymore?

How about a New Deal Democrats Leadership Council to tell Congress to stop listening to whiny rich CEOs that robbed us blind in the past four years?

Or a Dirty Fucking Hippy Leadership Council to tell Congress to get its shit together and do the right thing before we get our shit together and run against them?  Just an idea.

Or a La-La-La I Can’t HEAR You Leadership Council that will help Americans kick the cable TV news and talk radio habit so they’ll stop being suckered in by self-interested CEOs whose messages clog the airwaves.

Add your Leadership Council titles and purposes in the comments section.  I formally commission the best Leadership Council idea.  No, no, don’t thank me.  I take on this burden of Leadership for You.

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