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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 25, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Give No Heed to the Walking Dead [The Scholar’s Stage, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-19] The People’s Republic of China is wealthier than any rival America has faced. Its leaders are convinced […]
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We’re Royals and other updates

Just for the record, we’re Royals fans for this World Series in honor of Katiebird who lives in Kansas.

Oh, and there’s a confirmed case of Ebola in NYC.  This time it’s a doctor who just returned from West Africa and *should* have been keeping himself off of public transportation.  Alas, he took a train from Manhattan to Brooklyn to go bowling the night before his temperature soared to 103º.  Way to go, Dr. Spencer.  You’re giving Texas a run for its money.

Let’s see if Belleview Hospital and the dirty effing hippies who run NYC do a better job of containment.  I’m going to bet that Manhattan takes it in stride.  I mean, it’s not like two planes smashing into the tallest buildings around.

Still no reason to panic.

Cue the Lorde tune:

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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.

By the time we got to Wall Street, we were half a million strong…

More like 1500 as of today but OccupyWallStreet has the potential to be a juggernaut.  Let’s put it this way, there are 8,175,133 people in New York City and not all of them work in the finance industry.  In fact, the vast majority of them don’t.  Most New Yorkers are cab drivers and food service workers and administrative assistants and teachers and transit workers and cops.  The whole country may not be watching yet, much less the whole world, but you can be sure that the citizens of New York City are starting to pay attention.

Today, there was a march across the Brooklyn Bridge that resulted in the corraling and arrest of about 500 700 people, including Natalie Lennard, a free lance stringer for the New York Times.  See the front page of the NYTimes for details or better yet, head on over to Correntewire and read MsExPat’s post on the march, since she was there.  She also has some amazing photos of the events on the bridge, including this one of marchers either trying to escape the nets or get a better view of what was going on (I hope she and Lambert don’t mind if I crosspost this pic.  It’s one of those photos you never forget)

Avoiding arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge, OccupyWallStreet, Oct 1, 2011 (MsExPat)

Kids, don’t try this at home.

MsExPat’s post is tantalizing.  She says there’s something going on at Zucotti Park that gives her concern but she hasn’t said what yet.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the Obama Fan Base MoveOn and the SEIU spoiling the party that DCBlogger was reporting at Corrente.   In the meantime, she met a cop after the march and had this exchange:

But as I was leaving the park in Brooklyn, an extraordinary thing happened. A policeman called to me. “How’s it going?” he asked. Nonplussed I said, well, okay, thanks. Then I asked him if the police were going to surround the park and arrest us all (this is what we had heard the “white shirts” saying on their radios). He said, “No Way! They won’t arrest you for sure.” [#33]

I asked him if he was Community Affairs, and he said that he was a Lieutenant (a white shirt officer), but had been pressed into service as a CA cop for the day. Then he let loose and let it all come out. He sympathised with the marchers. He had kids, he was worried about their education. About genetically modified food. About the way America was going.

I listened to him, half incredulous, half thrilled. Almost as thrilled as I was, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, hearing the car horns and the cheers of passing motorists–all of them African American. Some hung out of the window, raised fists, cheered.

OccupyWallStreet may not know what the heck it is doing (or does it?) but I think New York City’s police force better tread very carefully here.  It wouldn’t take much provocation to get millions into the street.  After all, they didn’t have to walk anywhere.  They’re already there and they are watching.  And it’s going to be bloody hard to arrest and detain 8 million people on Riker’s Island.

Kudos to Corrente for covering OccupyWallStreet.  Outstanding job, guys.

Update: The Guardian is covering the protest on its frontpage tonight.  So is Al Jazeera.  So, that makes if official.  OccupyWallStreet is part of the Arab Spring.  😉