the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings

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Whole Foods Drives up Healthy Food Cost

third street teaAn article in the WSJ (05/07/2015) said what I had often suspected – there were reasons why Whole Foods items were more expensive and out of reach for many poor/middle-income people.  The reasons have to do with the cost of doing business with Whole Foods; mandatory certifications to insure food meets their guidelines can cost at least $10,000 a year.  One company was quoted as saying this represents %15 of their annual revenue.   Someone has to pay this additional cost – the shoppers, since no food producer can absorb this significant sum and stay in business.  Whole Foods has exercised clout over small businesses that can achieve instant success with placement at Whole Food’s over 400 stores.  Whole Foods has an extensive list of over 80 unacceptable ingredients and has even asked companies to change their brand/company name.  One company was even required to change to a pricier version of the preservative citric acid that was LESS chemically processed. Some agreements also require that product placement be exclusive with Whole Foods for a period of time (why you can’t find your favorite Chai Tea at Safeway’s).    In related news, Whole Foods announced plans for a new store concept; a sister chain of smaller stores aimed at younger people with lower prices.   Imagine that…..wonder what costs they are willing to lower to enable their suppliers to provide affordable prices?

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Too Much Information

washing machine elbow

Camco 22505 90 Degree Hose Elbow, $7.50

Was looking at these in Amazon today for use in the orphanage sink – it is very clear to me what this is and what it is used for.  Amazon has a few nice features called Reviews and Answered Questions – this product had over 500 reviews and 8 answered questions!  How could there be so much data on a simple elbow – are we going mad with our available buying info?  And if you bought this, would you really take time to add the 501st review since you must have something original to say…..waaaaay to much information

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Earth Day, Man is the Despoiler in the Church of St. Green

Tomorrow is Earth Day – even the Vatican/Pope is getting in on it this year.  The narrative again will focus on how man’s responsibility is to serve the environment.  For Christ believers, this narrative is different than the Genesis account, which is that creation is meant to serve Man.  “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”, Genesis 2:15.  This requires Man to take care of the earth but the first part of the verse says that the earth is to be worked.   This requires Man to apply his skills in releasing the good of the land to serve humankind.  This conflicts with the common view today of Man being the spoiler of the land and the assumption that technology advances and more humans mean more damage to our ecology.

The problem with this view is that it adversely affects the poor in the world.  How many African children died when the use of DDT declined after the US banned it in 1972?  Environmentalism becomes an authoritarian religion for the wealthy with its own Eden (before man ruined it), deniers (climate skeptics) and its indulgences (Tesla to save  fossil fuels).

This material borrowed heavily from an editorial in WSJ 04212015, William McGurn

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What will Kill you?

CDC has published a 14MB pdf report, Health, United States, 2008 with lots of interesting data – I was studying it for proof that the US Healthcare system is as broke as our Congress would have us believe.

Interesting on what the primary killers are by age:
Age 0-1          Congenital Malformations
1-44               Injuries from Accidents
45-64             Cancer
65 and up       Heart

Overall as an average, the Heart is the biggest killer out there.

this poor cowboy was certainly going to die of a bad heart…..

I’m lyin‘ on the barren ground that’s baked and cracked with drought,
And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out;I’ve got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin‘ brow –I’m too knocked up to light a fire and bile the billy now.
Oh it’s trampin‘, trampin‘, tra-a-mpin‘, in flies an’ dust an’ heat,
Or it’s trampintrampintra-a-a-mpin’through mud and slush ‘n sleet;It’s tramp an’ tramp for tucker — one everlastin‘ strife,
An’ wearin‘ out yer boots an’ heart in the wastin‘ of yer life.
For it’s trampin‘, trampin‘, tra-a-mpinthro‘ hell across the plain,
And it’s trampintrampintra-a-mpinthro‘ slush ‘n mud ‘n rain —
A livin‘ worse than any dog — without a home ‘n wife,
A-wearin‘ out yer heart ‘n soul in the wastin‘ of yer life.
Knocked Up, Henry Lawson

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When Sweeping Changes are just not

re; WSJ 05172010

California’s Money Woes Trigger UC Cuts

The University of California is set to unveil plans for a sweeping financial and administrative overhaul that could reduce annual operating expenses by more than $500 million.

Sounds like Californians are really cutting costs in their bloated state university system – maybe not….

A careful read of the article shows that after five years they hope to achieve an annual savings of 500 Million$ on a run rate of 20 Billion$ per year. This is where journalists (mathematically challenged) need to graph or put the numbers in percentages to put the numbers in perspective. If they achieve the 500M savings in year 5, they would have reduced annual expenses by 2.5% (.5B/20B), hardly worth writing a story about! Is this sweeping changes? To put it in perspective, a Family making 50K$ per year would be cutting expenses by 1,025$/year (one fancy Starbucks coffee/day) – difficult for many families but a debt counselor would not refer to this as a radical cut. Also note that all cutting was done in the admin and purchasing areas – none in the direct academic areas – more evidence that it was not ‘sweeping’.

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Men need to Borrow Tools More Often

Had a great time this week with my little brother who lives in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  My 88 year old father and I travelled down from Michigan to help him get a few cords of wood ready for the winter.  My brother has almost every tool ever made because that is what MEN like to collect…and he has used them in various jobs over the years.  While he had a Stihl chain saw and a Timberjack, he did not have his own log splitter.  A real man would simply go to the local Tractor Supply Company and buy one!  What he did instead was call up a friend (Sam) and ask him to bring his splitter over – which he did.  We had a great time getting to know this unique individual and he helped the job get finished in one day.  Lesson learned; borrowing tools brings great opportunities to meet new friends – buying a new tool may make you more of a man and impress the few friends you have but in my opinion, new friends are to be valued more!   Also, all of my tools are available to loan….come get them and me to help build relationships…

Addendum:   Sam died less than 6 months after this event……

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The State of White America

…………….yes I watch C-Span and you are missing some interesting in-depth dialogue if you don’t.  Network news (yes, including Fox) is a constant stream of how the other party/group/etc is a ba*tard and to be feared.  Open dialogue is sorely missing in American Politics these days.

American Enterprise Institute sponsored a speech by Charles Murray on ‘the State of White America’ where you can watch here.  I think it was a brilliant move to remove the minorities – it eliminated much of the claims of discrimination that his highly controversial book, the Bell Curve received.
He really does a good job of describing how the white classes are (or not) changing:the following list was stolen from Steve Sailers Blog:
To avoid apples to oranges comparisons, Murray is focusing his analysis of increasing class divides on non-Hispanic whites ages 30-49, contrasting the upper 20% (the upper middle class) to the bottom 30% (the working class)….

– For example, the being-married rate among upper middle class whites has fallen only trivially from 88% in 1960 to 83% in 2010. Among the bottom 30%, however, the being-married rate has dropped from 83% to 48%.
– Among the bottom 30% of whites, the illegitimacy rate was 6% in 1960 and approaching 50% in 2010.
– Among white men in their 30s and 40s, in 1960 1.5% of the top 20% were out of the workforce (i.e., working or looking for work) and 2% now. For white men in the bottom 30%, looking at the economic peaks in 1968 and 2008, the non-working rate went from 5% to 12%. The out-of-the-labor rate is even worse now during the recession, of course.
– Among working class men with jobs, the percent working less than 40 hours per week went from 13% to 21%.
– Crime victimizes the bottom ranks of society. One of the dirty little secrets of the last 50 years is that upper middle class suburbs weren’t dangerous in 1960 and they aren’t dangerous now.
– A substantial majority of the upper middle class retains effective religious involvement, while a substantial majority of the white working class does not. It’s another case of data not matching popular impressions. … Among those with a religion, fundamentalism is increasing. But, actual religious involvement in the working class is plummeting.

He points to the 1960’s as major inflection point in America and it’s effects are still being written today – makes me want to review Libertarian viewpoints as a potential place for my own beliefs.