Mitt Romney amazed by the technololgy order takers use at fast food places, lauds job losses created

What an idiot! Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has never seen orders at a fast food place placed by touching a screen before?

Let them eat cake indeed!

In fact, the only economically interesting part here is that Wawa does not have to pay the drive-through or counter cashier that other chains do. Instead, they convince the customer to do the labor that would have otherwise cost it 15 dollars or so an hour for all costs.

How much does that customer save on their sandwhich?

How is this creating new entry level jobs for the people who would be order takers or sandwich makers?

Does he advocate chains such as McDonalds or Subway increase profits to the likes of him by cutting even more entry level jobs by letting the customer touch the screens themselves instead of having paid employees do it?

Where are these entry level jobs hat are created while they are destroyed at Wawas? Point them out to me  please. You can comment on this post, I await your response.… Read the rest

Most Overweight Nations: OECD Report (PHOTOS)

A facebook discussion has broken out regarding this article: Most Overweight Nations: OECD Report (PHOTOS)

I thought I’d share a somewhat editied selection of my posts and others.

I wrote: The American food industry is so productive and efficient both that it produced far more calories per capita than we should be eating. But we eat them anyway.

Of course we shouldn’t, but it is a more complex issue than is generally presented. If we ate the DRA, than I think that might be as few as 40% of what we produce. What will happen to the rest of the food? Should we not grow it or produce it?

We can’t simply export all food for lots of reasons, so are we willing to sacrifice jobs for our waistlines?

A response: over eating is a large part of the problem but lack of exercise is also to blame. we did not evolve as a species to sit behind a computer screen or in front of a tv.

My followup: Yes of course, but we didn’t evolve as a nation to simply toss out or limit an industry because it became *too* efficient at what it does.

Notice that when our food industry produced something on the order of the amount of food we should eat, instead of 2-3 times as much, we were skinnier.

I am not aware of any evidence that shows that, for especially urban or suburban, in say, the era from 1945-1960, that people exercised more than they do now.

OTOH, I do know that President Kennedy instituted a national exercise effort because kids were soft compared to their scary Soviet counterparts. So already by then, there is evidence that kids (and presumably their families) were not exercising enough although they were eating just fine.

I don’t know how old you are, but I am old enough to have been in college in the late 70s early 80s, and I am amazed almost every day at the difference in portion sizes in every restaurant and the expectations about what constitutes a meal since I was in college.… Read the rest

Don Curlee: Blind leadership frustrates farmers, red-baiting 1950s style the answer

Visalia Times-Delta columnist joins in the Red Bating fad  as though that will solve anything

Farmers have no monopoly on honesty, because that character trait is rooted in the country’s founding principles. But those roots have grown strong and deep in agriculture. Farmers are wondering why honesty doesn’t have a higher priority among political representatives.

If Marxism is a politician’s ultimate destination, he or she ought to be forthright enough to say so. Don’t count on it; saying and doing what is expedient instead makes them more electable.

Many politicians are taking large numbers of people with them to their secret collectivist destinations. Very few farmers want to go there.

via Don Curlee: Blind leadership frustrates farmers | | Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register.

Geez “marxism”, “communism”, “socialism” – is red-baiting in the red states and counties going to be the rule of the day for a while? I am sure that is a great tactic to get your own people elected and listened to.

If farmers are such great capitalists and free marketeers, how about they look at the industry structure that they have wrought over the last 100 or so years since this land was settled? If they are so transparent, how about they share what they have learned?

The problem is that farmers have dug themselves a hole at the bottom of a heap of a distribution channel, and a complex supply chain, and as such they have no (or limited) economic leverage.

Take a look at the recent raisin price it was announced that farmers will get for their crop this year – divide the dollars by ton to get a price per ounce, then go to your favorite retailer to see what the retail price per ounce is. The difference is what the market perceives as the value added in all of the steps of the supply chain beyond the farmer.… Read the rest

More-Cities-Seeing-at-Least-15-Percent-Unemployment: Personal Finance News from Yahoo Finance

Porterville has the 5th highest unemployment  level in the US in march among 310 population areas.

13 of the top 18   areas are in California, including a nearly unbroken chain of population centers between north of the  Grapevine  to Sacramento,  and then north of Sacramento well into Oregon.

Cities With Jobless Rates of 15% or More
Metro AreaStateMarch 2009 Jobless RateRise From March 2008
El CentroCA25.1%7.5
Yuba CityCA19.5%6.8
Ocean CityNJ15.0%4.2

More-Cities-Seeing-at-Least-15-Percent-Unemployment: Personal Finance News from Yahoo Finance.… Read the rest

Terra Bella, Pistachios, Google and Your Health

Today on a lark I decided to set up a google alert on some of the local town names that I didn’t already have one set up for. When you do this, google will send you an email of new sites and blogs that match the term you specify.

Little did I know that news was about to explode in sleepy next-door Terra Bella. Setton Farms, which is apparently the nation’s second largest processor of pistachio nuts, selling in both the wholesale and retail channels, has been identified as a source of salmonella.

No sicknesses have been reported, but Setton is attempting to recall its entire 2008 crop, which was distributed to 31 states. Some processed food made from the nuts, which was shipped in 1000 pound and larger nut sacks, has already been recalled, and food manufacturers are scrambling to identify which products used the nuts. More recalls of raw nut and finished products are sure to follow.

For now, it is recommended to not eat any pistachios or products containing them.

I will be providing lists of links addressing this breaking news matter in separate posts.… Read the rest

Water conservation in California needs to begin down on the farm « Jim Gogek

Former editorial writer Jim Gogek blogs:

Don’t get me wrong, California’s rural-based agriculture is very important. The Golden State is the nation’s breadbasket. But California’s urban-based manufacturing is even more important. In 2006, the California gross domestic product for crop and animal production was $15 billion. For manufacturing, it was $172 billion. California needs all of its industries to survive and thrive. So when we talk about conservation, let’s start the conversation with the biggest user – agriculture. After that, we can talk about three-minute showers.

Interesting article, and Jim has an interesting background. I like his  approach to discuss policy instead of politics, and his  approach to rely on facts.  As a high tech Bay Area entrepreneur relocated deep in the Central Valley (Tulare County), I am just starting to looking at some of these matters in order to identify possible solutions.

Of course there is going to be some tension making decisions and policy when there are limited resources available. That is the very definition of economics after all.

But I think he has failed his readers with what is either an incorrect statement or one disingenuously presented in his post, one that lies at the heart of the persuasiveness of his position:

“In 2006, the California gross domestic product for crop and animal production was $15 billion”

Read why this seems unlikely after the jump.

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Snapshot Statistic #1-7: A Peek at The Scale of the Food Industry

0908_62obesitythumb1From: Taxing the Rich—Foods, That Is – BusinessWeek.

Late last year, New York Governor David A. Paterson proposed an 18% sales tax on non-diet soda and sugary juice drinks for the fiscal year starting in April. Such a tax, he says, would raise $404 million this year and $539 million in 2010, to be used for fat-fighting public health programs

Snapshot Statistics:

1 – In New York State alone, an if 18% of the total retail value of non-diet soda and sugary juice drinks is $404 million, then the overall retail sales are $2.24 billion dollars for this year and  $2.94 billion for 2010.

6 more remarkable statistics after the jump.

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Food Channels: In the News

Vilsack calls for stricter food labels

The labeling requirements, which would apply to fresh meats and some perishable fruits and vegetables, long have been debated in Congress and were enacted as part of a wide-ranging farm bill last year. While the meat industry and retailers responsible for the labels have protested the changes — saying they are burdensome and could lead to higher prices — consumer groups and northern states ranchers who compete with the Canadian beef industry favor them.

Barry’s analysis:

I don’t think that this will necessarily lead to higher prices. I have been thinking nerdly thoughts about transparency in the food channel, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my impressions of the World Ag Expo in Tulare last week.

After the jump, read the predicted results of increased transparency.

Read the rest