Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday ...

We're conflicted, us humans. How? Glad you asked. There is a glut of gluttonous food available to us, and even though we keep hearing about how morbidly obese we are as a species, food products are foist upon us that aim to keep us that way.
The latest deal at McDonald's is a third of a pound Angus beef burger for four bucks. A third of a pound. It even has its own web site.
The Angus Third Pounder ranges from 720 calories to 860 calories. Most of us can get by on 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day. Have one of these boys with the requisite fries and soft drink and you can survive the rest of the day on tree bark and pond water, since your body can presumably live off the half-hour of intake.
Burger King puts the word "Angry" in front of a couple of their sandwiches, including the Angry Chicken:
Tender, premium breaded white meat chicken filet topped with sizzling bacon, Pepper Jack cheese, deliciously spicy jalapenos, angry onions and our signature angry sauce. It’s a TENDERCRISP® with a kick.
It's 1,030 calories and 61 grams of fat, 2,640 milligrams of sodium and 40 grams of protein. FYI: The body can only process 30 grams of protein in three hours, so God knows what happens to the rest of it. That should make you angry. Cut it into four pieces and eat it throughout the day.
The Angry Whopper is actually fewer calories and fat, but it's based on "pre-cooked patty weight," but then, isn't everything? The funny thing is that they price these things so cheaply that they're hard to resist, especially for their low-income customers who probably balance their low income with their high weight, but that's a topic for another day. To their credit, Burger King offers a Veggie Burger, but I've never seen the King promoting it on the TV. Pity.
At the grocery store tonight, I picked up some Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers and something they call Complete Meals, which contain some protein, carbs and a little desert-type thing. They're all between 250 and 350 calories each, which should be plenty for one human meal, not to mention being priced at 3 for 9 dollars. I bought six. The cashier asked, "Have you ever had these?"
I replied, "Yes - they're very good."
She said, "My husband likes them too. He eats two at a time."
"Kind of defeats the purpose, don't it," I said, realizing my poor English balanced out his poor eating habits.
"Yeah, it does," she acknowledged. "He's getting a little pouch."
"Well, if people put their ear up to his stomach and say 'I hear a kick' it's time to cut down."
Two at a time. That's why they make "low fat" potato chips and put them in a 60-ounce bag -- so you'll eat the entire bag. But they're low fat. For now.
I guess we just like to eat, and it seems like the bigger we get, the more options we have to feed our fat. Jumbo size, super size, extra large ...
Just like us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We have donuts.

Nothing goes down better in an economic downturn than a warm donut and a grande mocha mint latte. Um-um. Nummers!
You'll remember, a while ago I wrote about some construction going on in the area. A donut joint, hair salon and a drug store were being built around the corner from me. In the race for economic supremacy, donuts beat hair and drugs. The drug store lot is still in the run-down condition it was, ditto the hair joint.
Sadly, area residents are going without a decent haircut, and their angst cannot be salved by a heavy dose of prescription medication, but the lust for fried dough and hot sugary coffee can be fulfilled.
Of course, that doesn't rule out the 6 other drug stores within a 5-mile radius (one less than 2 miles from the planned Rite Aid) and the numerous other hair salons that couldn't possibly compete with what was once a Taco Bell. Not to mention the Dunkin' Donuts that is a scant 2 miles up the street from the one they just finished building on a site that was once a bank. What's that say about the current state of affairs?
America - What a country.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bail me out.

WASHINGTON – The White House warned Monday that the "cash for clunkers" program, already zooming toward a quarter-million trade-ins with the initial $1 billion in rebates, could sputter to a stop by Friday unless the Senate quickly approves $2 billion more.
Apparently, what I was missing was that the "clunkers" are being sold as scrap, crushed and removed from civilization. May I suggest that we add Hummers, Yukon's and any vehicle larger than a swimming pool to the list? Bucks for Behemoths. Everything needs a catchy name to lure-in the general public.
Like so many other things, our government didn't properly read the public and found out quickly that people had old vehicles sitting in what we call "The Family Museum" out in the back yard - on two tires, rusted and apparently not worth more than the $4,500 that the Feds were going to give them. The program is running out of money. Go figure. Hurry up and get yours.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here with a 2005 Ford Focus that I have maintained for the past 4 years, is in excellent condition, that will be paid for in February, and that the Kelley Blue Book people say has a trade-in value of $4,200. Sadly, the car gets about 31 miles per gallon and is a PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) so my lot in life is that I'm stuck with it, at a loss of $300.
Where did I go so horribly wrong?

Am I missing something here?

I'm squinting my eyes trying to understand the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program, which implies that the government is giving money to consumers for trading-in their gas guzzling vehicles for more economic ones. But I wonder if it's doing anything besides helping sell cars.
What happens to the "clunkers" that are traded-in? Aren't they merely re-sold to someone else as a "pre-owned vehicle" and put back on the road? If they're being crushed and sold for scrap metal, somebody needs to tell me, because I don't think that's part of the program.
The government (our government) is spending $1 billion as of now to support the program, which they say has been wildly successful.
I guess that means that it's helping the auto makers reduce inventory, sell cars and drive up consumer debt in the form of a new auto loan. That's nice, since the government (our government) owns two of the auto makers, and has given out enough money to own another one.
It seems to me that there are still plenty of "clunkers" (the government's word for cars that use a lot of gasoline) on the road and the auto makers are still selling them - even the auto makers that the government owns.
We're supposed to believe that consumers are trading-in old, inefficient vehicles in exchange for something new and efficient, but I'm not sure that's the case. Until someone shows me that the old inefficient cars are off the road, I'll continue to think that this is a waste of money.
What's happening, I think, is that the government is spending a lot of money for something that isn't necessarily going to help anyone. It's the age-old government solution to a problem: Throw money at it.
Our money.