Friday, July 23, 2010

My Immigration Fears Were Misplaced

Per John Bouma, the attorney arguing in support of Arizona's new immigration law:
In Arizona we have a tremendous Hispanic heritage. To think that everybody that's Hispanic is going to be stopped and questioned ... defies reality.  All this hypothetical that we're going to go out and arrest everybody that's Hispanic, look around. That's impossible.
Well, ok.  That changes everything.  I had assumed that this law would end up getting every Hispanic in Arizona stopped, questioned, and arrested.  But if it's not feasible for them to harass every Hispanic, then I guess there's not a problem.

I can't wait to use this justification for everything.  As long as every gun owner in America isn't sent to an Obama re-education camp, there's no problem with outlawing guns and rounding up their owners for re-education.  As long as every Christian isn't forced to renounce Christ as their lord and savior while being waterboarded, such a law would be legal.  I mean, to imagine we could get them all would defy reality.

Once upon a time, the informal standard was that it was better to avoid laws that harassed any innocent person.  It seems we've now flipped that on its head and as long as every innocent isn't harassed, we don't have a problem.  How interesting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Glenn Beck's Real Economic Lesson

Most conservatives have an odd belief that because they support what businesses do, that they must inherently know something about how businesses work and the economy as a whole.  And I've generally found that, for the most part, they don't know what the hell they're talking about.  And my biggest complaint against liberals is that they don't take economic classes, which would allow them to realize that conservative economic policies aren't just immoral; they're just plain wrong.

And so I'm reading TPM and see that they cover the second installment of Beck University, Glenn Beck's latest money-making scheme to convince rightwing rubes to fork over even more of their soft-earned money.  And this one was even worse than the first.

And the funniest part about it is that, as part of the lesson, the "instructor" actually admits why he got the job: Because he's the cheapest.  Here's the "lesson" in economics he attempted to impart, as given by TPM:
"The number one concept to best understand wealth," Buckner explained, "is to understand the value of your time."

"Why?" Because once you understand the value of your time and how best to use it, you "won't produce that which you are not the lowest cost at producing."

Buckner elaborated, kind of: If Joshua is the most efficient pie-maker, and Jennifer can make cheaper cakes, then they should each play to their strengths to maximize output and minimize cost.

For example, "why am I here?" he asked. "Truthfully, I'm the cheapest."  In case you weren't lucky enough to take an economics class by someone who actually knew what they were talking about, let me assure you, this isn't economics.  Or at least, it's not modern economics. 

As one commenter at TPM pointed out, this guy is basically promoting Mercantilism, a discredited economic system that predates Adam Smith and modern economic theories, which basically says that you should only produce what you produce best.  And  That's definitely not the best way to produce wealth.

Profits, Not Costs

Rather, our modern economics is based upon the idea of profits, and that you should sell products that will earn you the most money.  It doesn't matter if Joshua is the most efficient pie maker, if he can sell his cakes for twice as much profit.  If he makes a pie for a dollar and can sell it for five dollars but make a cake for two dollars and sell it for ten dollars, he should make cakes.  After all, eight dollars is more than four dollars; even at Glenn Beck University.

It's all about how much you can sell your product or service for; not how much it cost to make it.  Costs don't even factor into how much you should charge for a product or service.  It's all about how much someone's willing to pay for it.  I mean, I can produce blogposts for free, but because I don't get paid for them, it's not a particularly good use of my time; financially speaking. 

And of course, the ultimate lesson here is this dude's own worth.  As he said himself, he's doing this because he's the cheapest, and had Beck wanted to pay a real economist, he would have had to pay a lot more.  But Beck realizes that his rubes will buy whatever he has to sell and if they're dumb enough to shell out money to Beck University, they're too dumb to realize what a crappy lesson they're getting.

So the great deal Beck's getting isn't because this guy is so cheap, but because Beck's rubes are so dumb that they put real value to his valueless lessons by paying for it.  It was Beck's name that added economic value to this endeavor.  The "professor's" cheap lesson merely increased the profit margin.  But that was because there was no point in paying more for a lesson that wouldn't be learned anyway.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Republicans: As Stupid as they Seem

Over at WaMo, Carpetbagger's got a post about how Republicans are Economic Illiterates, because they keep saying that taxcuts don't cost any money, which is why we need more taxcuts.  And of course, progressives came out in droves to insist that these guys really do know what they're talking about, but they're lying for political and economic gain.  And some of them are insisting that Obama and the Dems are part of the problem, or else they'd do a better job of attacking Republicans for it. 

As one guy put it, '"Polite" and "deliberative" don't cut it in politics.'  Yes, because "rude" and "knee-jerk" will prove to be so much more effective.  Somehow, we're supposed to forget that "polite" and "deliberative" won us the Whitehouse; despite assurances by these same people that "polite" would get Obama stomped by McCain.

But my question for them is: Why should we assume that these guys are lying?  These same people display on a daily basis that they're completely ignorant about some of the most basic issues of the day, often saying things that hurt them politically.  And for as much as there's a possibility of them beating us in November, it's in spite of their politics and policies; not because of them.  People might be upset that Obama isn't doing more (though I think this is overstated), but it sure isn't because Republicans are giving anyone a better alternative.

So, why should we imagine that they're any brighter about economic policy?  If they can't even develop a proper political strategy beyond "Keep tossing more red meat to Teh Crazies and hope for the best," why should we imagine that they know anything about tax policies?  Especially as their statements on tax policies are incoherent, and aren't particularly compelling.  Now, perhaps I'm wrong and our country is brimming with moderates and Democrats who are clamoring for any party who promises more taxcuts for the rich.  But I kind of think that this is only red meat for the people who are already pulling them to the right, and isn't going to win over anyone.

So I just think it makes more sense for us to assume that they really ARE this dumb, and if they knew what they were talking about, they'd be making big bucks on Wall Street, rather than having to work every day in Washington; eternally begging for campaign contributions from people much smarter than themselves.  For Republicans, politics is what you do when you're good at talking but can't think of anything useful to say.

Preying on the Fearful & Naive

When I think "Hitler," I think extended unemployment benefits and bank bailouts.  Oh, wait.  No I don't.  I think "murdered six million Jews" and "tried to take over Europe."  And for as much as people have a visceral loathing for Hitler, I'm pretty sure it's not because people associate him with socialism. 

And yet, Iowa Tea Partiers give us this:

Fearful and naive, indeed.  Yeah, no scaremongering going on here.  Hitler, Obama, and Lenin are all socialists who promoted change.  It's just natural to link these three together. 

The Message is Socialism

Curiously, it seems the Tea Partiers finally agreed to take down the billboard, so the stories I'm finding on this all mention how they took it down, quoting the group's spokesman saying:
They are absolutely right in their criticism because the image of Hitler just totally wiped everything else and it misrepresents the tea party movement.  They were right from the standpoint that the image was not a positive reflection on the tea people.
Not that that's such a great mea culpa, as he's saying it was wrong because of how it made the "tea people" look.  Does that mean he still stands by how it made Obama look?

And that's a little different from the justification he gave earlier in the day, when I first read the story:
"The purpose of the billboard was to draw attention to the socialism. It seems to have been lost in the visuals," Johnson said. "The pictures overwhelmed the message. The message is socialism." He said he didn't know of any plans to remove the sign.

Yeah, the pictures overwhelmed the message.  I'm sure the Wall Street Reform = Hitler connection made a whole lot more sense in the written form.

Hitler = Hitler

But of course, it didn't.  The reason you associate someone with Hitler is because you're saying they're evil.  And as I've said before, unless the person you're associating with Hitler intentionally exterminated millions of people while starting a war that killed millions more, it's not a comparison you get to make.

And seriously, aren' there maybe a few more recent socialists that Tea Partiers could associate with Obama, if their big message was that Obama was a socialist?  Maybe a few heads of state in Europe?  Or are we to pretend that Europe doesn't have socialism?  But of course they do and Tea Partiers have absolutely no problem reminding us about that.  But hey, if they think Europe's so bad, why not put up a billboard associating Obama with the sort of dreaded socialists he's supposedly trying to emulate? 

Oh yeah, because they were trying to scare people into thinking that Obama's the next Hitler.  You know, because Hitler got rid of co-pays for preventive medicine.  With holocausts like that, who needs breast cancer?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Economics of Real Waiter Wages

Minnesota State Rep and presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer got in hot water for proposing to cut waiter wages in the state, allowing restaurants to credit waiter tips towards minimum wage; effectively lowering their hourly rate by over $5 an hour.  And he justified that with his belief that many of these people make over $100k annually, and don't really need the extra money.  And hopefully, all of the Minnesota waiters who make over $100k will vote for Emmer, while the rest will vote for his opponent.

And one of the things Emmer used to justify his belief that this cut won't effect their wages was a study by two professors at the University of Nebraska titled Do higher tipped minimum wages boost server pay?  And I just had to read this study, because I find it mind boggling that you could somehow cut someone's wages without reducing their wages.

Here's what the professors had to say about it:
Do servers earn more in states with higher tipped minimum wages? We hypothesize no ceteris paribus premium to such servers. The reason is that the national market for servers is very competitive and we contend that it will equalize pay between states. Servers in states with lower tipped minimum wages may migrate to states with higher wages, or businesses in states with higher tipped minimum wages may relocate to states with lower wages. The resulting adjustments in server demand and supply will dissipate any interstate ceteris paribus differences in pay.
And I have two words for that: Uhm, no.  I can only imagine that these two professors have literally zero experience in the restaurant industry, as their vision of supply & demand as a corrective in this is entirely absurd. 

Real World v. Fantasyland

And the main problem here is that there is no national market for waiters.  A waiter isn't going to move from Arkansas to Minnesota for their higher minimum wage.  The waiter market is local only, and they compete to work for the best restaurants in their town.  Nor is a restaurateur going to close his restaurant in Minnesota and move to Arkansas to save on waiter costs.  That's absurd.  People just don't do these things.

And even their economics are wrong here, because supply & demand don't apply in this case.  Because it doesn't matter how many waiters move to MN for their better minimum wage; they'll still all be paid the same minimum wage and receive the same in tips.  Even an infinite supply of waiters won't make them get paid any less than the minimum wage. 

If anything, the higher minimum wage would force a restaurant to hire fewer waiters, so the waiters would make more in tips.  Or, the increased expenses would mean fewer restaurants would open in MN, so the remaining ones could charge more to pay for their more expensive employees.  But it doesn't matter what the supply & demand for waiters is, as their price still can't go below the minimum wage.

So not only is supply & demand not applicable to the waiter market, the minimum wage completely negates any effect it might have.  Honestly, if these professors haven't figured out how minimum wage affects supply & demand, they really need to go back to school.

Hocus Pocus Statistics

And so what could be the mechanism that would make it so increased minimum wages wouldn't increase actual wages?  Maybe it's because eaters know that their waiters already make minimum wage, so they tip less.  And that's fine by me, as I've never quite grasped the idea of mandatory tipping and would prefer that they be paid by the restaurant.  Or maybe it's because restaurant prices are too high, so people don't eat out as much.  Or possibly, just possibly, the results of the study are simply wrong.  And that is indeed the case.

First off, if you read their report, you'll find a bunch of statistical hoohaw that appears that they jimmied the numbers in order to flatten out any differences they would have found.  Basically, in their efforts of making "all things equal," they screwed with the numbers until everything was equal and then announced their findings that everything was equal.

And they never bother giving their results in actual numbers, but rather give you a chart that tells you (among other things) that Category 5 States have a 0.7820E-01 estimated coefficient, so you can't actual decipher their results.  They never translate this into numbers you can read.  For as much as I understand the need for statisticians to use jargon, I've generally found if they don't translate it back into English, they probably screwed with the numbers.

But then they have no problem giving you the final conclusion, which looks suspiciously like their original question, saying:
We conclude that, for the most part, servers in those states with higher tipped minimum wages appear to have no income advantage over servers elsewhere.
Surprise, surprise.  They take a bunch of numbers, run it through an incomprehensible statistical analysis, and presto change-o, come out of it with the exact answer they were looking for.  Well, not the exact answer, as they did find one group of states with higher paid waiters: States that had a real minimum wage. 

Real Wages = More Money

As they said, waiters in states that didn't allow tip credits were "paid a small premium relative to workers in states where there are no minimum wage laws."  Or written in English, waiters that received a real minimum wage got more money than waiters that didn't.  And, well, duh.  That's exactly what I'd expect to see.

In fact, the biggest problem with their study was that they focused on tip credits, rather than on actual minimum wages.  And that means they lumped states with real minimum wages with states with the bare minimum $2.13 wage, if they had higher standards including their tips.  But in the restaurant industry, these fake minimum wages are a sad joke, as restaurants generally don't pay extra to their employees on slow nights.  Trust me, I've done accounting for a few restaurants, and this isn't even the sort of thing they keep track of.  The waiters made $2.13 an hour, always.

So the proper standard should be how much a restaurant is forced to pay by law, regardless of these pretend tip credits.  And by that standard, it's fairly obvious that a real minimum wage makes a difference.  Here are the average wages paid for these categories, according to DOL's website and the numbers I crunched from the BLS:

$0 Min. Hourly - $18,134
$2 - $3 Hourly - $19,377
$3 - $5 Hourly - $19,496
$5 - $9 Hourly - $22,827

Wow, just like what you'd expect to see: The more a restaurant pays their employees, the more money they make; with employees in the highest category making almost $4700 more annually than those with no minimum wage.  Oh, and here's a shocker: The state with the highest minimum wage (Washington) has the highest waiter wages.  And of the top ten wage states, only three of them pay less than $5.50 an hour; while the bottom ten states only have one that pays more than that.

And just so you understand, those in the highest category aren't necessarily the most prosperous or most progressive states, as they include low population states like Montana, Alaska, and West Virginia.


Oh, and there's a big caveat to all this: Most waiters don't report their real tip income, so these numbers aren't the real numbers anyway.  They report whatever the waiter got paid by the restaurants, plus whatever imaginary number they included in tips for tax purposes.  Some restaurants use a percentage to invent tip income, while others leave it up to waiter. 

And naturally, restaurants that get to credit tip-income towards minimum wage are going to be more strict about forcing their waiters to report real tip income than states that it doesn't matter.  And that's what's got to be going on here, as a quick analysis shows that tip income inexplicably goes down the more a waiter is paid.  Either people in Montana, California, and Alaska are the cheapest tippers in the country, or their waitstaff are under-reporting their tips.  Or perhaps it's because people tip less when they know their waiter's already being paid a real wage.  But in any case, it's still better to get that minimum wage than not get it.

And how about Minnesota waiters, you might ask.  They reported making an average of $22,730 for 2009, a little below the $100k Emmers talked about.  But still, it's over $3300 more than waiters in states that have policies Emmers want to emulate.  Now, maybe Emmers is cool with taking a 15% paycut to save his boss some money, but I suspect the waiters of MN might disagree.

And the most important take from all this: You really shouldn't listen to economic professors who apply economic theories to areas they don't apply.  Yes, it'd be great if people were numbers which easily flowed to where they benefited the most economically, but in real life, people have other reasons for living somewhere than their state's wage laws.  If someone moves to CA or NY to become a waiter, I suspect it has more to do with the screenplay they're trying to sell than the minimum wage they'd get waiting tables.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Capitalism Wins, Always

I'm not sure why, but most people have trouble grasping long time periods.  Like the people who deny the idea of evolution because they haven't seen anything evolve within their lifetime, failing to grasp the concept of millions of years. 

No, a slug didn't become a superior type of slug in the time it took you to go from Pampers to Depends, but civilization hasn't even been around 10,000 years, while a million years is one hundred times longer than that; and even a million years isn't a long time when you're considering evolution.  But still, a slug now is the same slug they saw as a child, so that disproves that anything can change over millions of years. 

That's a classic example of small-minded thinking: Because they didn't see something change in sixty years, nothing can change over sixty million years.  It's as if adding "million" to a number is somehow insignificant.

Watching Mountains Grow

Similarly, because people can't see society changes within a twenty year period, they insist that we'll never see changes unless we force them ourselves.  They simply can't conceive of a bigger picture with forces that are outside our individual control.  Obama's president, so Obama should be able to strong-arm anything from anyone; and that's the only way things happen.  It's all about strong people taking bold actions, and without that, nothing will change.  And if Obama can't give us everything we want right now, we'll never get it.

But that's bunk.  For as much as I appreciate the bold actions Obama has taken, he's only building on things that have been in motion for decades, and if the time's not right for something, then it's stupid to force it.  The Civil Rights movement didn't happen because MLK showed up, and had he gone in a time machine to Birmingham a hundred years earlier, he would have been lucky to merely end up in jail.  He was a strong player in the movement, but he was part of something that started long before him.

Just as the individual actions you took as a teen will effect you the rest of your life, group actions societies took decades ago are slowly coming into fruition.  And so much of this is beyond human ken.  The bigger something is, the more inertia it has and the longer it takes to move and to stop; and watching society change is like watching mountains grow.  We know it's happening, yet all the same, it just looks like the same damn piece of rock to us.

Progress in China

And that all brings me to my main point: China.  I keep hearing about how dreadful workers are treated in China and how we need to stop buying Chinese products because of this.  Or conversely, that China's going to take us over if we don't stop buying their shit.  And it's as if the conditions in China will somehow always stay that way because that's how they are now. 

But that's simply incorrect.  As I keep explaining, they will eventually form a middle-class as their increasingly growing economic needs require more and more skilled workers; both as skilled labor as well as managers, accountants, and other such administrative personnel and middle-men.  And soon, they'll be striking for better work conditions, demanding more pay, and eventually they'll form powerful unions that grow lazy and corrupt and screw everything up for them; just like what happened here in America. 

And yeah, the Chinese government will bust their heads, just as our early unions got their heads busted, but this sort of thing is simply inevitable.  By accepting limited capitalism into their country, they're stuck getting the whole damn thing shoved down their throats; and what we couldn't do with bombs or embargoes, we can easily do by buying their shit; and there's not a damn thing they can do to stop it. 

And the only way we could stop it is if we stopped buying their shit, forcing them all back into poverty.  Yes, they're being exploited, but it's obviously better for them than the alternative.  And that's why Disney's in Vietnam, while North Korea's still a backwards suckhole.  They were both totalitarian, but only the North Koreans forbid outsiders.  Same goes for Cuba, which would be a swinging destination for drunk Spring Breakers, if only we sold them our shit and bought their cigars.

iPad to Prosperity

I've been saying that for quite a few years now, and it now looks like we have evidence that I was right (not that I had any doubts).
Factory workers demanding better wages and working conditions are hastening the eventual end of an era of cheap costs that helped make southern coastal China the world's factory floor.

A series of strikes over the past two months have been a rude wakeup call for the many foreign companies that depend on China's low costs to compete overseas, from makers of Christmas trees to manufacturers of gadgets like the iPad.
They have little choice. Many of today's factory workers have higher ambitions than their parents, who generally saved their earnings from assembling toys and television sets for retirement in their rural hometowns. They are also choosier about wages and working conditions. "The conflicts are challenging the current set-up of low-wage, low-tech manufacturing, and may catalyze the transformation of China's industrial sector," said Yu Hai, a sociology professor at Shanghai's Fudan University.
And well, duh.  I mean, what else would happen?  Are we really to imagine that Americans and other westerners are so different from the Chinese that they somehow wouldn't make the same progress we made?  Could we really think that China could post huge economic gains without creating a skilled labor force that would wise-up to how they were getting ripped off? 

Hell, America did it without much guidance at all, while the Chinese are well aware of how this shit works.  They've got the internet.  They watch our movies.  They know how workers are supposed to be treated.  And moreover, these guys are doing more complex work than the mine workers of yore.  The idea that China could perpetually keep them down is a huge insult; as if Chinese workers are simply too stupid to unionize.

Tides of History

And no, it's not going to happen overnight.  Big things never do.  But it'll definitely happen, and not just in China, but anywhere we buy shit from.  The more dollars that flow into a third-world country, the sooner they'll develop into second-world countries, and then eventually become first-world.  That's just how it works.  And the only way to stop it is to stop buying their shit.

Or...we can pretend that workers will magically unionize before the factories arrive and they'll all be paid great wages to sit around watching porn all day, like us Americans do.  But I don't see that happening.  Like it or not, the exploiters will pave the way to economic freedom, just as they always have, and we'll have to wait a few decades before the exploiters have to move on to greener pastures.  But a few decades is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Someday, we'll all regret that living conditions are identical the world over; not because things were so great before, but because people just like having something to bitch about.  Life is better now than it's ever been.  Don't let anyone tell you any different.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

What Would Bush Have Done?

Carpetbagger has a post called Still Taking BP's Side which highlights Nevada weirdo Sharron Angle's suggestion that the $20 billion trust fund BP set up is a "slush fund."  And Carpetbagger uses that to suggest that, as the title says, Republicans are still taking BP's side.

But I don't think that's the case regarding those who label it a slush fund.  Maybe that's the case for BP's congressmen, like Rep. Barton (R-BP), but Angle strikes me as one of the true believers: Someone who gets her news from talk radio and imagines Fox News to be a little too fair and balanced, in that they don't repeat enough of the conspiracy theories they get from radio and emails.  So in her case, I think this has more to do with her general distrust of Obama.

Obama as Bush

Now, imagine how you'd have felt if this had happened while Bush was in office and Bush met with the heads of BP and proudly announced that BP had agreed to aside $20 billion to handle claims.  You'd naturally have been suspicious. 

Because, most likely, this really WOULD be a political slush fund.  Bush would no doubt have put a political hack in charge of the fund, and while little guys would surely have gotten some dough; most of it would have gone to Bush cronies and to pump money into congressional districts they wanted to win.  And no matter how bad we thought this would be handled, we'd eventually find out that it was even more corrupt than we had imagined.  For example, the political hack would be getting kickbacks of every dollar he doled out, and taxpayers would ultimately have been the ones funding the whole thing, while BP expensed it on their tax return. 

Well, that's what they think about us.  That's what they're assuming Obama is doing.  They're not calling this a slush fund because they don't think BP should pay up.  They're calling it a slush fund because they think Obama is a political goon who only has his corrupt interests in mind, and that he's a smooth liar who's extremely good at hiding his true intentions.  And they "know" his true intentions, because of what they've picked up from talk radio and the emails they keep receiving from their crazy uncles.

Meet the Crazies

And that's what's going on here.  For crackpots like Angle, Obama is a Chicago-style thug who's doing all the stuff we saw Bush do.  And they think we're as blind as we thought they were when they didn't see what sort of guy Bush really was.  They see the same reality we see, but the context is different. 

And just as Obama's critics on the left bash him because they see everything in the context of him selling them out, just as they always "knew" he would; the crackpots on the right already "know" he's a corrupt thug, so that's how everything looks to them.  For both sides, it's just a matter of time before their suspicious are finally proven.  Until then, they'll consider all speculation to be stronger than fact.

And I now see that Angle has retracted her "slush fund" comment, realizing that it put her on the side of defending BP.  So now she's giving the bizarro postion that she supports the trust fund, but that we should have waited to determine everyone who was to blame for the spill; including the federal government for not stopping BP from breaking the rules.  And while that sounds a bit more like something a political consultant would write, it completely contradicts her "slush fund" remark and still doesn't sound very good.  It's like forbidding a murderer from pleading guilty because the cops failed to stop the murder in the first place.

And overall, this just demonstrates how dangerous the Tea Party movement is for Republicans, because these people are simply wacko.  And with Angle's recent comment suggesting that we make "lemonade" by forcing women to give birth to incest and rape babies, I think the GOP is going to increasingly regret ever hyping these fools in the first place. 

Monday, July 05, 2010

Nutritionists Suck

I know I've said this before, but nutritionists suck.  Like their whole kick against cane sugar and corn syrup, as if there's something magical about the sugars in other plants that somehow make them superior to the sugars from sugar cane and corn.  And don't even get me started on their war against fastfood.  Because yeah, that stuff's not healthfood, but regular restaurants can pack in quite a lot more calories than McDonalds; yet don't get half the attention. 

And so I see this article titled 3 Low-Cal Summer Thirst Quenchers, and I'm somewhat interested as I'm trying to lose just a little more belly fat (though I'm already in great shape) and realized that I get quite a few unnecessary calories from juice and soda.  But of course, none of the three "thirst quenchers" appeal to me; one of which was just tea with lemon and mint in it, because yeah, I couldn't have figured that one out myself.

But the second one was simply ridiculous.  It was for "Low-Sugar Lemonade," which included unsweetened applesauce, maple syrup, and mint.  And I'm like, yuck, that sounds disgusting.  I'm not sure which of those three bothers me more, though it's probably the applesauce, because there's half a cup of the stuff in there, divided into four servings; so each cup contains an eighth of a cup of applesauce.  I like applesauce, but not in my drink.

And of course, the applesauce and syrup are there as sugar substitutes, for reasons that make no sense.  And mint?  Minty lemonade?  I don't think so.

How Low Can You Go

But worst of all, the fitness guru posting this stuff actually admits that this concoction has 80 calories per serving; yet acts like that's a good thing.  80 calories?  My god, Dr. Pepper has 100 calories per serving, and I've been assured that it comes from the Devil himself.  And the powdered Country Time Lemonade I drink on a regular basis has 60 calories per serving, and I generally water it down so as to cut down on my calorie intake and actually prefer it a little less sweet.  (I also water down my juice and soda, btw.)

So I'm supposed to be impressed with a "low sugar" lemonade that has twenty fewer calories that Dr. Pepper and twenty more calories than powdered lemonade?  So much so that I'm going to put applesauce and syrup in my drink?  I don't think so.

And seriously, what the hell is the matter with these people?  Because the reality is that soda really isn't that bad for you.  It's the quantity that's the problem; not the quality.  It's that people want to drink 64 ounce Big Gulps of the stuff.  But the thing is, that's not going away just because people start substituting syrup for cane sugar.  If someone wants 64 ounces of a drink, they're going to drink 64 ounces.  And whether it's soda, juice, or maple-mint lemonade; you're going to pack on the calories if you drink that much.

If your diet recipes count on the users having the restraint to only eat and drink individual serving sizes, then you can count on them to fail.  And that's the biggest problem with why people are fat.  It's not that they're drinking soda or eating McDonald's.  It's that they're eating and drinking servings that are five times bigger than they should.  And these stupid nutritionists with their rant against specific foods while highlighting other foods which are only marginally better (and sometimes worse) doesn't help at all. 

And so people imagine they're earning healthpoints every time they take this nitwit advice, rather than realizing that there really is no magic bullet and you simply have to eat less and exercise more.

It's the Quantity, Stupid

People shouldn't be warned away from 100 calories in Dr. Pepper.  They need to be warned about the 800 calories they're getting in a Super Big Gulp; which is only 160 calories more than they'd get from drinking the same quantity of this "Low Sugar Lemonade."  They need to be told that the recommended daily serving of 2% milk they're told to drink has 9 grams of saturated fat and 390 calories; and how 2% milk has more calories than Coke.  And they need to be told that a typical burger at a regular restaurant has more fat and calories than a Big Mac.

But nutritionists refuse to do that, because that's just not something they care about.  They prefer being food nazis.  They want to tell you to avoid certain types of food, not because they're worse for you, but because they personally don't like these foods.  And so they'll tell you that weird applesauce lemonade is "low calorie," even though it has more calories than powdered lemonade; not because it's true, but because it makes them feel better.

Oh, and the worst of these?  The Eat This Not This guy, who gives moronic advice, such as replacing your 20 ounce Minutemaid Lemonade with an absurdly small 8 ounce Knudsen Lemonade, even though the calorie savings is due solely to the smaller serving size and the Knudsen has 100 more calories if you drink 20 ounces of it (a fact he fails to mention at all).  And then there's his bizarro theory that foods with fewer ingredients are somehow better for you, or that natural ingredients are inherently superior to processed ones.  As if peanuts can't kill people, or fish are somehow comprised of one simple chemical we all understand.

And these are all lies.  Stupid, dangerous lies that con people into believing that they've finally found the secret to losing weight, which doesn't require them to eat less or exercise.  Because that's all this is about, and if I could quench my thirst with 8 ounces of lemonade, I'd do it.  But until then, I'll stick to twenty ounces of watered down Country Time and try to get in a little more exercise.  Not for myself, but for the ladies.