Friday, November 11, 2011

Fast Food vs. Income

November 7, 2011
As income rises, so does fast-food consumption, study finds

The conventional wisdom goes something like this: Obesity rates are skyrocketing among the poorest Americans, therefore fast-food restaurants must be to blame.

But a new study by a professor at UC Davis' medical school has found that it's Americans with salaries at the higher end of the spectrum -- in some cases as high as $80,000 to $90,000 -- who are driving fast-food consumption at the likes of McDonald's and Burger King.

Too bad conventional wisdom isn't traded publicly. There have certainly been times when I wished to short it.

He also noted that, although fast food has a reputation for being cheap, a steady fast-food diet is largely out of financial reach for the truly impoverished, especially those who need food stamps to get by.

I'm once again reminded of the following insanity.

September 7, 2011
Restaurants want a piece of food stamp pie

Kelly Brownell, director of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, says encouraging more fast-food consumption is not good for people's health. "It's preposterous that a company like Yum! Brands would even be considered for inclusion in a program meant for supplemental nutrition."

I'm all in favor of providing food for people who can't afford it, but do we really need to conveniently prepare unhealthy food for them and pad the profits of corporations too? Is that what the food stamp program should really be doing?

I'm a fairly frugal person. I consider fast food to be a bit of a luxury. It is not cheap food. I have cut back on it as I try to conserve my nest egg's purchasing power. Perhaps most people on food stamps should be doing the same?

Some might argue that homeless people on food stamps don't have an option. They need food prepared for them. All I can say is what I would do in their situation. I would get together with other homeless people and pool resources. One could make quite a feast out of a few loaves of bread, a large jar of peanut butter, a large jar of strawberry jam, a few pounds of bananas, and a gallon of milk. It certainly wouldn't be any less healthy and it would cost far, far less per person.

I'd use the money saved to try to get out of the rut I was in so that it did not become permanent. I can't say that in this economy I would be successful, but at least I'd be trying.

It would require some effort on my part. Unfortunately, effort goes against the ultimate policy of the welfare state.

The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. - Alan Greenspan (1966)


tj and the bear said...

SAVE money?!? Heretic!!!

Stagflationary Mark said...

tj and the bear,

Hahaha! Are you a reformed saver of 2001 or a reformed saver of 2011? ;)

The Wisdom Of Emo Phillips

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?" He said, "Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?" He said,"Reformed Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off. -- Emo Phillips

getyourselfconnected said...

Great post! I knew buying MCD years ago would pay off, people love that stuff. I love it too I admit it.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Bronze Happy Meal presented to Robert Bernstein crediting him with creation of the Happy Meal.

I think the key here was that he named it the Happy Meal and not the Grumpy Meal. Pure genius! ;)

Stagflationary Mark said...

I'd make a horrible advertising executive.

The New Economy Meal

You get a Big Mac, super-sized fries, a 32 ounce triple thick shake , and a surprise gift. It comes in a cardboard briefcase.

tj and the bear said...


I "spent" most of the 90's on a bad business venture, which took half of the 00's paying off the debt. I'm not exactly penurious these days, but I don't buy anything anymore unless I have the cash for it.

Oh, and every time I consider a purchase the immortal words of Hobbes (from Calvin & Hobbes!) echo through my mind: "It's amazing what people would rather have than money." :-)

Stagflationary Mark said...

tj and the bear,

The first software job I had failed. They went out of business. In lue of a raise, they offered me a 5% stake.

Not long thereafter, one owner exchanged his 30% stake for the company rowboat. No joke. When he left, I felt my share was worth about one oar. Hindsight shows that I was bit optimistic in valuing it though. ;)

It's okay though. It was still good experience and I don't regret my decision to work there.

I have found that the following question works pretty well when deciding whether or not to purchase something.

"How many hours will I need to work to pay for it?"

I've been using that question for decades.

If one really wants to be frugal, the question can be expanded.

"How many hours will I need to work to pay for it if I lose my job and/or must compete directly with Chinese factory labor and/or automated robots to pay for it?"

I have a bit of that second question in me, especially as it relates to toilet paper hoarding. 50 cents per (giant) roll at Costco might not seem like much, but 50 cents is about 30 minutes of factory labor in China. I do not take it for granted. I'm therefore perfectly willing to stockpile that labor equivalent in the form of toilet paper. What's the harm?

Stagflationary Mark said...

As a side note, this also explains my aversion to hoarding gold at these prices. (I did own it from the low $400s to the low $600s though.)

A one ounce gold coin is now nearly a year's Chinese factory labor. Is it really worth that much to me? I'd much, much rather have the toilet paper equivalent (or other things I know I will use and need).

Stagflationary Mark said...

May 21, 2011
ALERT: China’s Manufacturing Sector Labor Cost Approaching US$1 Per Hour

Chinese labor laws are strict and from this figure there are worker contributions to social security, housing fund and requisite tax deductions, thus on a gross basis this maintains an hourly rate from $0.83 to $1.25 per hour.

Anonymous said...

The financial policy of the WALL STREET welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.

Greensham was and is an advocate for financial thieves. The lesson that Alan Greensham "learned" from the S&L deregulation that he espoused and the subsequent S&L financial crisis was that financial fraud is good for the banks!

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck............

Stagflationary Mark said...


I stand corrected!

mab said...

I stand corrected!

So do I! It seems I accidentally posted an anonymous comment.

In my view, just about everything Greensham has ever said is bs. Not an accident.

Word Verification = stionist. I'd tie that in with Greensham but the thought police have pretty much outlawed such ideas.

Stagflationary Mark said...


I thought that might have been you! :)