Friday, June 1, 2012

Just light up a Big Gulp, and relax

Job creation numbers for May were considered disappointing at 69,000, but would have been higher without the subtraction of another 17,000 red state government jobs, mostly teachers and highway project workers. Construction job losses of 28,000 also pulled the net jobs number down. This reflects the winding down of Obama’s stimulus projects, and the austerity of those red states again as private sector lost 11,000 jobs in civil engineering and heavy construction. Republicans in Congress are dragging their feet on approving new Highway funds that run out June 30, and this could really tank the economy if allowed to happen.

A May hiring slump after a warm winter is normal, but March and April have been revised downward too. On the other hand May was still better than an average month under Bush, and that’s without subtracting the millions of jobs lost at the end of Bush’s disastrous reign. I can hardly wait to read his new book on economics due out this Fall. Should be a best seller, like Napoleon’s “See Russia on 3 francs a Day.”

There are positive indicators in housing, manufacturing and most sectors are at least holding their own. Declining gasoline prices should boost the economy in the coming months and the auto industry was still showing record growth in the past month.

Mayor Bloomberg (a Republican) has figured out the tonnage that he can in theory take off the butts of New Yorkers by not allowing the sale of the mega-gulp size sweetened beverages. The numbers are real, and the restaurant business should embrace the regulation. It reduces their overhead if they don’t need to provide the barrels for the super-extra-mega-drown a whale size drinks, since the guy next door won’t be selling them either.

As far as the health benefit goes, the Mayor has missed the real problem, people will probably drink just as much as they are in fact addicted to a chemical comparable to cocaine. We’ve long known that sugar is bad for you, but we had cheap sugar for hundreds of years without these problems. Epidemic obesity and type II diabetes only appeared 35 years ago, before that it was so rare it didn’t have a name. What changed was the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup. To begin with, it’s not even corn syrup (a fermentation product), High Fructose Corn Syrup a chemically manufactured molecule made from corn starch.

A study done on lab mice two years ago identified the obesity/diabetes problem quite definitively. Mice fed a 100% conventional sugar diet looked exactly the same as the control group fed standard mouse-chow. The test group fed High Fructose Corn Syrup experienced a transformation into a tennis ball size and shape, resembling a mouse only from the fur covering and the tail. This occurred in 100% of those mice exposed to the “big-gulp” diet.

Any pharmaceutical drug that produced this sort of 100% fatal side effect in test mice would be banned. Food processors that weren’t dependent on the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup in their products immediately discontinued its use. The Big Gulp industry took a different route. They attempted to persuade the FDA to allow them to rename High Fructose Corn Syrup on ingredient listings as “corn sugar”. They’ve been running an ad blitz in the meantime to make consumers think that “smoking is good for you”, wait, same people - wrong quote, err, it‘s “corn sugar is natural, nutritious, and ‘good to the last puff‘“.

The FDA this week politely declined the request from the Big Gulp Industry on the grounds that sugar is traditionally “dry” and syrup is not, it might also confuse those consumers that are allergic to corn. The chemical the Big Gulp Industry would like you to call “corn sugar” can’t be produced in a “dry” form.  I would think the FDA would be more concerned that 100% of mice are fatally “allergic“. With 50% obesity rates and an estimate that a third of today’s kids are expected to become diabetic by age 50 might indicate that 100% of humans are “allergic“ as well.  Mayor Bloomberg shouldn’t restrict the size of drinks, just include a “black box” warning like is done on drugs that kill a certain percentage of the people who take them. In this case it seems to be at least a third of users.  Might as well smoke it.