Tag Archives: Bloomberg

Who Did It Best?

Bloomberg interviewed a logo maker to discuss Presidential campaign logos:

It was the 2008 election, and that famous letter “O,” that changed everything, says designer Sagi Haviv, a partner in the New York firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv who has designed logos for the Library of Congress, Armani Exchange, and Harvard University Press, among other clients.

Overall, I found his insights sort of meh. Read the item and judge for yourself.

Particularly, what he had to say about Rick Perry’s logo:

“Like Hillary’s logo, this design is attempting to combine a letter with another element, here a star. However, unlike Hillary’s design, [which] marries the H and the arrow nicely, this marriage is extremely awkward. The star looks like it’s been slapped on top of the P, and the two elements are fighting each other visually.”

Uh, sure. How about the fact that it’s pretty much a stock logo format used by common brands?

who did it best

Who did it best?

My vote: Popeye’s.

Buying Local and Foraging to the Extreme

foragingI have nothing against the “buy local” crowd, the foraging crowd, or the urban gardening crowd per se.  I have no problems with people liking each of the concepts. My complaints and problems with each of the groups stem from absurd and cult-like adherence to each dogma as if it were its own religion, forced on others, or taken to the extreme.

While buying local might be worse for the environment in some cases, or more expensive than mass-produced items shipped from a distance, people should be free to pursue the best course of action they see fit. Even if it means more harm to the environment and their wallet. Urban foraging, provided you’re not stealing from your neighbor — like chefs in local-food-crazed Portland are doing — is a little weird, but if that’s what you want to do, fine.

This recent story I read in Bloomberg Businessweek is an extreme example in buying local, urban gardening and foraging craze — or as I call it, going Authentically Amish (with apologies to the local furniture store.) A half hour outside of Albany, NY is Earlton. Here, there is a restaurant with a five-year waiting list.

The restaurant with the longest waiting list, five-years to be precise, is a small, nondescript, 12-table basement located in Earlton, N.Y ., named simply enough Damon Baehrel after its owner and chef. Its guests come from 48 countries and include such celebrities as Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart and Barack Obama himself. However what makes Baehrel’s restaurant the most exclusive restaurant in the world is not the decor, nor the patrons, some who fly overnight from Manhattan to pay $255 for dinner (before wine and tip), nor the hype (although all the advertising is through word-of-mouth), but the food, which is all cultivated, grown, prepared, cooked and served from and on the property, and where Baehrel is literally the only employee. “I’m the chef, the waiter, the grower, the forager, the gardener, the cheesemaker, the cured-meat maker, and, as I will explain, everything comes from this 12-acre property.”

By that math, if this restaurant is open five days a week, with 12 tables and two people at each averaging $255 a head, Mr. Baehrel is raking in close to $1.5 million a year.

Bloomberg notes that it’s about half that, but still:

This hyperlocal, hyperunderground strategy is paying off. Baehrel won’t provide exact numbers but says he serves a few thousand guests each year and generates annual revenue of at least $750,000.

For foodies, visiting the so-called “Michael Jordan” of the movement has to be a big treat. There are similar restaurant concepts here in Washington.

But it is a cautionary tale of foodie-ism taken to the extreme. A five year waiting list? Must be nice if your last name is Baehrel, but to those wanting to go to a nice restaurant, pay a more modest price, and not have to wait five years, it’s good that the market offers other options.

The world would look a lot more like this if the extremist-type locovores were able to impose their whims on the rest of us, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. More likely, the locovores wage smaller, more winnable battles. And what start out as suggestions often become requirements later.

If you are among the Manhattan elite and can afford to pay and wait for such food, I hope it’s worth the wait. And to some, I’m sure it is. Nobody should begrudge Baehrel his success in offering something that clearly has high demand.

As for me, I’m happy to get my corn from where it’s most efficient to grow corn, beef from where it’s best to raise cattle, and my high-fructose corn syrup from the plant best able to deliver a quality product to the Coca Cola bottler near me. Or Mexican coke with that cane sugar. Delicious imports.

So long as the market isn’t unduly inhibited by regulations, locovores and free traders should both be able to enjoy the fruits of the harvest in harmony. bsig


Bizarre Big Gulps

I love Big Gulps, I don’t support Mayor Bloomberg’s nanny-state escapades, and I voted for Sarah Palin.

But what she did on the stage of CPAC was bizarre.

Why? Writing at Gothamist, Jen Chung notes:

Of course, the weird thing of Bloomberg’s soda ban is that Big Gulps and 7-Eleven would have been exempt from the ban. But why should Palin know anything about policy? Anyway, Bloomberg is actually pretty libertarian about the soda stuff—last year he said, “If you want to kill yourself, I guess you have a right to do it.”

Why would Palin use something that wasn’t necessarily banned as a prop? Chung, however, doesn’t appear to actually understand libertarians or libertarianism, but she’s right to point out that Palin picked the wrong prop.

Here are some .gifs documenting her use of the Big Gulp in case you didn’t want to watch the video:




Bomblecast 21: Soda Ban Overturned

It makes me cringe to call it soda. It’s pop where I come from, but around here they call it soda. Anyways, the NYC ban was overturned and Andrew Heaton and I discuss it here. (You can stream it below.)


Bloomberg’s Unintended Consequences

Sensible people should be outraged by New York Mayor Bloomberg’s recent nanny state sugar decree.

However, I’d posit there’s a big (largely unreported) unintended consequence: it might make people drink more, not less, sugary drinks. It’s quite simple, actually.

Here’s why:

The “Bloomberg rule” calls for a ban of sugary drink sales for any size of 16 ounces or more. The most common sizes these days are 12 and 20 ounce drinks. Bottles and cans. Most people will order a bottle, while some prefer a can.

Regular bottle drinkers, if relegated to a 15.99 ounce drink might buy two instead of a normal 20 ounce drink. Meaning they’d consume close to 30 ounces, nearly 10 more than they normally would.

Nobody likes obesity, but everybody should love freedom to purchase the drink size of their choice. Maybe that’s just me. 

Roy Lawson is Wrong

I read a great article in Businessweek that I shared on the daily links. I noticed a comment on the article from “Roy Lawson” which is so fraught with misunderstanding I felt it needed to be corrected. Though, his comments were entertaining!

The bottom line is that we cannot run trade deficits in perpetuity, yet if we follow the advice of free traders that’s exactly where we are heading. Do you really believe that consumers can continue to pile on more and more debt to support trade deficits?

He is wrong, because, yes, we can. We can run trade deficits forever and there is nothing wrong with that. A trade deficit is merely a tabulation of who trades what. It is not an actual deficit, like the one our government is running. Lawson probably believes the oft-repeated false claim that the trade deficit is a representation of reduced aggregate demand in the U.S., which is baseless and a frequent (and wrong) view held by Keynesians and protectionists.

He makes a claim that consumer debt has some correlation to trade deficits. There is no direct correlation between consumer debt and trade deficits, which often occur independent of a country’s consumer debt. Either way, it’s up to consumers (not government) to determine whether or not they are willing to take a debt to finance whatever they desire to purchase, be it goods like televisions or services like a college education. Student loan debt represents a greater percentage of overall consumer debt than credit card debt, for what it’s worth.

One need only to look at Hong Kong to see how a place with a robust free-market economy, very free trade, its own currency, and practically zero natural resources, has succeeded in being economically successful.

Also worth noting, is that most U.S. imports are inputs and not finished consumer goods.

Free trade dogma prevents you from soliciting any real ideas on how to achieve sustainable trade, which should be relatively balanced trade. You will even be so bold as to claim trade debts are a good thing – the US Chamber of Commerce makes this claim.

First off, what is “sustainable trade?” Oh, he means “relatively balanced trade?” Why would we care to achieve this? Why should we? What economic benefits come from balanced trade? Can he explain them to me?

Keep in mind that people, not countries, do the trading. Let say I buy something from Wal-Mart that was made in China. I, as an individual, bought it from Wal-Mart, which bought it from a supplier that either bought it or had it made in China. Aside from any tariffs imposed or subsidies provided, the exchange took place with no governments doing the trading. (While subsidies are bad policies in general, I am skeptical of efforts to make things “fair” in trade if other countries are dumb enough to pursue those policies.)

Since individuals trade, is Mr. Lawson suggesting that we require through the force of government policies that individuals practice “balanced” trade? Does balanced trade mean that you can’t consume more of a good or service from someone unless they consume an equal amount of goods or services that you provide? Does Mr. Lawson practice what he preaches? I doubt it. I know I don’t, and I don’t care. I don’t expect the butcher department at Wal-Mart to accept my providing them advice on economic policies, marketing, or web-design.

Maybe Mr. Lawson can take his views on “balanced” trade to a micro level and practice them at home. If so, I doubt I’d see him at the grocer any time soon.

So how about for every “protectionist” idea you criticize you produce an idea that will lead to sustainable trade?

Is this what he thinks is a balanced trade of ideas? If so, I am getting a raw deal. You mean that we free traders can’t just criticize the silly views held by protectionists like Lawson with facts and history? We have our idea — free trade is fine and dandy. Why do we need to kowtow to his asinine view that trade somehow be “sustainable” in whatever vague way the term is described?

Free trade is desirable because it conserves our labor supply, resources, and capital — ensuring that those resources are put to the best and most efficient uses. Following any other policy than free trade would ultimately require the government to stop people from trading with other people.

This either: a.) reduces overall economic activity, and/or b.) promotes inefficient economic activity. America is one of the world’s largest and dynamic manufacturers — building difficult things like medical imaging devices to airplanes. Should our policies really divert resources away from that and into building little green army figures? Either way, retarding free trade makes us poorer.

Currently, the typical views pushed by free traders support rewarding countries that cheat and punishing countries that play by the rules. You get punished in the game of global trade for protecting the environment, paying living wages, having healthcare, not allowing forced or child labor, and so forth.

This is a manufactured (and false) claim. People who support free trade, and I mean truly free trade, don’t think there should be any barriers to global trade. None. By what “rules” are he saying countries play by? Aside from things like the WTO and the UN, each country sets their own rules. His contention that free trade rewards countries that cheat and punishes those that “play by the rules,” or as he later puts it: protect the environment, pay “living” wages, have health-care and don’t have child labor is laughable.

A few reasons, but first, a thought: Any person that is living and working makes a living wage. I’d recommend coming up with a better moniker for such leftist propaganda. Maybe you could call it the “self-righteous-American-imposed better living wage” which I am sure would result in tons of employment (sarcasm).

I see no problem with child labor in the broad sense. I worked as a child, even in a factory one summer when I was 18. Each country can come up with its own laws, presumably based on their citizens’ values, and each parent can decide what is best for his or her child and family. And that’s sensible. What’s nonsensical is Lawson imposing his worldview on other people halfway around the globe, especially if it makes them poorer.

Nike has a new loom-type machine that weaves shoes, and it will likely mean that shoe manufacturing will leave China and Vietnam and source closer to U.S. markets.  Given the inventiveness of this device, lots of people over there will lose their jobs or have reduced hours, and thus, less income.  Imposing Lawson’s world view — which is what you do under calls for “balanced” trade — requires others to conform to his perceptions of how they should live will have the same effect: it makes people poorer.

I’m not worried about them because it’s a global market and other people will have a demand for the services their laborers provide. Just as India is no longer the call center outsourcing capital of the world, economies and the world economy evolves. Better to let it happen by economic forces, rather than have people like Lawson dictate how it happens.

In the late 1800s, most Americans worked on farms. Today it’s less than 1%, and we produce infinitely more food than we did back then. Similarly, in the 1900s, many people worked in manufacturing, but now less people do and we produce far more than we did back then. And yet, we can still produce all of these things (most of which we ourselves consume) with health-care, a good environment, higher wages, and a low amount of child labor. Yet, back then, we had lots of child labor, lower wages, and a worse environment before we got to where we are today.

We can now afford these policies, and are willing to pay for them. But can China? Who is Lawson to tell them how to live? And who is Lawson to tell me how and what to buy?

I’ll suggest a solution and no matter what that solution is you will cry “protectionist”. So it’s time to put up or shut up. You tell me how to implement both balanced trade and free trade at the same time – or shut up already!

The problem with Lawson’s logic here is that he assumes us free traders want balanced trade. We don’t. We don’t care, and we shouldn’t. Remember when you learned about comparative advantage and specialization of labor in, I don’t know, fourth grade? You know, with the “this state’s people make apples” and “this state’s people make furniture” example, did your teacher inform you that in this example that the consumers in those states were required to “balance” their trade? What if the furniture makers want more apples than the apple makers want furniture? Should the government step in and tell them how to consume and produce? (Answer: Lawson’s teacher didn’t likely teach him that, and I doubt yours did.)

There’s no difference in that example if they are apple makers in Ohio or apple makers in Canada. That’s the point of free trade, the borders are merely arbitrary. If Lawson seriously believe in promoting (read: requiring) “balanced” trade, surely then he’d support measures requiring each of the U.S. States to engage in balanced trade. Why limit it there? Why not counties, cities, households, people? You see how silly this sounds, but it is what Lawson is espousing.

Any deviation from truly free trade is essentially the government telling consumers who they can buy from, and how much they can buy — either making consumers directly poorer or others indirectly poorer. This is probably why Lawson calls our devotion to the principle of free trade “dogma,” because we feel people like Lawson are, frankly, people who hold viewpoints heretical to basic economics.

I have a solution that will lead to both free trade and balanced trade. But I want to hear yours. What do you have for me?

That’s what I have for Mr. Lawson. I’m not terribly interested in his solution because anything that requires or compels  “balance” (read: telling people how to live) is not free trade, and thus, not desirable.

Interesting read from Boudreaux.