HONEST TEA

Pat Davies: ‘Since I await (daily) your commitment as a superdelegate, I hope this bit from a story in yesterday’s New York Times (‘On the Trail, One Aide Looms Over Obama’) will make you decide immediately.’

He knows that ‘the boss,’ as he calls Mr. Obama, likes MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew – Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. He keeps a supply of both on hand.

☞ Reason enough to decide the fate of our country. But the truth is, I remain enthusiastically neutral between our two superb candidates.

STRAIGHT TALK FROM BILL GROSS

In his current investment letter, Pimco’s Bill Gross – always worth listening to – argues that we need to shape up . . . and that the inflation rate is higher (and thus real economic growth lower) than they’re telling us.

In small part:

It’s Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum folks, and all good fun, but the hordes are crossing the Alps and headed for modern day Rome – better educated, harder working, and willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Can it be any wonder that an estimated 1% of America’s wealth migrates into foreign hands every year? We, as a people, are overweight, poorly educated, overindulged, and imbued with such a sense of self importance on a geopolitical scale, that our allies are dropping like flies.

‘Yes we can?’ Well, if so, then the ‘we’ is the critical element, not the leader that will be chosen in November. Let’s get off the couch and shape up – physically, intellectually, and institutionally – and begin to make some informed choices about our future.

☞ It was good to see on the news last night that childhood obesity has at least begun to level off. And it feels as though we are finally beginning to take energy efficiency, and ‘going green,’ seriously.

Change is in the air, and maybe we’ll just do what we’ve done in the past – rise to the challenge.

But expect a lot of belt-tightening first.

The good news is that it doesn’t take a fortune to live almost as well as people with a fortune – and (as oft repeated in this space, but worth recalling) better than the richest potentates in virtually all of human history. King Arthur had his court, but neither aspirin nor dentistry nor the new robot that lets surgeons perform heart by-pass surgery without cracking open your rib cage. Henry VIII had his wives, but neither central heating or air conditioning. Catherine was Great (and Ivan, Terrible), but could not travel faster than 7 miles an hour – or make a phone call. Let alone watch TV while they fly 2000 miles in five hours at 37,000 feet.

The further good news is that, taken with the right attitude, some of the belt tightening has silver linings. Walking or biking instead of driving, where practicable, saves money and improves health (not to mention the environment). Likewise, eating less meat (and smaller portions).

The problem is, fewer and fewer Americans can take for granted the kind of middle class income that allows for all these things . . . especially as they look toward what could easily be a 25-year retirement without having built appreciable capital to supplement the bare subsistence of Social Security.

And for too many, the portions are already small.

It’s an ongoing tug of war between Daunting Challenges and Dazzling Technologies.

Oil is getting harder to extract and gasoline prices are killing us (a challenge); yet cars that routinely get 100 miles to the gallon should not be more than a decade off, which could bring the cost per mile, as opposed to gallon, way back down.

Another example: the dramatic improvement in energy efficiency to be had from energy recycling, along the lines of yesterday’s link to Tom Casten on NPR.

The trick has always been to live beneath one’s means and save the difference. Too few of us have been doing that, and these are among the chickens headed roostward.

 

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