Wednesday, May 10, 2006


From a Pareto-math perspective, the destruction of the middle class decreases the stability of a political-economic system. One factor in the destruction of the middle class has been the decline of Franchises in favor of corporate-owned operations. A Dairy Queen Franchisee might have extra money to hire somebody to mow their lawn, but a Walmart manager might also work at a lawn-service company to help pay their bills. Not only is there less multiplier effect in a local economy of money that flows into the financial economy, but it also has the added negative effect of removing opportunities to become middle class from a whole layer of potential management, who, rather than borrowing money from their families & friends in order to make the leap into a Franchise, are stuck at a certain level of economic development. And everyone from Aristotle forward believes that a shrinking middle class leads to a declining democracy.

So what's one answer? Avoiding Starbucks is a start, but only a start.

But the real issue behind this post is that I recently bought some Folger's coffee for my home (rather than buying specially roasted and locally owned Intellegentsia coffee, storing it in the deep freeze, grinding my beans, and making it in a press-pot with freshly filtered boiling water). Though I can certainly taste a difference between Folger's and delicately roasted organic coffees, I no longer perceive the extreme disparity in quality that originally motivated me to consume specialty coffees when I switched twenty years ago. I don't think that Folger's has gotten better, and I don't think that organic coffees have gotten worse: I am the only thing that has changed.

Taste buds become less sensitive as people age, and I'm wondering if my unwillingness to militate against the undrinkable swill of mass market coffee is part of the aging process. People much older than I are still insisting on gourmet coffees, however. Are they pretending to be younger? Does a large part of the economy exploit those who are unwilling to admit that the degeneration of perception that is an inevitable part of aging? Is the world full of naked serfs, paying people to pretend as though they were fully clothed emperors?

For my part, I'm looking forward to saving $120 a year on coffee.


Blogger georgeborrow said...

Update: The caffeine in Folger's Robusta beans is somehow more startling and vigorous than the caffeine in my previous coffees. So, I guess I'm back in the Gourmet coffee fold.

9:50 PM  

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