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June 27, 2013

doma down, roberts court still terrible

Needless to say, yesterday was as happy a Supreme Court as Tuesday was sad.  All my legal friends suspected it would go that way, so I guess it wasn't a surprise, but it was hard not to smile all day.

Unless you're Justice Scalia, of course, whose logic somehow turned on its head in the span between Tuesday and Wednesday, as the Voting Rights Act is to him nebulously unconstitutional while the Defense of Marriage of Act is the will of the people, and who is the Supreme Court to overturn that?  I've written before that Scalia is a sharp customer with whom I disagree, but in his declining years his bigotry has overwhelmed his reason.

And of course Scalia is not the only human being rooting for a gay marriage-less world.  In Morning Edition's round-up they interviewed some NOM-supporting woman who said, "The court ruled that this is a rights issue. I don't think it's a rights issue. I think it's a morality issue."  Points for actually saying what you mean, NOM Lady, and extra points for revealing why you will never win.  If you want morality legislated, I suggest places like Saudi Arabia.  Go nuts!

But now it's the next day, and as happy as we are for DOMA and Proposition 8 being relegated to the dustbin they deserve, Shelby v. Holder remains a tragedy, a rare step backwards for civil rights, and John Roberts is off playing golf somewhere.  A majority of the states that were subject to pre-clearance have already introduced legislation to obstruct the vote or marginalize minorities through redistricting.  This is stuff that rises above politics-as-usual straight into evil.  It needs to be opposed, vocally.

And the Roberts Court is still terrible.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day (as long as it's one of those old-style ones, with actual hands).

Posted by mrbrent at 9:23 AM

June 24, 2013

the shrinking baker's chocolate

This is a passage worth noting.  So there's this phenomena, actually five or more years old, where manufacturers of food products, faced with rising commodity costs/profit motives but leery of attracting consumer interest to itself, just shrinks the package instead of raising the price.  So that sixteen ounce box of breakfast cereal you're used to?  Chances are good that it's something like fourteen and three-quarters ounces, and chances are also good that they didn't decrease the volume of the physical box (so you wouldn't notice).

You may think this Craziness!  "They'd never get away with it!"  Well, try this: next time you're at your grocery, walk down the juice aisle and see how many ounces of OJ are in those standard-sized 64 oz. containers mom and dad used to buy weekly since we guzzled OJ so.

This phenomena is raised by a reader of David Segal's The Haggler, who writes in to complain about the shrinking size of Kraft's Baker's Chocolate.  Segal did the math (even though this is a case where both the size and the price changed) and concluded, indeed, the price per ounce had increased by 47% with the packaging change.  So he called Kraft as asked about it.

After initially being told that the packaging change was a response to consumer demand:

Once you're done with a hearty chorus of "thank you," let's ask [Kraft spokeperson] Ms. McAndrew the obvious follow-up question: Why didn't the company keep the price per ounce the same?

"Our packaging change for Baker's Chocolate was driven by consumer research," she wrote. "Our consumers have told us that they prefer this size over the larger size because the majority of our Baker's recipes call for four ounces or less."

Indeed. You mentioned that. Did your consumer research also tell you that shoppers want to pay more per ounce?

There was a pause in communication and then:

"Our new four-ounce size of Baker's Chocolate is competitively priced with other brands," she wrote.

Do any of the rest of you feel like those are not the droids we're looking for?  I didn't think so.

Look, no one's saying that companies can't raise prices.  But if companies act all sneaky about it, it tends to give the impression that they think they're doing something wrong.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:27 AM