My sister-in-law, Lisa, just announced she is starting a diet. With 3 weeks to go until Christmas.
This is wrong on so many levels. Besides the masochistic overtones, we have to consider how such a move might affect the nation’s economic recovery.
Lisa just wants to look hot for New Years Eve. But she may be starting a dangerous trend. Perhaps I can help her to see the bigger picture – what economists call the unintended consequences.
Seasonal industries have just a small window of opportunity to make sales. (i.e. yellow marshmallow chickees that can only be sold for 1 week before Easter.) In December, fattening Christmas food companies are scrambling to make their budget goals.
Take eggnog. Its rich, creamy goodness is almost synonymous with Christmas. But where does it come from? Family farms in the heartland keep herds of special, eggnog-producing cows just for the Christmas season. No eggnog, no eggnog farms.
All the farms will be sold for shopping malls, the farm children will have to leave the land for New York to become actor/model/waiters and the cows will be processed into McBurgers. Do you want to be responsible for the end of the family farm in America, Lisa?
And what about that company that makes those chocolate-covered cherries that you can get for $1 at Big Lots and other fine emporiums? They do all their sales this month. Does it occur to you, Lisa, that the firm that makes those has employees? If health-conscious, get-in-shape people don’t buy those candies, all the chocolate-covered cherry employees and their families, some of whom might have lame children who use crutches, will be out on the streets. Just in time for Christmas, you Scrooge!
These are just a few of the businesses that would be affected. There are anise-flavored cookies, monastery-made bourbon fudge and whisky fruitcake, and candy canes. I’m sure we could come up with lots of examples.
Sure, tofu sales will go up. But that won’t increase jobs. There is such a huge surplus of tofu just sitting around on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator case in the grocery store produce section (often right under the Bleu Cheese crumbles, ironically), we could go years without making any more.
And what about after Christmas? In the natural order of things, you sign up for diet and exercise programs in January. If nobody is overindulging in December, no one will be repentant and resolved to change in January.
80% of the YMCA’s income is derived from initial membership fees garnered in January. They can’t rely on the monthly fees, because those dry up in March. That’s when the new members cancel, although they actually stop working out after only 2 weeks. (The Y does get residual income from all the new members who forget they signed up to have the dues automatically deducted from their bank account. They can end up paying for years after their actual 2-week attendance is over.)
Do you want to be responsible for closing the doors on a fine, old institution like the Young Men’s Christian Association? And then what? Our nation’s young men will be out on the streets, joining gangs, becoming hooligans, and not being Christian.
Nutrisystems will go back to using their food as industrial lubricants, Jenny Craig will have to get a job as a brownie taster and South Beach will be deserted. Dr. Atkins will turn over in his grave!
(“America the Beautiful” starts softly in the background).
We are trying to climb out of a terrible recession right now, Lisa. Our president, and our congressmen and women, are working hard to get this economy back on track
(for amber waves of grain…)
It is the duty of every American to help in this struggle. If you think your hot-ness is more important than your country, Lisa, keep up the pre-Christmas diet. Help put thousands, nay millions of our fellow Americans out of work.
But as for me and mine, we love the U.S. of A., and we will support her!
(music builds to a crescendo, “from sea to shining sea!”, I get up and walk out like that scene in Animal House where Dean Wormer revokes the Delta’s charter because they have been on double-secret probation ).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some peppermint stick ice cream!