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Monday, November 19, 2012

R.I.P. Hostess

I have a decent collection of old comic books, many from the 1970s that were passed down by my dad. Some of the most common advertisements in these comics, aside from the ads for X-ray specs and BB guns, were ads featuring superheroes pacifying villains by giving them Hostess snacks. It's classic Americana.

What's sad is that, in the era when these ads were current, childhood obesity was not a large-scale issue. Michelle Obama would have nothing to complain about. Teaching middle school, at least a third of my students are overweight. (I can't talk on that issue, but let's not go there.) In the 1970s and 1980s, kids were, on average, much leaner. I was the chubby kid in middle school, but I'd be about average in a modern classroom. Of course, we spent a lot of time outside in those days, playing football in the street, climbing trees, and shooting walnuts at each other in the backyard with home-made slingshots. These are, of course, things many parents are far too cautious to allow modern children to do.

Still, Hostess wasn't shut down for health reasons. It closed because of a poor economy and the refusal of the bakers' union to make any concessions. Instead of taking a pay cut of a few percent, they decided to force everyone, even members of other unions, to lose 100 percent. That was smart, wasn't it?

Now, I'm not anti-union by any means. I belong to a union, albeit a rather ineffective one, and staunchly support the right of workers to bargain cooperatively. However, the bakers' union failed to address one critical component in its decision-making: reality. Hostess was already going through bankruptcy proceedings. Add in Obamacare expenditures (most companies are having to pay a lot more for health care under the new legislation), and you're going to have to cut costs somewhere. There is greater competition in the current market. Store brands, Little Debbie, all have cut into Hostess' revenue stream. Add to that the effects of increased fuel costs (you have to deliver the goods) and a lousy economy, and Hostess was simply forced to either cut pay  or close its doors. When the bakers' union decided to call what it assumed was a bluff, Hostess folded.

I wonder how many other beloved American companies will fold in the next few years? Will they be able to meet the demands of increased regulation, unfunded mandates, and higher taxes that President Obama has promised are in store? How many more American jobs will be lost in the foolish pursuit of socialism? With Hostess alone, we lost 18,000.

Thank you, President Obama. We now have one less company to pay your increasing tax burden. I'm guessing this will be the start of a trend. Now, I have to get to the grocery store and grab a box of Hostess Cup Cakes. I'll have my own little memorial service for them later.

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