My daughter and I have just finished making the various kinds of fudge that we distribute to neighbors, friends, and various workers and employees of places that we do business with. We hit upon this seasonal gift a good few years ago, after a visit to a very nice shop in Fredericksburg in the Hill Country, which featured infinite varieties of fudge. Those that we tasted were excellent, and my daughter was inspired to replicate the variety. We had previously done cookies and other home-made treats, but when it came around the next year and neighbors began asking us, with wistful hope, “Are you going to make fudge again, this year? We really liked it …” we realized that we were onto a winning strategy for holiday gifting.
Better than fruitcake – although fruit cake does have fans – and relatively less expensive than Swiss Colony assortments or Harry and David fruit baskets. We’ve just finished making the various batches for this year; the slabs are all neatly packed and stacked in an ice chest. Tomorrow we’ll start packaging them, and take the first lot around to various recipients
Over the last decade, we took to loading up on quality ingredients, as they came available at Costco or Sam’s Club: Ghirardelli chocolate, real butter, cream, nuts, and dried fruit. We couldn’t help but notice shrinkage of the Sam’s Club packages of Ghirardelli over the last few years, and then we couldn’t find them at all, and switched over to buying ingredients for the seasonal production at the Aldi in Victoria on our way home from Goliad’s Christmas on the Square. Late this last summer, we discovered a bounty of quality baking chocolate on the marked-down shelves at HEB; getting close to the ‘best-if-sold-by’ date; four-ounce bricks of semi-sweet for under a $1, 10-ounce bags of chips for 75 cents … yes, we left some for other customers. We’re not hoarders, you know. We just knew we would likely never see excellent chocolate at that price again.
Considering how the price of groceries and everything else is inflating, and how supply-chain issues are leaving unexplained and erratic gaps on store shelves, this indeed might be the last year that we can do the fudge assortments. Butter, cream, chocolate, sugar – all those good things will certainly be more expensive next year. The prices for meat, especially for beef and bacon have all but doubled in the last few months alone. Looking ahead and considering the credible news sources available to me, makes me wonder if grocery store shelves might eventually look like those in Venezuela – bare of anything at all, or like those in Soviet Russia, years ago?
Food austerity looms on the horizon like an oncoming storm-cloud. In the near future, we may not be able to afford certain items, or they aren’t available at any price. We had a taste of what serious shortages might look like, last year during the first weeks of the Covid panic, when shelves of canned goods were practically stripped bare, as was the bakery and fresh meat section, while shoppers waiting impatiently for milk and eggs to be restocked. We worry, and not without reason, about what will happen in the coming year. I can’t see how things can improve, economically and politically, although living in Texas may shelter us from the very worst that can happen.
It has been very nice, living in a world where ordinary, working-class people like my daughter and I can afford to give away a nice edible gift of home-made treats, much less be able to eat protein like eggs and meat for supper five nights out of seven. I wonder if we are living in the last days of the golden era that was an era of plenty; plenty of food, cheap gas, inexpensive luxuries. What a piece of work are our ruling class, that they would cheerfully consign regular citizens to a bleak, cold and deprived future. Comment as you wish.
27 thoughts on “On the Edge”
I have ciliac disease. Image trying to find edible gluten free products in the store.
Then, you are building up your stash of gluten-free ingredients, yes? And vacuum-sealing them, and putting a good quantity away, as they are available now, and still affordable?
There are items which we have been accustomed to buy at various outlets, which … are weirdly out of stock now, and we aren’t certain why, or when they will be available again. Frozen meatballs in the grocery section at the local Ikea, for instance. Ikea, out of meatballs?
Three-way light bulbs at Home Depot – for reading lamps. Couldn’t find them on the shelves at all, last week. An in-line lamp switch at Lowe’s – to install along a power line for a table lamp. Certain items that I have asked for recently as a Vine reviewer at Amazon, which won’t be delivered until January or February. All these are a harbinger, to my mind.
The often-ignored Law of Economics — Production Precedes Consumption.
The Best & Brightest think it is OK if we don’t produce anything (because production creates CO2 and pollution and messes) and instead just consume imported items. Even the Gross National Product (GNP) is mainly determined by measuring consumption.
Driving manufacturing offshore through excessive regulation has a cost. The process started back in the 1970s, and we are now approaching the point where the cost is becoming noticeable.
Hopefully, things will start to get better again after the Dollar collapses and we can’t afford imports and we finally realize we have excessive regulation. But that is going to take a long time too — and the path is likely to be rocky. So let’s appreciate life while we can! Enjoy that fudge!
I have been noticing the price of ground beef as we have a large senior bassett hound who likes ground beef. He also gets cooked chicken from Costco from their rotisseries. He might have to go on a diet as he has gained 14 pounds since we adopted him a year ago.
Gavin…”The Best & Brightest think it is OK if we don’t produce anything (because production creates CO2 and pollution and messes) and instead just consume imported items.”
The argument is a little more sophisticated than that–the claim is that Americans can focus on ‘high-value’ activities, such as designing products, marketing them, and organizing & financing the whole effort, while leaving the lower-value elements to other countries.
There are many problems with this line of thinking, of course. There is far more intellectual content in manufacturing than proponents of the above view seem to be aware of. There is process innovation as well as product innovation…see Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation as a leading example And much product innovation happens at the intersection of design and manufacturing.
I don’t think that the “Best and Brightest” will care what happens. They are grabbing theirs so nothing else matters. That is the new and improved “managerial elite”, that has never built anything and never will.
My problem with gifts like that is that I will have eaten the whole box in 2-3 days. Then feel awful about it ;-)
I don’t believe that we are going into a dark age but it will take another Reagan to take us out.
“Driving manufacturing offshore through excessive regulation has a cost. The process started back in the 1970s, and we are now approaching the point where the cost is becoming noticeable.”
Regulation, while quite significant, is not the only influence that drove manufacturing away
A century of our allegedly Best and Brightest treating “workers” as a victim class lacking agency, encouraging them to think that they can just punch in, do what they’re told, and punch out after eight … and that going beyond that is being played for a sucker unless compensation is immediate and substantial … bred complacency and entitlement among workers that was a significant disincentive to keep jobs here.
Ironically, this happened in a nation which supposedly respects the independent thinking and individual initiative that leads to innovation at all levels from the lab down to the factory floor – which is the edge this nation has against worker-bee authoritarian societies.
Progressive activism did improve working conditions a century ago … but they misled the people into thinking that the Best and Brightest could always be trusted to Know Better™, and that the so-called ordinary people should just trust them in grand Flounderian fashion to secure their future and “protect” them from Mean Greedy Management (while ignoring the influence of greed among the union official and/or their political allies, who were still seeking personal advancement even as they were our “servants”.)
A way of thinking reinforced by the rhetoric of the New Deal, then the thirty-year bubble of American economic dominance as the rest of the developed world literally rebuilt from WWII.
It started well before the ’70’s … the ’70’s was when the cracks began to show, resulting form the corrosive influences I’ve described.
“I don’t believe that we are going into a dark age but it will take another Reagan to take us out.”
Bill, Reagan – as great as he was – wasn’t facing an opposition that is so impressed with themselves, and so ignorant of the value of individual liberty, that they are driven like never before to micromanage our lives in the name of the alleged Common Good.
An opposition enabled by a body politic who values those with the mere appearances of saints and statesmen, over those who actually and respect their liberty.
Frankly, what we need as a nation is a second dose of the Trump vaccine, to inoculate the body politic against putting appearances ahead of actions … leading to an immune response that denies the opposition the ability to run roughshod over us in condescending arrogance.
One thing that TPTB in Oregon have not been able to impose is a sales tax, though they sneak equivalents in at times. As a result, ordinary people have access to restaurant supply stores, and our local one is a gold mine of gluten free ingredients.
Much of it is manufactured by Bob’s Red Mill. The store also carries stuff like white rice flour from other sources, with Bob’s selling tapioca and potato starch, as well as huge (5 pounds) bags of Xanthan gum. (A local grocery sells more modest quantities, and we’ll use a couple pounds a year.) Bob’s will ship supplies, though we found that route to be too expensive.
We cannot afford to pay $7.99 for a small loaf of gluten free bread, but we can afford to make a few loaves at a time. Kitchenaid stand mixer FTW!
David F: “the claim is that Americans can focus on ‘high-value’ activities, such as designing products, marketing them, and organizing & financing the whole effort, while leaving the lower-value elements to other countries.”
Yes, that is the “Free Trade” claim. But it does not correspond to reality, as has been obvious for several decades now.
Instead of the former automobile manufacturing worker “learning to code” while automobiles are imported from (low wage?) Germany and (low wage?) Japan, that worker gets a job as a (definitely low wage) barista or goes on disability. Meanwhile, the few who do learn to code find they are competing with (definitely low wage) coders in India.
And the acid test is the Trade Deficit. Whatever the guys who used to work in steel plants are doing, its value to the rest of the world is not enough to offset the cost of now-essential imports of ordinary goods and of high-tech items like cell phones and computers.
“Free Trade” is a flawed theoretical construct, like “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming” — and just as pernicious. And supposed high wages in the US are less of a problem than excessive regulation, excessive lawyering, and short-term thinking by those despicable “Best & Brightest”.
What a piece of work are our ruling class
And there’s the real problem. We shouldn’t even have a “ruling class”. WE, the electorate, are supposed to be the “ruling class.” Until we fix that, we will suffer at others’ hands.
And, despite the accomplishments of Donald Trump, he will not save us. We have to change hearts and minds in the electorate, back to a moral, limited government, Constitutional republic mindset. If electing saviors is your focus, you’re simply perpetuating the problem.
As always, Communism brings shortages, then lack, then violence , then death. Always. Democrats are Communists, in fact todays Democrats are pure Stalinist.
I paid $7.50 for a 3 pound bag of apples the other day. I didn’t realize it until I got home and about fell over.
My weekly lunch meat allotment is up around 6.5% in price (I always get the same exact thing so it is interesting to note the prices).
You should see the prices for heating and air conditioning parts, chemicals and equipment. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. On the bright side, my inventory is worth more with these price increases, but the dollars purchase less. Sigh.
A hungry man,
Is an angry man.
There’s gonna be burning and looting
The well fed man has many problems.
The hungry man, only one.
You should see the prices for heating and air conditioning parts,
Glad I bit the bullet and bought last spring. I remember when Argentina’s inflation was raging. People would fly to Florida, buy small appliances and fly back to Argentina to sell them. I wonder if we will see something like that? Probably only if Biden gets his BBB monstrosity passed.
}}} There is far more intellectual content in manufacturing than proponents of the above view seem to be aware of. There is process innovation as well as product innovation…see Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation as a leading example And much product innovation happens at the intersection of design and manufacturing.
Who do you think OWNS the patents on these processes, David?
Take one guess: They are the world leader in the creation of IP.
Despite “not manufacturing anything”, the USA’s Manufacturing Sector, in dollar amount, is tied with Germany (and probably ahead of Germany, now, as Germany’s shot themselves in the foot with their renewables folly) for the #3 manufacturing economy. Which makes our manufacturing economy alone the #4 economy in the world (see bottom for additional)
This shipping crisis is certainly the main issue, and it’s the primary cause of shortages at this point, by all the signs. It’s a multifactor issue, as it not only affects the delivery of things, but the delivery of the things to make the things.. I was due to go to a Toyota Warehouse on Jan 3 to test some automation software. That’s been pushed back by a week because some work due to be completed failed to get done because critical parts were delayed in being shipped. Cascade issues. This means I make less money in January, have less to spend, spend less at that location, which means others make less… and so forth. The Toyota distro warehouse is a week behind, which means that some other warehouse has to take up the slack, which probably means delayed parts orders…
Thank the injection of chaos into a smoothly flowing machine by the hysterical over-reaction to Covid.
Thank the idiocy of The Brandon Administration in stupidly obstructing the proper use of ports, as well as the California version of same in passing ridiculously stupid trucking restrictions.
Thank the idiot Port Authorities who have locked into a single port on the West Coast as the main “go to” port for goods.
Is it wise to prepare for worse? Yeah, it’s not a bad idea. But is it a certainty? No. Especially not if the Dems freaking lose this time as they almost certainly should have lost the last time.
If there is anything that is disheartening, it’s the The Clod in Cali survived a recall, as did the Twit in Ottowa. How fucking stupid ARE these voters?
Carpe Diem is a good place to find some info on the opposing view — I’m not going to assert you shouldn’t take Dr. Perry with a grain of salt, but he’s generally using reliable data.
This is 10y old, but
The Truth About U.S. Manufacturing
The average American factory worker today is responsible for more than $180,000 of annual output, triple the $60,000 in 1972.
That’s more than inflation. And I’m sure it’s gone up even more in the last 10y.
Chart: US factory jobs as a share of US payrolls have been in steady decline for 75 years starting in 1943, and it’s not because of trade
Of all the things to notice: I made cookies that called for “1 pkg (3.4 oz) Jell-O pudding mix”. Guess what? The packages are now 3oz. Good enough for cookies, but what ELSE is shrinking that I’m not noticing?
OBH. re Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing: “Who do you think OWNS the patents on these processes, David?”
TSMC’s market cap is $559B, and their net income (trailing 12 months) was 20.5B. I’m curious as to what they pay for royalties on patents…it’s probably in the 10-K somewhere (at least it should be), but being lazy, I’ll start by asking if you happen to know the number.
Of course, not all knowledge is in the form of patent-protectable IP…’tacit knowledge’ can be equally important.
TSMC is a foundry. What they produce is bespoken by their customers. One large one is AMD. Most of the processors used for phones are based on the ARM architecture that was owned by a British company that licenses their IP to the various phone makers and TSMC is big in that as well but since they don’t sell their own designs, they aren’t responsible for licensing cost. TSMC bought many production assets from AMD when they decided to go “fabless”.
Many tech patents are used as bargaining chips in pools where the companies that contribute IP to the pool are able to use IP belonging to other pool members. The pools then go after any infringers from the outside.
MCS…”since they (TSMC) don’t sell their own designs, they aren’t responsible for licensing cost.”
Certainly not responsible for licensing costs of the *designs* that are produced for its customers, but I thought what OBH was referring to was patents on the *production process itself* that were held by other parties.
That is where the patent pools come in. They have developed a lot of technology over the years, I believe they are in pools with most of the other producers like Intel. Of course, not everything they know is in the pools. They probably have to pay for some IP from machinery producers as well. I’m not especially informed but I imagine there are ten or more big infringement actions going among the the different chip producers at any time, the pools let them limit the fighting to what’s important and help keep the riffraff out of the neighborhood.
I make a fruitcake that has nuts and dried fruit and no candied peel or citron whatsoever and it is the best thing ever. King Arthur has a similar recipe called Everyone’s Favorite Fruitcake.
My overall point is that the US’s manufacturing economy is the fourth largest in the world, behind the USA’s as a whole, China’s, and Japan’s.
Everyone here kvetches how we “don’t make anything any more” (and, while the supply chain disruptions arguably tie to this, it’s a side point, not the main point being complained about) — the REAL fact is that somehow the USA’s manufacturing arm is the third biggest in the entire world, in terms if financial income.
HOW exactly is that happening, given the lack of “not making anything to sell”?
Right. A huge part of the different processes being used are tied to US Patent rights, both final end products and intermediate products used as assemblies. we get more of the wealth extracted from what is being made than the actual country doing the making… BY FAR — to the tune of 25 to 1 up to 100 to 1, depending on where you identify the patents vs. other similar IP (i.e., “look and feel”),
This includes the industrial processes involved in the first place.
OBH: “My overall point is that the US’s manufacturing economy is the fourth largest in the world”
You have an attentive audience, OBH. If the US manufacturing economy is so large, then what precisely is the US making?
Try to buy a US-made microwave, or refrigerator, or TV set, or computer, or cell phone. Or even try to buy US made nuts & bolts. Go to the airport, and look at all the European, Brazilian, Canadian-made jets. Stand by the freeway and look at all the Japanese and German-made cars driving buy. Look at a US-assembled automobile, and count the number of imported parts — right down to the spark plugs!
With the best will in the world, it would be difficult to allocate value in a world of international supply chains. And we cannot assume that US Government statistics are compiled with the best will in the world, rather than trying to disguise the evidence of our eyes (and our unemployed neighbors) that manufacturing in the US has been crippled by a foolish Political Class dedication to unilateral “Free Trade”.
I’ve been making fudge for gifts for years. But I haven’t been making the range of fudges you have, nor using the cute little paper wrappers. May have to try it next year.
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