“The Twinkie Manifesto”: Krugman’s Latest Masterpiece

Michelle Obama and Mayor Bloomberg must be beside themselves. After all, what possible news could send a tingle up their respective legs faster than knowing that Hostess Brands, the iconic makers of sugary treats and “white” bread no less, has gone under. Despite their connections –and/or confections– don’t look for a bail out.

Yes, the maker of Twinkies, HoHo’s and Ding Dongs, after failing to get wage and benefit cuts from thousands of its striking workers (members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union), has decided to call it quits. “We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in announcing that the firm had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter its business. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.” In announcing its decision, Hostess said its wind down would mean the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the United States. Surely a worthy price to pay.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this is just one more example of how a labor union has behaved selflessly, wisely sacrificing its members’ most practical interests by focusing instead, on doing its part in the war on obesity. And if that’s what you’re thinking, then take comfort in knowing that the NY Times Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, is right there with you. Krugman almost single-handedly resurrected the importance of “location theory,” an all-important but previously neglected branch of economics. So naturally, he decided to weigh-in on the demise of the Twinkie. In his most recent opinion piece entitled, “The  Twinkie Manefesto,” Krugman quickly dispenses with any formality by reminding those of us who don’t agree with him that when we don’t, we’re homophobic, sexist and racist. His point is that back in the 50′s –in the heyday of the HoHo– even the rich, who paid their fair share back then, enjoyed HoHos and “workers were not begrudged their power to bargain for decent wages and benefits.”

Ahh, the good ol days.

Krugman isn’t about to comment on the fact that nearly 20,000 jobs were just lost by a desperately low margin manufacturer that couldn’t even get close to its union’s demands –demands that included the newest insurance coverage dictates of the Act.  Instead, you get the idea that he believes and is comfortable with the idea that natural selection is at work.  I can accept living in a world without Twinkies and HoHo’s, but as long as the Krugman’s and Limbaugh’s of the world steadfastly continue to meet our expectations –refusing to offer up opinions that might actually contradict their partisan sensibilities– we won’t have to worry about living in a world without Ding Dongs.

—Tom Finn

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