Sunday, November 2, 2008

Politics and math -- what a concept!

I love when conservative bloviators try to make government sound really terrible, like this one did a few days ago on a Vt-based blog:

Protecting the Vermont Brand
The label says "Produced for Bove's of Vermont." The sauce is produced for Bove's of Vermont. What more truth in labeling can there be? But Bove's of Vermont will have to pay a six-figure fine. Yikes! We wish Vermont would get as tough on real crime as it is on business.

Sounds pretty mean of the state, doesn't it? "The gummint is just trying to ruin small business here in our state," I hear them cry.

The blog entry referenced another article for more details. A sentence from the article: "The settlement ... requires Bove's to donate $50,000 worth of food to the Vermont Foodbank and pay a fine of $5,000"

That's not a six-figure fine, at least not to people who do math. Maybe he's using the two digits after the decimal point? And that not much of a fine, really. That $5 grand won't cover the state's cost in lawyers and wouldn't be a fraction of the company's lawyer fee.

What was the point? "The attorney general said it is manufactured in Rochester, N.Y. and contains California tomatoes and "only one type of cheese ... made in Vermont." The product has other ingredients whose "geographic origin ... was unknown to the company," the attorney general's news release said." Puts a different spin on it, doesn't it?

As for the $50k part? It doesn't mean company cost of $50k but rather retail price - the company is probably paying $8k-10k out-of-pocket at most. Finally, it's being given to the Food Bank, for chrissakes.

More Orwellian, though, the company will call all of it a donation, like ad-copy for the holidays: "We're donating $100,000 of food product to the Vermont Foodbank." - actual quote.

Yikes, indeed.

--- update:

Later this afternoon, it also occurred to me that the company will write off both the fine and the required donation of $50k from their taxes, gaining more than the cost of the product involved. Add the voluntary donation and the write-off. Good for the accounting department.

It then all becomes a huge ad campaign: $100k of product labeled with your name being given to thousands of hungry folks in your sales area - those are not the folks who are going to be offended by the "not made in Vermont" tag. The people who do buy into the "buy local, eat local" are the only ones who will be affected -- but many of them will be swayed by the "Gummint messing with po' little us" argument here.

You are keeping your employees happy by maintaining their jobs in a bad time. They've already started the "We're wonderful for giving $100000" spin.

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