Magazine | May 9, 2016, Issue

Supersize My Government, Please

The bag of coffee was on sale, so I thought I’d try a new brand. It was McCafé, a product of the McDonald’s Corporation, still believing that “Mc” is an attractive prefix and not a slangy shorthand for something quick and cheap. No one would say, “I need my head opened up. Hope I can find a McNeurosurgeon.” But as I said, it was on sale, and I am constitutionally unable to spend $14.99 for eight ounces of shade-grown, fair-trade, sustainable organic beans that were spat into by the hipster who ground them, because you shouldn’t buy your coffee pre-ground. Man, beans before swine. (Ptui)

The wire closure that cinches the bag fell off when the bag was opened. It had failed after three seconds of use. Well, roll it up. Second bag: same thing. That’s a 100 percent failure rate. It felt like the Seventies all over again: Nothing works, everything’s cheap. This is a problem and I want a presidential candidate to solve it for me. Dear possible leaders, the wire closures keep falling off my coffee bags! What say you?

Candidate No. 1: We don’t make wire-closing things anymore, it’s a disaster. Right? In South Carolina — where they love me by the way, I was ahead by millions and not even the polls saw that coming but we did very well, very well, and they have factories, okay? They don’t make anything. They used to make things. They don’t anymore. We’re going to change that. What’s that? How will we change it? Listen, we got smart people, Yale graduates, Harvard graduates, and they all say I’m one of the smartest people they know, and they know doctors. But you got dumb people — really, really dumb people — in charge of our wire situation. I’m sorry but a lot of dummies. A lot. We’ll work it out and it’ll be great. We’ll have so much wire, people will be saying, Where did all this wire come from? We will lead the world with the wire.

Candidate No. 2: For too long, Big Coffee has been punishing the American worker by downsizing the amount of wire you get! In the 1950s, a man could feed a family of twelve on what he made down at the wire works! Thirty years of unregulated capitalism has ruined the industry in this country! I have spoken to the men and women who used to be the backbone of the abacus industry, and they tell me they’re living off turnips and soup made from boiled dandelions because we let capitalism spread computers everywhere, and that’s why we need to break up the banks into small, digestible pieces with a caramel flavor, like those Werther’s candies I like to give to small children! Is it cold in here? Why do they keep it so cold in here? Waitress!

Candidate No. 3: You know, as I travel around the country, talking to people, people who are real people, I am reminded that it is the people who are the people of the country, and that’s why I have fought my entire career to fight for women’s health and access to opportunity and the right to have an opportunity to access wage equality. (Pause.) I have also worked hard in Washington to reach comprehensive solutions to the issues about coffee-bag wires we all share, but also to fight Republican efforts to force our children to eat contaminated lead by the bucket. They say, Oh, the science on eating lead, it’s not settled. I say it is settled, just like the right to choose is settled and Citizens United is not.

Candidate No. 4: Well that’s an interesting question. I hear that a lot. After eight years of Clinton-Obama policies it’s what we’re seeing in a lot of areas. But let me tell you what concerns me. A lot of the coffee-bag wire enclosures, they come from China. They’re our biggest trading partner, and they’re trying to manage an economic contraction. They have excess capacity in many industries, and they’re shutting down plants. A lot of people who moved from the rural area to the cities are out of work, just like here in America. But they don’t have the freedom that makes this great land so great. They don’t have a Constitution that gives them the right to dissent. I worry that social unrest in China will lead to recklessness in foreign affairs, and we are not prepared. When I am president, China will know better than to invade Taiwan, because we will have a president who’s not afraid to assert what God put us here to do. Let us pray.

Those are four approaches, and I suppose there are others. (“My father was a mailman, and he used wire to bundle together the mail people built up over vacation. He brought those letters together, and I can bring the country together.”) But they don’t address the real issue. First of all, those wire things fall off half the coffee bags you buy. It isn’t just a McDonald’s thing. Second, you have to wonder whether McDonald’s is branching out into grocery-store coffee to soften the impact of higher minimum wages on overall corporate growth. It would be refreshing if a candidate addressed those things — you know, it’s not really the worst problem in the world, and McCafé does say something about how corporations constantly seek new opportunities.

But the issue isn’t the wire. It’s the glue. The glue’s cheap. What if the candidate blinked and said, “Why, you’re right. I went charging ahead with boilerplate without really thinking. Sorry! I’ll try not to do that again, and I’ll really listen to what you say.”

President in a landslide.

– Mr. Lileks blogs at

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