Of all the narratives in all the world, the damn economists had to step into this one. In July, Freakonomics’s Stephen Dubner raised Michelle Obama’s blood pressure by praising the much-maligned McDonald’s — specifically, its $1 double cheeseburger. Responding to a reader who argued that the item was the “cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history,” Dubner took it upon himself to investigate. Then he discussed the question with critics on his weekly podcast. What he found surprised him: On a calories-per-dollar basis, the item beats out almost all of the competition. As the New York Post’s Kyle Smith observed, a 2007 University of Washington survey revealed that “junk food costs as little as $1.76 per 1,000 calories, whereas fresh veggies and the like cost more than ten times as much.” Sure, it is all very well for the well-to-do to frequent the Farmers’ Market. But if one is poor and hungry? Well, it turns out that McDonald’s isn’t so bad after all.
Phil Mickelson, once practically allergic to major victories, has won another: the British Open, at Muirfield on the Firth of Forth. He did so in stunning fashion, beginning the final day five strokes off the lead, shooting 66, and winning the tournament by three. Alas, victorious Mickelson seems to owe a little more than a nod to the gods: The compensation he received from his victory in Scotland has been taxed by the Scottish and U.S. authorities at a combined rate of 61 percent. (Mickelson made news last year by suggesting he may move from California to avoid its high taxes, but sports winnings are actually taxed by where they are earned, not the place of residence of the athlete, so he’s limited in what he can do.) California and Britain seem unlikely to adopt reasonable, competitive levels of taxation anytime soon, but might we suggest, at the very least, a golfer’s tax rate ought not to approach the score of his final round?