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Toxic Toddler Planet
Hydration Profiteering and the Stupidest Ape in the Galaxy
© 2013 James LaFond
Yesterday I viewed Tapped, by Atlas Films, a documentary on bottled water politics. Unlike most of the documentaries I view it was pretty main stream, made by people who believe that Uncle Sam is not a pedophile…
The documentary has the usual litany of lying obfuscating corporate spokesdroids, pie-in-the-sky activists, really smart scientists, really stupid government regulators, inconsolable victims of corporate greed and toxic dumping…all of the untouchable bad guys and ineffectual good guys that have made news programs such as 60 Minutes good informative soul-crushing entertainment since I was a little brat.
I recommend this film for anybody and everybody. Let me give you my personal experience with the subject in hopes of adding some perspective.
Note: I will make no effort to spell check the names of major corporations. They are not worth the wear and tear on my finger joints.
Nasty, Brutish and Never-ending
I have worked my entire adult life in retail food. In 1981 the bottled water section contained a case pack worth of distilled water for car batteries and home medical equipment, and a case pack worth of imported sparkling water in a glass bottle. That is not even a half of a lineal foot in the beverage aisle. Today, I would never set a store with less than 32 lineal feet of shelving allocated for water. This is minimal and would need to be supplemented with pallet displays. We buy these pallets of 72 24-pack cases a tractor trailer at a time.
One pallet of water is a ton-and-a-half of stuff [on an 80-lb wooden frame pallet that some guy that was too short to play high school basketball has to stack 7 feet high] you need to process that only makes you about $40. By the time you’re done paying the chain-smoking receiver to drag it off the truck, the alcoholic clerk to display it, the domestically abused cashier to ring it up, and the Downs’ Syndrome kid to put it in someone’s trunk, there is not a lot of rape-and-pillage room for the manager and owner—then there is the 50K a month utility bill, the million dollar a year rent, the 50K a year in slip-and-fall settlements…The bottom line is food retailers work on a .5% to 2% profit before equipment and remodeling purchases. They just provide local jobs. The money is made by the manufacturer.
In the early 1990s we grocery clerks joked about what kind of idiot would buy bottled water. Now we are those idiots; without a water fountain to drink from, two old to drink sodas and milk, in too much of a hurry to sip coffee like some hung-over construction worker, and too poor to drink juice smoothies except on pay day…
The film makers of Tapped focus on Nestle [the main force in bottled water politics], Pepsi and Coke, who each have numerous brands of bottled water.
The first major issue is that these companies pump municipal water—purified with tax dollars—for free, and then compete against that water supply and sell the bottled version back to us at astronomical profits, and the bottles end up polluting that same water supply.
The second major issue is the fact that the manufacture of the PET bottles poisons people near the production facilities, that drinking from the bottles poisons the giant toddler that is the modern person as they walk around sucking on them, and that the discarding of these bottles is poisoning the oceans.
Where this film is incomplete is in their targeting of the soft drink companies. Coke and Pepsi use far more water in bottling their sodas than in bottling water, and earn even larger profits. Also, if the water in these bottles can leach out the benzenes and other chemicals that cause a slew of health issues, what do you think that Coca Cola does? My father-in-law used Coke to remove road tar from the tires of his family car.
In 2006 I took a position as the general manager of an independent food market after 25 years as a grunt for various independent and corporate outfits. This was a four year gig to get my youngest son through college before I dropped back out of the economy. I had been setting up stores for most of those two and a half decades and knew going in that soda was the new ‘milk’.
Supermarkets have been traditionally set up so that milk and bread, the two staples of the traditional American diet, were farthest from the front door. This would require the shopper to pass by everything that actually makes a profit for the market, and hopefully buy some of it. Items like milk and bread that are staples are not profitable for the retailer, as they are the object of intense competition. Sooner rather than later some retail food honcho will decide to give the stuff away to take customers away from the competition, and then everybody is doing it. Such items are called ‘loss leaders’.
The last two stores I set with soft drinks back with, or even behind, the milk. This is not because sodas sell more than milk. They don’t, though they are closing in. This is done because, while milk is a very low profit item, sodas are a zero profit item! You see, milk is milk. But Coke is Coke, not Pepsi, and certainly not Randy Andy Pop. Now that the modern adult toddler and its brood are thoroughly addicted to sweetened carbonated beverages marketed for a century as brand-loyalty-based delicacies, ‘loss leader’ status for these products has put the two big soda companies in control of retail food.
Walmart may be evil. But, they are less evil than Pepsi and Coke and are the only planetary force able to stand up to them—and they have. One of the reasons why mom & pop markets, and eventually supermarket chains, will fall before operations like Walmart and upscale versions like Wegmans, is that only when operating at such a scale may a retailer negotiate terms with the multinational beverage giants, or, better yet, bottle their own poison.
I used to work for Pepsico as a merchandiser. Pepsico is the umbrella for Pepsi/Fritolay. When I bought a Coke and brought it on the truck my boss had a cow, and informed me that we would be fired if caught drinking it. On the side of every Fritolay chip box was the Pepsico symbol, two praying hands engulfing the globe. Pepsico and Coke are evil empires that utilize the kind of corporate iconography that one would expect to find on a James Bond spoof like Get Smart.
Years later, when I walked into my first meeting with the soft-drink overlord’s emissary my boss, Andy the independent store owner, was shaking in fright, knowing that he was being bent over the economic barrel. In this annual economic sodomy ritual both soda empires sent in their local economic hit men to announce that our prices would be going up again. If we expanded their cooler space—at the expense of selling profitable food items—our prices would only go up as much as every other outfit. If we did not ‘play ball’ our prices would go up more, and we would be relegated to competing with convenience stores instead of grocery stores. These suited pricks admonished us when our single serve sales went down. When I suggested that we kick the bastards out and sell locally bottled items and micro-brew sodas at deep discounts, and try to carve out a hometown niche, Andy looked at me like he was Himmler and I was Goering, and I had just suggested kicking Hitler in the nuts.
The bottom line is the people you buy sodas from do not make the profit. The money slides right up the pyramid to the multinational beverage companies, all because you love that wrapper. The only beverages that your neighborhood retailer—or even Walmart for that matter—make any coin on are the off brands. In retail food the big brands that you have to have: Bounty; Kraft; Hellman’s; any name-brand cereal; Tide; Pepsi; Coke are handled gratis by the retailer. Everything you grew up wanting based on advertising becomes a ‘loss leader’ to the food retailer by the time you are a full grown toddler.
The insane byproduct of 1950s brainwashing called ‘brand loyalty’ is the primary reason why grocery store employees that made $12 an hour in 1993, make $9 an hour in 2013. A generation of wage slaves is toiling below the poverty line because this planet of giant brain washed toddlers sucking on their toxic bab-bas have to suck from the bottle decorated in the package they were conditioned to equate with quality when they were children.
Cheap and Selfish Beats Stupid and Loyal
Aluminum and plastic are not stable materials. They leach and dissolve, particularly at and above room temperature. Buy some Mexican Coke in a glass bottle and taste test it against the American Coke in the PET nipple. Taste with your mouth instead of your eyes. Even though the overpriced imported Mexican stuff was bottled with rat piss and water from sources where the Mexican Army and drug gangs routinely dump bodies, it still tastes better than the poison you are in love with.
If you are actually concerned with how much you are spending on this stuff, this is what I do. I spend $20 per week on groceries. I drink tap water and coffee made with tap water. I can walk around the lake where my water comes from if I want to, and have. I occasionally buy glass bottled juices bottled by small outfits, which have screw tops. I clean and refill my glass bottles with tap water and keep them cold. When I have brewed too much coffee I pour it hot into a clean bottle and screw on the lid. The bottles seal, and the coffee stays fresh for at least six months, and makes better tasting iced coffee than anything I have had at a restaurant short of Thai Coffee.
The best part is I don’t have to haul all of that water weight home from the store. If you did not drive, and had to carry everything you consumed, you would realize what a good idea piping water in is, as opposed to bottling and carrying it. It is no accident that civilizations have usually been built, since the Neolithic age, on hydration systems that utilize gravity-powered or pressurized channels, just like the planet we live on does. Putting that stuff in a container and hauling it was the first bad stone-age idea that stone-age people did away with.
We are now living on a planet where our rulers sanction, and we subsidize, the most profitable bad idea to be reinvented by a race of regressively stupid apes. This race of stupid apes is all the more foolish for thinking themselves superior to their distant ancestors, who got sick of having to marry extra females just to have enough hands on deck to haul water up from the river. The smartest dude in history was the guy that designed a pipe so he would only have one wife nagging him at dinner time rather than three synchronized menstruation vectors hissing in his ear while he desperately tried to get drunk!
You might wish to read The Most Coveted Stuff below on this blog.
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