Thursday, December 14, 2023

A Reverie of Hot Vernor's Ginger Ale


Jim Schutze, retired Dallas journalist, still shakes his fist at the sky in Facebook posts. Yesterday's rant caught my attention.

I ordered two twelve packs of Vernon's ginger ale from WalMart.

They said they would send me Vernor's ginger ale. They sent me Canada Dry.

Canada Dry. For Vernor's ginger ale.

OMG. Is this how it is now? I think I'm about done here.

Source: Jim Schutze.

That triggered a long-ago memory.

I replied to Jim Schutze: "My late father-in-law told how, at Michigan State football games in the 1940s, they would drink hot Vernor's Ginger Ale in the stands to keep warm. Thanks for bringing back that memory of mine of a memory of his."

In turn, my reply triggered another person's memory. Paul Riddell replied to me: "For my grandfather, that was a traditional Christmas drink, hot with a cinnamon stick. After my immediate family moved to Texas, he would load up his car and drive down from Michigan with a stock that would have lasted until June if my mother didn’t drink it all. (Vernors finally became available in Texas in 1983, and about half of my paychecks from my first high school job at Furr’s Cafeteria went into feeding my Vernors addiction.)"

Memories of memories. Good times.

Wait. It turns out there's an important lesson hidden behind this story. My father-in-law attended Michigan State University on the GI Bill after fighting the Nazis in WWII. Our country, through collective action (aka, government) defeated the Nazis. We funded the massive effort with debt, backed by tax dollars, and then used more tax dollars to send the soldiers who did the fighting to school after they returned home. Another worthy expenditure. That's why today I don't treat "government" or "taxes" as dirty words. It's how we collectively do great things.

But you wait yourself, you say. Today's government debt, you say, is much higher than after WWII. You're wrong, I say. Unlike WWII debt, you say, we'll never pay off today's debt. Even if true, I say, so what? Are you shocked by my attitude? Economist Paul Krugman has the explanation:

In fact, when governments for one reason or another run up large debts, it is, as far as I can tell, unusual to pay those debts off.

The most famous example, albeit one that many people apparently don’t know about, is the debt America incurred to fight World War II. By the war’s end, this debt was around 100 percent of gross domestic product — roughly comparable to the debt level today. So how did we pay off that debt?

We didn’t.

Source: Paul Krugman.

Read the whole story and learn something about why government debt is not like personal debt. And how this isn't a new-fangled notion to justify deficit-spending. It's how the US financed WWII. It's how Great Britain financed its war against Napoleon. Britain never paid off that debt, either. Like I said, read Krugman's whole story. You'll learn something. Or at least I did. Still, I'm left wondering what Wellington's troops drank at Waterloo to keep warm. That's a rabbit hole to pursue another day.

"OMG, the shock,
Canada Dry not Vernor's,
WalMart, what you do."

—h/t ChatGPT


Mark Steger said...

Ellen's own reverie: "Does this ever bring back memories--not mine, but Pop's! He talked so often of memories of drinking hot Vernor's Ginger Ale at Michigan State football games back on the day, that it became a Christmas present for him when he couldn't get Vernor's in Evansville, but I could get it in Dallas."

Steve Salavarria said...

All of this rant just because he probably forgot to uncheck the substitution box on his Walmart order? ;-)