This Is Not My Beautiful Fish

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Order the "grouper" in the Tampa Bay area, and you're more than likely to get anything but. A St. Petersburg Times survey of 11 restaurants featuring grouper showed that six served their customers a cheaper fish instead.

The same thing happens all the time in American government, metaphorically speaking. Take Social Security: We ordered a "safety net," and got a Ponzi scheme. We ordered Health Care reform and got the Bush Medicare expansion.

NEXT: Back to the Bench, Andy

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  1. We ordered a constitutional republic and got a tyranny of the majority.

  2. Ordered a Strong National Defense.

    Got a pre-emptive invasion.

  3. I ordered escolar and got grouper

  4. Ordered the 4th amendment.

    Got drug sniffing K-9’s who aren’t considered searches, strip-searching TSA screeners; no-knock military style searches by SWAT teams for non-violent offenders; judges allowing evidence after cops improperly served search warrants, and mandatory disclosure of your identity to anything with a badge.

  5. Ordered the 4th amendment.

    Got drug sniffing K-9’s who aren’t considered searches, strip-searching TSA screeners; no-knock military style searches by SWAT teams for non-violent offenders; judges allowing evidence after cops improperly served search warrants, and mandatory disclosure of your identity to anything with a badge.

  6. Ordered a can-do, conservative, CEO president.

    Got a debt-&-spending moronic poseur

  7. I, uh, got the grouper.

  8. Ordered escolar and got the runs…

  9. As a fish-eating libertarian, I find that grouper — like universal healthcare — is no real prize. Like less costly government, cheaper fish is often better than more expensive fish.

  10. I don’t know who this Taylor Buley character is, but that was a mighty weak little “segway into libertarian bitching” stunt there. That kind of weakness is better suited for yer personal blog, not H+R.

    And anyway, the big difference is that when consumer advocate groups and reporting news outlets uncover this kind of trickery in the private sector, consumers can opt to choose somewhere else.

    When the government does it, well, it’s their way or the prison-way.

  11. Let’s just say that the restaurants listed as not serving grouper are not the top-o’-the-line restaurants here. There are an increasing number of restrictions on commercial fishing in the Bay Area, so the availability of grouper is more limited than it once was. Thus the fraud (by the suppliers, the restaurants, or both).

    However, for any true seafood restaurant (i.e., not WingHouse or Hooters), it’s a stupid move not to serve grouper. People eating cheaper, substitute fish won’t be impressed and won’t rave about it when they go home. That’s bad. Also, there are a lot of people down here who would quickly recognize a substitute or at least wonder at the quality of what they were eating. I’ve caught and consumed my own danged grouper, so they better not try that crap on me. Catfish for grouper. That’s blasphemy.

    Incidentally, for anyone who travels down this way, the Hurricane at St. Pete Beach is a real treat. The food is good (esp. the grouper sandwich, even if it isn’t the best around anymore), but the location is primo–pretty much right on the Gulf on a reasonably uncrowded beach.

  12. Catfish for grouper. That’s blasphemy.

    Agreed. Coming from an ex-restaurant guy, the common substitutes are striped bass, tilefish and wreckfish (no lie…that’s it’s name).

    Although you, Pro L, would probably no be fooled, depending on how it’s cooked (fried, grilled or blackened), trust me it can be hard for even a knowledgable fish eater to tell the difference.

    You’d be surprised how many folks can’t tell.

  13. Baylen,

    Grouper isn’t my favorite, either, but I think it’s very high on the list of Great Eatin’ Fish of the World. It’s hard to really compare, because fish vary so much–as does the preparation of the fish. Wahoo is nice, yellowtail snapper rules (as do other snappers), and, of course, no discussion of fish can be had without mention of tuna (preferably uncooked or seared). I’ve also heard that triggerfish is one of the very best, but that’s one I haven’t had yet.

    I’m also fond of the inshore fish, like seatrout, redfish, and snook. I’m also getting quite hungry.

  14. “I don’t know who this Taylor Buley character is, but that was a mighty weak little “segway into libertarian bitching” stunt there. That kind of weakness is better suited for yer personal blog, not H+R.”

    I ordered logical posting. I got the red herring. Heh heh…ahh.

  15. I ordered the Screaming Moonbat (Badnarik) and I got yelled at by a bunch of Massachusetts liberals that don’t understand the Electoral College or the FEC funding formulas.

  16. Rumor has it there’s water at the bottom of the ocean.

  17. Buley’s attempt was a truly pathetic segway, but a rather clever segue.

  18. madpad,

    I don’t doubt that I could be fooled, too, though it would depend on the substitute and how gussied up the fish was. Of the Times’ list, the only ones that I’ve personally caught serving pseudo-grouper are La Teresita and Hooters. The latter I forgive, because I expect little, cuisine wise. I also forgive La Teresita, because it’s a great little Spanish restaurant that costs next to nothing. Though their Russian Trout better be trout!!

    I hereby declare this an all-fish thread! The connection between fish lies and government lies was a stretched metaphor at best (Jennifer–segues require “seamless transitions”. Segways require “meaningless hype renditions”). And–in case y’all couldn’t tell–I’m having major fish withdrawal symptoms.

  19. Pro Liberte:
    The Hurricane? C’mon, man, that’s so 1989! It’s all about Guppy’s these days. Whenever the various grouper fishing bans take effect, Guppy’s takes grouper off the menu. No frozen fish there.

  20. Segways require “meaningless hype renditions”)

    As well as the ability to allow fatasses to go through life getting even less exercise than they currently do. And in that regard, Buley’s attempt was a catastrophic failure on par with our adventure in Iraq; there’s not a single documented case of a fatass able to reduce his calorie-burning as a result of this post.

  21. Jennifer,

    Unless they decide to switch to an all-fish diet, thanks to the fish subtopic 🙂

    Say, is your Iraq comparison a subtle dig at joe for doing the same to your don’t-point-the-gun-at-a-prostitute discussion? Just curious.

  22. Lamar,

    That’s the one on Indian Rocks Beach, right? I’m sure it’s better as far as the food goes. The Hurricane is merely good, though it used to be great back when it was a shack. I’ll have to try Gully’s out.

    The Hurricane does have a great location, and it’s nice to drink mojitos on the roof and watch the sunset. Oh, yeah.

  23. The Hurricane does have a great location, and it’s nice to drink mojitos on the roof and watch the sunset. Oh, yeah.

    You are not making work any easier today. 🙂

  24. What is the deal with pass-a-grille beach anyway? I lived in eastern hillsborough in 97-98 and we loved that beach for the lack of crowds and the Hurricane restaurant. I was talking at work one day and the co-workers(hillsborough hillbillies granted) say that Pass-a-grille beach is the gay beach. That true? You never can tell with rumors, myths, and locals.

    Anyway, best beach in Tampa Bay, best restaurant(due the the rooftop view).

  25. ProL:
    You are right about the Hurricane’s location, it’s one of the few places where the beach isn’t overtaken by 20 story hotels (the pink one is exempt from my fury).

  26. andy,

    First time I’ve heard that one. I think there might be a bit of a gay community living in the area, so it may have a larger gay component than, say, Clearwater Beach. The beach, though, has always struck me as more family oriented than anything else. Who knows? I’m always the last one to figure such things out.

  27. I ordered fruit juice and got HFCS!

  28. Hey smacky, I got some fruit for ya. Wanna cyber?

    Kidding, I’m sorry.

  29. Finally, everything that everyone agrees upon. Sounds fishy. I can see it now, a donkey, an elephant and some kind of fish. DC

  30. Lamar, I forgive the Don CeSar, too 🙂 Incidentally, that’s where Cato University was held this year. Wish I had the money and the spare time to have attended! Libertarian philosophy, beach, seafood, alcoholic beverages of choice. Ah, that’s the life.

    smacky, welcome to the Bay Area Lovefest, already in progress.

  31. I wish that they tested Shells restaurant, its the Florida chain that is reasonably priced. We always try to hit a Shells when we go to Fla.

  32. Let’s all take potshots at government! But hey, speaking of fish, what with my first child just being born, did you know that pregnant women cannot eat fish anymore? My wifes doctor told her not to eat any fish during her pregnancy, and many of her recently childbearing friends were told the same. It seems that (gasp) private companies acting in the free and magical market have so polluted the water with mercury and stuff that now all of us have our choices, yes, RESTRICTED! This is an example of something I’ve long accepted: that one’s liberty can be screwed by a big free market worshipping company just as fast as by your government (in fact, faster; at least the government has to worry about that next election). It seems to me that true libertarianism that is concerned with expanding the average freedom of choice among the populace will have to admit that market failure happens and that it puts limits on us all, thus government is at times a necessary curb on other harmful institutions (like business, family [think judicial bypass in underage abortion decisions], community etc.). In fact the example noted here about the grouper is classic about the imprefect nature of the magical mystical market: most will never notice the fish you eat is not grouper so the establishment will never be ‘punished’ in the classical libertarian sense of consumers going elsewhere. It often pays in the market to screw your fellow man.

  33. “Kidding, I’m sorry.”

    If you don’t watch it, she’ll hunt you down and you’ll find out first hand why she’s called “smacky”.

  34. “It often pays in the market to screw your fellow man.”

    It often pays in government to screw your fellow man.

  35. The St. Petersburg Times is part of the private sector. It exposed the grouper fraud. Ergo, people who read the article or hear about it may steer clear of the non-grouper restaurants.

    Not to mention that the body count and the wholesale daily oppression ratio for corporations compared to that of governments is, say, one to ten million?

    On the flip side, there is the prisoners’ dilemma, which means that mutual screwing is a part of life. We can reach equilibrium points that favor cooperation over betrayal, but the fact is, there are no guarantees. Oh, well. Just don’t expect the government to help. They’ve got a vested interest in betraying you, too.

  36. Who in their right mind eats seafood at Hooter’s?

  37. Men who like big breasts? Is this a trick question?

  38. Hooters calls its fish “Grouper’s Cousin.” Isn’t that a giveaway that it isn’t grouper?

  39. “The St. Petersburg Times is part of the private sector. ”

    Good point. But for every private newspaper expose there are thousands of instances where a government inspector’s work does the same job.

  40. Social Security isn’t a Ponzi Scheme. Benefits are paid out of the current general fund and will continue to be.

    There’s a demographics “problem” (quotes because it’s easily solved), namely shortly there will be too many retirees and too few workers. Solution : raise the retirement age, and everything’s back in balance.

    What the payments are, are an inflation-proof annuity – you can’t outlive your income. Most people die soon enough to support the people that live a long time, but that’s how an annuity works.

    Trying to replace it with savings is stupid – few can save enough to cover themselves against living a long time, and private annuities are not inflation-proof ; and, worse, it suffers the same demographics problem, namely everybody is buying now and selling later at the same time.

    If you want to retire sooner than the raised retirement age, just save on your own enough to bridge the interval to the raised social security retirement age.

  41. Ken,

    Assuming you’re not being sarcastic, mercury in seafood has nothing to do with pollution. It’s just there naturally, working it’s way up the food chain. Tuna and Swordfish are at the top of the food chain, so they have the highest concentrations of mercury.

    http://seafood.ucdavis.edu/Pubs/mercury.htm

    BTW, fish eating islanders have been eating much more fish than your wife (after college?), and they have perfectly healthy babies.

  42. Oh, and I have eaten seafood at Hooters.

    What the grouper’s cousin lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity.

  43. Say, is your Iraq comparison a subtle dig at joe for doing the same to your don’t-point-the-gun-at-a-prostitute discussion? Just curious.

    If it is, it’s so subtle even I didn’t get it.

  44. Hooters calls its fish “Grouper’s Cousin.”

    And they call the chicken breasts “Groper’s Cuisine.”

  45. Men who like big breasts?

    Unless Omega-3 has some properties I don’t know about, the view is the same while eating wings.

    Which is what they’re known for, I hear.

  46. True enough, Happy Jack. However, I don’t like their wings. Which may explain why I don’t go there much these days.

    Jennifer, that’s pretty subtle. Stealth subtle.

  47. raise the retirement age, and everything’s back in balance. What the payments are, are an inflation-proof annuity – you can’t outlive your income. Most people die soon enough to support the people that live a long time, but that’s how an annuity works.

    But one can make a serious, non-hysterical argument that Social Security helps contribute to the fact that black people tend to be poorer than white people, because the average age a black man dies is well before he can start collecting. What is the average black male lifespan in America–something like 62? The money that he paid into the system and never gets back (nor do his heirs get it) is money that he can’t save for himself or pass on to his children.

    Yet at the same time, we can’t have a system with different retirement ages for different races. Why not a system where people get to keep their own damned money rather than subsidize the long-lived at the expense of those who die sooner?

  48. Say, I have a thought. Let me opt the heck out. If I don’t have any money when I’m old, just shoot me.

    I’d rather we junked the social security “tax” and just paid for the thing openly from general revenues. Then the debate will be over the real thing and not over the perceived “trust fund”.

  49. I hope I am still around to see how the few working young act/rule when they see all the retired/lingering fatass boomers whining and complaining about every ache, pain, bill, pill, doctors, etc.

  50. But one can make a serious, non-hysterical argument that Social Security helps contribute to the fact that black people tend to be poorer than white people, because the average age a black man dies is well before he can start collecting.

    That argument’s crap on two different fronts, and I really wish libertarians would stop using it. One, it doesn’t make any sense to make compare average lifespan from birth when the major points of deviation are in higher rates of infant mortality and mortality from teen violence. As a general rule, all infants and most teens haven’t paid anything in to Social Security, so their skewing the average lifespans of black people don’t really have a whole lot of bearing on the issue. Black men who make it to retirement age don’t live appreciably shorter lives than white men who do.

    But furthermore, Social Security payouts are progressively indexed. The working poor get a better return than the middle or upper classes do. The working poor are also much more likely to tap the Social Security disability benefit than the middle or upper classes do. So the argument that the system is a worse deal for blacks is pretty weak sauce.

  51. RJ, Good points. A Harvard report says a black that reaches 60 has three years less life expectancy than whites. That drops to one year when they reach age 70.

  52. There is more mercury in fish like that than in vaccines. I suggest staying away from all fish products…. and vaccines. oh, and Hooters too.

  53. and wreckfish (no lie…that’s it’s name).

    Wreckfish? Hell, it killfish!

  54. Okay, RJ. But my point still stands–if a guy who dies at 62, neither he nor his heirs get any of the money he paid into the system. The obituaries our paper printed a couple of days ago featured the following appalling ages: 28, 41, and 37. Those three people’s heirs will never see a penny of the Social Security money they paid. So why not let people keep their own damned money rather than have those with shorter lifespans (and their heirs) subsidize those with longer ones?

    If you must have it, apply strict means testing and call it outright “welfare for old people” and “welfare for the disabled” rather than pretending it’s some hard-earned investment thing. It would still be cheaper than what we’ve got now, and hurt less people and families who would be much better off if they didn’t have to pay so much in FICA taxes.

  55. Was it just a flip comment, or does Taylor W. Buley really think the fact that when “we ordered” such-and-such, that caused some different thing in each case to be delivered in American gov’t? And is that different from what happens under other countries’ gov’ts?

  56. But my point still stands–if a guy who dies at 62, neither he nor his heirs get any of the money he paid into the system.

    Well, that’s not entirely true. If he has a wife, she’s entitled to the benefits he’s accrued — full benefits if she choose to retire at 65, reduced benefits on a sliding scale if she retires between 60 and 65. Under some circumstances, survivors’ benefits can also go to unmarried children and even grandchildren.

    And, of course, the same complaint could be leveled about a guy who purchased a lifetime fixed annuity at 55, but died at 62. The purpose of an annuity is to insure against unexpectedly long life, just as the purpose of a life insurance policy is to insure against an unexpectedly short life. Naturally, there will always be some who end up paying in, but not collecting the benefit. If there weren’t, then no one could offer the coverage.

    And listen, I’m an anarchist — I’m not arguing in favor of Social Security. I just don’t like to see our side repeat GWB’s bogus arguments.

  57. And I’d like to see some damned blog posts, Lehmann!

    – Josh

  58. P L:I’d rather we junked the social security “tax” and just paid for the thing openly from general revenues. Then the debate will be over the real thing and not over the perceived “trust fund”.

    Jennifer:If you must have it, apply strict means testing and call it outright “welfare for old people” and “welfare for the disabled” rather than pretending it’s some hard-earned investment thing.

    Amen.

    That has been my song for a long time.

    And, R.J. Lehmann, while what you say is generally true, the FICA tax (and more particularly the social secuity “surplus”) is particularly odious in that it is sold as a “pension contribution” while it is, in fact, nothing more than another way for the government to raise revenue for general spending.

    There are just too many people who believe that they own a “Social Security Account” and not just an entitlement to go on welfare when they reach a certain age.

    And, of course, the same complaint could be leveled about a guy who purchased a lifetime fixed annuity at 55, but died at 62.

    Not really. His heirs will receive a portion the unpaid balance of the annuity. Or, at least, that’s how my mother’s works. Mind you, she has lived so long that that value is now close to zero.

  59. If I had back the money I’ve paid into SS–not even with interest, or adjusted for inflation, just the raw dollars…

    Interesting concept. I wonder how many people would take that option if given the choice, with the understanding that they’d be on their own when they retire. And if enough people chose to do it, would the savings in future payouts cancel out the abrupt decrease in funding? And would crazed, torch-carrying AARP fogies burn down the Capitol?

  60. Considering demographics and the national debt, Ed, IF I get any SS payments when I’m old they’ll probably equal about 20 bucks a month in today’s dollars. So when I plan the next forty or fifty years of my life, I operate on the assumption that I either won’t get any SS money, or if I do it’ll be a purely honorary amount.

  61. Mind you, she has lived so long that that value is now close to zero.

    Zero, that is, to her heirs.

    It’s worth a lot to her since it continues to deliver an income stream. Almost like free money at this point. 🙂

  62. damm too late for the tampa part of the disscusion

    oh well my vote is for salt rock grill

    and i am sure those resturants grouper policies will change if they know whats good for them …tampa eats alot of grouper…i think some of the buildings are made from nothing but grouper

  63. doublespeak,

    Salt Rock Grill came up in a conversation on the same topic at my office. I haven’t been there, but it’s supposed to be great. I’ve heard that it’s being sold, though. Hope it doesn’t go the way of the Sea Breeze.

  64. The objection to FICA is that it’s _not big_ enough.

    It just goes into the general revenues like all taxes, for a good economic reason, that the government must instantly return to the economy every cent it takes in, lest the money supply fall. (Equivalent statement : the government cannot save.)

    But what FICA is is a flat tax, which is just what you want. Expand it to cover all income, and raise the rate to about 20%, and you can eliminate the income tax.

    A flat tax gives everybody a stake in what the tax rate is, and there is by survey remarkable agreement across incomes that 25% ought to be the highest tax bracket anybody pays.

    If everybody pays, it’s easy to enforce. Nobody will support an increase if they have to pay for it.

    The argument about investing your FICA contributions is bogus, in any case, just like investing your income tax would be. It’s just a tax going to general expenses.

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