Supreme Court

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Suit Pitting Beverage Giants

How much pomegranate and blueberry must appear in "Pomegranate Blueberry" juice for the name not to be deceptive?

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POM Wonderful
POM Wonderful

This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in POM Wonderful v. Coca-Cola, a deceptive-labeling case that pits two of America's beverage giants against one another.

The case centers on Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry juice, made by Coke, which contains only trace amounts of pomegranate (0.3%) and blueberry (0.2%) juices.

"POM filed suit against Coca-Cola contending that Coca-Cola's labeling of the 'Pomegranate Blueberry' product is so misleading that it violates the Lanham Act," writes SCOTUSblog contributor Ronald Mann, in a good summary of the case. "[T]his harms POM because POM advertises and sells products that actually contain substantial amounts of pomegranate juice."

The case, the latest in a series of food law cases to reach the Court in recent years, has important implications for the future of America's food labels.

The issue in the case is whether POM can sue Coke under the federal Lanham Act "challenging a product label regulated" by the FDA. Lower courts had ruled POM could not sue Coke under the Lanham Act because FDA regulations already apply to—and allow—such labeling.

It's important to note here that—unlike the USDA—the FDA doesn't pre-approve food labels. Also, the agency has its own enforcement mechanisms in place in the event it deems any food to be misbranded.

The Lanham Act, meanwhile, allows suits in cases of certain conflicts between business competitors.

That overlap can create a situation in which the FDA thinks a label is perfectly fine, but a court can decide just the opposite. That's exactly what POM hopes will happen here.

There's been growing acknowledgement in legal circles that Lanham Act claims can conflict with FDA regulations.

These conflicts—if allowed to proceed—could prove costly for businesses.

Wiley Rein, a large law firm that filed an amicus brief in the case, cautions that these sorts of food-labeling lawsuits under the Lanham Act would create "overlapping layers of potentially inconsistent regulation."

"If Pom wins, food labels could come under increasing legal scrutiny, and it's possible many of them won't fare well," writes Businessweek's Susan Berfield.

Most reports this week, citing oral arguments, paint the case as a slam dunk for POM.

"Coca-Cola didn't get much love from the Supreme Court on Monday," reads USA Today's lede.

"Legal Experts Expect Supreme Court Will Rule in Favor of Pom," predicts an Ad Age headline.

Many of these reports focus on the Justices' references to a need to protect consumers against deceptive food marketing.

"I think it's relevant for us to ask whether people are cheated in buying the product," Justice Anthony Kennedy said during oral arguments. "Because Coca-Cola's position is to say even if they are, there's nothing we can do about it."

Other comments from the bench were no more encouraging for Coke.

POM has also played up the consumer-protection angle.

"The only point of including these two juices is so Coca-Cola can use a name that has the obvious purpose to mislead consumers about what they are buying," reported Ad Age, quoting an unnamed spokeswoman for POM. 

All this talk of consumer protection appears to have been unexpected.

While Mann's SCOTUSblog preview of the case last week used the word "consumer" just once, his summary of this week's oral arguments used the term "consumer" eleven times—including several times in quoting various Court Justices.

Despite the Court's repeated references to the need to protect consumers, those mentions ultimately might not matter.

While I'm no expert on the Lanham Act, prior scholarship by those who are tells me that while the Justices may feel consumers have been duped by the Minute Maid label, that fact should be irrelevant to determining the outcome of the case.

Why? Because the purpose of the Lanham Act is to protect businesses—not consumers—from unfair competition.

An American Bar Association publication on the Lanham Act states it bluntly: "The Lanham Act Protects Competitors, Not Consumers." The 2011 report goes on to clarify that "courts have observed that the Lanham Act is not a 'consumer protection act'; instead, the Act focuses solely on competition-related injuries."

That doesn't mean that a victory for POM under the Lanham Act is unlikely. It's just that the signal here is whether Coke's label statements unfairly harmed POM, while the noise from oral arguments—whether Coke's label statements unfairly harmed consumers—is not directly at issue in the case. And that means the "consumer" angle the media has latched onto might not be the right unit of analysis for predicting the outcome of the case.

What if POM loses, as it did in the lower courts?

Coke attorney Kathleen Sullivan argued before the Court, reports SCOTUSblog's Mann, that "the appropriate remedy for consumers, rather than a suit under the Lanham Act, was to go to the FDA."

While a Court ruling in favor of POM could open the legal floodgates to similar suits between competitors, the ruling that Sullivan urges—leaving labeling claims like those on the Minute Maid bottle to the FDA—would simply empower FDA bureaucrats. I'm skeptical of that option or—indeed—of any outcome that might strengthen the regulatory authority of the FDA.

It's easy enough to picture the agency wasting millions of dollars to determine just how much pomegranate has to be in "pomegranate" juice. That sort of regulating has already resulted in the creation of arcane, rigid, and unnecessary FDA standards of identity for foods, including ice cream and a host of other "frozen desserts."

Do we really want the FDA deciding how much blueberry must appear in a "blueberry muffin"? Of course not.

So what, if any, are the alternatives?

"In my ideal world, the FDA would stick to necessary work and consumers would be the ultimate arbiter of the legitimacy of marketing claims," said Jeff Stier, a lawyer and senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, in an email to me earlier this week. "In this world, Coca Cola wouldn't have to resort to silly defenses, the company would probably not have made the deceptive claims in the first place."

Stier's assessment rings true.

As I've written previously, "the federal government should '[o]pen up all food labels to any and all statements that aren't demonstrably false.'"

Disputes like the one in the case of POM and Coke should be hammered out first in the marketplace. Courts should be a last resort—they're no good, either, at answering the blueberry muffin question—followed at rather infinite distance by FDA regulators. While I'll temper my optimism, I hope the Supreme Court sees the case that way.

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  1. I’d think the simple fraud statutes that we already have on the books can handle this, but of course the government is going to rule in a way that gives more power to the government.

    1. Yeah, I took a quick look at the label and it is not at all obvious that this stuff has “only trace amounts of pomegranate (0.3%) and blueberry (0.2%) juices”. This easily falls under the umbrella of fraud in my book.

      Disputes like the one in the case of POM and Coke should be hammered out first in the marketplace. Courts should be a last resort?they’re no good, either, at answering the blueberry muffin question?followed at rather infinite distance by FDA regulators. While I’ll temper my optimism, I hope the Supreme Court sees the case that way.

      I’m not sure how Baylen thinks this could be hammered out in the market other than people spreading the word that this pomegranate blueberry juice contains half a percent combined pomegranate and blueberry. Yes, there’s no clear-cut delineation of what percentage justifies being called pom/blueberry juice, but half a percent easily falls into the bullshit category as far as I’m concerned. Definitely something that should be addressed in the courts.

      1. The Minute Maid label says:

        Apple, Grape And Pomegranate Juices from Concentrate, Fruit And Vegetable Juices (For Color), Blueberry Juice from Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Raspberry Juice from Concentrate, Modified Gum Acacia, DHA Algal Oil, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Citric Acid (Provides Tartness), Choline Bitartrate, Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate), Soy Lecithin, Vitamin B-12.

        I do not need specific percentages to read this and see that I am not getting pure pomegranate or blueberries. Particularly from a product that bills itself as a FRUIT BLEND.

        The POM label says that is 100% pomegranate juice.

        Thus, you have a product that made 100% of the juice of a specific fruit competing against a product that bills itself as a fruit blend. They are different products. Where is the unfair competition?

        If Minute Maid billed itself as being “as pure as POM at half the price,” that would be unfair competition. But are they doing that?

        1. “Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Fruit Juice Blend” contains pomegranate (0.3%) and blueberry (0.2%) juices. Yes I consider that fraudulent. If they gave some indication of the actual amounts then it would be caveat emptor. YMMV, but this crosses the line for me.

          1. How are you being harmed by this “fraud”? If you like the taste of the drink and are comfortable with the nutritional content, then buy it. If not, buy something else.

            You are part of about 1% of the population that would give a rat’s ass about the actual percentages, so by all means lets jump on this crime immediately!

            1. Well there’s evidence that certain antioxidants have health benefits and Coke is clearly playing off this by trying to market this as a pom drink when it’s 99.7% not. If they want to make it clear what the actual content is I would have no problem with it.

              If 99% doesn’t care about the actual percentages then why not make those percentages more transparent? In my opinion this crosses the line. Sorry this opinion get’s your panties in such a bunch.

              1. I drink Honest Tea Honey Green Tea because 1) it is delicious, 2) it is low in sugar, and 3) it is loaded with antioxidants. I don’t need to know the exact percentages in a “fruit blend” drink to know it’s a poor alternative to HT. It takes about 5 minutes of research to find that out. In fact, I began drinking the Honest Tea line of drinks after I read a review in Men’s Health. No government necessary.

                If antioxidants are that important to a consumer, all you have to do is read the label of the Coke product.

                1. If antioxidants are that important to a consumer, all you have to do is read the label of the Coke product.

                  And I already linked to the actual label which I consider to be misleading.

                  1. Yep, and as a consumer who cares about antioxidants, I can tell you it is obvious from the label that that is not a good drink for that purpose. It lists grape, apple and pom equally. It lists blueberry even farther down the list.

                    Just a modicum of research demonstrates that a “fruit blend” is very similar to a “fruit drink”, which is basically flavored sugar water. The thing to look for is “fruit juice”.

                    As stated further down the thread, let consumers sue if they feel like they were victims of fraud. They haven’t, so apparently the injury is not as great as you imagine.

                    1. They haven’t, so apparently the injury is not as great as you imagine.

                      I’m not “imagining” or attempting to quantify damage, I’m saying it crosses the line into fraud, and I have no problem with a competitor calling them on that in the court system.

                      As I said, simply being forced to have more transparency in what I consider deceptive marketing would be an ideal solution in cases like this.

                    2. So I just googled “antioxidant drinks”. The second result was a list of the top 16 anti oxidant drinks. POM was listed, but not Coke’s product, nor any “fruit blend” drink.

                      It took me seconds, and I could have done it in the store while standing at the display.

                      Since Coke does not advertise the anti oxidant benefits, and it’s easy to find out what drinks do have those benefits, where is the harm again?

                    3. It took me seconds, and I could have done it in the store while standing at the display.

                      Since Coke does not advertise the anti oxidant benefits, and it’s easy to find out what drinks do have those benefits, where is the harm again?

                      Yes, they are simply marketing it as pom/blueberry because blue labels are cheaper to print.

                      Regardless of antioxident claims, they are being ridiculously deceptive. I consider this to be deceptive enough to be reasonably actionable in the courts.

                      Obviously your idea and my idea of caveat emptor are different. Otherwise all I see is a whole lot of ohmigod-this-guy-hates-the-free-market bluster.

                    4. Fair enough. We just have an honest disagreement.

                      By the way, I saw your movie the other day…what a great way to blow a few hours…

                    5. Fair enough. We just have an honest disagreement.

                      Heh, now we can argue about when life begins…

            2. If you traded your money for a product that you were led to believe contained substantial amounts of pom and/or blueberry juice, then you were harmed because you did not receive the product you paid for. The bigger question is if the marketing/labeling can reasonably be said to be misleading, or if this is a case of buyer beware. That sounds like a great question for a court to decide. But to put it in perspective, 0.5% is about 2 teaspoons out of half a gallon. I lean towards this being deceptive and probably fraudulent.

              1. I lean towards this being deceptive and probably fraudulent.

                I agree. And it falls into the category of “why be a dick” on the part of Coke. If you are messing in the gray areas of propriety you’re probably not doing right by your customer. Why? What the fuck? You are the Coca Cola Co for Christ’s sake. Do the right thing.

                I’m considering selling my stock.

            3. People drink pomegranate and blueberry juice for their polyphenols and antioxidants. If something is labeled as a “pomegranate/blueberry blend”, it should primarily consist of those two juices. So, I’m not satisfied with the nutritional content, and the label is misleading.

              No, mislabeling shouldn’t be a “crime”, and regulatory agencies shouldn’t preemptively be able to go out and punish companies who mislabel their products. But legal action over mislabeling should be possible in civil court, both by competitors and consumers.

              1. Again, that information is readily available online if a consumer really cares about antioxidants. Also, the label clearly says “Fruit Juice Blend”, which anyone who has researched antioxidants at all would know is a big warning sign.

                Greater transparency can be demanded by consumers through the marketplace.

                The “harm” in this case is easily avoided- in fact, those who care about healthy eating would avoid this drink due to its sugar content.

                1. Yeah, but Bart, I shouldn’t need to go online to find out I’m being mislead. It’s only “easily avoided” if you’re plugged in. Is constant internet access now required to be a consumer?

                  Coke is being intentionally misleading IMHO. May constitute fraud, may not. The suit could have easily been avoided if Coke hadn’t been dicks.

                  To be clear, I’m not for regulation, but this is why there are civil courts.

                  1. By the way, you’d get more ‘bioavailable antioxidant effect’ from chewing coffee beans.

                    Beverages are sugar, water, and flavoring. Anything else your mind tells you you’re getting out of it is called “good marketing”

        2. My original comment wasn’t meant as an absolute beliefe that Minute Maid are engaging in fraud, but that whatever they’re doing, the existing fraud law probably covers whether or not it’s legal. But we’re going to get a ruling that gives new powers to the government out of whole cloth.

          1. It shouldn’t even be “fraud” (which is criminal), it should be a civil case. But it should be a civil case with teeth.

            1. Fraud is also civil, dude.

              1. Fraud is a criminal offense, “dude”. In addition, you can recover damages in civil court.

        3. Problem is that Pomegranete and Blueberry juices have specific health properties and are used by people specifically for those health properties. i.e. antioxidants “cleanse” and “detox” diets.

          So someone on a cleanse diet or whatever might see the minute maid label and think they are getting the compounds found in actual blueberries and pomeganetes.

      2. I’m not sure how Baylen thinks this could be hammered out in the market other than people spreading the word that this pomegranate blueberry juice contains half a percent combined pomegranate and blueberry

        So like, what just happened when you read this article, checked the product and realized that it wasn’t what you thought it was?

        You now know and can make a decision based on that knowledge – what else needs to be done.

        Unless you’re saying the market fails (and we need the heavy hand of a regulatory agency) if it doesn’t provide enough information for you to *never*, ever, ever buy a product that isn’t quite what it says it is?

    2. I think requiring companies to label their products clearly is one of the things that government can and should require.

      If regulatory bodies preemptively interfere in the market, that is a problem. But when this kind of regulation is enforced in response to private complaints and through the court system, I think that’s a reasonable compromise.

      1. This is just another sorry excuse for government bureaucrats to expand their empires. Consumer Reports and a ton of other organizations are quite happy to expose this kind of “fraud”, and if it really is fraud, then courts can whack them down in response to private lawsuits. There is nothing the government can do here that private companies and organizations aren’t already doing without the need for tax dollars and coercion backed by jail.

        1. I suggest you read what I actually wrote instead of attacking a straw man. Court action in response to private complaints is exactly what I suggested was the right thing to do.

      2. That’s one of those ‘good in theory’ ideas that just lead to ever more regulatory overreach.

        Do you know the European union has *laws* that specify what you can call a jam, a preserve, fruit spreads – along with specific dispensations for a few culturally unique products that don’t fall into one of those guidelines (like having carrots instead of fruit).

        But – don’t think another exception will be made for your tomato preserves.

  2. I think I’ll sue for truth-in-labeling law for politicos. How much of a not-republican does a Republican have to be before (s)he can’t call itself “Republican” any more? How authoritarian does a Democrat have to be before they cannot imply their support for democractic gummint?

    Inquiring minds probably don’t exist, but I’m suing anyway!

    Oh, “libertarian”? We don’t need to ask, because there ARE no libertarians. You’re either TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE. Jonathon Chait told me so.

    1. If having the actual percentages of the juices listed in small print on the label constitutes fraud or “cheating people into buying the product,” what does that say about politicians who campaign on closing Guantanamo or eliminating the Department of Education?

      I mean, if we’re going to take bad actors to court for misleading labeling and promises, why not go for the ones who kill American citizens rather than selling them dubiously labeled fruit juice?

  3. Ontario won’t let graduates of Trinity Western law school become lawyers. The reason: The school’s rules prohibit “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

    http://religionclause.blogspot…..ot-be.html

    1. That makes sense, what lawyer worth their salt is not willing to screw somebody under any circumstances?

    2. Professional licenses are certifications of particular skills and services. Professionals not willing to perform those services shouldn’t get the certification.

      It’s dubious that we require people to have these certifications in order to practice (they should be optional and the client should decide). But requiring that the professionals are willing and able to perform what they are certified to do is a separate matter.

      1. So one of the services Ontario lawyers are expected to provide is “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”?

      2. Agreeing to not have gay butsekts yourself is a far cry from not being wiling to provide services to non-heterosexuals.

        Lots of people go to religious schools (or schools with strong religious affiliations) for the education – not because they accept the behavioral restrictions as *correct*.

        1. You’re missing the point. The OP points to a blog about the “free exercise” clause, but it has nothing to do with “free exercise”. A license or certification is simply a statement about whether a person satisfies some requirements.

          You’re arguing about the different ways in which my right to pick a lawyer should be restricted, when, in fact, we should remove such restrictions altogether.

  4. Newspaper finally finds its front page announcing the Lincoln assassination

    http://www.idahostatesman.com/…..f-abe.html

  5. “Feeling good following the Wizards’ Game 1 win, Wizards guard Bradley Beal visited a Chicago institution on Monday….

    “So what kind of pie did Beal order at Giordano’s, where they claim the stuffed pies are 40% bigger than their top competitors’ deep-dish pizzas?

    “Via the [Washington] Post’s Michael Lee, who asked Beal about his meal after seeing his tweet:

    “”I can’t eat that fat pie piece, whatever it’s called,” Beal said. “Deep dish pizza, I can’t eat that. I got the regular thin one. I didn’t eat a lot because I heard it’ll just sit there and you’ll be in the bathroom for hours.””

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ish-pizza/

    1. Okay, now that one is probably trolling.

  6. Am I missing something here. POM’s label proclaims that it is 100% pomegranate juice. Unless the Minute Maid product makes a similar claim, isn’t that all the information a consumer needs to make an informed choice — not to mention the ingredients label, already mandated by law, that spells out the content of the product? Exactly where is the “unfair competition?”

    And by the way, where is the documented proof that POM’s product truly is “Wonderful?” Doesn’t that deceive consumers? Isn’t that unfair to Tropicana, et al.?

    1. puffery is considered legal

    2. I agree.

      When consumer law is written with the dumbasses that can’t be bothered to spend 5 seconds to turn around a product and read the ingredients we all suffer. Remember this when you can’t find lawn darts, fireworks or heroin at your local wally-world.

      1. “You don’t *sell* alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives? What a rip-off!”

        1. Turns out they do, but they keep it quiet.

          1. I stand corrected.

          2. Well, more *give them away* than sell.

      2. Except in this case it’s not apparent even when reading the label, which is why see a good case for it being actionable. Doesn’t mean I think it should be handled by creating a precedent for an even more ham-fisted FDA or USDU regulatory environment.

      3. General Butt Naked|4.26.14 @ 9:06AM|#
        “I agree.
        When consumer law is written with the dumbasses that can’t be bothered to spend 5 seconds to turn around a product and read the ingredients we all suffer”

        I dunno. I find the “Open Other End” on the bottom of a soda bottle amusing.

    3. The label doesn’t tell you the percentage of that juice in the products. Personally, when something is advertized as Pomegranete/Blueberry, I would not assumne that apple juice would be the largest component. Nor that actual Pomegranete and Blueberry juices would be less than 1% of the volume.

  7. What site would you guys say is the best place to buy a refurbished laptop?

    It used to be Amazon, but I can’t find shit there any more.

    Mainly because they refuse to allow you to filter by Windows 7 Professional instead of just Windows 7.

    1. Abt might have new stuff that is cheap enough:

      http://www.abt.com/category/41…..uters.html

      For refurbish I usually do eBay, but I am not sure if they have Windows 7 pro as a filter option. I like dells because I use them a lot at work. Dell has an official ebay store for recent models but there are a bunch of 3rd party refurbished as well. I’ve found some still covered under the dell warranty by checking the service tag. I also have my own dell oem win7 media because too many people have pirated versions of that and office installed.

    2. I have several computers around the house. I have my primary at my desk, but have an old roving laptop that I comment on in front of teh teeeveee. It died the other day and I thought about getting a tablet…but I wanted a keyboard and a mouse… For all that it was going to be roughly $6-700.

      Ended up just getting a refurbished Dell Latitude E5500 for $199 at the Dell store. It came with Vista Business which I was going to swap out with Win 7, but I didn’t bother as all I use it for is to dick around on the interwebz.

      Couldn’t be happier, but it depends what you are using it for. For me, an old laptop was better and cheaper than a new tablet.

  8. Self-cleaning car

    Nissan “is experimenting with a special super-hydrophobic paint called Ultra-Ever Dry that it’s billing as “self-cleaning” for cars. It has been specially engineered to be extremely water- and oil-resistant by UltraTech International.”

    http://mashable.com/2014/04/25…..g1d2JjeiJ9

    1. Make the interior self-cleaning and they would have had something.

  9. Am I the only one who sees federal labeling rules and requirements as violations of the First Amendment?
    Evidently.

    1. Yes, you’re pretty much the only one. Product labels are part of a sales contract, and you can’t lie in a contract and use the First Amendment as a defense.

      1. Meh, you’re both half-right. Lying to your customers is not protected speech, sure. But being required to have certain labels — i.e., forced speech — could be argued to be in breach of the 1A.

  10. “Justices’ references to a need to protect consumers against deceptive food marketing.”

    Yes, without your mighty protection the human race would have ceased to exist thousands of years ago. We have no way of getting knowledge about the products we purchase. We’re all just a bunch of helpless children waiting the our black robed deities to lead us to salvation from ourselves. BTW..were the consumers complaining or just the competition? Can I bring a lawsuit against padded bra makers for deceptive marketing or just against all the chicks that wear them.

  11. SEIU house organ finds woman who can’t afford to live within 5 miles of her job! (but can afford yoga mats by the box-full):

    “City employees say they can’t afford to live in S.F.”
    […]
    “Even some San Francisco public employees – whose pay and benefits are often the envy of peers in government and the private sector – say the city has become too expensive for them during this tech boom. They are looking for raises after years of givebacks during the recession.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/…..431133.php

    And if you figure the “givebacks” were getting smaller raises, well, how clever of you!

    1. Well, her shirt says she’s an “Earth Citizen”, so she should just live somewhere on Earth and fucking commute.

      1. And given SF’s bloated employee count, they could simply fire her ass and then she could whine about being unemployed!

    2. I’m outraged. Ok, Better now.

    3. The SF teachers were making the same noise this week as well. What is it about people who think that whatever job they are qualified for means they should be able to live whatever lifestyle they think they are entitled to? If she can’t afford to live in the neighborhood she wants at her current salary, she needs to move, find another job, or both.

    4. “She’s a 36-year-old professional who has worked in the City Planning Department for eight years.”

      She works in “CIty Planning” yet evidentially didn’t do a good job of “Planning” for this issue. The proposed solution by city planning employees who didn’t do a good job of city planning is to give them a raise to solve the problem caused by poor planning. Her 32 hour a week, part time job only pays 77K a year.

      Liberal government workers in action !

      How can we be sure she didn’t really work for Oregon’s health insurance web portal ?

      The end results are similar.

    5. At least the comments are tearing her and the paper apart.

      And one rightly points out that TEH EVUL TECHIES often work 60-hour weeks.

    6. Why would she expect to be able to live in San Francisco itself? Because she works for the city?

      Personally – the only time I’ve live *closer* than 5 miles to work is when I was living on the ship. And I moved away as soon as I could afford to. I usually average around 11 miles from work.

  12. Am I the only one who sees federal labeling rules and requirements as violations of the First Amendment?
    Evidently.

    At the risk of opening the same stale old can of worms, laws aimed at preventing people from obtaining money based on egregiously false claims are not not that high on the list of outrageous government overreach.

    *The speech is not the issue, the theft is.

  13. Why not an advertising campaign from POM pounding the shit out of the MM product?

    Exactly. “Our juice has this much juice; there’s has this much.”

    *points to tiny dribble in bottom of beaker*

    I seem to recall an ad campaign for some sort of kids’ juice running on very similar lines.

  14. On Topic:
    “[T]his harms POM because POM advertises and sells products that actually contain substantial amounts of pomegranate juice.”

    Bullshit.
    If it costs more to add all that juice, why, cut it back. No one is forcing POM to make juice that way.
    Other than that, what is the harm?

    1. ????

      So you’re saying that POM should adulterate their product because Coke does it

      As noted above, people want real Pomegranete juice for the health benefits. All juices are not equal. POM is selling the real thing. Coke’s product is a fake.

      1. HazelMeade|4.26.14 @ 12:28PM|#
        “????
        So you’re saying that POM should adulterate their product because Coke does it”

        Not at all. I’m saying there is no harm, except as chosen by POM.
        The fact that Coke’s product has less of X than this causes no harm to POM.
        If people want it, they’ll get it.

        1. The people are idiots, and as Mencken once said, they deserve to get what they want, “good and hard.”

          But, of course, Minute Maid should be totally free to give them the sugary death they crave. And, the Democrats and Republicans should also be free to steal all of their money.

          …My only problem is when they FORCE me to participate (As the Ds and Rs do, but Minute Maid does not).

  15. Surprise

    Editor’s Note: Not everyone who supports raising the minimum wage is in a position to pay their employees more. Nowhere is that more true than in the nonprofit sector.

    As the executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle, Bill Hobson employs 521 people who help Seattle’s mentally ill homeless population. In Paul Solman’s interview with him, Hobson explains that unless the tax structure is reconfigured to underwrite minimum wage increases at nonprofits, paying a third of his workers a higher minimum wage will ultimately lead to a reduction in the services DESC is able to provide.

    “Wait a minute. We can’t afford to raise OUR wages. We’re gonna need a bigger subsidy.”

    1. unless the tax structure is reconfigured to underwrite minimum wage increases at nonprofits

      Such a fancy way to say “give me money!”

    2. But if everyone is compelled to raise their wages, the wealth added to the economy will reduce dependence on organizations like his, and DESC can afford to downsize. Or isn’t that how this works?

      1. No no no! Everybody gets a raise, so they can afford to pay more taxes to support the public sector helpers necessary to assist workers who end up taking home less so the public ssistance organizations can expand to accommodate the next round of wage increases and…

        See? It’s easy.

  16. Paul Solman: How do you respond to skeptics of the minimum wage increase who say, “Hey look, for all the problems that the American working class has now, nobody’s starving, nobody’s freezing, and Americans are better off than most people have been in the entire history of the world”?

    Jesse Inman: Well we’re not better off in economic opportunity than my parent’s generation was or the generation before us was. Wages have not kept up with productivity the way that they had in the past. Social mobility has not kept up. If we’re talking a generation or two ago, two people working full-time at a union job wouldn’t be living in a basement studio apartment.

    Other generations did better not by hoping for it, but by working together and organizing for better working conditions and better wages. That is what made the baby boomers so successful. So I think the standard that we’re not starving is a pretty low bar to set.

    I’ve spent my whole life in this city, but it’s increasingly becoming a place where only the more affluent can live. That’s not what I want to see happen to my city. I want this to be a city where working class people ? the people who make the city work ? can afford to live. That doesn’t seem too much to ask.

    WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

    As usual, change is bad, and rich people are meanies.

    1. “I’ve spent my whole life in this city, but it’s increasingly becoming a place where only the more affluent can live.”

      Yeah, well maybe you should have, well, saved some money?
      I’m tired of squatters’ rights.

      1. Didn’t she see the large “Riff-Raff not Welcome” sign on the Transamerica building. Sheesh.

      2. I’ve never been able to afford to live in the city. Meaning, although I might be able to pay for it, it would not be financially prudent to do so. Now I’m supposed to subsidize people living in these high-cost of living areas through paying higher taxes and prices, and later I still need to bail them out because they didn’t save for retirement either.

        You think the city you live in has become too expensive? Move!

    2. Not sure I agree, but interesting…

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ma…..re-slaves/

      But I always talk about prisons, where people are fed, clothed, they’ve got shelter; they could just sit around all day. But actually, they use work as a way of rewarding them. You know, if you don’t behave yourself, we won’t let you work in the prison laundry. I mean, people want to work. Nobody just wants to sit around, it’s boring.

      So the first misconception we have is this idea that people are just lazy, and if they’re given a certain amount of minimal income, they just won’t do anything. Probably there’s a few people like that, but for the vast majority, it will free them to do the kind of work that they think is meaningful. The question is, are most people smart enough to know what they have to contribute to the world? I think most of them are.

      1. I imagine the prisoners would hate even more to be barred from the gym or the outside areas. The objection is not that people will literally sit around all day not doing anything; it’s that they’ll do things that are not productive or useful to others.

      2. The bit about bureaucracy, and whether the left has a viable critique, almost had me laughing. His sole complaint (at least so far as he outlined in the questionnaire) is that bureaucracies possess too much latitude to judge and compel behaviour, which interferes with the autonomy of individuals. Which is absolutely true. But that’s not an argument likely to resonate with modern Democrats. That’s a very 60s leftist modality and an absolute affront to modern progressivism.

        1. That’s why they call him an anarchist.

  17. Yeah, well maybe you should have, well, saved some money?

    Don’t you understand? He’s a noble selfless defender of the underprivileged. We need to tax the evil Richie Riches of the world so he can make big bucks working for his nonprofit and live on the shore of Lake Washington just like those parasitic coder geeks.

  18. Krugabe explains it.

    No, what’s really new about “Capital” is the way it demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we’re living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved.

    For the past couple of decades, the conservative response to attempts to make soaring incomes at the top into a political issue has involved two lines of defense: first, denial that the rich are actually doing as well and the rest as badly as they are, but when denial fails, claims that those soaring incomes at the top are a justified reward for services rendered. Don’t call them the 1 percent, or the wealthy; call them “job creators.”

    But how do you make that defense if the rich derive much of their income not from the work they do but from the assets they own? And what if great wealth comes increasingly not from enterprise but from inheritance?

    What? Where did that inherited wealth come from?

    1. “No, what’s really new about “Capital” is the way it demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we’re living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved.”

      I’m sure this will be included in a case study of effective propaganda at some future time.

    2. Some white people stole it from some brown people.

    3. The assets they own are often (usually?) equity in companies. And the fact that we have a robust trade in company equity rather than just debt financing is a huge enabler of entrepreneurship, innovation, and income mobility.

      Of course, Krugman knows that; the issue is that he’s a lying hack.

    4. How does a guy that, one might assume, earned his $2.5million his ownself say things like that? He’s living proof that he is wrong.

  19. All those Scrooge McDucks lounging atop mounds of gold and jewels in their Treasure Rooms really piss Krugabe off.

  20. “If I want to start a family with my wife, then that becomes unrealistic. If I want to live in a place where my puppy can get a decent yard to run in, that becomes unrealistic.”

    Oh, my, those evil Republicans are hurting his children and even his puppy! Democrats need to ensure he gets his downtown Seattle single family home with a yard on a minimum wage, social worker job! Let’s make sure his children get a pony too! Why won’t anybody think of the children?

    1. Breaking news:

      GOP Wages War on Puppys !

    2. Dude had any balls he’d move to Alaska.

      1. We use puppies for crab bait.

  21. As mentioned before, Pom should make Coke the object of an ad campaign instead of paying lawyers.

    1. You don’t think its the same thing in this case?

  22. Why can’t POM simply advertise the fact that Coca-Cola’s Promegranate Blueberry juice only contains 0.5% actual juices?

    You with one of those ads that say “Compared to THE OTHER LEADING BRAND ….”

  23. But if everyone is compelled to raise their wages, the wealth added to the economy will reduce dependence on organizations like his, and DESC can afford to downsize. Or isn’t that how this works?

    He covered that in a different part of the interview; I believe it can adequately be summarized as, “The degenerate poor will always be with us. Now gimme mo munnys.”

    1. I have another theory: raising wages will screw over marginal workers, marginal firms, and his non-profit.

  24. All commercial beverages have the same 3 ingredients

    Sugar, Water, and Coloring/Flavoring (often the same thing)

    The rest is bullshit.

    Thanks

    1. ^

      I love the obsession with trace nutrients or antioxidants while ignoring the massive concentration of sugar.

      1. Not to mention that these people are smart enough to understand what “antioxidants” are, and that they’re already “in” almost everything.

        Its like they’ve invented their own dihydrogen monoxide delusion.

        The one thing I learned being a “food and beverage analyst” from the late 90s through till recently = the greatest marketing scheme ever invented has been to act as though all consumable items up until now have been Concentrated Poison= but fear not! WE NOW HAVE A CURE.

        And its called Organic All Natural Pure Fresh Locally Produced Family Farms Free Range Sun Dried Rainforest Safe Dolphin Free Antioxidizing Nutrient Fortified Whole Grain Fresh 100% Unprocessed Sustainable Macrobiotic Marketing

        In short, the Food Scientists who’d spent the past 2 decades helping the industry attempt to create “Fat Free” (or sodium free) products in order to make ‘health claims’ were all out of a job = the marketing department took over and completely revolutionized how foods pretended to be “Healthy” = mainly by pretending to be “Healthier than fictionalized demon-foods that lived in consumer minds.

        Its virtuous cycle that can be endlessly repeated = constantly ‘discover’ things that make your new version of Sugar Water “Less evil” than the old kind of Sugar Water.

        1. I hereby vote this comment “up”

          …This prescription also works for political parties. Hence, Coke and Pepsi, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative…

          But truly healthy? That requires you to model a pattern that exists in nature with your brain. (So Ray Kurzweil pays attention to specific concentrations of needed molecules in his blood. And libertarians actually look at whom government force is being used against, and ask “does it inherently need to operate this way?”)

          That’s too much trouble for Joe Sixpack.

  25. “In my ideal world, the FDA would stick to necessary work and consumers would be the ultimate arbiter of the legitimacy of marketing claims,” said Jeff Stier, a lawyer and senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, in an email to me earlier this week. “In this world, Coca Cola wouldn’t have to resort to silly defenses, the company would probably not have made the deceptive claims in the first place.”

    Why wouldn’t they?

  26. “Unfairly harmed”?
    What?

  27. POM should just run an ad showing how much pomegranate juice is in each brand. The pipette used for the Minute Maid product would be a nice touch.

  28. I’m gonna sue Pom, because I thought it said Porn, and I thought it was going to give me my jollies when I drank it.

    Let’s all sue everyone! The bar-licensed lawyers will get rich, and we’ll all need their permission to take a $hit.

    If you want to see how the FDA has been a force for death, misery and destruction, look no further than Ray Kurzweil’s two excellent books on maximizing biological health: “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever” and “Transcend.” Both are excellent, and the former of the two details how the FDA has pressed the teaching of incorrect health information in the government schools for over 30 years. The result of that has been the devastation of the American healthspan, the suppression of Stevia as a sugar alternative, and many other unintended consequences.

    Any idiot could have read the label, and seen that these juices were simply doing what Ocean Spray and many others had done, for years: misleading advertising to sell a brand as something other than the “mostly-filler” that it is. None of these were sold as 100% pure pomegranate juice, so I read the label, and never picked one up again. Problem solved, simply by having slightly more intelligence than a howler monkey.

    1. Sadly, most of the leftists who want to punish these poor products want to do so in a very uncompassionate way: brute government force. I thought leftists were compassionate enough to let them figure out a better way due to, gee, I don’t know, the Leftist institution of the boycott, and the leftist institution of truthful journalism, etc…

      Nope! Those alternatives are too compassionate! Too gentle! Not at all the mindless “Leftism” encouraged by the government youth propaganda camps, the thuggish Stalinist “might makes right,” or “my way or the highway” Chicago union enforcer mode of operation.

      They’re so compassionate they want to have the people of Minute Maid forced to apply for welfare (“worker’s comp”), all at once, rather than gradually decline in popularity, given a last chance to improve “value to filler” ratio. Nope! No “innovating-your-way-to-survival!” All-or-nothing, binary choice, governmental death to your business and livelihood is the one-size-fits-all answer.

      Wonder how long civil society will last when that kind of conduct becomes the standard? Not long, I imagine.

  29. Discover 27 Healthy Delicious Juice Recipes! Why Not Try One Tonight?

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