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March 2nd, 2010:

Chinese Government Cracks Down On Refills [The Onion]

I don’t know how I missed this amazing Onion article from 1997.

BEIJING—The Chinese government issued an official crackdown on all beverage refills Monday, warning that those who are caught helping themselves to more than one serving of any drink will be prosecuted as “traitors against the state.”

“There will be no extra servings of Coke, Sprite or any other beverage in the Great and Glorious People’s Republic of China,” President Jiang Zemin announced via national radio Monday. “Refills are the poisonous creation of the Western capitalist running dog, who is too gluttonous to be satisfied by what can be contained in a single 12- or 16-ounce cup.”

The crackdown comes in the wake of a Jan. 15 student-led rally in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, in which more than 450,000 pro-refill demonstrators were run over by government tanks. More than 270,000 other demonstrators were arrested and sent to refill re-education compounds in the remote Yinchuan province in Central Asia, where they will be taught to “contain their beverage thirst to those limits which are in accordance with the teachings of Chairman Mao.”

“One drink,” said Chinese Premier Li Peng. “One drink only.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

[The Onion]

Coming to a store near you: Chocolate Peeps [American Innovation]

You know Peeps: Those delicious, colorful, sugar-coated marshmallow treats that, like a fine wine, manage to taste better with age? Well now they are available in a chocolate version as well.

We’ll go ahead and call it an Easter Miracle.

For more info on the history of Peeps and Just Born Inc., the company that makes them, check out their website. Just be sure to turn down your volume first as the background music is unbearable.

God Bless America and God Bless Sugary Sweets!


Interchange fees explained [infographic]

Earlier this year I wrote a good deal about merchants who try and violate their credit card contracts by imposing minimum purchase amounts. Needless to say, I am not too fond of this un-American practice and even wrote VISA a pleading letter asking them to start enforcing their own rules.  As you probably expected, VISA has not responded.

But the question remains: why do stores hate accepting credit cards so much? The answer has to do with something called interchange fees. Thankfully, the good folks at the Government Accountability Office have released a handy chart to explain them.

Sure it seems like stores get a bad deal since they only get $97 for every $100 worth of goods they sell. But no one forces them to accept plastic. And that $97  is precisely $97 more than they would have made from me if they didn’t accept credit cards.

Besides, printing, minting and distributing physical money has considerable monetary (and environmental) costs too; it is just that those costs are borne by the taxpayers, so merchants don’t tend to whine too much about them.


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