Politics open thread May 12 – May 18 (2024)

  • Used to Lurk

    The Next Big Idea Daily Podcast had on Frank Bruni on Thursday. He has a new book Age of Grievance regarding politics that some of you might enjoy. It seems to align with my theory of don’t be a “grievance collector” that I’m trying to teach my kids. I’ll add it to my to read list and see.

    The Next Big Idea Daily: Frank Bruni Examines Our Age of Grievance on Apple Podcasts

    Longtime New York Times columnist Frank Bruni says fervent hostility has eroded the civility, common ground, and compromise necessary for our democracy to survive. His new book is “The Age of Grievance.”

    The Age of Grievance: Bruni, Frank: 9781668016435: Amazon.com: Books

    NEW YORK TIMESBESTSELLER • From bestselling author and longtimeNew York Timescolumnist Frank Bruni comes a lucid, powerful examination of the ways in which grievance has come to define our current culture and politics, on both the right and left.

    The twists and turns of American politics are unpredictable, but the tone is a troubling given. It’s one of grievance. More and more Americans are convinced that they’re losing because somebody else is winning. More and more tally their slights, measure their misfortune, and assign particular people responsibility for it. The blame game has become the country’s most popular sport and victimhood its most fashionable garb.

    Grievance needn’t be bad. It has done enormous good. The United States is a nation born of grievance, and across the nearly two hundred and fifty years of our existence as a country, grievance has been the engine of morally urgent change. But what happens when all sorts of grievances—the greater ones, the lesser ones, the authentic, the invented—are jumbled together? When people take their grievances to lengths that they didn’t before? A violent mob storms the US Capitol, rejecting the results of a presidential election. Conspiracy theories flourish. Fox News knowingly peddles lies in the service of profit. College students chase away speakers, and college administrators dismiss instructors for dissenting from progressive orthodoxy. Benign words are branded hurtful; benign gestures are deemed hostile. And there’s a potentially devastating erosion of the civility, common ground, and compromise necessary for our democracy to survive.

    How did we get here? What does it say about us, and where does it leave us?The Age of Grievanceexamines these critical questions and charts a path forward.

  • In their ownletterto the Board on Wednesday, May 8, the original group of hunger strikers wrote, “We hunger strikers have lost weight and are actively experiencing many symptoms including dizziness, painful hunger pangs, critically low blood pressure, and exhaustion, and we continually face greater potential health risks including seizures and pneumonia.”

  • You would think people who are smart enough to get into Princeton would know there would be some medical issues if they don’t eat.

  • Yes, and you’d also think that they’d be smart enough to know that you can’t get a huge university endowment fund to make substantial (or even minor!) changes in a few days or weeks.

  • Hahahahahahahaha that is priceless. What do you bet none of the hunger strikers were athletes?

  • There has been a lot of press recently about the Social Security Administration’s new estimate that Social Security will go insolvent in 2035 instead of 2034, a whole year later!! (sarcasm on). Assuming I work 10 more years, that would either be my retirement year or the year after.

    Can I just say “Told ya so!”? Those of in college in the early 80’s were the very first cohort to assume social security wouldn’t be around for us. We said it all the time, kind of half-jokingly, but just like jobs, we figured that the vast bulk of boomers who were born at the peak around 1955-57 would “take it all”.

    This opinion piece says that the way to save social security is to “have more babies”. They’re not wrong…


  • MM,

    What happens in 2035 (without googling?)

  • I would think that the moment ss checks stop, taxes would increase, and those oldsters would vote en masse to for politicians that want the increase. Perhaps it would cause the youngsters to get out and vote?

  • Well, there is a precedent for hunger strikes – Mahatma Gandhi was famous for his. You have to be willing to risk death for the cause.

  • Bobby Sands died after 66 days on a hunger strike.

    But he was actually serious about his cause.

  • “Those of in college in the early 80’s were the very first cohort to assume social security wouldn’t be around for us.”

    I was one of those, and for many years my retirement planning did not take SS into account.

    The fact that it is still around and paying has made it much easier to loosen the purse strings as I’ve gotten older.

  • Rhett, 2035 is the date that, by the Social Security Administration’s estimates, Social Security goes insolvant.

    Of course it isn’t really going to happen. They will prop it up, or as some progressives content, use it as an excuse to privatize it. Most likely it will depend on which party is in power.

    But it has been bubbling around the newsmedia for the last couple of days

  • The only real fix to Social Security’s problems? More babies.

    Without enough new workers to support us, we can’t all spend decades in retirement.”

    More babies isn’t the only way to have new workers to support us. Immigration is another way, which the author mentions.

    Also, it doesn’t have to be new workers to support those on SS. She mentions productivity increases, which is one way to narrow the gap without more new workers. Another obvious way to decrease the gap is for people to work longer, which she totally ignored, but IMO should be part of the solution.

  • ”Rhett, 2035 is the date that, by the Social Security Administration’s estimates, Social Security goes insolvant.”

    What happens to benefits when SS goes insolvent?

  • Rhett, as I said above

    “Of course it isn’t really going to happen.“

  • I don’t think productivity increases would help, unless I totally misunderstand how SS is financed. Productivity increases might (or might not) result in higher wages for the more productive workers, but we cap the amount of salary that can be taxed so there is a ceiling on the ability of higher wages to create more funding. I think the only way given the current structure is to have more workers in the pool. Maybe I don’t fully understand the structure though?

    And yes, of course, immigration. Although birth rates are falling in most countries, so that source is eventually going to go away too.

  • What if it does happen? A 20% benefit cut. It won’t happen as you said. But even the worst case doesn’t seem to warrant all the concern.

  • Productivity helps by increasing the SS tax base.

    “I think the only way given the current structure is to have more workers in the pool.”

    There’s two pools. The pool you’re referring to is the worker pool, but there’s also the pool of those collecting benefits. Decreasing the size of the collecting pool is another way to help.

    Getting people to retire later in life would, in many cases, affect both pools in the direction to decrease the shortfall (not everybody starts collecting when they stop working).

  • “A 20% benefit cut.”

    I’ve heard 25% thrown around a lot.

  • ”Decreasing the size of the collecting pool is another way to help.“

    Yes, of course. Yes, the retirement age needs to be increased. I was addressing the input side. Given that there is a cap on how much salary can be taxed, I don’t see how simply increasing salaries without increasing the number of workers would help. Of course, if they raise the ceiling, that would help.

    There are also roadblocks to increasing the retirement age: health issues that occur before the original retirement age, which are more likely for blue collar workers. And layoffs, which are very difficult for people over 55.

    A sizeable percentage of retirees rely entirely on SS benefits. A 20% or 25% cut would be devastating to them

  • I’ve never imagined they would cut social security benefits equally across the board. Benefits for individuals with median or below payment levels will likely remain unchanged, with a possible adjustment for spousal benefits. Higher earning individuals will see benefit compression, likely implemented in complex ways like higher Medicare Part B/D payments and changes to inflation index calculations.

    I think they’ll make it so households receiving ~$3500+ will see significant benefit cuts and households receiving <~$1600 won’t see benefit cuts and people currently receiving benefits whose benefits are subject to reduction will have their benefits remain flat in dollar terms (no COLA but no reduction in dollars received.)

    I expect the salary cap subject to benefits to increase but only 6% of earners exceed that cap currently, which is a significant change vs. ~pre-1980


  • “Yes, the retirement age needs to be increased. I was addressing the input side.”

    Increasing the retirement age would increase the input side as well as decrease the output side (although not everybody starts collecting as soon as they retire, and not everybody who collects has stopped working).

    “Given that there is a cap on how much salary can be taxed, I don’t see how simply increasing salaries without increasing the number of workers would help.”

    A lot of people paying into the system are below the cap.

    “About 6 percent of the working population earns more than the taxable maximum.”


  • I figure the easiest and most popular option will be to increase the employer and employee portion of FICA from 6.2 to 7.2%. And maybe increase the EITC so it continues to refund FICA for lower wage workers.

  • i agree with WCE on the mechanisms that will instituted to curb increases for higher income beneficiaries who already collecting.

  • I wonder if it follows that those of us who are very close to taking benefits should sign up now, or wait til age 70?

  • RMS, I’m in the same boat.

    I think, at least for now, I’ll continue to plan to start collecting at 70, but will monitor the situation.

    Things could change in the next few years, e.g., ceiling on earnings subject to FICA gets raised, pushing insolvency a few more years down the road.

  • I listened to a podcast – Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC) – which dissected the recent debate between Jamal Bowman and George Latimer who is primary-ing Bowman. He had two local Westchester reporters on hand to discuss it. Wow, so much fireworks. Latimer is the Westchester County executive and is kind of a centrist Democrat although I think he leans a little lefter than that. Bowman is of course Bowman. We’ve been getting tons of flyers from the Bowman campaign with photos of a scowling DeSantis, a scowling Ted Cruz, and a scowling George Latimer, impying that Latimer is anti-abortion rights because he gets money through AIPAC. Bowman brought that up in the debate, so Latimer went into his strongly pro-abortion rights record, and then said that many Democrats in Congress get funding through AIPAC including members of the Black Caucus. I wonder if attacking Latimer on AIPAC could backfire for Latimer since Westchester has many Jewish voters and Bowman is not doing well with them. I also think his answer on public safety in the subways (more mental health funding, no mention of police) will play well in Westchester.

    I am not sure how it will go. I think Bowman is seriously out of step with a lot of Westchester voters, but he is hugely popular in Yonkers (he was a Yonkers school principal) which is by far the largest city in Westchester. There is a bit of the Bronx in the district too. If Bowman wins, could a Republican candidate have a chance? If we were Long Island, yes, but Westchester seems more solidly Democrat.

    BTW, i will vote for Latimer in the primary, but would vote for Bowman if he wins the primary. I have met Latimer on a number of occasions – back when the town Democrats used to meet for beers at the local brewpub, he often showed up and just mingled. He was always helpful to us, even though we are the saddest town Democrat org in Westchester. Bowman? I wonder if he even knows there are Democrats in my town.

  • Bowman recently had a splashy event (Publishing Clearing House type big checks) publicizing his earmarking millions to local municipalities, including $4 million for Yonkers. Mostly targeted to POC, including a group called Environmental Leaders of Color. This seems to be shaping up to be a Jews/whites/centrists against blacks/leftists primary. Earlier this year some Jewish groups held a voter registration drive hoping to convince ‘thousands of Independents and Republicans to switch to the Democratic Party so they can vote in the Democratic congressional primary between Bowman and Latimer.’ I have no idea who will win.

  • Suddenly There Aren’t Enough Babies. The Whole World Is Alarmed.
    Birthrates are falling fast across countries, with economic, social and geopolitical consequences

    Immigration doesn’t appear to be a solution to the Social Security problem.

    The usual prescription in advanced countries is more immigration, but that has two problems. As more countries confront stagnant population, immigration between them is a zero-sum game. Historically, host countries have sought skilled migrants who enter through formal, legal channels, but recent inflows have been predominantly unskilled migrants often entering illegally and claiming asylum.

    High levels of immigration have also historically aroused political resistance, often over concerns about cultural and demographic change. A shrinking native-born population is likely to intensify such concerns. Many of the leaders keenest to raise birthrates are most resistant to immigration.


    I’ve read cuts of 17% to SS payments will be needed. I’ve been surprised to learn that about 80% of people file for SS before eligibility for full benefits. But it shouldn’t be surprising considering the inadequate retirement savings numbers among Americans.

  • Correction: About 60% of people file for SS before eligibility for full benefits.

  • Kim, that dovetails with the article about how people retire earlier than they expected (or wanted).

  • I suspect a lot of those people filing early did not want to but were forced by health issues or layoffs.

  • My stepson’s mother, 64, decided to “retire”. Then she called DSS to report that when you stop working, you apparently stop getting paid. He forced her to apply for SS. She went back to her workplace to unretire and they told her to get lost and that she wasn’t welcome on the premises. She’s just that good a worker. So looks like early SS for her, along with leeching off her son.

  • ”I suspect a lot of those people filing early did not want to but were forced by health issues or layoffs.”

    That’s some of them, sure. But I do know several people who claimed at 62 and kept working and others that claimed even though they had ample resources with which to wait. The idea seems to be that it’s a hell of a lot better to claim at 62 and die at 72 than claim at 70 and die at 72.

    To MM point about health it’s not only that they can’t work due to health problems, in many cases they can. It’s that as health problems begin to accumulate the number of years they expect to live declines and it makes more sense to collect as soon as possible.

  • Putting my benefits hat on, increasing the retirement age will have ripple effects on health care, disability costs, in addition to insurance fraud. When these costs go up, employers look to save money, which means less quality benefits, hiring less employees, and creative ways to eliminate the 55+ age employees. For all you that say that you can’t replace the experience and wisdom of the 60 year old, I’ll say that management will still give it a try, and that includes advancement in AI.

  • In my experience even white collar professionals who are willing to work and doing fine are nudged out the door by 65. They may be nudged earlier but 65 seems to be the max. I am too optimistic and think I will be doing some small job for spending money after I retire. All the home country seniors I know were forced to retire way too early, some before 60. They are all now living longer lives into their 80s and 90s, so it’s a good twenty years at the minimum of trying to keep busy.

  • Yeah, I’ve always wondered why there’s such a bias against collecting SS early. The payments are lower but there’s years you collect them. The break even point of waiting is quite a few years out and there’s no guarantee for how long you’ll live. I know totebaggers are convinced we will live into our 90s but the odds are we won’t.

  • I agree with you DD. It seems to be a class defining issue. Those WITH money can wait until 70, but collecting at 62 means you planned poorly. At least that is my take on it.

    FIL died shortly after he started collecting. I remember there was a lot of discussion of when he wanted to start, and in the end the calculations didn’t work out in their favor. (But, in the overall grand scheme of accounts, it hasn’t has much impact).

  • Hum…max SS at 62 is $2710 max at 70 is $4873. $2710 x 8 years is $260,160. You’ll get $2163 a month extra at 70 but will need to live 10 year to break even. But! Wouldn’t it make sense, given historical returns, to retire at 62 and claim SS and keep more of your money invested?

  • the break even age is approximately 80. In my case, under a spousal benefit ploy curtailed during the Obama administration, I could double dip by taking 50 percent of DH’s benefit from 66 to 70, and let my own benefit increase by 32% until age 70. So the breakeven age was something like 74. No brainer. The serious calculation for totebag types whose full retirement age is 67 is more about the decision whether to collect before that age. Collection early will affect the amount of surviving spouse benefit. I think 67 versus 70 is not enough of a difference to spend a lot of time on scenarios. Prosperous retirees will have ever increasing Medicare premiums.

  • Meme,

    If you include the investment return on the $260k that won’t be withdrawn from 62-70 doesn’t it push the break even out a few more years?

  • As I said, there are additional consequences for married or divorced people who file at 62 and don’t wait until full retirement age, for you 67. You also cant collect the entire reduced SS amt if you keep working 62 – 66

    *If you are younger thanfull retirement ageand earn more than the yearly earnings limit, SS may reduce your benefit amount.

    If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, SS deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit.For 2024, that limit is $22,320.*

    So there are many variables to consider.

  • Are these calculations taking into account the Inflation rider on SS payments? A 3% increase on $40k is greater than on $20k, that keeps compounding.

  • I recently signed up with Perplexity, an AI service that integrates other AI services and provides citations for its responses. I took someone else’s benefits (no, not mine and not my husband’s ex’s, just someone I was trying to help recently) and asked it to run the calculations. My question:

    “If I take social security at age 67, I’ll get $1980 per month. If I wait til age 70, I’ll get $2456 per month. Taking into account the inflation rider on social security payments, at what age will I break even?”

    It then asked me to guesstimate inflation, so I said 4%.

    It said:

    To determine the break-even age when comparing starting Social Security benefits at age 67 versus age 70, we need to consider the monthly benefit amounts and the inflation adjustments. You’ve provided the monthly benefit amounts as $1980 starting at age 67 and $2456 starting at age 70.Step-by-Step Calculation

    1. Monthly Difference: The difference in monthly benefits between starting at age 70 and age 67 is $2456 – $1980 = $476.
    2. Total Missed Benefits: If you delay benefits from age 67 to age 70, you forego 36 months of benefits at $1980 per month. The total is 36 months x $1980/month = $71,280.
    3. Break-Even Point: To find out how many months it takes for the higher monthly benefit to make up for the foregone $71,280, divide the total missed benefits by the monthly difference:
      • BreakEvenPointmonths=$71,280/$476≈150months
    4. Break-Even Age: If you start receiving the higher benefit at age 70, you will break even at:70+12.5=82.5yearsold70+12.5=82.5yearsold

    Consideration of Inflation

    Social Security benefits include Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs), which are designed to counteract the effects of inflation. The COLAs are applied annually and can vary each year. For simplicity, if we assume an average COLA of 2% per year, the actual dollar amounts of the benefits would increase each year, but the relative difference between the two options would remain approximately consistent, adjusting the break-even point slightly earlier.


    With the provided benefit amounts and assuming a typical COLA, you would break even at approximately age 82.5. This means if you expect to live beyond 82.5 years, waiting until age 70 to start collecting benefits would be financially advantageous in the long run, considering the higher monthly payments and the effect of annual COLAs.

  • I don’t know why it ignored my estimate of 4% inflation.

  • RMS,

    Since all the payment amounts adjust for inflation does it matter to the calculation? If inflation is 24% over the 8 years from 62-70 the amount you get if you wait till 70 will also increase by 24%.

  • Rhett, yeah, I guess I just wasn’t thinking it through.

  • “If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, SS deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2024, that limit is $22,320.*”

    Won’t that deduction be paid back later?

  • “Wouldn’t it make sense, given historical returns, to retire at 62 and claim SS and keep more of your money invested?”

    How much do you value the longevity insurance aspect of SS? Is there a better vehicle for that?

    My perception is that most discussion here (and on the regular side of this forum) of waiting until 70 has focused on that, especially for couples with a disparity in benefits.

    Another consideration is how much you have in pre-tax retirement accounts. Waiting to collect SS can help create a window for Roth conversions.

    If you aren’t worried about running out of money, then it might make sense, depending on how long you expect to live, keeping in mind that historical returns have included periods of negative returns of high magnitude.

  • I’m curious as to how consistent the value of waiting to collect SS is with current actuarial reality.

    My vague recollection of what I’ve read about this is that deciding when to start collecting was actuarially neutral at the time the payment discount/reward amounts were calculated.

    So if the actuarial part of it were still accurate, and your goal is to collect the max you can, then you should base your decision on inside information about whether you expect to live longer or shorter than average. As an extreme example, if you are 61 and have stage 4 cancer, you should start collecting at 62.

    Since the penalty/reward is the same for everyone, that suggests that, very broadly, women should wait until 70 and men should start collecting at 62.

    OTOH, I suspect that life expectancies in general have gone up since the discount/reward amounts were determined, so as a population we’d be more likely to win the game of collecting the max if we wait, and it favors waiting even more for women in good health with family histories of longevity.

    But of course, this all ignores the longevity insurance aspect of SS, which has different value to different people.

  • ”with family histories of longevity.”

    ”Of these studies, the most comprehensive of the three, the Framingham Study, concludes merely a6%correlation between the lifespan of parents and their offspring”

    Are people reading somewhere that family history has a high correlation? Everything I read says the correlation is weak but everyone here says it’s strong.

  • Everybody s situation is different. Especially for the married and formerly married, the devil truly is in the details. age difference, earnings history, widows benefit, spousal benefit, makes your head spin. If I am giving a generic “sidewalk consultation” in my usual cohort, I advise waiting to full retirement age to collect, not starting at 62. As for waiting till 70, for most it is a bit of a tossup. With my boomer luck, the years I waited and did not collect were low inflation, and as soon as my benefit was set at 70 (1.32 times what I would have collected at 66) the big percentage increases began.

  • “merely a6%correlation between the lifespan of parents and their offspring”

    My guess is that many people look at more of their family than just parents when considering family history in estimating their own life expectancy.

    They might also discount certain causes of death. E.g., if Dad died young in military combat but his parents and siblings all lived into their 90s, then they might discount Dad’s lifespan from that estimate.

  • ”My guess is that many people look at more of their family than just parents when considering family history in estimating their own life expectancy.”

    But that correlation is weak as well.


    I would have certainly expected the correlation to be strong. It just doesn’t seem to be. Or are you aware of data that says the correlation is strong?

  • BTW, this discussion of when to start collecting SS has been in the context of a single person.

    It can get more complicated for married couples. If divorce and/or remarriage are involved, it can get really complicated.

    For couples with large SS benefit disparities, frequent general advice is for the higher benefit person to wait until 70, since surviving spouse will get higher of the two benefits. I’m not aware of typical advice for when the lower benefit person should start collecting.

    In the above situation, I wonder what happens if the higher benefit spouse dies after 62 but before starting to collect. E.g. spouse dies at 68; can surviving spouse wait 2 years to collect benefit they would’ve received had spouse died at 70? If surviving spouse is not at FRA when other spouse dies, they might want to wait to FRA anyway so their survivor benefit is not discounted.

    For many two-career totebagger couples, SS benefits will be similar, in which case the above would not apply. If they’re the same age, I think if you value the longevity insurance of SS it might make sense for the person with the shorter life expectancy (in a mixed-sex couple, the male if all else is equal) to start at 70. When the spouse with the longer life expectancy starts depends in part on how much you value joint longevity insurance. It can be more complex if spouses are different ages.

  • Milo mentioned not being able to afford McDonalds anymore. Which reminds me of WCE brilliant point about narrowing inequality meaning Swiss/Danish prices. Trump, like 70% of republicans and almost half of democrats, favors mass deportations. The most easily foreseeable result of such a policy is soaring wages for low income workers and soaring inflation. How would that play out in the midlands of voters?

    I assume they’d latch onto whatever “corporate greed” “people just don’t want to work” bullsh*t meme someone made up and shared online?

  • it’s a joke of exaggeration, obv, but somewhat based because McDs prices in particular have risen well beyond other food/restaurant %s.

    and consequently, I have gone there much, much less.

    also, while almost all places have turned their focus and orientation toward drive thru operations, McD’s is the worst about it. To actually go inside, it feels like you’re violating their personal space. There’s one little narrow section of counter where you can order, maybe just one register, if someone who’s supporting drive thru work happens to notice you waiting there.

    it’s very different from the entire vibe when I was an actual employee in 1995. People came in then, you talked to them, it was friendly, they sat down to eat. I know I sound old and crotchety, and I am, but everyone talks unironically about the feel and vibe and atmosphere of fancy restaurants, owners and consultants make a huge effort to focus on acoustics and colors and all that stuff. Meanwhile, McDs has scrapped that whole experience because “oh, we’re just a drive thru now, and a fulfiller of app orders.”

    their sales have suffered, I think, bc their prices have gotten out of control. I know the CEO has said as much. DW mentioned last night that they’re planning to offer some kind of $5 value meal, but they need some help/buy-in from Coca Cola on that.

  • I know just what you mean about feeling like you walked in the wrong door when you choose to eat inside. And I’m always the only one there! It’s slightly creepy. I just ate there yesterday because I was waiting for CVS to fill a prescription.

  • the other day I left work early for a doctors appointment, and got the times screwed up in my head because I left an Hour earlier than I needed to. I spent the difference at McDs. It was me and one or two homeless guys in there, plus a few of the employees had semi permanently taken over a section of the dining room to turn it into their quasi break room. The whole place smelled very strongly of industrial disinfectant, like the smell of a fresh urinal cake.

    drive thru business was fairly steady, I think.

    as a comparison, so that I’m not just complaining about the times, CFA and Starbucks are nice places to be inside, even though the vast majority of their revenue is drive thru. The employees seem happy to help you when you order, they’re friendly and act like they have a little life left in them.

  • Milo,

    The key factor seems to be that Starbucks isn’t franchised at all and Chick-fil-a, while technically franchised, isn’t really. The core issue is that many McDonalds franchisees aren’t good business people.

  • Many of the Starbucks in Manhattan are also emphasizing takeout orders. We used to count on them as a place to go rest our feet and often warm up a little after an afternoon traipsing about the city. But now, you go in, and half the time there is no seating at all, just a mob of people picking up togo orders, and some standup tables. Providing a comfy place to sit down used to be such a big part of their business model. I remember one in the “historical market” area of Chengdu that we went to several days in a row, because it had comfy chairs, Western toilets, and actual heat (Chengdu restaurants and teashops generally don’t have heat in the winter)

  • Rhett – ITA 100%. I didn’t know that distinction about Starbucks, but it’s so obvious bw the others.

    I’m always picturing the dad in The Blind Side who owned like 30 KFCs and Taco Bells, and just hung out in his McMansion watching football.

    The CFA “owners” are a lot more hands-on.

  • Another thing…I had noticed that it is really difficult to find restaurants in the city, and even here in Westchester, that will take a reservation for 5. The other day, WaPo had an article on just that issue – evidently many restaurants in DC won’t even seat parties of more than 4. They say it is too much hassle. I just don’t get it. Why are you in business? Luckily, not all places do this. We went out for a bday celebration at a local Serbian place which was filled with large family groups, all partying, ordering wine and snapping photos. There were even (OH NO!!) actual babies. The atmosphere was so nice and that atmosphere is a big factor in which restaurant I choose to spend my money at.

  • I just went inside to order at Starbucks. Their poster for chocolate cream cold brew caught my eye. Friday mornings DW and I usually split a venti something that I pick up after taking youngest to school.

    but we always cut the sugar and syrup in half, whatever it is. So I ask the guy at the register, and he’s also got a headset on to listen in on the drive thru, what is in this new beverage. You can see he does have to squint and look up to go through it in his brain, but he can instantly rattle off every single ingredient, how much espresso, what kind, how much sugar in the cold foam, how many pumps of vanilla syrup, what type of milk.

    it’s all in his head. This is NOT low-skilled work. This is comparable brain power to memorizing pages and pages of emergency procedures and actions.

    And he’s moving fast, but is able to make friendly and personal small talk.

    I wonder how much he’s making compared to what you get at McDs.

  • I have a love hate relationship with Starbucks. I think their drip coffee is awful, but I love the vibe. I love being able to walk in and it is clean and friendly. When locations have chairs and sofa all the the better. When on vacation walking around in a city, finding relief for twenty minutes is wonderful. I hate that all the locations with drive thru are removing indoor seating, basically leaving two or three tables. There really are less places for young people to hang out. But also less places for adults to chit chat that doesn’t involve a bar.

    After reading Milo’s comment I went to FB and there was some public post from about Starbucks automatically adding $5 gratuity to the order, and many comments saying this is common. Anyway, tipping is another discussion altogether.

  • ”I wonder how much he’s making compared to what you get at McDs.”

    The google says several dollars more per hour and Starbucks is famous for its benefits – health insurance for part time employees, etc. I would guess that the typical undercapitalized McDonalds franchisee is too focused on spending as little as possible not realizing that you gotta spend money to make money.

  • Not surprised at all about your comments about Starbucks in Manhattan. They’re much smaller than outside Manhattan and very much cater to the office worker/to go crowd. You see the same thing at Juice Generation and other coffee and salad/sandwich places in Manhattan – very little seating if any.

    The ones near my home have seating and are still a hangout spot, as are bookstores.

  • We’ve been going to Paris Baguette recently which has outside seating (the one near DS2’s dorm at least) and way better coffee and snacks. They don’t have much inside seating though, so on a recent cold day (and it seems to always be cold this spring), we walked a little farther and found another place on Lex, near Grand Central, with plenty of seating. I don’t remember the name but I do remember where it was.

  • Mooshi – Gregory’s coffee always seems to have seating.

  • “After reading Milo’s comment I went to FB and there was some public post from about Starbucks automatically adding $5 gratuity to the order, and many comments saying this is common. Anyway, tipping is another discussion altogether.”

    I haven’t seen this at all. The app prompts you to put in a tip, but it is one where it is not automatically added – you have to choose to put it in. And I think the options are $1, $2 and “custom”.

    The McDonald’s HQ is near me, so my experiences are very, very skewed. When I have McD’s it’s usually at the corporate-owned, corporate restaurant which is the ideal version of a McDonald’s. It is truly a wonderful place to hang out & it is always busy with people from all walks of life hanging out eating. Spotless. A few weeks ago I was eating breakfast there & an employee was up on a ladder scrubbing the light fixtures. Friendly, efficient service. The deals in the app are pretty good, IMO. Or it’s at the one in my office building which is really just take out for people in the building. Lots of turnover at that one, and the service is fine.

    That said, I read recently in the WSJ that McDonald’s has raised its base prices more than any other similar restaurant. They’ve also cut down significantly on options.

  • Ivy, I totally agree that the McDs in Chicago are a different experience. It has been years, but I loved the Hinsdale one. I think Taco Bell might have the best fast food prices – looking online a a single taco is $1.79. Oh wow, a cheesy roll up is only $1.00.

  • “I think Taco Bell might have the best fast food prices – looking online a a single taco is $1.79.”

    There’s one about a block from DD’s apartment.

    When she’s pressed for time and wanted something fast to eat, she’d get some combination of 3 of the potato soft tacos and cheesy bean and rice burritos for about $4.

  • we are having some people over on Sunday. DW requested broccoli salad for a side dish. I thought “no problem, I’ll pick up a couple big containers at Wegmans.“ Wegmans doesn’t make it any more, and then I thought “I know I’ve seen it at honeybaked ham.“ so I drove over there. They have it, but a tiny little container is $10 per pound!!!

    That’s crazy talk.

    Luckily, when I confirmed with Meta AI if honeybaked ham still sold it, it said yes, but it also provided the recipe. So I’ll be making broccoli salad tomorrow from scratch.

    $10 per pound!!!

    I guess you don’t cook the broccoli at all, right? You just sort of let it melt overnight in the mayo and vinegar?

  • Broccoli is heavy. One pound would only serve a few people.

    I’ve always been curious about the honey baked ham stores. Other than Christmas and Easter, how much business are they doing. I dont know anyone who in July decides they want a 10lb ham. Is it a front from other business? I’ve never been in one, so aside from reported expensive side salads, what else are they selling the rest of the year?

  • they sell turkeys, too, at least for appropriate holidays.

    they’re a little bit of a restaurant. They have sandwiches and tables and drinks.They have sandwiches and tables and drinks.

    They sell all kinds of side dishes out of their freezers, along with desserts.

    They handle catering orders for things like sandwich, platters they had signs today, advertising catering, platters, Cuban sliders, for example.

    Typically operate with a fairly small footprint in the slightly less expensive retail spaces. And the lines out the door around Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas can probably make up for a lot of slow days.

  • “I guess you don’t cook the broccoli at all, right? You just sort of let it melt overnight in the mayo and vinegar?”

    @Milo – I’ve most often seen it with a quick blanch in salted water. Like 2 mins just to set the color & keep most of the crunch. That’s how I do it. I have one of those pots with the insert. But I can’t imagine that’s how the church ladies of my childhood did it…so it’s probably just fine raw.

  • Milo, this may be a little late, but sometime you should try this broccoli and rice salad. It’s really good! People will dutifully try a few bites and then say “This is actually good!”

    Broccoli rice salad

    Servings: 2-3 as main course


    ½ cup brown rice

    1½ cups water

    1 tsp vegetable oil

    ¼ tsp salt

    1 bunch broccoli, florets cut into small pieces and stems discarded, about 3½ cups

    ⅓ cup raisins

    1 carrot, minced

    ⅓ cup slivered red onion

    2 tbsp minced fresh basil


    2 garlic cloves, minced

    2 tbsp red wine vinegar

    1 tsp. Dijon mustard

    ⅓ cup olive oil

    ¼ tsp salt

    In small saucepan, combine rice, water, oil, and salt. Simmer undisturbed until water is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Spoon rice into large serving bowl and refrigerate til cold.

    Steam the broccoli briefly. Drain and pat dry. Stir into the rice along with carrot, raisins, onion, and basil.

    Combine the salad dressing ingredients and pour over rice mixture in bowl. Toss to coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Serve.

  • Do you use democratic or republican broccoli? This is the politics thread after all :)

  • rocky – I’m gonna try that, but maybe for a main dish weeknight sometime. I’m already grilling corn on Sunday, so that’s enough bulky starch .

    Denver – Republican broccoli reminds me of Reagan’s old joke:

  • Honestly, I often use frozen broccoli, so I guess that makes it lazy broccoli.

  • hmm, frozen. I’ll have to see what the fresh alternative looks like. I’ll do ivys 2 minute suggestion, I’ve got a steamer basket at least

  • ”I guess you don’t cook the broccoli at all, right? You just sort of let it melt overnight in the mayo and vinegar?”

    Milo, I don’t cook the broccoli, but I also don’t put the dressing on until right before I serve it. I have no idea if it gets soggy. This is just the way the church ladies did it, so I follow along.

  • do you know broccoli is $2.49 / lb at Giant? I have about $13 worth of raw broccoli in my cart.

    I come here for the farmed shrimp. And I always think “I just need a few other cheap things.” No more. Shrimp only after today.

    I’ll try steaming the whole heads for about a minute each, then ice water then chop.

  • I usually buy fresh broccoli from Costco or Sam’s, typically $6 to $8 for a 4# bag.

    We have a Tupperware steamer that works great for broccoli. I use it to first wash the broccoli, then drain it and stick it in the microwave. It’s energy efficient, as the florets retain just enough water for steaming.

    I can’t steam more than a pound at a time, but depending on how cooked I want it, it only takes a minute to 90 seconds to steam a pound.

  • Looping in the candle discussion, I burn a candle when I make broccoli. I love broccoli, but unless you are eating it raw, that smell is tough to vent out.

  • Politics open thread May 12 – May 18 (2024)


    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner

    Last Updated:

    Views: 5885

    Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

    Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner

    Birthday: 1994-06-25

    Address: Suite 153 582 Lubowitz Walks, Port Alfredoborough, IN 72879-2838

    Phone: +128413562823324

    Job: IT Strategist

    Hobby: Video gaming, Basketball, Web surfing, Book restoration, Jogging, Shooting, Fishing

    Introduction: My name is Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner, I am a zany, graceful, talented, witty, determined, shiny, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.