Early Snow and Trusted Capitalists

It wasn’t the pleasant drive I envisioned.   It rained all the way up past Hersey PA.  Then it began to snow – snow in mid-October.  Where is this global warming stuff when you need it.   (Of course, I best be careful even joking about this subject.  The BBC is under vitriolic attack for pointing out that the globe has not gotten any warmer since 1998.  For the record, I have believed global warming is happening since around 1982.  I think I even pre-date Al Gore.   I believe some of it is influenced by humans and some of it is natural.   It probably can be managed through a combination of mitigation and adaption.  But I think the whole debate has become way too political and ideologically driven, so much so that I think truth takes a second place to politics, and when I hear that activists are trying squash information, I get annoyed.) 

Anyway, it cleared up a little by the time I got to New York.  It is pretty up here.  The leaves are in mid-turn.  They will peak soon.  If the predicted rain and snow doesn’t come, maybe I can enjoy them.

On the way up I stopped at Hersey PA.  You see above that even the streetlights are Hershey kisses on Chocolate Avenue.  Milton Hersey, who founded the chocolate company that bears his name, was a very kind and good man.  He used the profits from his firm to make life pleasant for people around him.  For example, he founded a school, supported hospitals and helped make Hersey PA a place where people want to live. I won’t write all the details.  Check out the article if you want to find out more.  Suffice to say that there are special places in heaven for people like Milton.  I bought and happily ate a Hersey bar in his honor today. Below is Hershey heaven (I guess). It is from a mural at “The Hershey Story” museum.

We took the kids up to Hershey about ten years ago to tour the plant.  I got new respect for Hershey after that.  There just are some firms that are better than others, usually showing the personality of a founder.   Marriott is also like that.  I always stay in Marriott when I can.   It just seems a generous, honest and family friendly company.   As long as I am endorsing good companies, I also admire Charles Schwab, Cabalas, USAA insurance & Samuel Adams beer.  I hesitate to add, because people will give me some crap about it, but I also like United Airlines.  They always treated me fairly, even if travel in general sucks.   I don’t know if being good adds to their bottom line.  I am a loyal customer of Charles Schwab, USAA, Cabalas and Marriott and I advise others to use their services, but they also happen to make things I like to use.  I don’t really like Sam Adams beer, so that doesn’t do them much practical good if I admire the company.  I have indeed specifically bought Hershey bars BECAUSE of the Milton Hershey legacy, but that doesn’t add up to much. 

Everything else being equal, I will buy something made in America and I give specific preference to products from Wisconsin or Virginia, but everything else rarely is equal.  I also understand that in this integrated world, the place of origin is hard to determine, but I never said it was logical.

On the left are products of Central New York, BTW. 

On the other hand, I won’t buy gas at CITGO – even if it is cheaper – because of Hugo Chavez.   I feel a little conflicted because I don’t want to hurt to good American station owners, but I cannot support that guy. Besides the other rotten things, he banned Coke Zero in Venezuela.  I refuse to go to any movie made by Michael Moore or Oliver Stone and I stopped enjoying Two and a Half Men after Charlie Sheen went nuts with the 9/11 conspiracy theories, but I think these are the only non-economic, non-taste factors that influence my purchasing decisions.  I suppose there are lots of unconscious associations.

Of course, we should make most of our product decisions based on the product itself.  It gets way to complicated to try to figure all the permutations of good and bad.  Few people are good enough in their own lives to judge the actions of firms.  Besides, in the real world “Corporate Responsibility” usually just means an opportunity for some activists to shake down a firm and firms often pay protection money to politically correct groups in the name of corporate responsibility.

Above is from a rest stop along I-81 a few miles outside Syracuse.  

“Corporate diplomacy can make a lasting impression.  I went to a Jim Beam tasting event six or seven years ago.  They told us about the lore of Bourbon, how it was invented in Kentucky, is aged in charred oak etc.  I didn’t know that Bourbon cannot be aged more than around seven years, or it gets to be too strong.  Scotch keeps getting better for 18 years, but Bourbon ages faster in the warmer Kentucky climate.  BTW – Scotch older than 18 or Bourbon older than 7-8 is just a waste of money.  It gets older and more alcoholic; it just doesn’t get any better.  After the “tasting,” they offered various Bourbons for sale. I bought several bottles of more expensive whiskey than I would have purchased pre-tasting.  It doesn’t take very much tasting to influence your judgment.  But I still feel more favorably disposed toward Jim Beam because of their outreach and I now believe I can tell the difference between black and white label, and between “Booker,” “Baker,” “Knob Creek,” &  Basil Hayden. Notice, I say “I believe”.  It helps if I can see the bottle first.

The guy at the tasting admitted that most people really cannot tell the difference all the time.  You would probably become a drunk before developing the true skill. Much indeed is in the presentation, but that makes sense. Most of the price you pay at a fine restaurant is in the surroundings and service and drinking the best whiskey from a dixie cup just doesn’t cut it.