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Capitalism and Its Discontents: The Rise and Fall of the Twinkie

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The chickens have finally come home to roost -- the Hostess Company, the maker of the Twinkie, filed for bankruptcy. If anything speaks to the failure of capitalism and our cultural decline, it is the demise of the Twinkie.

Much of who we are as a people is wrapped up in those cream filled sponge cakes. Well before we beat the Russians to the moon, we beat them to the Twinkie. Those hyper-active Chinese may have invented spaghetti but the best they could do is pirate the Twinkie. Western Europe with all their cultural pretensions to be sure launched the Renaissance, but they missed the Twinkie altogether. And it is no coincidence that Americans are among the world's most over-weight people. Credit the Twinkie: we are what we eat.

Millions of home foreclosures, 25 million unemployed and under-employed, trillions in lost pensions and savings, Iran on the nuclear threshold: little moves America's political class, but the Twinkie? There's political gold here.

Contrary to urban legend Al Gore did not invent the Twinkie as he did the Internet, Y2K, and global warming. Twinkies were invented in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar as a means of employing underutilized plant capacity. Dewar failed to win the Nobel Peace Prize, however, despite contributing as much to world peace as Al Gore, Barack Obama, and Yasser Arafat combined. Although Twinkies did not exactly pull us out of the depression they were shovel ready and created at least as many jobs as the 2009 stimulus package. And they are bipartisan. Who doesn't like Twinkies?

The Obama administration saw fit to bail out General Motors to save the Chevy Volt. The government even gives every buyer around ten thousand bucks and still can't sell more than a couple thousand of these fire traps. Americans buy approximately 40 million packages of zero emission Twinkies per year and even pay full price for them. Clearly, the American consumer wants the Twinkie. Policy makers must therefore ask themselves, "Is the Twinkie too big to fail?"

The unions have a lot riding on the Twinkie too. Hostess has over 370 union contracts. Wonder Bread and Twinkies must be delivered in different trucks and Hostess maintains separate workforces to load the trucks, drive, and unload them. It clearly takes a lot of specialization to handle the Twinkie. Does anything better demonstrate the benefits of union organization than the delivery of a package of Twinkies?

It should be further noted that Wall Street also has special interest in the Twinkie. Hostess is owned by a private equity firm that took the company out of bankruptcy only three years ago. A lot of high-priced financial engineering went into trying to save the Twinkie. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

And think about the role the Twinkie plays in our criminal justice system. In 1978 Dan White gunned down San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in cold blood but served only two years in prison courtesy of the "Twinkie Defense." The Twinkie ranks right up there with habeas corpus when it comes to protecting American murderers from arbitrary incarceration.

We would, of course, be remiss in this as in all things if we didn't mention race. All we hear about is the Twinkie but what about the Ho Ho? If ever there was a case of blatant discrimination, it has been in the disproportionate allocation of Hostess marketing dollars to the lily-white Twinkie and the benign neglect of the chocolate Ho Ho. One can easily understand Attorney General Holder's dismissal of charges against the Philadelphia Black Panthers for intimidating voters with baseball bats when any fool can recognize de facto discrimination in the case of the Ho Ho. Gads, the next thing those racist Republicans will do is require picture ID's for buying snack food.

And let's not forget illegal immigration? It's killing the Twinkie. The country is being infiltrated by Mexicans and their damned burritos. If they want amnesty in the future, they sure as hell better assimilate and start eating Twinkies -- lots of them.

There are so many serious problems affecting the Twinkie, maybe we could petition a higher power. If Americans would just Tebow for the Twinkie...

Of course, there's only so much even God can do. After all, the whole thing is George Bush's fault!