Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coffee and Shifting the Political Paradigm

I used to work at a coffee shop. There are lots of stories I could tell about it - the sweatshop conditions, the harassment of union activists, the unsanitary workplace, the incompetent managers. However I want to talk about the size of coffee cups.

We had three sizes of coffee cups - in order of smallest to biggest - Tall, Grande, and Alto-Grande.

People often get confused about the names of the sizes. Why the funny Italian names? Why can't we call the cup sizes Small, Medium, and Large?

Have you ever had coffee in Europe or South America? They serve it in espresso sized cups. That's a regular size of coffee internationally. The fact is that the smallest size coffee you can order in the United States is still considered Tall compared to what an actual regular cup of coffee would be in the rest of the world.

This mirror's America's obsession with making everything bigger and eating greater proportions of food. It's not good enough to have a car that gets you around, you need a gas guzzling monster truck. These large coffee cups represent an aspect of American Affluenza and our domination of the world. Only America has the free trade deals and military might to import so much of an upper drug in order to keep it's work force artificially stimulated and artificially attentive.

There are different kinds of people who order coffee. Some only want a little, some want a big caffeine fix. Then there are the undecideds - those who want some coffee, but do not know how much they want.

As a cashier I would prompt those undecideds and ask them what size coffee they wanted. They would hesitate. They didn't want to be extreme and order a 'small' or a 'large' so they would gravitate towards the 'medium' size. However it isn't an actual medium. It's actually quite a large amount of coffee.

Likewise with politics in America. We have shifted so far to the right, that what counts as left wing is actually quite a bit to the right of the rest of the world's left-wing.

Those who don't think about what coffee size they want gravitate towards what they perceive to be the middle. Likewise those who don't think about politics much gravitate towards what they see as the middle - which is not a genuine political center.

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