Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 25, 2012

VASICEK: Hostess Twinkies, Israel and Hurricane Sandy relief

American concern on display far too often these days

By Ed Vasicek
Tribune columnist

Kokomo — “Hi, Emil,” I muttered. “Come right in and have a seat. I have a few minutes.”

Emil made himself comfortable in my office. He was munching on a Twinkie. I ignored the crumbs that rolled onto my carpet as Emil spoke between bites:

“Yep, I sure am savoring this Twinkie. It’s my last one. Can’t believe Hostess and Wonder Bread have gone kaput.”

I volleyed the conversation back to Emil: “How can such a successful company go out of business? Our local Dunkin’ Donuts store also bit the dust.”

“Well, Dunkin’ Donuts I can understand,” Emil commented. “After all, we have some fine mom-and-pop doughnut shops here in town. Obama even visited one of ’em. But Hostess, that’s a tough one.”

“Forbes has some interesting comments,” I explained as I retrieved a clipping from my pocket and read:

“By constantly trying to defend and extend its old business, leadership at Hostess killed the company. But not realizing changing trends in foods made their products irrelevant – if not obsolete – and … [allowing profit] margins to disintegrate [doomed them]. Rather than developing new products which would be more marketable … Hostess leadership kept trying … to make their horse and buggy competitive with automobiles … [they blamed] … the unions ….”

“That is one raw deal,” Emil replied. “I knew a few folks who worked driving Wonder and Hostess truck routes. Wow, did they put in long days. Talk about working hard. They earned every dime they got and then some. Now the entire fleet is out of work. This job loss thing is getting old.”

“Yeah, I feel very bad for them,” I added, “but I won’t miss the Twinkies. I exchanged Twinkies and doughnuts for collard greens and kale a few years ago, when I got my stent. But Twinkies will come back. Someone will buy up the rights. They might cost more, but places like Pepperidge Farm or Aunt Millie’s are probably considering an acquisition while we speak.”

I continued, “The job loss is serious stuff. It’s not just about statistics and politics. When someone loses a job, that’s a big thing. Being out of work can create marital strife and make things like divorce, obsessive drinking, or other domestic problems more likely. I think it was President Reagan who said, ‘When your neighbor is out of work, that’s a recession; when you are out of work, that’s a depression.’”

“Ed, your point is well taken. Let me change subjects. I heard on the news that things are heating up between Israel and the Palestinians. It’s getting real bad.”

“Yep, it is,” I replied. “You would think they would eventually get tired of fighting. I know it is hard for us to understand why this thing can’t be resolved. The Middle East is so different from our part of the world. What do you think, Emil?”

“Well,” he replied hesitatingly, “I have my viewpoint, but until all parties recognize the rights of one another to exist, until all attacks are stopped, and until violence is no longer glorified, I can’t see how there can be any lasting peace.”

“I’m with you all the way,” I commented.

Emil continued, “And if the mess in Israel is not enough, the problems from Hurricane Sandy are far from resolved. People are helping with donations through volunteer teams, and in many other ways. I read on the Good News Network that the mayor of New York has reserved 5,000 seats at the Macy’s Parade for some of the victims. Things like that may not seem helpful, but they are morale lifters. Also read about portable food trucks that were serving affected people early Thanksgiving dinners. It warms my heart to see people pitching in.”

“Yep,” I concluded. “That’s one of America’s strengths: We do come through in a crisis. Wish we didn’t have to show off our concern so much. Too many.”

“Indeed,” Emil finalized.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.