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Mark Perry

Mark Perry

Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

Articles by Mark Perry

Landmark victory for Institute for Justice, which deserves Nobel Peace Prize for its ongoing legal efforts advancing human rights – Publications – AEI

13 hours ago

AEI
Landmark victory for Institute for Justice, which deserves Nobel Peace Prize for its ongoing legal efforts advancing human rights
From today’s Institute for Justice press release “Institute for Justice Dismantles Philadelphia Forfeiture Machine“:
The Institute for Justice (IJ) today announced a major settlement with the city of Philadelphia, ending the city’s draconian civil forfeiture machine. In documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today, city officials agreed to a set of reforms that will end the perverse financial incentives under which law enforcement keeps and uses forfeiture revenue, fundamentally reform procedures for seizing and forfeiting property, and establish a $3 million fund to compensate innocent people whose property was

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China still has plenty of ammunition to fight back in Trump’s trade war – Publications – AEI

21 hours ago

AEI
China still has plenty of ammunition to fight back in Trump’s trade war
That’s the title of an article in The Federalist by senior contributor Helen Raleigh:
China still has several tools in its kit to mitigate the negative effects of President Trump’s trade war on its economy. With a top-down economic structure and a huge domestic market, China may be able to absorb some impact of the latest round of tariffs by turning goods destined for export around for internal consumption.
….
Most importantly, Xi Jinping became president for life in March of this year. Time is on his side. He doesn’t face much political pressure to reach a trade deal with the United States. As a matter of fact, China’s hardliners may grumble if they perceive any trade deal has sold out China’s interests. So Xi has

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It’s time to fill out the ‘Fill-in-the-Blank Price Gouging Form’ for Hurricane Florence – Publications – AEI

2 days ago

AEI
It’s time to fill out the ‘Fill-in-the-Blank Price Gouging Form’ for Hurricane Florence
Using the blank “Fill-In-The-Blank Price Gouging Form” above that I learned about from Art Carden almost ten years ago, I’ve filled out the form below for Hurricane Florence based on various news articles including this one reporting that the North Carolina Attorney General’s is investigating more than 500 complaints that some local businesses are engaging in “illegal price gouging” charging market prices for goods that are in high demand and short supply.
Fearing increases in the prices of food, water, ice, gasoline, generators, building supplies, and hotel rooms as a result of Hurricane Florence, officials in North Carolina have declared a state of emergency whereby restrictions on “price gouging”

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John Stossel 2009 video — Milton Friedman and economists say ‘price gougers’ are heroes and deserve medals – Publications – AEI

3 days ago

AEI
John Stossel 2009 video — Milton Friedman and economists say ‘price gougers’ are heroes and deserve medals

The video above “Price Gouging” is one of John Stossel’s educational videos in his series “Stossel in the Classroom.” Here are some “money quotes”:
Milton Friedman: “Gougers deserve a medal.”
Gouger Entrepreneur John Shepperson: “Somebody needs to bring these products to people when there are disasters and emergencies, and this is going to be one person who is not going to be there that they took out of the equation.” Reason? John was arrested for ‘price gouging’ after traveling from Kentucky to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina with 19 generators that he brought to the devastated area that was without power, and trying to sell those generators above his cost.
Russ Roberts:

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Joke of the day on prices and price controls…. – Publications – AEI

4 days ago

AEI
Joke of the day on prices and price controls….
…. is from Mike Munger’s article “Three Undeniable Problems with Anti-Gouging Laws” on the American Institute for Economic Research website:
A guy goes into a store, to buy some milk. But the milk is $8 per gallon. So he complains to the owner: “$8! That’s too much!” The owner replies, “So, buy it at the store across the street. That guy is only charging $4.”
The buyer shakes his head, “I can’t, he’s out of milk.” The owner nods, “Right. And as soon as I’m out of milk, I’ll be able to charge $4, too!”
The point is obvious: it’s better to be able to buy milk at $8 than to be out of milk at $4. The low price for things that aren’t available is no price at all.
That was part of Munger’s Problem No. 1 with anti-price gouging laws —

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Bonus quotation of the day on trigger warnings for socialist college students…. – Publications – AEI

5 days ago

AEI
Bonus quotation of the day on trigger warnings for socialist college students….
… is from the Babylon Bee article “World History Professor Opens Class With Trigger Warning For Socialist Students“:
BOSTON, MA—A local university professor began his World History class in earnest this week with a trigger warning for his socialist students, in case any of them might get an anxiety attack at socialism’s bleak, deadly record. The professor warned students that the conception of socialism they gained through social media is a far cry from the death and destruction wreaked by the economic system throughout the globe in the 20th century.
“Now, just in case there are any socialists in here, I warn you: socialism’s history isn’t pretty,” he said calmly. “If you need to excuse yourselves from

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Quotation of the day on the embarrassing fragility on college campuses….. – Publications – AEI

5 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on the embarrassing fragility on college campuses…..
…. is from George Will’s latest Washington Post column “Trigger warning: An embarrassing fragility on college campuses“:
Fragile students are encouraged in “narcissistic victimhood” by administrators whose vocation is to tend to the injured. These administrators are, Heather Mac Donald argues in her new book “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture” determined to preserve in many of their students the thin skin and solipsism of adolescence.”
Nowadays, radical intellectuals who are eager to be “transgressive” have difficulty finding remaining social rules and boundaries to transgress: When all icons have been smashed, the iconoclast’s lot is not a

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Explaining US income inequality by household demographics, 2017 update – Publications – AEI

6 days ago

AEI
Explaining US income inequality by household demographics, 2017 update

The Census Bureau released its annual report yesterday on “Income and Poverty in the United States” with lots of newly updated data on household income and household demographics. Based on those new data, I present my annual post titled “Explaining Income Inequality by Household Demographics” (see my previous versions of this analysis for years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).
Most of the discussion on income inequality focuses on the relative differences over time between low-income and high-income American households. But it’s also informative to analyze the demographic differences among income groups at a given point in time to answer questions like:

How are high-income households different demographically from

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Census data released today show continued gains for middle-class Americans and little evidence of rising income inequality – Publications – AEI

7 days ago

AEI
Census data released today show continued gains for middle-class Americans and little evidence of rising income inequality
The Census Bureau released its annual report today on “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017” with lots of new, updated data on household and family incomes, and household demographics through 2017. Below are four charts with commentary based on the new Census data on household income through 2017. Shortly I’ll post my annual analysis “Explaining US income inequality by household demographics,” here’s my post from a year ago for 2016 data.

1. Median and Average Household Income, and Average Household Size. The chart above shows: a) average annual household income in 2017 dollars (dark blue line), b) median household income in 2017 dollars (light blue

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Happy 138th Birthday to the ‘Sage of Baltimore’ — H.L. Mencken – Publications – AEI

8 days ago

AEI
Happy 138th Birthday to the ‘Sage of Baltimore’ — H.L. Mencken

Tomorrow (September 12) is H.L. Mencken’s birthday. The “Sage of Baltimore” (pictured above) was born in 1880 and is regarded by many as one of the most influential American journalists, essayists, and writers of the early 20th century. To recognize the great political writer on his birthday, here are 12 of my favorite Mencken quotes:
1. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
2. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
3. A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
4. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
5. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

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How much would an all-American iPhone cost? – Publications – AEI

8 days ago

AEI
How much would an all-American iPhone cost?

About $2,000 according to two reports, one recent and one from 2014.
From Jefferson Graham writing in USA Today a few days ago:

Would you willingly spend $2,000 to buy an iPhone that today costs a grand? That’s how much veteran analyst Tim Bajarin tells me it would cost Apple to retail if it made iPhones in the United States.
Why shouldn’t Apple makes iPhones here? Well, here’s the problem. It’s not just money. Yes, there’s way lower labor costs involved. Skilled workers in China make about $100 a week, way less than we offer. There’s also the availability of parts in Asia and the lack of suitable manufacturing facilities here.
Think about the parts dilemma for a second. Remember that Apple makes more than 200 million iPhones yearly and has

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Backfire Economics: Trump’s trade war cripples Minnesota farmers and even taxpayer aid won’t cover the losses – Publications – AEI

10 days ago

AEI
Backfire Economics: Trump’s trade war cripples Minnesota farmers and even taxpayer aid won’t cover the losses

From today’s StarTribune article “Minnesota farmers consider asking for government help as trade war worsens downturn that started years ago“:
The escalating trade war is imposing new burdens on Minnesota’s vast and economically important agricultural sector. Farmers have already endured almost five years of marginal profits as they produced record volumes in summer after summer of good weather. Now, the trade war appears likely to tip them from small profits to sizable losses.
Many are reluctantly preparing to take what they consider a distasteful step: turning to the government for help. Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture started accepting farmer applications

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Quotation of the day on what to expect over the next nine months on college campuses….. – Publications – AEI

10 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on what to expect over the next nine months on college campuses…..

…. is from Heather Mac Donald’s op-ed in the New York Daily News “Duped by diversity: Colleges corrupt their curriculum to satisfy modern progressive sensibilities“:
The metastasizing campus diversity bureaucracy, costing taxpayers and parents millions of dollars a year, will drum into students that they are either victims or oppressors. Lavishly paid diversity deanlets and vice chancellors of equity and inclusion will propound a patently delusional idea: that to be a female or minority college student today is to be the target of life-threatening racism and sexism. (Never mind that these allegedly racist colleges employ large racial preferences to order to admit as many as “underrepresented

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Camile Paglia on the indispensability of men, who do the dangerous, dirty work that makes our modern economy possible – Publications – AEI

10 days ago

AEI
Camile Paglia on the indispensability of men, who do the dangerous, dirty work that makes our modern economy possible

Below are the final two paragraphs of Camile Paglia’s opening statement at the Munk Debate, “Resolved: Men Are Obsolete” held in Toronto in November 2013, and which appeared in Time Magazine in December 2013with the title “It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be” (subtitled: The modern economy is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role — but women were not its author):
Men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs,

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Richard Epstein on the intellectual poverty and intellectual self-denial of the ‘new socialists’ – Publications – AEI

12 days ago

AEI
Richard Epstein on the intellectual poverty and intellectual self-denial of the ‘new socialists’
From Richard Epstein’s excellent article on “The Intellectual Poverty Of The New Socialists“:
The New Socialists try of course to distance themselves from the glaring failures of the Old Socialists, who suffered from two incurable vices. First, they ran the economies of such places as Cuba, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, and virtually all of Eastern Europe into the ground. Second, they turned these states into one-party dictatorships governed by police brutality, forced imprisonment for political offenses, and other human rights abuses. When viewing the proposals of the New Socialists, one looks for any kind of explanation for how their proposals for the radical expansion of government

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Quotation of the day on lessons from Venezuela about America’s own socialist threat….. – Publications – AEI

12 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on lessons from Venezuela about America’s own socialist threat…..
…. is from the Investor’s Business Daily‘s editorial “Venezuela’s Tragic Mass Exodus Has Only One Cause: Socialism“:
The U.S. today lives under its own socialist threat. Socialist candidates, ranging from Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Florida Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, and Massachusetts candidate Ayanna Pressley, have come to the fore in recent U.S. primary elections. Americans will be making an enormous mistake to hand them power of any sort.
Among the poorly educated young, socialism is no longer a dirty word. To older voters who never actually lived under socialism or only vaguely remember how awful it was before the collapse of

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Corporate America breaks its addiction to degree inflation and strikes a blow against the college cartel – Publications – AEI

12 days ago

AEI
Corporate America breaks its addiction to degree inflation and strikes a blow against the college cartel
In a recent CD post, I featured the Washington Examiner op-ed by Alexander James “More and more companies ditch college degree requirements for jobs” that reported that the employment website Glassdoor compiled a list last month of 15 big companies that no longer require a degree to apply: Google, Ernst & Young, Penguin Random House, Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods, Hilton, Publix, Apple, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Home Depot, IBM, Bank of America, Chipotle, and Lowe’s. Writing in National Review, my AEI colleagues Frederick Hess and Grant Addison explain the implications of that historical development in an article titled “Apple, Google, et al. Strike a Blow against the College Cartel,”

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Wednesday evening links – Publications – AEI

14 days ago

AEI
Wednesday evening links

1. Chart of the Day (above) summarizes some of the most important, and perhaps troubling, trends in higher education between 1976 and 2011 (most recent year available of consistent historical data before the Department of Education re-classified administrative staff that no longer allows comparisons to data in previous years) including: a) a near tripling in inflation-adjusted college tuition (compared to an increase in real median household income of less than 10% during that period), b) an increase in full-time faculty (76%) far less than the increase in the number of college students (91%) compared to the nearly quadrupling in part-time faculty (283%) and the 139% increase in executive/administrative/managerial positions. The nearly tripling in

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Heather Mac Donald on how universities have become hatred machines poisoned by identity politics – Publications – AEI

14 days ago

AEI
Heather Mac Donald on how universities have become hatred machines poisoned by identity politics

In the video above bestselling author, Manhattan Institute fellow, and contributing editor of City Journal Heather Mac Donald discusses her new book “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture,” in which she makes the case that American universities have become hatred machines poisoned by identity politics, which has promoted the rise of intolerance and the erosion of serious learning.
From Amazon.com:
America is in crisis, from the university to the workplace. Toxic ideas first spread by higher education have undermined humanistic values, fueled intolerance, and widened divisions in our larger culture. Chaucer, Shakespeare and

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Quotation of the day on Trump’s zero-sum misunderstanding about trade….. – Publications – AEI

15 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on Trump’s zero-sum misunderstanding about trade…..
 

The problem is that Trump feels ripped off even when a trade agreement is reciprocal, because in his mind, not being able to rip off the other side means he is being ripped off. When everything is zero-sum, there can be no win-win.
— Jennifer Jancke (@JanckeJennifer) September 2, 2018

HT: Doug Irwin, who commented that “This may be the best answer to why Trump feels so aggrieved about trade.”
Quotation of the day on Trump’s zero-sum misunderstanding about trade…..
Mark Perry

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Must-read on ‘cultural appropriation’ – Publications – AEI

16 days ago

AEI
Must-read on ‘cultural appropriation’
Don’t miss this op-ed by Jack VanNoord that appeared in the Chicago Tribune last week “My nephew tried to school me on cultural appropriation. It didn’t end well,” here’s the opening:
They got him. Just as I feared they would. My nephew Kyle came to live with us this summer after his freshman year of college. Apparently he’s now a deputized member of the cultural-appropriation police.
He hadn’t even unpacked his massive bag of dirty laundry when he made a snide comment about the three straw hats hanging in our hallway collected during our years living in Southeast Asia. The next day when Kyle and I were backing out of the driveway and I called out “Adios” to my neighbor, Kyle mumbled, “Appropriate much?”
But then the following Saturday, I overheard

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Who are the true Labor Day heroes? – Publications – AEI

16 days ago

AEI
Who are the true Labor Day heroes?
According to Pepperdine University economics professor Gary Galles writing for the Mises Institute the answer is “scabs”:
In essence, the basis of calling someone a scab is only their willingness to work for less than union demands. But is that bad? If a store offers you lower prices for what you want to buy, you don’t call them names. You seek out bargains, which are the fruit of competition. So what makes monopoly good when your union labor is involved, but bad otherwise? (remember, the Wagner Act had to define labor as not a commodity, or antitrust laws would have made unions illegal). The only reason is narrow self- interest. You don’t want anything to undermine the current terms of your job, even if it was extracted with government-delegated

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Details in BLS report suggest that most of the gender earnings gap is explained by age, marital status, children, hours worked – Publications – AEI

16 days ago

AEI
Details in BLS report suggest that most of the gender earnings gap is explained by age, marital status, children, hours worked

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases an annual report every year on the “Highlights of Women’s Earnings” (since the BLS report actually analyzes equally both men’s and women’s earnings, one might ask why the report isn’t simply titled more accurately “Highlights of Earnings in America”?). Here’s the opening paragraph from the most recent BLS report “Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2017” that was released last month:

In 2017, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings that were 81.8 percent of those of male full-time wage and salary workers. In 1979, the first year for which comparable earnings data are

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Quotation of the day on the attribution of every universal sin to America but every specific victory to humanity ….. – Publications – AEI

18 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on the attribution of every universal sin to America but every specific victory to humanity …..
…. is from Ben Shapiro:
On Thursday evening, Ryan Gosling made international news when he justified the fact that the new Damien Chazelle biopic of Neil Armstrong will skip the whole planting the American flag on the moon thing. Gosling, a Canadian, explained, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement and that’s how we chose to view it.”
It’s telling that the Left seems to attribute every universal sin to America, and every specific victory to humanity as a whole. Slavery: uniquely American. Racism: uniquely American. Sexism: uniquely American. Homophobia: uniquely American. Putting a man on the moon: an achievement of humanity.
Quotation of the

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Happy Labor Day and Happy Capital Day 2018! – Publications – AEI

18 days ago

AEI
Happy Labor Day and Happy Capital Day 2018!

From Larry Reed’s 2012 article “Happy Capital Day?” for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE):
Capital without labor means machines with no operators, or financial resources without the manpower to invest in. Labor without capital looks like Haiti or North Korea: plenty of people working but doing it with sticks instead of bulldozers, or starting a small enterprise with pocket change instead of a bank loan.
Capital can refer to either the tools of production or the funds that finance them. There may be no place in the world where there’s a shortage of labor but every inch of the planet is short of capital. There is no worker who couldn’t become more productive and better himself and society in the process if he had a more powerful

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Bonus quotation of the day on Trump’s flawed economic logic and mercantilist trade policies…. – Publications – AEI

18 days ago

AEI
Bonus quotation of the day on Trump’s flawed economic logic and mercantilist trade policies….
…. is from The Economist editorial “America’s deal with Mexico will make NAFTA worse: Its costly new regulations result from flawed economic logic”:

The concessions that Mexico has granted Mr. Trump are for the most part economically damaging. The deal looks good for America only through the distorting prism of the president’s mercantilism. And Mr. Trump is pursuing his trade agenda with a reckless bellicosity that makes a chaotic outcome more likely.
By elevating arbitrary rules above the free market, these changes make a mockery of the White House’s supposed opposition to intrusive regulation. The result will be lower productivity, higher prices for consumers and a less competitive

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Quotation of the day on retaliatory tariffs and the benefits of trade….. – Publications – AEI

19 days ago

AEI
Quotation of the day on retaliatory tariffs and the benefits of trade…..
…. is from Don Boudreaux:
The assertion that tariffs abroad ‘require’ tariffs in the U.S. typically springs from the faulty presumption that the benefits of trade are in the amounts that we export while imports are a cost of trade. If maximizing the amounts that we export relative to the amounts that we import were, contrary to fact, the ultimate purpose of trade, then retaliatory tariffs might be economically justified. But because in reality the ultimate purpose of trade – as of economic activity generally – is to enable us to increase through consumption our standard of living as much as possible, using tariffs to restrict the amounts that we are able to consume makes no sense whatsoever.
Related: As Milton

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The two minutes it takes to read this will improve your writing forever….. – Publications – AEI

19 days ago

AEI
The two minutes it takes to read this will improve your writing forever…..
… is the name of this post, reproduced below in its entirety:

You’re busy, so I’ll keep this quick. Following are the simplest tips I can give you to easily — and forever — improve the quality of your writing.
1. Delete the word “that.”
At least 90% of the times you use the word “that” can be removed from your writing and it will instantly make your sentence stronger.
Example:“You believe that I’m lying, but I’m not.” becomes“You believe I’m lying, but I’m not.”
2. Delete the words “I think.”
It adds nothing. Remove it to strengthen your point.
Example:“I think this is a good sentence.” becomes“This is a good sentence.”
3. Avoid words that end in “-ing.”
In most cases, the “-ing” softens your word and adds no

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Backfire economics: Trump’s trade war forces US cherry growers to sell their products below cost and lose $86M – Publications – AEI

19 days ago

AEI
Backfire economics: Trump’s trade war forces US cherry growers to sell their products below cost and lose $86M

From the staff editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal “Cherry-Picking Trade Losers: Pacific Northwest growers lost $86 million after retaliatory tariffs“):
In April China retaliated against Mr. Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs by raising the tariff on U.S. cherries to 25% from 10%. American cherries are a luxury item, and affluent Chinese kept buying despite the price hike. But after the U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on an additional $50 billion of Chinese imports, Beijing raised the cherry tariff again—to 50% on July 6. That was too much even for China’s nouveau riche.
By then cherry growers in the Pacific Northwest had already spent the money to grow, harvest and pack

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