Why did the Soviet Union fall? I don’t know for certain, but I think that it might have been due to substandard pancakes.

From personal experience, I know that when I wake up and go to breakfast here on campus, the roller coaster ride that is my daily life slows to a grinding halt if I ever forget one simple principle.

No matter how good they look, and no matter how much I want to eat them, the pancakes at Danforth are always disappointing.

How can this happen? Perhaps we have entered the Twilight Zone, and that is why pancakes at Danforth seem appetizing while in the serving dish, but the instant they touch my plate, they lose any qualities that might get them confused with food.

Getting back to the heart of my story ? communism. Maybe, just maybe, Soviet Russia had the same perplexing pancake problems that plague patrons of UR eateries.

You see, the Aramark/Dining Services cartel and a totalitarian communist dictatorship have a lot in common. Both control the means of production, present themselves as supporting the common man and idolize Lenin.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

It’s not the cartel’s fault, though. It’s just that they don’t have competition. Freshmen need to get a 10-block or 14-block meal plan. That’s $60-$84 dollars a week that the cartel gets, no matter what the freshman does. If you spend $5.50, or if you spend $0.38, they get six dollars.

You already paid for those blocks, so there’s no motivation for the cartel to exceed, live up to, or even be aware of the expectations of the consumer.

There is some variety, but not competition. If you go to Douglass, instead of The Pit, the money is still going to the same place. Hell, if you go to Las Vegas, and don’t use up your blocks, the money still goes to the cartel.

God forbid you want to eat at Danforth without a meal plan. Instead of the cartel getting six bucks, they get $10.

That’s all good and fine for CEO Stalin, but what about the poor ? and I do mean poor ? college students who don’t even get the option of unappetizing breakfast cuisine.

If you have a group of consumers who already paid for the service, didn’t have any choice about whether or not to and have no viable alternatives, why would you bother making rich, fluffy pancakes, when flaky, dry ones are easier and, well, more evil?

Some of my dorm mates don’t care. This is primarily because they don’t wake up early enough for lunch, let alone breakfast.

Others are too preoccupied with whether or not their teaching assistant might go on a date with them, and whether or not said TA smells good. Having not smelt my TA, I wouldn’t know.

What I do know is that we live in a twisted universe when the only soda ? or pop, or whatever you want to call it ? I can get in the PepsiCo Plaza is a Coke product, and the only way I can spend my blocks is to eat at one of the four local dining facilities all owned by the same pinko leftists who can’t make decent pancakes.

If I wanted communism, I’d move to Canada. But I live in the United States, where we pride ourselves on capitalism and a free market.

So if the ARAMARK / Dining Services cartel wants us to be comrades in its pancake proletariat, perhaps they should relocate their base of operations to Cuba. It’s almost as if the cartel wants to play a big game of Monopoly ? completely by themselves. Just because you don’t play well with others is no reason to oppress college students.

They do make a damn fine tater tot, though.

Powell can be reached at lpowell@campustimes.org.

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