business news in context, analysis with attitude

Several nice emails yesterday in response to our story about consumer packaged goods manufacturers shipping products to soldiers in Iraq, giving them a taste of home.

MNB user Westall Parr of Toronto wrote:

“One of the really wonderful things about the United States of America is the way you people come through for each other.

“Pop Tarts !


“A silly and mundane as it sounds - it IS those little things that make you American's what you are.

“It's not over yet - but the world can never deny that there has probably not been a people as fascinating and as giving as the Americans.

“It was Hershey bars in a previous war.

“There are people that will call you Imperialists.

“I think you are a people with huge hearts and a desire to do the right
thing. Keep it up.

“And bring those boys, those young woman, those Mothers and those Fathers
home soon.

“They ask 25,000 young people to form a new Peace Corps and help the
Iraqis build the country they deserve.”

On behalf of all of us, thanks.

Another MNB user asked a very good question about one piece of the story that we didn’t pay attention to, the part that had two different kinds of microwave popcorn being shipped to the Middle East:

“This is a genuine sincere question. What portion of our troops over there has access to microwaves for the popcorn? Is that something they cart along now in the supply trucks?”

Excellent question…and we don’t have the answer. We’ll try and find out, though the military may have other things to worry about at the moment.

On another subject, MNB user Steve Panza wrote:

“In response to the reader who wanted to know how Wal-Mart was able to ‘...allow them to build and sustain a cohesive and increasingly global network of colleagues that still feel they are part of a team that shares their local concerns.’ It all goes back to the Wal-Mart culture. You can go to any Wal-Mart (or Sam's Club) around the world, and they all have their morning meetings, cheers, etc. It's kind of like the "Think Globally, Act Locally" mindset, each store/warehouse is part of a bigger picture, but with its own local concerns.

“Regarding the reader comment on out of stocks and ‘...Wal-Mart is now telling vendors that gross margin, and not sales, is the game." Isn't gross margin where the profit is? I always thought sales numbers were for the Wall Street crowd; it never made sense to me to get the stores to increase the ring, but not get items with a higher margin. It could also be the reason why I'm not a stock guru...”

Regarding the decision at Safeway Inc. to cut CEO Steve Burd’s bonus, one MNB user wrote:

“It is tough times - we all have to cut back.”

Million dollar salary and a quarter-million dollar bonus…that’s our idea of cutting back.

Another MNB user didn’t see any humor in this:

“He has done away with all bonuses for employees, cut benefits for store workers, all with the excuse of making money.

“WHY shouldn't he have to suffer too?”

Again…a million dollar salary and a quarter-million dollar bonus…if we were Brer Rabbit, that’s a briar patch we wouldn’t mind being thrown into.
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