Published on: January 13, 2010
Yesterday, MNB took note of a study by Loyola University in Chicago suggesting that since a single Walmart opened within the city limits, 82 businesses within a four-mile radius have closed down and almost 300 jobs have been lost - almost as many as have been created by the Walmart.
MNB user Elizabeth Archered wrote:I'm not a major fan of Walmart, though I am grateful that they singlehandedly brought down the price of over 400 generic drugs.
But regarding that Loyola study, there was a global economic near-collapse since Walmart opened in Chicago. Did the study compare the recent experience against any research about how many small businesses normally close in a similar time period, or during a recession, in that area?
I just hope we can resist blaming them for everything that happens in their vicinity.
A similar point was made by MNB user Christine Myres:Could the loss of business & jobs since Walmart opened in Chicago be due to the recession and not to the opening of Walmart? Just a thought. What were those businesses? What type of employees did they have, with what skills?
Excellent point. Those closings and those layoffs might have happened anyway.
We continue to get email about the Publix calendar controversy.
As noted in MNB earlier this week, Publix has decided to withdraw a free 2010 calendar that it has been circulating because of criticisms from a Miami talk show host who had been publicizing the fact that the calendar did not identify December 7 as Pearl Harbor Day and did identify that day in 2010 as the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The suggestion by the talk show host was that Publix was somehow being un-American...though in past years, the free Publix calendar never
identified December 7 as Pearl Harbor Day. And it is a coincidence that in 2010, December 7 happens to be the beginning of the Islamic New Year.
I was, to put it mildly, disgusted by the implications made by the radio host, and said that “what is really offensive is that some radio talk show host with no apparent moral scruples decides to generate some ratings not just by demonizing Muslims, but demonizing a supermarket chain by implying it had done something that was somehow un-American.” And, I wrote:You could make the argument that, considering that there is a growing Muslim minority in the US and that most of us simply are unfamiliar with their beliefs and observances, noting on a calendar when the Islamic New Year begins actually isn’t a dumb thing to do.
And you could make the argument that it’d be nice to remind people when Pearl Harbor Day is, especially since the younger generation may have less familiarity than we’d like with such historic events. (Though I’m guessing that there are very few such young people who use paper calendars - they’re using their computers and cell phones. But that’s a different debate.)
My point isn’t to take either side of this argument...but just to say that the tenor of the accusations leveled by the talk show host, best I can tell from the coverage, drove the discussion to the lowest common denominator. There could have been an interesting discussion about whether we do not pay enough attention to our history. We could talk about how the growing minorities in America and the challenges they present in terms of acculturation and assimilation.
But no. Those kinds of discussions don’t generate ratings. It is easier to level accusations and stoke people’s anger.
It is irresponsible.
MNB user Gary Narberes responded:After reading your "your views" on the Publix calendar debacle I decided to check my "free" calendar from St Jude's Hospital and guess what...Dec 7th is listed as the Islamic New Year (approximate). Thanks for opening my eyes!
Another MNB user wrote:Now, I don’t have a Publix where I live, but if the grocery store I shop at was caught up in this calendar debate, it wouldn’t make me not continue to shop there. C’mon, it’s a calendar! A calendar isn’t going to generate new shoppers, and I certainly hope people wouldn’t find a new store to shop at because of this. It would be different if in year’s past the calendar had Pearl Harbor Day and it was simply removed, then the question would be why was it removed? I could see this upsetting veterans or veteran’s families. The thing is, the reference to Pearl Harbor was never there to begin with and nobody noticed until now. A calendar isn’t what makes Publix shoppers shop at Publix. Publix should ignore this distraction and focus on the things to enhance consumers shopping experience, because isn’t that what will keep consumers going back to Publix?
The problem, of course, is that it is almost impossible for Publix to ignore the controversy. And it is hard to fire back at people like this talk show host, in part because you don’t want to alienate shoppers and in part because it almost never makes sense to get into an argument with someone who controls the microphone.
On the other hand, that’s why I’m going out of my way to publicize this situation. My only dog in this fight is basic human decency...a concept with which I suspect this talk show host may have only passing and opportunistic familiarity. And besides, I have a microphone, too.
One MNB user yesterday said that I was wrong to call out the talk show host because it was Muslims who bombed the World Trade Center. Which led MNB user Stephanie Steiner to respond:People committed to Muslim faith didn’t bomb the WTC. People committed to EXTREMIST behavior bombed the WTC.
You were spot-on in calling the radio host a bully on this one, don’t back off.
Responding to Michael Sansolo’s column yesterday about what he saw as contradictory behavior - people who object to full body scans at airports then are willing to provide all sorts of personal information on Facebook.
Which led one MNB user to write:It's neither contradictory nor ironic - but an issue of control. When I publish information about myself, it is my choice. When someone reveals things about me, maybe the same things I would voluntarily post - that is not my choice and not under my control. Remember when Kevin was reporting about RFID chips? He was at a meeting and when he walked into the room wearing his RFID chip, his name appeared on the screen at the front of the room. Kevin was uncomfortable with that - despite the fact that the same information was on the nametag he was wearing. The difference who controls the information flow.
Was I uncomfortable? It seems so long ago...
I’m with James Carville when it comes to full body scans. I can’t repeat precisely what he said about all the things they said they could measure and check in airports...but you can Google it.
MNB user Jackie Lembke wrote:So somewhat off the main subject, but does the full body scan at airports mean BlueFly.com was ahead of the curve with their commercials of a naked woman walking through the airport?
I wasn’t familiar with those commercials, so I checked them out...and they actually are pretty funny. Check them out on YouTube.com.
We’re not to that point yet. But you never know.
Finally, a week ago, after I exulted over the NY Jets win over the Cincinnati Bengals that propelled them into the playoffs and another face-off with the Bengals, we posted the following email from MNB user Bill Welch:Your Jets made the playoffs because two teams (Colts and Bengals) laid down. They are a two and a half point underdog this week in Cincinnati. The smart money knows they are one and done.
Well, as we all know....not so much. The Jets, against the odds, defeated the Bengals convincingly a second time, and now move onto the second round of playoffs (they play the San Diego Chargers this weekend).
And give Bill Welch credit...because he wrote back:Their entrance into the playoffs may have been the result of a couple fortuitous events but they have demonstrated that they belong. I am a believer. Let me join in J - E - T - S Jets, Jets, Jets!
Your graciousness is appreciated.
Hey, I never knock fortuitous events. If you’re lucky, life and work are full of them.