retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    Now available on iTunes…

    To hear Kevin Coupe’s weekly radio commentary, click on the “MNB Radio” icon on the left hand side of the home page, or just go to:

    http://www.morningnewsbeat.com/Radio/Radio_Listen_S.las



    Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MNB Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this morning by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.


    I love it when it all comes together. Especially when the end result is good news, which we all can use about now.

    To begin with, there was a fascinating story on Salon.com about how changing demographics mean that there are going to be a plethora of jobs available by 2018. That may not be too encouraging if you are among the folks who have lost their jobs during the past 18 months, or if you are a Democrat looking to get re-elected. But it means that, as the Rolling Stones once sang, time really is on our side.

    According to Salon, here are the statistics to make even the most hardened heart soften a bit:

    • “By 2018, the Census Bureau projects that there will be roughly 21.8 million more adults in the U.S. than in 2008.”

    • “The huge baby boom generation will continue to enter typical retirement age and live longer, while those reaching adulthood will come from the much smaller "baby bust" generation. That means that 95 percent of the net increase in population will be over 55, and more than half will be over 65.”

    • “Only about 1 million adults age 18-54 will be added to the total of those normally expected to be in the workforce.”

    • “Of the 21.8 million additional adults, just 9.1 million are likely to be in the workforce, assuming current labor force participation rates.”

    • “Meanwhile, once the jobs recession is over, the total number of additional jobs in the nation is expected to increase by over 15 million by 2018, which would leave a potential gap of 6 million unfilled jobs.”

    • “Nearly half of these jobs will be in the social sectors: health care and social assistance, educational services, nonprofits, the performing arts, museums, libraries, and government. If all 6 million potential jobs are left unfilled, the loss in potential output could total nearly $3 trillion over a five-year period.”

    In other words, if we want to work, we’ll be able to work. There will be plenty of jobs out there...and for aging baby boomers who think it might be rewarding and interesting to teach, or work for a museum, or even enter public service, there will be opportunities. And get this - they won’t be able to turn us down, because they’ll be desperate for warm bodies!

    There will, of course, be changes to be made to the workplace. Employers are going to have to look past graying hair and adapt the workplace to the specific needs and requirements of this aging population. They’ll have to make us feel like we have some skin in the game - albeit sagging skin - and they’ll have to allow us the opportunity to make tangible contributions, because we come to the party with the advantages of both years and mileage. This will be harder for some than for others. But if they want dedicated and enthusiastic employees, they’ll have to adjust.

    There have been plenty of surveys out there that suggest we baby boomers will be looking for new challenges, or “encore careers,” and that we won’t be as focused as our parents on retiring or moving off to Florida where we can ripen and rot. (Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But you get my point.)

    Personally, I’ve never understood the allure of retirement. But then again, maybe that’s because I’m having so much fun writing and traveling and speaking and eating and drinking that I can’t image what the hell I would do for an encore.

    Maybe Broadway?

    The other piece that made me feel hopeful this week was a column by the thoughtful and erudite David Brooks of the New York Times, who wrote this week that he believes that “the U.S. is on the verge of a demographic, economic and social revival, built on its historic strengths. The U.S. has always been good at disruptive change. It’s always excelled at decentralized community-building. It’s always had that moral materialism that creates meaning-rich products. Surely a country with this much going for it is not going to wait around passively and let a rotten political culture drag it down.”

    Based on projections that despite the economic problems of the moment, the global population is inevitably going to become more affluent, Brooks argues that “As the world gets richer, demand will rise for the sorts of products Americans are great at providing — emotional experiences. Educated Americans grow up in a culture of moral materialism; they have their sensibilities honed by complicated shows like ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘The Wire’ and ‘Mad Men,’ and they go on to create companies like Apple, with identities coated in moral and psychological meaning, which affluent consumers crave.”

    In other words, even if it isn’t all good at the moment, the stage is set for an economic revival, a cultural renaissance, a revival of the spirit. And the really good news is that no matter how much noise is made by the wingnuts at either end of the political spectrum, no matter how much whining and gnashing of teeth takes place, it seems very likely that American exceptionalism will survive...if we continually work at it, if we refuse to allow the noise to drown out optimism, entrepreneurialism and innovation.

    Sounds like a pretty good encore to me. As long as we survive the main event.

    For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    Marketing Daily reports that a February poll of 800 supermarket shoppers sponsored by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) indicates that 80 percent of them believed that there has been no improvement in the economy, 40 percent believe that the economy actually has gotten worse, and that - not surprisingly - this translates into greater private brand usage.

    According to the story, “About 39% say the current economy is a ‘very important’ factor when they buy a store brand, and 62% say they intend to purchase more private-label products going forward. When asked if they had recently ditched a national brand purchase in favor of a generic purchase, 43% say yes.

    “A year ago, only 35% said they had done so. Some 57% describe themselves as frequent purchasers of private-label goods, up from 55% a year ago -- a percentage that is consistent across gender, income and age. Awareness of the extent of private-label options, however, is highest among younger shoppers, with 72% of those in the 18-24 group saying they are more aware of private-label products than they were a year ago, compared with 55% of those age 65-plus.”

    The numbers suggest that current private brand penetration - estimated to be about 24 percent in units and 18 percent in dollars - is likely to increase because of continuing consumer concern about the economy.
    KC's View:
    I would never argue with the premise that the recession has created a consumer culture in which people have persistent concerns, in which they may be more careful about expenditures and more diligent about saving. Which probably is a good thing.

    However, I would question some of the assertions of this survey.

    First, I’d like to know a lot more about those 800 people - who they are, where they are from, how they are employed, and how their lives have been affected by the recession. Their attitudes almost certainly will be colored by events.

    I’m skeptical about the survey’s conclusions because it says that more than 600 of them think that there has been no improvement in the economy. We can argue about how permanent the improvements have been, or whether improvements mask some sort of deeper problem (like deficits) that have not been addressed. All legitimate arguments. But to say there has been no improvement since the time 18 months ago when it looked like the US economy was going to off a cliff? That stretches credibility in my view. (You do that survey at a Tea Party convention, you are going to get one set of answers. Do it in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or in Berkeley, California, and you are going to get a vastly different view. Neither would be accurate or reflective of objective reality.)

    Finally, I would suggest that people and companies in the private label business should be careful about pegging their long-term success to a slugging national economy. Private brands have to represent more than just a cheaper alternative. That’s been the long-term message that companies like Wegmans and Trader Joe’s and Stew Leonard’s and Costco - to name just a few - have communicated about their private brands.

    But mostly, I’m just not buying the resolute pessimism.

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    The Los Angeles Times reports that “the Humane Society of the United States has released undercover video footage shot at two of the nation's largest egg farms showing workers slamming chickens into metal bins and dead birds littering cages,” and says that the video represents just “the latest salvo in an escalating war between the food sector and the country's leading animal-rights organizations.”

    At some level, the Times writes, the activists have been successful. They have use legislation, public relations and stock ownership in public companies to influence policy decisions, getting companies ranging from Walmart and Sonic to IHOP and Applebee’s to move to cage-free eggs.

    But, the Times reports, “the farmers are fighting back. In recent months, agribusiness lobbyists and farm groups have bombarded companies sympathetic to the Humane Society with letters asking them to halt donations to the group. "’HSUS seeks to remove meat from our dinner tables, leather goods from our closets, animals from zoos and circuses and eventually -- pets from our families,’ Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus wrote in a letter to Bank of America Corp. posted on the bureau's website. The Humane Society, he wrote, is ‘a powerful, well-funded activist organization pursuing what most reasonable observers would consider an extreme anti-animal agenda’.”

    The Humane Society, as to be expected, denies that sort of radical agenda and says that it is interested in making sure that animals being used for food are not being mistreated.
    KC's View:
    No pets? Does that mean that our dogs and cats are going to simply run wild in the streets? Who is going to feed them? Provide them with health care? (I foresee another health care bill making its way through Congress. Oy.) And most important, who will clean up their poop?

    If this sort of radical agenda were achieved, I can only imagine my dog, Buffett, clinging to the doorframe, refusing to go. After all, she has it pretty good here. And I suspect that a lot of other pets would feel the same way.

    Both sides seem to have a PR problem. It should not be difficult for the two sides to come together to agree that there is a acceptable middle ground - that animals ought not be mistreated, but that it is okay to eat meat and okay to have pets.

    But we don’t live in that kind of world.

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    • MyWebGrocer.com announced that it has developed a platform for Facebook users to share weekly grocery specials online with friends.

    The widget allows users to easily search for weekly specials and to share information about what’s on sale with others in their social network. It is designed for shoppers looking to save time and find the lowest prices available on their favorite products. For grocery retailers, it enables them to serve relevant grocery specials to Facebook’s 400 Million users, as well as an opportunity to drive promotional sales.
    KC's View:
    Full disclosure - MyWebGrocer is a longtime and valued sponsor here on MNB. But I didn’t think I should hold that against them when deciding whether to run this story - I would have reported this Facebook application even if MyWebGrocer were not a sponsor.

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    HealthDay News reports that a new study by a consortium of US researchers, looking at data about almost a half-million Europeans, suggests that there is “only a weak association between high intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced cancer risk.

    “The study did find that heavy drinkers who ate plenty of fruits and vegetables had a somewhat reduced risk, but only for cancers associated with smoking and alcohol.”

    The full study has been published in the current edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    Kroger Co. announced that it is inviting customers to “Design a Reusable Shopping Bag” through its annual online contest that cuts across all of its banners.  Beginning April 12 and running through May 21, customers can go online at www.kroger.com/green to submit their designs for Kroger's reusable grocery bags.

    The winning designer will receive a $1,000 gift card and a chance to see their bag design sold in Kroger stores. In addition to the winner of the contest, four finalists will be awarded a $250 Kroger gift card and five runners-up will receive a $100 Kroger gift card.  
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    After a year in which recession cased it to slow down its expansion plans, Tesco-owned Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets in the US is in the middle of a series of store openings - opening four stores in California yesterday, and with seven more openings planned for the next two weeks, four in California and three in Arizona.

    The openings bring the total of Fresh & Easy stores in the western US to 156.

    In addition, in the UK, the Telegraph reports that Fresh & Easy is making a bigger push to attract Hispanic and Spanish-speaking customers

    According to the story, Fresh & Easy “is working with RL Public Relations ... which specialises in Hispanic marketing. The drive to attract Hispanic customers has to date involved the creation of a Spanish-language website, which mirrors its English website almost word for word, as well as advertising on Spanish-speaking radio. The retailer has also advertised in Spanish publications, with a particular emphasis on the company's recent 'Shop for Schools' promotion.

    “It has also created special in-store cards for certain favourite dishes including quesadillas, tamale and chorizo salad – all using F&E ingredients – and held a special Hispanic Holiday event just before Christmas as well as placing F&E chefs on Spanish-language television programmes.

    “F&E is now concentrating on increasing the quantity of key brands popular with the Spanish-speaking community in its shops. In many cases it often already stocked the brands, but is now increasing supplies and making them more visible to customers.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is stepping up its international e-commerce expansion, looking for staff, talking to vendors and mapping its approach to what could become one of the world's biggest Internet initiatives. Wal-Mart wants to mix the best of what is already offered with new elements that could allow the company to sell from the U.S. into overseas markets and use its presence in other countries as a springboard for online sales.”

    Steve Nave, general manager of Walmart.com, tells the WSJ that the retailer - which already generates more than $1.74 billion in online sales - is looking to capture a bigger share of the online pie and catch up with companies such as Amazon.com (which does $19.2 billion in annual sales) and Staples.com ($7.7 billion).
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    • The Baltimore Sun reports that Ahold-owned Giant Food has closed nine Starbucks outlets in stores it operates in Maryland and Virginia, saying that they were not profitable and showed no signs of becoming profitable. The company already had closed 17 Starbucks kiosks last year, but still has a dozen Starbucks kiosks in other stores.

    • The New York Times reports that the “the Obama administration is stepping up pressure on Japan to reopen its market to American beef, in hopes of helping ranchers and meatpackers gain full access to what was once their most lucrative market ... Japan resumed American beef imports in 2006, but restricted them to meat from cattle 20 months old or younger — a limit that American exporters say has no scientific basis. Japan says older animals are more prone to developing mad cow disease. Japan also bans certain body parts.”

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Japan to meet with government authorities, hoping to find negotiating room that will allow more US beef to be sold in Japan while addressing that nation’s food safety needs.

    • The Arizona Republic reports that “secured and unsecured creditors of Bashas' Inc. continued to be at odds Wednesday as the initial deadline passed for approving the company's plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Secured creditors who earlier opposed the local grocer's reorganization have agreed to support the plan and even provide exit financing that will allow the company to pay immediate obligations as it leaves Chapter 11.

    “But the terms the lenders are demanding in exchange for their support have riled the unsecured lenders that were early backers of the original reorganization plan.”

    Bashas’, which has secured and unsecured debt of more than $250 million, needs to avoid a contested proceeding which could cause the Basha family to lose control of the company.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    • Kroger announced that Dave Hirz, the president of Food 4 Less, has resigned from the company to “pursue other career opportunities.” Sources tell MNB that Hirz reportedly is going to work for Smart & Final, though we were unable to get these reports confirmed.

    Kroger said that until a permanent replacement is named, Bryan Kaltenbach, Senior Vice President – Sales & Marketing, will oversee the Food 4 Less operation.


    • Jones Soda announced that it has its fourth new CEO in four years - William Meissner, the former president of TalkingRain Beverage, as well as a former executive with Fuze Beverages,SoBe Beverages, and Tetra Pak.

    He replaces Joth Ricci, who resigned after less than a year in the job. Ricci had replaced Stephen Jones, who had replaced founder Peter van Stolk in late 2007.

    Jones Soda has been trying to find a buyer for the company; it had agreed to be acquired by Reed’s, but has backed away from that deal.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 8, 2010

    We’ve had a lot of discussion here on MNB in recent days about private label and specifically the role of Daymon Worldwide - some of it generated by that company’s loss of the Supervalu and Safeway business, and some of it generated by accusations that some have raised about Daymon’s business practices.

    MNB user Tal Vance wrote:

    I'm curious why the "long dissertation" from the passionate Daymon employee who responded earlier this week did not sign his name?  You didn't point out that he ask to be anonymous so I'm assuming it was your choice.

    But in "your views" today on the Daymon subject you point out that the reader ask to remain anonymous?

    I'm guessing that the Daymon response was a collaborative effort by Daymon Corporate folks.  What do you think?

    I appreciate your fondness for the people at Daymon...that is not the issue.  The issue is the legality of their practices.


    To reiterate my policy on anonymous emails...

    While I know where emails come from, my policy is not to use the name if there is not a signature at the bottom, and to use the name if there is.

    Occasionally, someone will ask for anonymity even if they have signed their name, and I have no problem with that. Sometimes I will not use a name even if it has been signed, simply because I have a gut feeling that the person might get in trouble or even lose their job if their name were to appear - and that isn’t good for anyone. And rarely I will not use names even when people sign their emails, simply because I think they are using MNB to promote a personal agenda or business, and I try to be careful about that stuff.

    To be honest, I don’t recall whether the email from the Daymon defender earlier this week asked for anonymity, or whether they simply did not sign it. But the reason that I noted that anonymity was requested by yesterday’s correspondent is because the person was making some serious allegations, and that the request ought to be up front.

    in other words, I made an editorial judgement. That’s what you pay me for.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    I am glad you included the lengthy email you received from the ex-Daymon rep.  I can’t agree more w/one of her main points.  The manufacturer pays the bill, but the Daymon rep works for the retailer.  The Daymon people could care less who makes the p/l; they will get paid regardless.  In fact, when there’s a change, it’s better for them because they can then earn more for their accessory departments such as art design.  Of all the brokers we have, our largest annual payment is to Daymon, and we probably get less for this money than w/any of our other brokers.

    As to SV and SW, let it be known that both houses have already let us know that they expect the moneys we were paying to Daymon to now be redirected to them in some way.  Since this was “throw-away” money anyway, it’s just possible that we may actually get something more for it than we were.


    On the same general subject, MNB user Ken Hillman wrote:

    I have already received a message from a former co-worker asking if I was "that guy" who sent the Daymon letter to you...allow me go on record, no. It was not (I left the company back when it was still Daymon Associates not Daymon worldwide, and if I still that that much anger inside me after nine years, I might have exploded long ago). And in the spirit of never writing anything I don't sign my name to, here are a few thoughts:

    In-house entities are legal, as are the investments they make as a spend towards supporting and growing the business. Those "spends" do have a spectrum, and Daymon is more on the conservative side of that spectrum.

    Having more to do than time to do it is not only a function of every broker in the world (brand, private label, in-house, out-house) but a function of today's world. Live with it, work harder and make sure the balls that drop aren't the ones that explode. The pressure on brokerage rates is constant and simple activity based costing will show that all of the activities designed to run a successful brokerage business generally run higher than the rates. In situations where the only activities are HQ calling, the vendor has a choice of whether to take the brokerage and put it into a direct resource, but strong broker service packages are rarely that simply replaced...

    It is my understanding of the Robinson Patman Act that it protects ONE broker in a relationship as the cost of sales and that more than one is not protected. Therefore a brokerage split CAN be impacted by a retailer decision. It is actually a smart decision by Daymon not to split...

    The news of Supervalu and Safeway may have been troubling to Daymon but you are correct, they will diversify and continue on successfully. You are also correct in that this says a lot more about the consolidation of retailers and the "critical mass" those retailers can bring to bear on their business. My feeling is that the length of time Daymon has worked with these very large retailers speaks more about their professionalism and ability to show value to buck the trend of a retailer bringing in their own talent than anything else...


    And MNB user Tim Heyman wrote:

    My back ground -  successful store manager, Kroger Co., Director of Sales/Retail Operations, Wetterau Pittsburgh Division, Category Manager, Wetterau Pittsburgh Division (largest division of Wetterau when Wetterau was either 2nd or 3rd largest wholesaler in USA), Store owner/operator, Foodland supplied by SUPERVALU, Currently Proud member Daymon Worldwide. I believe that I know the industry/business from many sides, angles and views.

    As a former category manager who worked at Wetterau without an in house broker, then going to one, once SUPERVALU bought Wetterau, I can say first hand, how much more and better information was given to me, and how we grew the business with new Private Branded items once Daymon was involved. The national brokers that represented some of the product lines prior were NOTHING in comparison to how involved on all issues, from plan-o-grams, terms, deals, cost of product, frequency of ads etc., once the Daymon folks got involved. 

    As a franchise owner, who attended some of the ad meetings that I ran as an employee of Wetterau/SUPERVALU, I can attest as to the same support as a retailer.  I’ve been with Daymon for almost 2 years and have never heard ANYONE state a Fear factor for the suppliers or anyone. It is with great gratitude for ones business to the supplier partners and to the retailer, who we represent.

    We as Daymon DO work for BOTH the supplier partner and the retailer, maybe this is something this ex employee of Daymon couldn’t comprehend and is why he left to go out on your own.  Being in business for ones self is very, very hard, I know as an owner/operator for over 8 years.  Once it was financially determined that I sell the store, my fit at Daymon is like none that I could imagine.  My background and all the teachings from Kroger and SUPERVALU/Wetterau are the same fine principles that make Daymon, our supplier partners and retailer a pleasure to work for.

    Glad for the writer that got that $40,000 more with company car and benefits in manufacturing but that means he left THAT position also if he’s now an independent broker. 

    As an employee of Wetterau with a position of Category Manager (we were called head buyers back then), I know first hand the insights and reasons of the Robinson Patman Act, to which apparently the writer does not.
     
    By the way, unlike the prior writer, I don’t wish to remain “anonymous”.





    We had an email yesterday from an MNB user who said that he believes that the reason the unemployment rate remains at more than nine percent is that a lot of people, enjoying their extended unemployment benefits, have decided they don’t want to work anymore. Which I thought was deeply cynical.

    An MNB user responded:

    In reading the statement of one of your readers regarding the extension of unemployment benefits I have to say that I don't think he's just cynical, he's out of touch.  I'm against citizens abusing public assistance programs as much as anyone, but I believe it's just wrong to infer that all people in this situation are lazy freeloaders.  Please see the e-mail below I received from a co-worker on behalf of a good friend of his just two weeks ago.  It might help to remind people of the sobering reality.  It did me.

    To my family, friends and business associates,

    I am reaching out now as a final gesture to ask for your help in my situation. I have been out of a job for six months and on the verge of being evicted from my apartment by the first week in April (see attached).  I do not have any alternative living arrangements.  I have not been able to secure a temporary job (sales associate at major retail stores; fast food restaurants; etc.) because I am over-qualified.  My vehicle will be repossessed at the end of the month if I don't pay my monthly payment.  I will be placing an ad in Craigslist today to sell my furniture to pay for my car payment and have some money to live on.

    I am asking the recruiters to search for any type of work I can do even if it is something lower than my level of expertise.  At the same time, I am asking my friends to distribute my resume (attached) to anybody you know that needs either temporary or permanent help.  I may still have a chance to salvage my apartment if I can show the community director of the apartment complex that I am gainfully employed and would submit to an aggressive rent payment program.  And, finally, I am asking if any of you know anyone with living accommodations I could ask to stay until I resolve this situation I am presently in.

    This has been a very difficult e-mail to write but as the saying goes: "Sometime you have to swallow your pride".  I thank you all in advance and be rest assured, I am a survivor and will get out of this mess I am presently in.


    Another MNB user wrote:

    I have to respond to the person who wrote that there is "Plenty of new opportunity but no one seems to want to work. "   What utter nonsense!  I'll chalk this up to spurring the discussion, because the statement is crap!
     
    From  http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/jolts_20100209/ :

    "At the same time, the number of unemployed workers decreased by 73,000 to 15.3 million, resulting in 12.8 million more unemployed workers than job openings in December, or 6.1 job seekers per available job. This is a slight decline from 6.3 in November."
     
    Also, from http://www.workforce.com/section/06/feature/26/55/70/:

    " The BLS’ estimates of the number of unemployed workers appear extraordinarily conservative, because the agency counts as employed any person who worked for even one hour during the week in which the monthly employment survey is conducted. It counts as unemployed only those who have activity looked for work during the four weeks preceding the survey.
        

    At Accolo Inc., a network-based recruitment process outsourcing firm based in Larkspur, California, president and CEO John Younger sees mounting evidence of mass unemployment in the number of applicants that respond to job postings.

    “The average number of applicants across the board, including applicants for executive positions, is more than 200 per job,” he reports. “In the first hour that we looked to fill an executive assistant position, we received 500 applications and shut down the search.”
     
    Finally, from http://www.patriotledger.com/business/x497924316/Thousands-apply-for-160-jobs-at-the-new-BJ-s:

    "Job fairs for those interested in working at the BJ’s Wholesale Club store that is opening this spring in South Quincy drew some 1,500 applicants, according to the company.

    The turnout was on top of 1,000 applications the company received via mail for the Quincy location, company spokeswoman Maria Fruci said. The Natick-based company plans to hire about 160 people for the Quincy location."

    The writer thinks it is a lifestyle choice, but the thinking does not seem to be based on fact.

    The writer also seems to have not thought about all the frictions involved in moving to where you think the jobs are, if you are unemployed.  What are your real-estate (not a liquid asset) needs in the sale or rental market at both the origin and destination?  What do you do about links to family, friends, schools, places of worship, community and other sources of support?  How sure are you that once you move, you'll be selected for a job - would you be better off looking where you are?  Is someone likely to hire a carpetbagger over someone who is struggling locally?

    To be sure, there are some lazy people out there collecting benefits, but I don't know how many, and obviously, neither does the previous writer.  We can be certain, however, that there are a lot of Americans out there busting their humps to get a job (as cited above).  These people need a bridge between employment placements to pay their bills, maintain their shelters, and feed their families, and it seems to be bad public policy to cut off benefits to all these decent people who want to be hard-working, successful Americans, further increasing their financial distress, to ensure that the bad apples don't collect anything.  We can debate the length of the bridge and the fanciness/ordinariness of the bridge, but let's not have any more flawed assumptions and assertions not backed by fact as the basis for discussion.





    Finally, on another subject, MNB user Andrea Marsh wrote:

    I love to read the “Your Views” section of MNB but you are killing me with the sports (although not enough to make me stop reading MNB regularly but disappointing nonetheless). I prefer the wine suggestions we usually get on Fridays.

    Thanks for all of the great stories over the past few years! MNB is my favorite industry news source.


    Then you must be happy with today’s MNB. No sports!

    It’s been an unusually busy week in sports, between the Final Four and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. That’s over...and I don’t do baseball scores on a daily basis because there are too many of them. However, I can’t guarantee you how long it will be before there is another sports report - the Masters begins today, after all.

    And to be honest, if I’m near a TV this afternoon, I’m going to be watching ESPN at 1:42 pm...because there is one particular golfer I’m interested in watching. I suspect I won’t be alone.
    KC's View: