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    Published on: April 29, 2010

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    It has been one of the real ironies of my professional career that in order to see great and innovative food retailing, I have had to go out of town. Far, far out of town. I’d go to Ohio and see stores like Dorothy Lane Market or Jungle Jim’s, or Minnesota to see stores like Lunds and Byerly’s, or Texas and see the various formats operated by HEB, and I’d wonder what was wrong with my neck of the woods. We had some good stores and some not so good stores, but other than Stew Leonard’s, not a lot of what I’d call cutting edge innovation.

    Well, the times they are a‘changin.

    Just around the corner from my house in Connecticut, well within walking distance, a big new Whole Foods is about to open any day. About four miles away, across the street from the gym where I work out, Fairway is scheduled to open a new store this fall (and if it is anything like the wonderful new store they opened a few weeks ago in Pelham, New York, it is going to be a doozy). The original Stew Leonard’s has gone through a major renovation. In other words, everybody is raising the level of the food retailing game.

    Now, less than a mile from my house, Ahold-owned Stop & Shop has just opened a new store. New for Stop & Shop, at least - it is one of the former Shaw’s stores that the company bought from Supervalu when that company decided to close up shop in Connecticut. (By the way, if I had a nickel for every email I have gotten in the last couple of weeks telling me that Kroger is on the verge of buying the rest of Shaw’s from Supervalu, well, I could buy at least a couple of newspapers. The hills are alive with the sound of speculation.)

    Now, Stop & Shop already had a store in my town. It was a store that I have described here and elsewhere as perhaps the smallest and crappiest store in the fleet, a phrase that probably didn’t win me a lot of fans up at the company’s Quincy, Massachusetts headquarters. However, to their credit, the folks at Stop & Shop apparently are not a thin-skinned bunch. I got a call the other day from Ron Onorato, the president of Stop & Shop’s New York Metro division, who is responsible for the store...and being aware of my past criticisms, he offered to walk the new store with me and answer any questions I might have.

    Nice guy. And I enjoyed the hour or so we spent together. But I still believe - and I think Ron would agree with me - that Stop & Shop has a tough job ahead of it considering all the competition it is facing and is about to face.

    The new Stop & Shop is a nice store. It has a new paint job, and new signs (though not nearly enough of them for my taste - if anything, the store suffers from a level of understatement). The produce department is improved, there seem to be fewer out of stocks, and it now has self-scanning, which is terrific. In other words, it is a real improvement over the Shaw’s store, which was pretty much a celebration of mediocrity.

    But it only is a nice store. And the question is whether that will be enough.

    Stop & Shop is going to have to sell folks on the fact that it is local and easy to shop. It is going to have to do so while facing retailers that specialize not just in sizzle, but also in some pretty innovative steak - retailers that are very, very good at defining and then exploiting their own differential advantages. They have strong brand identities, and they work at capitalizing on their strengths at every opportunity.

    In a lot of words, this is a similar situation to one described by Michael Sansolo a week or so ago, when he wrote about how a new Harris Teeter was completely outclassing a just-renovated Giant store down in Maryland. It probably is not entirely coincidental that Giant, just like Stop & Shop, is owned by Ahold.

    One of the things that Ron Onorato said to me was that the new Stop & Shop is a conventional supermarket, unlike the competition - and that it is his job to make sure that “conventional” is not a synonym for “unremarkable,” that as the new and existing competition raise the level of their games, it is critical that Stop & Shop do the same.

    That’s a tough job. And, I repeat: the question is whether that will be enough.

    The good news, of course, is that I now have plenty of places to shop.

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

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    The Chicago Sun Times reports that pigs are flying over the Windy City.

    Well, no. Not exactly.

    What it actually is reporting is that the world’s largest retailer - which has been working for years to get the approval to open a second store in Chicago - has agreed to a face-to-face meeting with representatives of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union as it looks to break the political logjam preventing that approval.

    According to the story, Walmart is unlikely to agree to negotiate wages, nor will it agree to pay a government-established “living wage” of $11.03 an hour to its employees unless that wage standard is applied to all the city’s retailers. But, the Sun Times writes, “the company just might sign a ‘community benefits agreement’ that guarantees that as many as five new Chicago stores would be 100 percent built by organized labor and that neighborhood residents would be hired to work in those stores.”
    KC's View:
    Of course, this being Chicago, there are some reports that Walmart actually hasn’t promised a meeting, and that the meeting already has been cancelled and rescheduled.

    It also is unlikely that even a “community benefits agreement” will satisfy everyone...since a remaining concern will be that the opening of a Walmart will put a lot of other stores out of business.

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    Fortune has an interview with PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who discusses the company’s game plan and “how she balances consumer satisfaction with the bottom line.” Some excerpts:

    On obesity issues... “If all consumers exercised, did what they had to do, the problem of obesity wouldn't exist. But because society has changed so much, I think we can also be part of the solution by transforming our portfolio ... There's a place for balance in everyone's portfolio. Our overall goal is to increase the number of great tasting, ‘better-for-you’ products and ‘good-for-you’ products, while making sure our ‘fun-for-you’ products still have a place in consumers' lives.

    Managing the risk created by transforming the company’s portfolio... “We increased our focus on productivity. The more productive we are in the middle of the P&L [profit and loss], the more we can reinvest in our business and still deliver a transformation of the portfolio and our financial metrics.
    The second thing we've done is to look for ways to extend the scale of our company. In the past, it was how do we leverage the power of our company to get scale? When we did the deal with Anheuser Busch (BUD), in a way, it extended the scale of the company so we could get even more productivity to reinvest back to serve the consumer even better. So our whole focus has been how can we reduce the cost of non-consumer-facing costs to reinvest it back into consumer-facing benefits.”

    The future... “We've drawn a whole roadmap for the next 10 years, and I think it's definitely doable.

    “There's been a lot of organic growth based on the businesses we have already. Also, we'll offer fruit and vegetable offered in different forms, whole grains or any other sort of super grains.

    “In terms of dairy, we've got a joint venture with Almarai, which is a Saudi based dairy company and one of the most efficient dairy companies in the world. It's a matter of expanding from a dairy initiative to parts of the world that needs branded dairy manufacturers. And then there's the joint venture with Sabra or Pips.

    “We're also moving Gatorade from being a sports drink company to a sports nutrition company. So, there's going to be a tremendous amount of innovation to take care of the athlete as a whole in terms of whatever they eat or drink.

    “But that's just in the U.S. There are many countries in the world where this can expand to. And we'll do acquisitions. So wherever there is an interesting company to buy, we'll buy and build on it ... I think in the future - and when I say the ‘future,’ I mean the next 3, 5, 7 years - we're going to see a lot more food and beverages that start getting into lifestyle management. How do you have the perfect breakfast on the go that is the coming together of grains and dairy? You're going to see a lot more convergence of categories. You'll see a lot more from around the world transferred around the world.”

    The Republic of PepsiCo... “I believe that companies like ours who are large -- with market cap of over $100 billion -- we are like little republics. We are larger than many little countries in the world, and we are a public company. We operate on the laws of limited liability, and we owe every society in which we offer a duty of care. We owe them care for the environment in which they operate in.

    “I'm not suggesting we do that at the expense of performance, and that's why we articulate it as ‘performance with purpose.’ How do we deliver performance while not forgetting the fact that we owe society the duty of care? So it's this very delicate balance of managing for the short term and the long term that I think should define the best corporations for the future. That's how I want to manage PepsiCo.”
    KC's View:
    She’s right. Managing the 21st century business is a delicate balance, whether you are a one-store retailer or a multi-national conglomerate. “Performance with a purpose” seems like a pretty good mantra to me.

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    Bloomberg reports that a Massachusetts Superior Court judge has approved a $40 million settlement of a lawsuit filed against Walmart, charging the retailer with forcing employees to work off the clock or not take required breaks. The settlement had been originally announced last December, but apparently was delayed because of arguments over legal fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

    According to the story, “Each of about 87,000 employees at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores covered by the accord will be paid from $400 to $2,500 depending on their years of work, according to the settlement agreement ... The settlement includes pay to the lawyers of as much as $15.2 million, or 38 percent of the total.”

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart has one important supporter in its efforts to open a store in New York - a goal that seems a little closer at the moment with reports that it has identified a location in Brooklyn and the implication in some of them that it has a willing potential landlord.

    The supporter is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said this week, “People that live in this city are going outside the city to shop at Wal-Marts. So, if they’re going to shop at Wal-Marts, they might as well live here, they might as well have the jobs here and the tax revenues here.” Bloomberg also said that he would not support any law designed to ban a specific business entity from operating in the city.

    Less sanguine about the possibility is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who said, “The Mayor and I have a slightly different opinion on Wal-Mart. And I obviously want as many new jobs and new businesses in New York City as we possibly can. I think it’s important to be supportive in soliciting businesses that are of a particular standard, and I don’t think Wal-Mart meets that standard.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    New York-based Wegmans has weighed in on bisphenol-A (BPA), the controversial chemical that some scientific organizations have conclude is unsafe when included in from food and beverage containers, especially those used by children.

    And, as is typical for Wegmans, the company is being utterly clear about its train of thought and why it has reached the conclusions it has. The following is the text of an online message posted by Mary Ellen Burris, Wegmans’ senior vice president of consumer affairs:

    “In 2010, we have switched all our Wegmans unbreakable drinkware to a new Tritan material (made by Eastman Chemical) that is BPA-free, tested for us by two independent laboratories, one of them in Germany.

    Wegmans began hearing from customers about BPA in the fall of 2007.  As with any emerging issues, our team began the process of looking through the science and related issues and consulted with outside experts.  In March of 2008, Wegmans held a roundtable panel with leading independent scientists and industry representatives, to further educate ourselves about the environmental and health implications surrounding BPA (as well as other plastics).

    The chemical BPA has been used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics since the 1950s to provide durability and heat resistance in hundreds of household products including bicycle helmets, safety glasses and compact discs.  Polycarbonate plastics are typically clear and hard and are used to make a wide range of products sometimes marked with the recycle symbol 7 and/or the letters PC. BPA is also used to manufacture epoxy resins used to line canned and jarred goods such as soup, baby formula, fruits, and vegetables to prevent corrosion and food contamination.

    “The National Toxicology Program (NTP) concluded in their brief on BPA in April of 2008, that the scientific evidence from laboratory animal studies supports a conclusion of “some concern” for exposures in fetuses, infants, and children. Those studies reported that “low” level exposure to BPA during development can cause changes in behavior in the brain, prostate gland, mammary gland, and the age at which females attain puberty. These studies only provide limited evidence for adverse effects on development and more research is needed to better understand their implications for human health.

    “The FDA, after reviewing studies, stated in October of 2008 it felt the amount of BPA found in humans was not enough to cause concern.  However, because there was question that the original review considered results funded mostly by the chemical industry, the FDA conducted an additional review of related science surrounding BPA, to include research not submitted to FDA for the October 2008 review.  In cooperation with the National Toxicology Program, FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research is carrying out in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about the risks of BPA. In January, 2010, the FDA released a preliminary statement regarding the BPA review ... The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is devoting $30 million dollars to a two-year study of the safety of BPA. The United Nations World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organizations have called an expert meeting to review toxicological and health aspects. The meeting will be held in October of 2010.”
    KC's View:
    Simple, clear and utterly convincing. In this message - and this is consistent throughout Wegmans’ consumer-driven efforts - the retailer establishes that it is on the shopper’s side ... an advocate for the consumer rather than a sales agent for the manufacturer. That’s an important distinction that gives Wegmans an overwhelming differential advantage.

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    Winn-Dixie Stores has introduced the newest feature of the grocer’s WD RxConnect program with the launch of WD RxConnect Translate, a translation service available in 62 of its in-store pharmacies across the company’s operating area. WD RxConnect Translate helps Winn-Dixie pharmacists overcome language barriers so that they can effectively complete transactions and consultations with their customers.

    The 62 Winn-Dixie pharmacies equipped with WD RxConnect™ Translate were identified through an in-depth analysis to determine need. Each participating pharmacy has a special two-line phone that connects both the pharmacist and the customer to an interpreter. Pharmacists present a counter card that introduces the free service to customers when communication is a challenge. Once the customer identifies a language preference, the pharmacist phones an interpreter who can help communicate questions and concerns via a three-way call. The service is available in more than 100 languages including Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    The Los Angeles Times reports that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved regulations that establishes nutritional guidelines for restaurants, saying that eateries that do not meet these standards cannot offer toys as prizes for children.

    "This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's' love of toys" to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food,” Supervisor Ken Yeager tells the Times. "This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes."

    The ordinance will not be implemented for 90 days, to give the area’s restaurants time to comply with the guidelines.
    KC's View:
    I’ll repeat the same thing I said the other day when reporting that the supervisors were considering this ban.

    Provide clear and extensive nutritional information. And then let parents make the decisions, or teach their kids to make good decisions.

    This bill is absurd.

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    Greenpeace is out with its fourth edition of its seafood sustainability scorecard, and said that “of the leading supermarket chains in the U.S. received ‘passing’ scores in the sustainability of their seafood operations for the first time. Companies that moved into the passing range are: A&P; Delhaize, and Trader Joe’s.”

    According to the scorecard, “The supermarket chain Target moved up from fourth place to receive top ranking displacing Wegmans to second place while Whole Foods maintained third place from its June 2009 ranking. Trader Joe’s which had been the worst ranking of the national supermarket chains surveyed at #17 has since moved to a tenth place ranking with its announcement in March that it is taking specific steps to develop a sustainable seafood operation. While both marketing to cost-conscious consumers, Safeway climbed from 5th place to 4th as Costco dropped from 10th place to 14th.

    “Of the 20 largest supermarket chains in the United States, several remain that have made no visible effort to increase the sustainability of their seafood operations and continue to ignore scientific warnings about the crisis facing global fisheries and the marine environment. These include: H.E.B., Meijer, Costco, SUPERVALU (and associated banners), Publix, and Winn Dixie.”

    As part of its efforts, Greenpeace urges supermarkets to “help the oceans and meet consumer demand for sustainable products by refusing to sell seafood from fisheries that:

    • exploit endangered, vulnerable and/or protected species, or species with poor stock status;
    • cause habitat destruction and/or lead to ecosystem alterations;
    • cause negative impacts on other, non-target species;
    are unregulated, unreported, illegal or managed poorly,
    • and cause negative impacts on local, fishing dependent communities.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    Fast Company reports that new research has shown there is one easy way to get kids to eat more veggies:

    “Laura Smith, a researcher at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, has discovered that simply changing the placement of a middle school's salad bar can cause a spike in veggie consumption.

    “What would your guess be on that spike? 15% 25%? 50%?

    “Try 250-300%. That's not a typo.

    “Smith basically discovered what Sizzler's known for decades. Instead of relegating the salad bar to the wall, she moved it four feet, so that it's in front of the cash registers.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced that its Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute recently added an Ethical Sourcing standard for labor and environmental practices to its supplier auditing programs. The SQF Institute already audits suppliers worldwide for compliance with rigorous food safety and quality standards.

    “The Ethical Sourcing standard will help advance fair labor practices and environmental stewardship on a global scale using the reach of the SQF program,” said Jill Hollingsworth, FMI group vice president of food safety programs. “This standard will give the food industry and consumers an extra measure of assurance that these practices are conducted according to the best available guidance and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The environmental part of the standard, for example, addresses energy use, air emissions, water consumption, waste management, pollution prevention, land use and biodiversity. The labor component includes equal opportunity in hiring and employment, wage compliance, worker benefits and occupational health and safety.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    • The Austin Business Journal reports that Whole Foods has become the nation’s third largest purchaser of renewable energy, trailing only Dell Inc. and Kohl’s Department Stores.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    • The Breyers Yogurt Company has named James W. Nolan as its new CEO, succeeding Chuck Marcy, who has departed to “pursue outside interests.” Nolan is joining Breyers Yogurt from Sara Lee, where he was EVP of Sara Lee Corp. and CEO of its $2-billion Sara Lee Fresh Bakery division.
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    Here’s something that MNB did not know until this morning...

    This weekend, for the 23rd year in a row, the Garland of Roses given to the winner of the Kentucky Derby will be created by master floral designers at the Kroger Co.

    According to Kroger, “It will take nearly one dozen master florists approximately seven hours to create the ‘Garland of Roses,’ which will measure 122 inches long by 22 inches wide, weigh approximately 40 pounds, and contain more than 400 roses. To complete the design, a crown of roses, greenery and ribbons that represent each thoroughbred running in the Derby race will be placed at the very center of the garland.

    The garland is made entirely of ‘Freedom’ roses, a variety that was selected for its rich red color, bloom size, stem length and foliage. Dozens of floral employees are already at work sorting through thousands of roses to select only the very best for presentation.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: April 29, 2010

    The discussion of Arizona’s new immigration law continues...

    One MNB user wrote:

    About the current immigration problems:  I keep hearing that there is a lot of opposition to a Federal identification card. Why? What is wrong with all legal citizens carrying a tamper-proof national ID card that can only be obtained with proof of citizenship, date of birth, etc.?

    Many of the illegals that used to cross the Rio Grande in Texas have now changed their path to the U.S. through Arizona because of the miles and miles of fence that have been installed. For those of us who live along or near the border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, we need tough immigration laws, tough law enforcement, and honest support from federal government. We know what racial profiling is, but we also recognize that most of the opposition to the new Arizona law comes from illegals, relatives and family of illegals, and minority zealots who are looking for a platform and a camera crew. And we see nothing wrong with National Guard troops protecting our borders.

    When Washington Democrats quit viewing illegals as potential voters as soon as they receive amnesty, perhaps something good can happen along the border. And in the meantime, the swarm of illegals from the south continues, the drug cartels continue to massacre and behead rivals, police, and soldiers along our border in Mexico, and the Mexico City politicians and California Roman Catholic hierarchy keep on pontificating about racial profiling. The problem isn't the Arizona law ---- its the lack of workable laws formulated in Washington and the political posturing in Congress and the White House.

    From another MNB user:

    I would like to commend Arizona for addressing the immigration problem, period - when our government just seems to ignore the fact that the issue is rapidly growing out of control.  Mayor Lou Bartletta of Hazelton PA wrote a bill a few years ago to try to keep illegal aliens from his town.  This was a direct result of recent crime in the community which had all been linked to illegal aliens.  He had the support of business leaders and the community and it was put to a vote in an election. The citizens of Hazelton voted for his bill.  It was then pushed up the line for the state to review and we haven't heard anything for the last 3 years.  Crime is still rampant in Hazelton.  We are hoping that, since we are 3 about years ahead of Arizona, something should come through soon - but it's nice to know we're not alone in trying to address the issue.  Although they too had support from the community and business leaders, I'm hoping it doesn't get "sent up the line for approval" or tossed under the rug.

    Understand that this has absolutely nothing to do with race, color, or any of the other issues blamed.  This has to do with abiding by our laws.  If you want to get into this country we have a process.  My mother, along with thousands of other people, have gone through this process and are welcomed into our communities.  Although she was married to a military man, this was a process to be proud of.  She knows more about this country than most people that go through our education system.

    First rule: speak English.  How can you expect to get into a country where you can't speak, read or write the language?  They can learn a second language, but English should be first so they can go home to help their parents learn the same.   People who sneak thought our borders (not just Mexicans, but everyone), steal our jobs, housing and expect the low interest loans & driving privileges (even though they can't read the street signs).  They are destroying everything we have worked for in the last 200 years........and now they want our Social Security??!!!  They are a slap in the face to everyone who has gone through the process to become an American citizen.  Everyone deserves the chance to better themselves, but there are processes to follow.  Since the government seems too busy to address the issue, it forces it on the American people to take action, as this has become out of control. 

    Why is it that our government can say how many illegal aliens are here, but still can't manage to send them home?

    Another MNB user wrote:

    Your MNB User from MA is ignorant of the facts regarding proof of citizenship.  Proof of citizenship is provided by a passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, state issued certificate of live birth, or Consular Registration of Birth Abroad.  You must present a record of birth and proof of legal residence for a driver's license or state ID card.  Therefore state issued driver's licenses and ID cards are accepted as proof of identity, not proof of citizenship, because you are only required to provide proof of legal residence to get a driver's license of state ID.  This makes sense since the law allows legal resident aliens and citizens to drive in this country; both groups use the same document to prove their identity and to prove they have earned the privilege to drive - therefore a driver's license is not acceptable as proof of citizenship.  The same applies to military ID - it is proof of identity as several active service members were recently naturalized through an accelerated process because of their service to our country.  The hurdles for obtaining proof of citizenship documents are significant; these documents have significant value.  Many people keep them in safe deposit boxes with their wills, trusts, deeds, and other significant documents.  If I hadn't needed 2 forms of state or Federal ID to enter the Pentagon every once in a while, the chances of my carrying a proof of citizenship document are absolute zero.

    Illegal aliens should be treated with dignity and respect, and so should US citizens and legal immigrants.  What's the probable cause or reasonable suspicion standard going to be in practice for stopping a person who may well be in this country legally and demanding their proof of citizenship documents?   I am a citizen, but you can't determine my legal status by looking at me, and the citizenship documents are too valuable to carry with me.  What happens to me if I'm a citizen and I'm riding my bike or walking, I'm asked for proof of citizenship, and I don't have it?  In that scenario, I might not have proof of identity because I don't need it - I'm not driving.  I politely give my name and address because I don't want a confrontation, but I cannot satisfy the terms of the law at the time of contact.  Am I, a citizen, going to be detained or arrested until the local police can verify my citizenship?  Is there a 24-hour hotline to call, and how quick is the response?  To avoid the arbitrary and capricious detention complaint, if police detain one citizen, police have to detain them all.  Does a citizen have the right to sue for any detention at all?  Will there be records of who is stopped, when, and how many times so that we can see how well the law works?  What stops a citizen from being stopped multiple times a week, day, or hour?  Will there be checkpoints where everyone is checked (like sobriety checkpoints), or will it be random, or based on proportional representation? 

    Instead of forging driver's licenses, criminals will now have the incentive to forge passports.  Are the local police trained to spot fake citizenship documents?  Do we want criminals moving from counterfeiting state ID's to citizenship documents (think of the impact on terrorism)?

    My concern with this law is it's possible impact through its enforcement on citizens.  Does it violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause?  Except for freed slaves, Americans have never needed "internal passports"  - documents to prevent their detention by the government.  Do we want to return to that America?  Really?  Even if a majority want this law to stand, majorities do not have the right to trample the constitutionally protected rights of others which should be the subject of vigorous debate.  Doing nothing is not an option. 

    Start going after the employers and their lobbies who exploit weak enforcement.  Spend more on enforcement, get more fines and jail time from employers.   Companies will likely pass through enforcement costs to their customers who will then pay higher prices or shift their consumption.  Make the costs of enforcement transparent through taxes to fund enforcement and cost of goods sold.  The we can have a debate about how to write a law we fully enforce and embrace because we understand and accept the public cost and private costs associated.

    And, another MNB user offered:

    Please check your history books (or google "operation wetback”). During the Great depression Pres.Hoover deported illegals of all types to open jobs our people.

    After WW 2 Truman sent them home to open jobs for returning Veterans After Korea Eisenhower had Operation Wetback to open jobs for returning Vets.

    We have "real" unemployment at over 15% we have the people to fill the jobs now.

    The border states need seasonal farm labor but the cities of the northeast,mid west and far west can use legal immigrants as well as other Americans.

    To be clear, I don’t hear anyone - anyone - saying that we do not have an illegal immigration problem in the US. And frankly, I don’t hear anyone defending the federal government, which has made the problem worse by being unable or willing to confront it. (That goes for both political parties.)

    The debate is about whether allowing the police in Arizona to be able to demand citizenship papers from anyone that they say looks suspicious is a good or even Constitutional idea. (I’ve seen comments from plenty of police officials saying that they believe this is a bad idea.) This debate isn’t even how about how we treat illegals. it is more about how we treat legal residents of the US.

    And let’s face it. The phrase “your papers” has a negative connotation. And that fuels the debate.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    I'd  like to address some of the comments that I've read here on immigration and dispel some myths.

    There is no flood of illegals entering this country.  It is in fact incredibly difficult to enter this country illegally.  It is fairly difficult to enter legally as a visitor.  To immigrate to this country is nigh-on impossible, unless you have family here, marry an American, or have an exceptional skill (professional athlete, for example).   So again, there is no flood.

    It is true, however, that there are 12-20 million illegal immigrants living in the US right now, picking our fruit, working in our meat plants, maintaining our yards, doing our laundry, and many other jobs that we are not prepared to do.  The number is fairly steady, though it has in fact declined in the last two years.  If the Federal Government were to do its job, it would have to deport 12-20 million people.  This would cause social and economic mayhem.. for us.  So clearly there is a tacit support for the existence of this group of illegal immigrants that live in our borders.  This support is not because they are a drain on our society, but because they add value to it - economic value.  The very same reason that our last President was in  favor of an amnesty.

    Here's a safe foreign policy assertion.  As our country's zero population growth continues and Mexico's economy grows (as it will, faster than ours), there is going to be a shortfall in immigration from our immediate neighbors to the south, and at that stage our country will have to incentivize immigration.  How we behave now has serious ramifications for that time?  There is a parallel here with last week's article from Michael Sansolo discussing baby-boomer retirement and a future lack of skilled labor.

    We could be visionary, but what the AZ legislation demonstrates is our reactionary impulse.

    We live in a country these days where being reactionary - on both sides of the political aisle - always seems to be the first impulse, rather than being reasonable, reasoning and thoughtful.

    One example. Some people are painting the folks in favor of the new Arizona law as being racists and fascists, when in fact a number of them probably are good, law-abiding people with legitimate concerns about the impact of illegal aliens and frustrations about inaction by the federal government. And some people are painting people against the Arizona law as bleeding art liberals who don’t care about the nation’s borders, when a number of them probably have real concerns about Constitutional issues and don’t view these as mere inconveniences.

    This is too bad. The first thing we need to do, whenever we get the urge to excoriate and demonize the people with whom we disagree, is shut the hell up. Because it isn’t helpful.

    Finally, MNB user Randy Aszman wrote:

    In trying to bring a bit of levity to a serious issue (I side with what Arizona has done), I saw a Hispanic male wearing a T-shirt at Sunday’s Yankee/Angel’s game (Angel’s won 8-4!) that said “I only look illegal.” Cracked me up … gotta get one of those for my son-in-law.

    In the New York Times the other day, columnist Linda Greenhouse suggested that people who object to the Arizona law ought to go there wearing buttons that say, “I Could Be Illegal.”

    Not surprisingly, said buttons already are for sale on the internet.
    KC's View: