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    Published on: December 20, 2010

    by Kevin Coupe

    Fast Company had a piece the other day about a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, revealing an interesting dichotomy in generational usage of the internet.

    “One of the major findings of the report is that ‘millennials,’ sometimes called ‘Generation Y’ - aged 18-33 - are more likely to use wireless internet, laptop, social networking sites or participate in virtual worlds. But there were some corners of the internet use that older folks, from Gen X on up, were more likely to use: online banking, for instance, or government websites.”

    The story goes on, “Only half as many teens currently operate their own blog now, compared to 2006,” Fast Company writes about the report findings. “Have our teenagers suddenly become less vain and navel-gazing? Unlikely: Pew speculates that Facebook status updates have become the preferred means of self-casting for the young.

    “And finally, the most delightful finding of all: The fastest growth on social networking sites like Facebook has come from internet users 74 and older. Usage quadrupled since 2008.”

    It is the old “Age Wave” argument come to virtual life - that we live in a world where, as people age, they do not become their parents, do not suddenly start wearing polyester pants, do not suddenly stop listening to the Rolling Stones and start listening to Muzak. They adapt, probably faster and with greater alacrity than previous generations, to cultural and technological changes.

    Which means that businesses that want to be relevant to these customers have to adapt as well, and cannot afford to be behind the wave.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    HealthDay News reports on new studies from the US National Center for Health Statistics saying that “the obesity epidemic is hitting young and older Americans across the economic spectrum,” and that “by 2008 more than a third of American adults were obese, as well as nearly 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years.”

    According to the story, “There were some disparities based on income. For example, among adult males, obesity was similar across income levels, although for black and Hispanic men rates of obesity tended to rise along with income. On the other hand, higher-income women were less likely to be obese compared to their less affluent peers.

    “Among children, low family income was tied to a higher likelihood of obesity, but the association was not consistent across all racial and ethnic groups.”

    The story goes on, “In terms of education, the researchers found no significant trend linking education and a tendency toward obesity for men. However, women with college degrees were less likely to be obese compared to women without higher education.

    “Children raised in homes where the head of household had a college degree were less prone to become obese versus kids raised in households headed by someone without such education. However, this relationship was not consistent across race and ethnicity groups, the NCHS report found.”
    KC's View:
    While I think and have stated here numerous times that there needs to be public policy response to this problem, ultimately the first responders have to be America’s parents. We have to act like adults. we have to be willing to say no when our kids want certain things, and be proactive about cooking for out kids and developing their taste buds and intellectual curiosity about food.

    We have to teach our kids about responsible eating, about the need for exercise, about the various elements that go into living a healthy life. it doesn’t mean never indulging oneself, but it does mean knowing that you can’t eat crap all day, never get any exercise, and then act surprised and outraged when you develop health problems and face oppressive health care costs.

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    The Associated Press has an analysis of last week’s proposal by the Federal Reserve that a cap of 12 cents per transaction be put on the interchange fees charged by banks for debit card transactions.

    “At issue is who will ultimately benefit from the savings?,” the AP writes. “The Federal Reserve's proposal to cap these fees, officially known as interchange fees, at 12 cents per transaction would enable retailers to pass on annual savings of $10 billion to $13 billion to consumers. But banks and card networks maintain that retailers will pocket the savings. This would leave consumers to bear the brunt of the new law through higher costs for banking and reduced rewards programs” that likely would take place when the banks lose a system that generated some $15 billion in profits last year.

    And, the story goes on, “Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group suggested many retailers will encourage consumers to use their debit cards instead of credit cards, which carry higher interchange fees that are not addressed in the law.

    “Industry watchers predict banks will respond by trying to make up at least some of the lost merchant revenue from consumers.”
    KC's View:
    You’ll see that not everybody feels positively about the new proposal when you read ‘Your Views,” below.

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) “is considering imposing restrictions for the first time on where and how a genetically modified crop may be grown, in a move that could eventually affect a wide swath of the farm industry.”

    According to the story, “The USDA is considering approving the use of genetically modified alfalfa, a forage crop grown to feed livestock, but with limitations aimed at assuring that gene-altered crops don't contaminate fields of non-biotech crops, according to USDA officials. The new limitations could be particularly important to organic farmers, whose sales depend on assuring consumers that their products aren't artificially engineered, among other things ... The new approach would take some of the concerns of opponents of bioengineered crops into account but leave the USDA with flexibility to support the biotech industry.”

    The Journal notes that “Russell Williams, a director for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said planting restrictions on government-approved genetically modified crops would just add unnecessary burdens to farmers.”
    KC's View:
    This strikes me - admittedly a civilian with almost no knowledge of farming practices - as a good idea ... because it doesn’t make sense to create a system that would blur the differences between GMO and non-GMO products. Of course, it also strikes me that this may be a shift in public policy, since it wasn’t that long ago that the government seemed top be saying that there was no difference between the two, which is why regulators have not insisted on labeling accuracy, transparency and comprehensiveness.

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    The US Senate yesterday passed - again - food safety legislation that is designed to be a sweeping overhaul of current systems, heightening the ability of regulators to increase their inspections and force companies to recall tainted food.

    It is the second version of the bill to be passed in the Senate this month; the first, which included provisions allowing the government to collect fees, could not be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives in July 2009 because House rules say tax provisions must originate in the House version of any bill.

    If the two bills are reconciled by a conference committee made up of members of both houses of Congress, the result will go to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
    KC's View:
    I just hope they got it right this time...

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has unveiled its plans for the 2011 Future Connect leadership conference, scheduled for May 10-12 in Dallas, Texas.

    According to the announcement, “Future Connect 2011 continues the leadership development process set in motion when FMI launched the successful conference two years ago. It is well suited for every level of leadership. Current and future leaders will be immersed in the knowledge, skills and issues that industry executives must master, including team-building, leadership, developing and executing a vision, industry and consumer trends, business development, and motivating high performers.

    “Programming for the conference is built along three concurrent tracks, each of which is suitable for individuals from retail, wholesale and supplier organizations,” focusing on operations management, strategic management, and sales/marketing/merchandising.”

    “Providing leadership training to store associates, management and executives is important for any company that wants to plan for a smooth leadership transition in the future,” said Leslie Sarasin, FMI’s president/CEO. “Highly qualified and motivated people want to grow, whether it is with your company or with someone else. Future Connect offers you the ability to motivate your employees and demonstrate your commitment to their growth.”

    For more information, click here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    Drug Store News reports that Tropicana is rolling out a new product called Tropolis, described as “a smooth blend of real squeezable fruit that's packed with nutrition and offers 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, is designed to assure kids are consuming enough fruits.” The product comes in a squeezable pouch, and reportedly meets the federal requirements to be labeled as a good source of fiber.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    • The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced the appointment of LaDavia S. Drane, who has been serving as legislative council to U.S. Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), as Senior Director, Federal Affairs.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    Responding to last Friday’s story about the Federal Reserve proposal that a cap of 12 cents per transaction be put on the interchange fees charged by banks for debit card transactions, one MNB user wrote:

    I go shopping all the time without cash and choose not to use any card that would charge me any type of fee to use their card.  I have not paid one fee other than when I fail to plan properly and end up using another bank’s ATM but I’ll take credit for my own errors.  When are people going to start taking responsibility for there own actions.  If you want to go into debt up to your eyeballs and end up with credit so bad that the only way you can use you’re ATM cards is to pay a bank a fee to use them, then that’s your problem.  No one forced you into your situation. 

    We don’t need a government to go around telling every single business when and where they are allowed to make money.  It’s absolutely none of their business!  Some might argue the only reason the ATM fees are so high is a direct result of the government’s unconstitutional interference by restricting banks from making profits in just about every other area of their business.   It’s just another way for liberal to steal from some and give to others (redistribution of wealth).  What always gets lost is that its not just a big bad banker but the people your stealing from are ordinary people invested in 401k’s stocks, IRA that have investments in banks that the government is stealing from.  Social justice from socialists.

    I’m not worried though because the tide is turning in a big way so all you liberals can get your tissues out now and get ready to feel sorry for yourselves again.

    First of all, just to be clear, this email is from a different MNB user than the one who offered a similar sounding diatribe last week. (I told you he wasn’t alone.)

    Second, this strikes me as a classic case of someone who wants to have both his own opinions and his own facts. It also strikes me as a textbook case of knee-jerk ideology being a substitute for actual thought, to paraphrase Pete Hamill.

    As I understand it, this proposal has nothing to do with fees charged directly to consumers. That is a different thing entirely.

    This proposal would restrict banks’ ability to charge usurious fees to retailers taking their cards - fees that the retailers have limited ability to appeal, challenge or negotiate. Consumers don't see these particular fees....but they (and that means you) are paying them indirectly.   Retailers pay them, which forces them to raise prices to cover them.  If those retailer fees go down, then, conceivably, prices go down.

    If some retailers don't lower them and keep the profits, which certainly could happen, then other retailers can argue that they have lower prices and say why ... which is my idea of a free market economy...not the virtually unregulated monopoly that the banks have now.

    US debit card fees are the highest in the world.  This brings them into is seen as being good for business and consumers, which is why so many trade and business associations (not normally bastions of liberal/socialist thought) are backing the Fed on this.

    We have to get past the point where every regulatory proposal gets seen as a liberal/socialist threat to all that has made America great ... just as, by the way, we have to get past the point where every problem is seen as an excuse for a new set of regulations.

    On the same subject, another MNB user wrote:

    I can't imagine that the banks are simply going to walk away from $15 billion of annual revenue. They will certainly find another way to bring in that revenue, and probably reduce the debit card services they provide.

    Maybe. But at least the charges and services they have should be a little more transparent. And competition between banks could create an environment in which maybe all prices won’t go up and all services will be reduced.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 20, 2010

    Week Fifteen in the National Football League...

    Kansas City Chiefs 27
    St. Louis Rams 13

    Buffalo Bills 17
    Miami Dolphins 14

    Houston Texans 17
    Tennessee Titans 31

    Detroit Lions 23
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

    New Orleans Saints 24
    Baltimore Ravens 30

    Washington Redskins 30
    Dallas Cowboys 33

    Jacksonville Jaguars 24
    Indianapolis Colts 34

    New York Jets 22
    Pittsburgh Steelers 17

    Denver Broncos 23
    Oakland Raiders 39

    Cleveland Browns 17
    Cincinnati Bengals 19

    Philadelphia Eagles 38
    New York Giants 31

    Arizona Cardinals 12
    Carolina Panthers 19

    Atlanta Falcons 34
    Seattle Seahawks 18

    Green Bay Packers 27
    New England Patriots 31
    KC's View: