retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's story about the political discussion taking place at the NGA Show in Las Vegas, by Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, one MNB user wrote:

I was politically active in my younger days and was involved enough to get a close look at the gerrymandering of Congressional Districts.  The way to solve the problem—if you DON’T want as a homogenous group of voters—is to create a standard ratio between the circumference of the boundary to the area it defines.  They will never do it, but it would work.

From another reader:

At least these guys know that the $16 trillion debt is a problem. It seems like the folks in charge in DC pay lip service to it, but cut last minute deals that protect their cronies. The most sensible thing I've heard is an across the board cut of ALL gov't programs. Social Security, Medicaid, WIC,  Solyndra "wind down expenses", tax subsidies for the Bush and Clinton Libraries …everything. Everybody in the pool. No exceptions. Short of that, it becomes a lobbying feeding frenzy with political pals winning out over the less well connected. And those would have to be real cuts…not "reductions in the rate of growth" which is what the pols now call cuts. 

The other day, I expressed my distaste for Brussels sprouts, which got some blowback from some MNB users.

Those comments prompted MNB user Mike Burrington to write:

Bryan Silbermann hit the nail on the head when placing much of the blame for the bad rep of Brussels sprouts at the feet of boomer parents. Despite my Mom’s best attempts to get us to like “baby cabbages”, I was firmly in your camp (and largely remain there) because of how they were cooked – except for the attached recipe. I estimate we have served this dish to more than 30 people over the years (and shared the recipe with far more) with virtually all of them agreeing the “Veggie Crack” title is well deserved. The WORST response from an adamant Brussels sprout hater was, “Well, I don’t love it, but I could eat them this way now & then.”

BTW, I really like seeing Bryan’s recognition that an influencer such as yourself must become a Brussels sprouts convert. It fits what I know of his personality and I expect no less from the CEO of the Produce Marketing Association…

Thanks for the recipe. I'll think about it. But no guarantees.

Lots of reaction to the decision by the US Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery.

MNB user Sharese Alston wrote:

Is Friday so far away from Saturday?  If their business model can’t adapt to a one day delivery difference, they should close shop anyway.  I totally agreed with you in regards to cutting to 3-4 days a week.  I’m a 32yo working mom and full-time student, and if I check my mailbox 3-4 times a week, I’m either on vacation or spring break.  I could care less what’s in my mailbox because the important stuff typically comes in my email.  Except for stuff from slow-changing organizations like the IRS, student loan people, or anything else remotely government related.  I hate paper.  They can stop mailing it to me altogether.

MNB fave Glen Terbeek wrote:

I suggest that the USPS goes to 1 delivery per week.  It would save 5 trips to the recycling bin weekly.

From another reader:

The USPS needs to figure out what they can do with the enviable position of being able to hit, theoretically, every house in America, every day. Which companies industries can benefit from this service, and figure out a business model that drives efficiencies in distribution for the potential company, and profit for the post office.

Plus I’m sure there’s plenty of crazy, unsustainable union benefits, and pension packages that have a lot to do with the lack of profitability.

Not sure when these unions are going to realize that you can’t have someone contribute 10% a year for 30 years, and then let them retire and pay them for the next 25-40 years (on the taxpayers back).

From another reader:

I agree with what the USPS is doing, I feel that the the people that are against the Saturday delivery cutback should make certain that from now on, that they send all bills thru the mail, versus paying them on-line, also the complainers should also stop sending e-mails and start sending  all correspondence by mail , the old way, this would help out the USPS profits. If people are not willing to do this, then these same people should stop complaining. This is reality, the USPS is losing money and has lost lots of business and profit to the internet, so have the complainers stop the whining.

And another:

The USPS could go to every other day to residential addresses - Monday, Wednesday, Friday on some routes, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday on others.  Commercial addresses and PO Boxes could continue with every day delivery.  There would have to be some adjustments, of course, for holiday weeks.  But what mail do people really get that couldn't wait another day?

And still another:

If the Post Office was a private business, Saturday delivery would have been dropped years ago. Six day schedule is what drives overtime.
No one needs Saturday delivery, ditto PO office open (to buy stamps?) or Saturday package deliver either. Somehow, our society has managed to survive with the DMV open 5 days a week.

Regarding our story about how research shows that the move to reusable shopping bags is actually creating some disease problems, because people are not washing their bags.

One MNB user wrote:

While it’s a great idea to wash the reusable bags to prevent the spread of disease, that puts responsibility on the general public and that seems to never work.

Another reader chimed in:

I faithfully bring my reusable bags and wash them......but I would be interested in an environmental impact study of washing the bags, use of electricity, water, and yes I use biodegradable soap, trying to be a good guest on earth so long as I am here, but.....what if we find the environmental impact zeros out the benefit?

When I lived in Hawaii, the "conscientious" among us recycled faithfully, then we learned that the recycling program took the bottles, Plastic and paper, shipped it to the mainland, as we call it, for processing.  The fossil fuels used in shipping the weight of the recyclables far outweighed the value of recycling.... But our motives were right, our goals were to treat the earth we got to pat ourselves on the back, right?

On a similar topic, people are growing rooftop gardens in downtown LA, and studies show the use of water, the evaporation compared to food production far outweighs any environmental benefit.....of course, southern CA, if we allowed it to be truly "natural" would be an uninhabitable desert, and the population here would be a fraction of what is here now.  No one wants to mention that elephant in the room, except the farmers up north who are lacking local water because we are siphoning it off down south to support the completely unnatural population here. And out to Vegas, which is also an uninhabitable desert, but for the redirected water.

So.... it's more complex than the feel good action of bringing your own bags.  My premise on all of this, we must be open to truth and facts, because things aren't always as they appear from the spin we currently get from media channels.

But, I still bring my bags....wondering as I  do so, if it's making an atom of difference...

Another MNB user offered:

KC...we take the other view...recycle the damn plastic bags ! Doesn't seem very hard now does it? ....and on the plus don't have to waste water washing your reusable bags that were made in China which ultimately end up in the landfill..!  Recycling is readily available in every major chain and more and is still the best solution after all the facts are in...

And, regarding some criticism of a program developed by CEO Jim Donald to reinvigorate the Extended Stay American hotel chain, MNB user Bob Anderson wrote:

I would tell you from reporting to Jim Donald at Walmart, that Jim has a great passion for his job, for the associates and customers. This maybe the reason why Sam Walton personal hired Jim after seeing all of these traits and more in him. Perhaps if Mr. Schillo had the chance to have a cup of coffee or a run with Jim, he too would be in the Jim Donald camp.
KC's View: