retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We've been having an ongoing discussion here on MNB about the issue of the minimum wage, living wages, how corporations value people on the front lines vs. people in the executive suite, and whether there should be a public policy response to what is generally acknowledged to be a growing wage disparity in the US.

We've had some long emails on the subject, including one yesterday from a self-described Libertarian who didn't seem to trust anyone. You can, if you wish, read it here

Well, there was a message posted yesterday on MNB's Facebook page that sort of troubled me. It was from MNB reader Peter Marotta, who wrote:

Some of those posted comments attacking Christian beliefs and fiscal responsibility made me consider unsubscribing. Really petty and beneath our industry.

I was troubled for several reasons. Let's take the "attacking Christian beliefs" comment first.

When I saw that phrase, my first reaction was mild panic. Had I misread the email when I posted it? Had I allowed anti-Christian invective to make it onto MNB without catching it?

So I went back to the site and re-read the email. And best I can tell, here's the passage that referenced religion:

One side is all about Big Brother, and Big Government, and the other has Abortion and Christianity as it’s litmus test for admittance.  True Conservatism would embrace all religions, but Right wingers would call that Liberalism?  Our country was founded on religious liberty not Christianity.   The fact that the Republican party has been co-opted by the Religious Right saddens me.  Which party is a fiscally conservative Jew or Hindu going to feel most welcome?  Or maybe a Mormon for that matter!

Now, I have trouble seeing where those sentences are anti-Christianity in any way. I think the writer is more focused on people who are anti-tolerance, and people who use religious beliefs to justify intolerance and who try to codify intolerance into public policy. That strikes me as at least a reasonable observation to make, even if one disagrees with it. Though I can understand why some folks might take issue with the observation.

Let me move on to the other charge, which is that MNB allowed comments that were anti-fiscal responsibility.

I was troubled by the charge, but a re-reading of all the emails from yesterday persuades me that no such comments were being made.

Different people have differing views of how public policy should deal with issues of fiscal responsibility. Just this week, we've had a perfect example - one person's view of socially responsible economic policy is seen by someone else as preaching in favor of a Socialist Utopia. But I don't think that anyone is arguing in favor of fiscal irresponsibility.

Now, if people want to unsubscribe to MNB because of the way ideas are shared and exchanged, there isn't much I can do about it. Hell, I think it is much more likely that someone will unsubscribe because of some of the things that I write ... though the good news is that it doesn't happen every often, and in fact MNB's subscription list generally grows by 50-75 people each week.

But I want to take this opportunity to say something that I want you to know.

The thing that probably takes the most time each day when writing MNB is reading and choosing from all the emails I get. There are dozens each day, and sometimes a lot more than that. I read every one, and then try to decide which ones I should use, whether they should be edited for space, and which ones should be posted without attribution. (My rule on this has been the same from the beginning, but may be worth restating. If you ask to be anonymous, you get anonymity. If you don't ask to be anonymous, but I think that somehow the use of your name on MNB could create career problems for you because of the expressed views, I'll call you an "MNB reader." It doesn't help you or me if you get called on the carpet for saying something honest and/or provocative here on MNB. That's what I do for a living, not you.)

While I'm doing all this, I am very conscious about not allowing people to use MNB for what I think is hate speech of any kind, or to promote their own careers, or for what I think is gratuitous cruelty. I also try to be thoughtful about not wasting your time - sometimes I get emails that would qualify as manifestos, and while I find them to be instructive, I'm aware that you only have so much time in the morning to read MNB. I want to be responsible about not abusing your good nature.

I just want you to know that I am paying attention. I am always thinking about these issues. And I'm doing my best to be fair.
KC's View: