retail news in context, analysis with attitude

It is important to note - if only for balance - that not everybody has a great Amazon experience. MNB user Andy Casey wrote:

I’ve never used same day delivery but my son in Atlanta recently ordered something using that option on his Prime account and later that day received a notice it had been delivered.  However, when he went to check the package wasn’t there so he called Amazon and was told sometimes the delivery guys mark it delivered before they actually deliver it and if it didn’t show up by 8 that night it would likely come the next day.  Apparently they get dinged if they don’t at least say they delivered it on time.

We had a story the other day about how low gas prices are good for Costco because they give people more money to spend in its stores, plus allowing it to lower prices more slowly than others and make more money on margin. Which prompted one MNB user to write:

At least in my area, Costco is always the first to lower gas prices.  Other stations play catch up.  And, without exception, at least in my area, Costco has the lowest gas prices.

On the subject of minimum wage increases around the country, MNB reader Gregg Raffensperger wrote:

This entire minimum wage thing is such a political ploy for votes, it is amazing.  No businesses want it.  And, people that understand economics don’t want it.  Only the incumbent political figures.

It is real simple, higher costs = higher prices.  The sales per store will not magically go up with higher wages.  The currently disgruntled employee now making more money will not miraculously become that stellar employee.  Plus if that employee is lucky enough to keep their job due to inevitable layoffs, they will be even more disgruntled since they have a greater work load.  Layoffs = more people on assistance = more votes.

Final point, if the supporters of this mandate think that you will attract higher caliber employees, they will be sadly mistaken.

This is a truly self-serving political push.

All classes of trade needs to stand up against this and do it now.

I understand your reasoning, but let me suggest to you at least one fallacy in your logic. You suggest that nobody wants an increase in the minimum wage except for politicians seeking election, but that's not entirely true. There are a lot of actual citizens out there who are working hard yet having trouble making ends meet, and they're very much in favor of it. And there are economists who think it is a good idea - more than 600 of them signed a letter to that effect last year.

So can we at least agree that there are opinions on both sides of the issue?

I don't think that higher wages will magically create better and more productive employees, but I do believe in the idea that a broader emphasis by business in the idea that employees ought to be treated as an investment rather than a cost.

Employees who feel valued may respond by being more productive, and more productive employees may help businesses be more profitable, not less so.

This does not all happen automatically when a paycheck goes higher. On the other hand, how many high level executives would dispute the idea that if you pay them more and value them more highly, they'll respond by working harder and being more productive? Somehow, in some companies, this philosophy comes into play at the highest levels of the food chain, but not the lowest.

I'm not sure the self-serving push you refer to is always happening in the way that you think.

Yesterday, we took note of a Daily News report that New York City officials "are wading into a lawsuit against Walmart for selling the bullets that were used to kill three people," arguing in a friend-of-the-court brief that "victims’ families should be able to sue the chain in state court for negligence for selling handgun ammunition to a customer they charge was too young to legally buy it and visibly drunk."

The actual case is playing out in Pennsylvania, but New York City officials say that holding retailers accountable will give them another tool in fighting the "iron pipeline" that funnels guns bought out-of-state into the city. Walmart is hoping to get the case moved into federal court, "where they’re likely to prevail under federal laws shielding gun manufacturers and sellers from liability."

I commented:

Not being a lawyer, it is hard for me to evaluate the legal issues here; my guess, just based on history, is that Walmart will succeed in getting the case moved to the federal courts. This will allow it, to coin a phrase, to dodge the bullet ... something that a lot of innocent victims are unable to do.

But I have to admit that I hope Walmart loses. Companies ought to be culpable for these sorts of things, and laws that shield companies and industries from taking responsibility when and where appropriate are a joke.

One MNB user responded:

Do you also think auto manufacturers and dealers should be held liable when some drunk drives the wrong way on a freeway and kills a few people?

And another wrote:

Where does the madness stop?  Will they next be sued for the guy who died of heart disease, caused by the bacon they sold? Will the car manufacturer be held accountable for the car driven by a drunk, that killed someone...or Goodyear for selling the tires on the car? Maybe Shell for supplying the gas in the car?

Are you for real?

Damned right I'm for real.

Read the original story again. It said that NYC is arguing that "victims’ families should be able to sue the chain in state court for negligence for selling handgun ammunition to a customer they charge was too young to legally buy it and visibly drunk."

I wasn't arguing a store should be be help responsible if it sells guns and/or ammunition to someone in entirely legal ways, and that person goes out and commits a heinous crime. That's a different debate.

And for the record, if a drunk driver kills someone you cannot sue the automaker ... but you can go after the bartender who over-served the person who committed the crime. And that is a better comparison.

I struggle with the issue of gun rights for cultural reasons that I've detailed numerous times here on MNB. (I do not come from a gun culture but my experience is not everyone else's. I try to be respectful of that even while being appalled by the gun violence in this country.) And I think that we need to find ways to dis-incentivize people companies from filing frivolous lawsuits.

But the one thing I try not to do is have a knee-jerk reaction to stories and opinions. I'm not always successful, but I try.
KC's View: