retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email responding to an exchange in this space yesterday:

I read the other comments from the minimum wage story and there is one thing that rang through for me, and that is that the individual that spoke directly to what they paid folks for entry level positions was what they felt was right…not what the government said they must pay, to which I say bravo! I don’t know about you, but I was always taught, and experience has proven right; that a rising tide lifts all boats. When demand is high and supply is low, then prices rise, and that’s true for commodities as well as wages. But the level of price, or level of wage just has to follow demand. Time will tell if such proves true relative to the price of produce from California.

As far as your statement here: “If one accepts all of your statements about the broad costs of an increase in the minimum wage, it still, I think, leaves a lot of questions about the people who are working in the fields, breaking their backs to enrich their employers and keep fresh produce in supermarkets while having trouble feeding their own families, clothing their children, paying for housing and putting their kids through school”.

Sounds like a line from John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.” Breaking their backs to enrich their employers? Really? Many, and I mean many farming operations here in California are still family owned; generational ownership in many cases. They honor the land they farm as well as the people that bring forth the products they produce, it’s part of what makes them and what they do special. Farming is back breaking work by definition, but it’s not difficult to find an owner of any one of these operations hands on right in the middle of it. I’ll tell you what, my friend, having to work hard beats the hell out of not being able to work at all. A lesson that unfortunately, way too many folks seem to have forgotten, or maybe never learned.

Three things.

One, a rising tide doesn’t, in fact, raise all boats. Some boats get swamped. Never the big ones, but sometimes the little ones.

Two, I would never denigrate the work of farmers. But I still worry about some people who work dawn to dusk and still are unable to support their families because of low minimum wages.

Three, this is likely the only time I will be mentioned in the same breath as John Steinbeck. So thanks.

On the subject of ongoing centralization-decentralization debates at Ahold Delhaize, MNB reader Donna P. Burns wrote:

Reminds me of Organics. Integration one year, segregation the next.

Some debates are fated never to be resolved, I fear.

And finally, from MNB reader Bryan Silbermann:

Regarding your piece this morning on just what the world doesn’t need - an internet connected diaper…

As a retiree loving every Friday when we babysit our 19-month old old granddaughter, I have to agree 100% with your comment questioning the wisdom of outsourcing the responsibility of monitoring a baby’s bodily functions: “It is part of being a parent … it takes you outside yourself and makes you realize this little person’s needs are more important than yours.”

Some might say that’s easy for this retiree to say, but I watch the kids being parents and their little girl’s needs bring them out of their 24/7 smartphone-centered lives in a way that nothing else can or should. Mom-Mom and Oupa can be ignored when we ask questions and get no answer because the smartphone rules, but when CoCo needs changing, they are reminded of the way in which their lives are truly connected to this little person.

Remember John Naisbitt’s “Megatrends”? High Tech, High Touch in particular. The more our lives rely on technology, the more we crave and need high touch, human relationships. The diaper connection gets to the core of that.

Nothing like having to change a dirty diaper for bringing one back to earth.
KC's View: