business news in context, analysis with attitude

We got a number of emails yesterday about the estate tax debate.

One MNB user wrote:

Contrary to one MNB user's claim, opponents of the estate tax have never cited one real example of a family losing a business or farm because of the estate tax. In his example, that company should be an LLC at the very least, to insulate the business from an unfortunate occurrence like death. Life insurance is also good risk mitigation.

At this point in time, it is irresponsible to call for these tax repeals. Perhaps during the days of the surplus could congress have called for this, but certainly not now.

But another MNB user disagreed:

I completely disagree with the opinion of one user saying "inheritance is income, not a birthright". If the owner of the estate was still alive and wished to give you a gift, there would be no tax associated with it. If we follow that reader's logic, I have to ask when the birthday and Christmas tax will be instituted. After all, gifts received on your birthday and Christmas should be considered income as well. Think of the taxes that could be generated through this! No, instead we tax those that are already dead because they can't fight paying taxes anymore.

It is unfortunate that this debate has to take place in an atmosphere of spiraling budget deficits, because it becomes harder to justify the loss of tax revenue.

Yesterday, we bemoaned the problems facing Ahold these days, including a possible breakup of the company, which prompted MNB user David Livingston to write:

I can't believe you said "for years Ahold was held up as a model of how to acquire regional chains and let them operate successfully and profitably." Perhaps from the Ahold executive's point of view, but not by their employees and customers. From day one when they acquired any company, that company started going down hill. I recall Stop & Shop, the two Giants, and Top's all being well run companies before Ahold bought them. After Ahold acquired them it has been nothing but a confusing nightmare of musical chairs and bureaucracy. On paper their ideas looked good, but they just never were able to win over the employees. Now it’s spilling over to the customers and we are seeing store closings and divestures. Also with scandal and corruption spread throughout the company like a cancer, the chances are small of ever winning back the confidence of employees and customers.

We wrote yesterday that if Dunkin’ Donuts really wants to compete with Starbucks, it should offer free WiFi. One MNB user responded:

No doubt having free WiFi is an advantage. I was at a Starbucks recently and an employee told me that my wireless card should easily pick up the free WiFi at Qdoba next door. So I did. Free WiFi is everywhere and it makes a company look arrogant and greedy to charge for it when all the surrounding businesses give it way for free. Then again Starbucks charges for coffee while all the surround hotels, grocery stores, and gas stations have free coffee. Generally if I want free coffee and free WiFi, I just drop into the nearest Holiday Inn lobby. Sometimes they even have a fireplace and a couch.

Never been to a Holiday Inn with coffee as good as Starbucks.

Another MNB user commented on the Starbucks-Dunkin’ Donuts competition:

I don’t mention Dunkin Donuts in the same sentence as Starbucks as they are not the same thing to me. I do like Dunkin though for the obvious donut reasons and although the coffee you buy already made at the store is usually burned if brewed at home it is a good blend. In fact I went to DD this weekend to pick up some donuts to go over a friend’s house, you don’t want to show up empty handed and it was too early for a bottle of wine. After what seemed like forever I returned to my car and mentioned to my wife that this is why I laugh when I hear Dunkin Donuts wants to compete with Starbucks. First the store is not the nicest looking compared to the nice clean casual musical environment at SB, the staff is not friendly you get the impression they are chained under the counter, fast working as it took 3 tries to get our coffee order right (with no apologies) and two to figure out the coupons among other issues.

And MNB user Tom Devlin chimed in:

In response to the Anti-Starbucks campaign from Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds, I find it amusing that they do not realize it is more than coffee. The employees at Starbucks are as warm as a nice Cafe Mocha in February. On the other hand, the fast food Double D's and Mickey D's employee cultures can be as cold as a Frosty in February…
KC's View: