business news in context, analysis with attitude

One MNB user filed this report from the field…

While shopping at the King Ranch Market in Reno, NV this evening, I found signs posted around the store with the following statement (in both English and Spanish as the majority of the customer base is Spanish speaking):

“We will be closing at 8 PM for our employee Christmas Party. The store normally closes at 11 PM.”

I find it quite refreshing that in today's retail and political environment a grocer is willing to close the store a few hours early and actually make reference to the concept of a "Christmas Party" on a sign in their store. Meanwhile the larger chain grocers will continue to flounder around and try to figure out ways to improve employee satisfaction...


I noted yesterday that all my Christmas shopping is done, and that most of it was done on-line. Which led one MNB user to write:

I used to think your passion for on-line shopping was just a personal preference until I went looking for something as antiquated as a grapefruit knife. After visits to four different brick and mortar stores with no luck and a few blank stares from employees, it finally dawned on me that maybe I should try Amazon. Yikes! Multiple pages of choices and the knife arrived on my doorstep within 5 days! I’ve had the same experience/results with my on-line holiday shopping. Put me in the convert category.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Another MNB user wrote:

I fall into the 100% ‘done’ category and have been for two or three weeks, and for the second year in a row I didn't step foot in a single store. I found that since I started exclusively shopping on-line, I'm not running around at the last minute trying to finish up. Maybe it's because I know I need to leave time for shipping, or maybe it's because I don't mind shopping now that it's not such a chore. It's great, I did all my shopping while sitting on the couch watching TV.

The interesting thing about being done early and having avoided the stores is that I haven't lost any of the Christmas spirit. In fact, I’m in a pretty good mood about the holidays…another benefit of e-commerce.

We had a piece the other day about the rising cost of both food and fuel, and postulated that perhaps Americans would have to get used to less privileged than they always have been. Which led MNB user Todd Hale to write:

Maybe this situation is the right incentive that manufacturers and consumers need to get off of the super-sized train and bring sense back to package size and portion sizes. We’ve seen cereal manufacturers respond to rising grain prices by reducing package sizes. A full plate is always more appealing, but maybe this is just what is needed to get consumers to cut back on the heaping plates; buy products that actually fit standard cupboards and refrigerators; and take an occasional walk to the local coffee shop, convenience store, drug store or grocery store.

P.S. How many times must we humans learn that you just don’t mess with Mother Nature? We need to invest more research dollars into alternative fuel sources that don’t compete with food and stop the corn-based ethanol nonsense.

MNB user Jake G. Albrethsen had another thought:

What I find surprising is that of all the articles and stories this year I’ve read about ethanol and corn farmers’ troubles, there’s been one important word missing from every one: hemp.

Statistically, you can produce 4 times as much ethanol from an acre of hemp as you can from an acre of corn. Also, you wouldn’t have to make a choice about what to use the corn for. I realize many people aren’t comfortable with hemp’s wild cousin, marijuana, but how desperate does our situation need to get before we bring back what has historically been the biggest cash crop EVER?

Sounds like a high-minded proposal to me.

Responding to yesterday’s piece about former President Bill Clinton campaigning at an Iowa Hy-Vee for presidential wannabe Senator Hillary Clinton, MNB user Louis A. Scudere wrote:

Maybe that's why he was elected President twice, he knows that to be liked by the people one has to at least appear like one likes to be with the people. Such spontaneity is frankly refreshing instead of this carefully scripted swill that we're being fed on a daily basis by virtually all of the candidates of either party.

I was a little sarcastic yesterday when comparing the high cost of earmarks passed by the US Congress, compared to the modest increase given to food safety funding. Which led one MNB user to write:

You were way too kind in your estimation of the PORK BARREL (earmark is too kind of a word) spending contained in that Bill. First, it was passed without being read, second, it will take weeks if not months to determine the extent of the PORK spending. If this is the best out representatives can is time to stand up and vote for "None of the Above!" A government unmanned, could do a better job that our current government representatives.

But another MNB user disagreed:

While I agree with your assessments on the need for greater food safety oversight, a $56 mil increase is 12.25%. How wisely will this money be spent? It’s tough to manage growth and trusting a government agency to do the right thing with $56 million more is better than handing them $100 million or $200 million, because you know it will be spent regardless of amount, let’s see what they do with the $56 mil. Then add more next year.

And MNB user Dana Wise had some thoughts about the issue of hunger that keeps coming up here on the site:

I feel like I would like to share a guiding principle from my faith on the topic of hunger/needs for the poor. Monthly, every member of my faith that is able to do so, participates in a monthly fast, an abstinence from eating or drinking for a 24 hr period. From a dietary standpoint, there is nothing special about it, other than allowing our bodies to "clean out". From a mental standpoint, we gain spiritual strength as we work to overcome our carnal desires by participating in the fast. The purpose of this e-mail though, is to explain what we do with the money we "saved" by our abstinence. That money, whether it be the actual amount not spent on food, or perhaps significantly more when the donor has the means to do so, is then given to the church. 100% of the funds are then administered to the poor or needy through the lay ministry of the church (in other words, there are no administrative costs taking away from that fund). The funds can be used in any way deemed appropriate by that ministry, whether it be for the payment of bills, needed medical care, or what happens most of the time - FOOD!!! The needs of the poor are satisfied.

Now, let me take this one step further. There are approx. 125 million households in the US. If every home could see fit to donate even the meager sum of $5 every month to a food fund through a monthly family fast, that would equal $625 MILLION dollars every month to help the poor. At the end of the year, $7.5 BILLION dollars, or perhaps much, much more, would have been contributed to the fund!!! Think of how many of our nation's hungry could be helped by having all of us share from our abundance! The food programs could be administered in much the same way that it is now, with one caveat, those receiving assistance could be asked to provide unpaid service time to the facilities that provide the food. An hour or two each week or visit, cleaning, organizing the food, tying a quilt, (or anything else), seems a small price to pay for any assistance received, and it offers a sense of ownership to the participants, rather than just a handout.

I don't know what it would take to make it happen nationally, but maybe it is something we should consider.

One does not have to be a person of faith – any faith – to see that figuring out a better way to alleviate hunger is a good idea. Perhaps the program you suggest could be next to the campaign financing check-off on income tax forms?
KC's View: