business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got a number of emails yesterday responding to Coke CEO Muhtar Kent’s statement that a tax of sugary soft drinks would be “outrageous,” and that such taxes almost never affect consumption: “I have never seen it work where a government tells people what to eat and what to drink,” he said.

Among them…

One MNB user wrote:

Has Mr. Kent not heard of taxes on beer, wine and liquor which people drink. Most states have a sales tax on food purchased in restaurants (some on grocery as well) another ingestion tax. Taxes and tax breaks have been used to encourage and discourage for quite a while now. People can certainly be healthy with or without soda pop. If the soda pop abusers abuse less then it will be a “good tax”, if not then it will still be a good tax since it will create a ton of money and keep something else from being taxed.

Another MNB user wrote:

Mr. Kent must not be a smoker, nor does he look at all the overweight people in Atlanta. Someone needs to point out the rise in diabetes and that Coke Zero is the only item selling for them at the expense of DIET coke and regular. I get he needs to say something , but please...

Regarding Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s statement that the recession probably is over, one MNB user wrote:

I personally know seven friends either out of work or under-employed to the extent they cannot meet their bills. Unemployment is reportedly at 10%? I do not have seventy friends. Hard to believe a recession is over with so many seeking employment. It’s certainly not close to over for my seven friends. Outrageous declarations have a tendency to stick in folks’ minds.

And, addressing one of the effects of the recession, MNB user Al Kober wrote:

As you stated, many companies use this time to cut their payroll. There may be another reason why. During good times, many companies do not exercise enough discipline or perform proper reviews, which allow underperforming employees to remain on the payroll. Many supervisors who perform employee reviews are not comfortable telling underperforming employees that they need to improve or be dismissed. Then during a down turn, they can hide behind their own inefficiencies and use the economy as the reason for the underperforming employee to be dismissed. We all like to tell an employee they are doing really great and that they will get a raise, that is the fun part, but having to be honest at review time and tell underperforming employees “shape up or ship out”, come as a more difficult job and many supervisors will try anything else but to be up front and forthright with their employees.

We had a story the other day about Whole Foods’ use of renewable energy credits, which led one MNB user to write:

The renewable energy credit scheme is an interesting proposition. Whole Foods sat down and figured out how many kilowatt-hours of electricity it used in a year. They then went to the wind farm and paid their estimated consumption in advance. The wind farm issued credits to Whole Foods that can be used to pay the bills as they arrive. The wind farm gets a shot in the arm, Whole Foods gets great PR and the total pushes renewable energy to viability. The downside for Whole Foods? Having to pay the whole bill in advance in exchange for all of this positive "stuff". Seems pretty good to me.

Me, too. I’m glad you explained it.

Finally, regarding labor issues in Denver, we wrote the other day that “possibly the biggest point of difference is a change in pension plans that would allow workers to retire no earlier than age 55 instead of letting them leave when their age and years of service combine to reach 80.”

Which led MNB user Geoff Harper to observe:

Isn't that a lot like going from 37 hours a week to 40? If they strike, I hope that's not the only reason.

Careful. Suggest that maybe people have to work harder and you get accused of exploiting the working class.

Not that the working class doesn’t sometimes get exploited. It does, and shouldn't be. But sometimes clear heads should prevail, and everybody needs to have skin in the game…and get rewarded when hard work pays off.
KC's View: