business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB yesterday took note of a Washington Post report that almost 50 million US citizens - including one out of every four children - had periods during the past year when they went hungry. According to the story, “The data show that dependable access to adequate food has especially deteriorated among families with children. In 2008, nearly 17 million children, or 22.5 percent, lived in households in which food at times was scarce -- 4 million children more than the year before. And the number of youngsters who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.”

My comment, in part: Not sure how we can have a sophisticated and contextual discussion about issues like health care and economic policy in an era when the world’s biggest superpower cannot even feed its own population.

One MNB user objected to my response:

That's the mentality that will make things steadily worse.  Wouldn't it be smarter to focus on the "population's" responsibility to feed itself instead of constantly portraying them as helpless victims?

Perhaps what I should have said is, what is so super about a superpower in which there is so much economic weakness that this kind of hunger exists? It is not government’s responsibility to feed people...except in the sense that government ought to be an extension of a people’s priorities. After all, as has been said in various venues by a variety of people, a civilization ought to be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable...and who is more vulnerable than a hungry child?

Another MNB user wrote:

Here lies the premise for this discussion. Is it the responsibility of the federal Government to feed the children of parents who are not performing that basic responsibility?

The current welfare program has become an entitlement program where these recipients actually feel it is their just dues to receive assistance. Like the 40% or so of US citizens who never pay taxes feel they deserve to receive a tax cut. If you never pay anything how can a portion be returned? Impossible, yet they have been convinced that they deserve it.

Continuing to “hand out” entitlement to those who are willing and able to survive on their own only creates and supports this sad situation. The really sad thing about this whole entitlement mentality is the fact that the recipients actually believe they deserve it. The current socialistic mentality that everyone deserves to have the same quality of life as everyone else is so anti American.

Gee, I thought we were talking about finding a way to keep so many Americans - especially children - from going hungry. I didn’t know I was encouraging incipient socialism.

My bad.

MNB user Jeff Totten wrote:

As I grab the remote control in an effort to mute the anti health care reform ads and feel my blood pressure rising, I wish I had tons of money to run anti anti-ads, then remember that even my retaliatory efforts would be a waste of money.  What calms me (somewhat) is the thought - look at how many people could be fed by all that money being spent on those ads.  God must weep at our waste of resources He has blessed us with.

Another MNB user wrote:

Your response to “Hungry in America” was spot on…as I was reading the article, I was wondering how many of the hungry people could have been fed by the bonuses paid employees of bailed out financial institutions.

MNB user Steve Mowcomber wrote:

The failure to feed our own people and poor children is exactly why we need to discuss health care as household dollars that could be spent on food are being spent on health care when an impoverished mother or father are forced to make the awful decision between putting food on the table or taking a sick child to the doctor or purchase medications needed by themselves or their children.  Solving the health care dilemma “should” open up household dollars to be redirected to solving the hunger issue as well or go a long way towards solving the problem.

And MNB user E. Jane Hayden chimed in:

As an employee of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, I could not agree with you more.  It is unfortunate that food has become a luxury item for so many; having to choose between paying a utility bill or buying medication instead of food.  When will our legislators wake up?

On to another issue...

Responding to our story about Costco not carrying Coke products for the moment because of a pricing dispute, MNB user Carol Cropp wrote:

Costco without Coke?

Went to a sports bar to watch football and ordered a Bud Light — they don’t carry Budweiser products anymore?  Really?  Gotta find a new sports bar.

Most people are loyal to one brand of soda — I’m a Diet Coke person.  Really don’t like Diet Pepsi.  Consumers will complain and Coke will be back in Costco before the holidays.

I agree that this dispute probably won’t last long.

But there may be something going on here other than a simple pricing dispute. While I take your meaning about brand loyalty, I think when a company like Costco does this, it sends a clear message that it is advocating for the consumer. (Though it probably is advocating for its own margins as well...which is why some might characterize its actions as bullying.) That’s not a bad message to send to shoppers...especially in tough economic times.

One of the things I love most about the MNB community is the fact that I get so many emails about the small stories that aren;t even about business. Like yesterday, I noted in a short obit now much I liked the old TV series “The Equalizer,” which starred Edward Woodward, who died earlier this week. Woodward also was in Breaker Morant, which prompted MNB user Lou Scudere to write:

Breaker Morant is definitely one of my all time favorite movies right up there with The Caine Mutiny and A Few Good Men.

FYI...The Caine Mutiny gets a chapter in The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies, the new book from Michael Sansolo and me.

MNB user Gary Harris wrote:

And at this festive time of year, we recall his portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Present to George C. Scott’s Scrooge a few years back.

Good one. I liked that version a lot.

And MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

I liked Edward Woodward’s show “The Equalizer” also.  He was a different kind of vigilante, sort of a modern day Paladin of “Have Gun Will Travel”  He lived well, enjoyed life and was well traveled and well educated, yet could and would use lethal force when necessary, but didn’t kill for fun, only when there was no other choice.  It was entertaining, yet had some life lessons in it as well and the choices Robert McCall had to make were often not black and white choices, but was forced to choose the best or least distasteful among some conflicting decisions.

Sort of like the Content Guy. Except he uses a laptop, not a gun....and a Miata, not a Jaguar...but other than that, it’s the same thing...

Sort of.
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