business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of legislation that would regulate interchange fees charged by banks for credit and debit card purchases, one MNB user wrote:

Are you prepared for the flood of e-mails from conservatives regarding the audacity of the government to get involved in the private matter of interchange fees?  Why accept all these credit cards if you cannot afford the fees that go along with them?  Seriously, I’m guessing you didn’t hear a thing along those lines.  If you did, let me be the first to apologize to conservatives who stay true to their message.  If not, I reiterate my thoughts that the conservative paradigm of less government is no longer accurate.  It’s about less government when it can save me money and more government when it is to my benefit.

Let’s not forget for one minute that the food lobbyist have been hard at work trying to stall and delay this as much as they can as well...I really don't think the scare factor does much if anything to either make us safer or get the manufactures attention. Laws and lawsuits do, history has proven this.

At the risk of sounding depressingly cynical, I think it can be fairly argued that almost every politician - regardless of persuasion - remains loyal to a governing philosophy right up to the point where it interferes or conflicts with personal self-interest. Sometimes those self-interests have to die with getting elected, and sometimes those self-interests are more carnal.

Another MNB user wrote:

Let the card companies charge what they what and let the retailers offer appropriate pricing accordingly to the consumer. Lets bring out transparency! Have a two tier pricing strategy to show the consumer what it is costing them to use credit. I'm all for it and will cut up my CC's to save accordingly.

On another subject, MNB user Tom Redwine wrote:

Your reply to a reader's note in Friday's "Your Views" in regards to the retail employee happiness survey was dead on, and there's one sentence that's going in my "Smart Quotes" file: "Smart management knows that the retail employee needs to be the highest priority, because a store is only as good as the people on the front lines."

I learned that a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) from one of the best bosses I ever had, who was my store manager at Radio Shack. The lessons he taught were so well reinforced that when I was interviewed for a store manager position, I failed. The question that my district manager asked was, "What's the most important job of a store manager?"

My answer was simple and straightforward: "To take care of his people."

"No!" He was surprised. "Inventory! The most important job a manager has is keeping up with inventory."

"No," I corrected him (always a brilliant move in an interview), "he delegates that to his three trainees, we're on top of the inventory - he just makes sure we're taken care of." My DM shook his head and sighed. (I seem to remember my boss getting into a little hot water for that one.) I didn't get the store. About a year or two later, I left Radio Shack to start at a brand new Sam's Club in town, setting forth on what turned out to be a 21+ year career with the world's greatest retailer.

I'm glad I got the answer right and failed his test. Thank you for reminding me of that lesson.

MNB had a brief mention on Friday of an iPhone application called Stamp, which if open when a person walks into a restaurant or store using the program, allows the establishment to instantly see information about the customer that he or she has entered, allowing the retailer “ to offer a tiny dose of personalized service in an often impersonal service world.”

MNB user Ron Pizur wrote:

My grocery store already has this information. They received it when I signed up for my 'loyalty' card.  Now, why doesn't the cashier get my information on her screen when she scans my card?  It would be nice for her to say "Have a nice day Mr. Pizur." when I leave.

True...but most supermarkets use their loyalty cards as methods of delivering electronic coupons.

The issue of hunger in America - and how to deal with this growing problem - continues to generate email from the MNB community.

One MNB user wrote:

I just want to comment on the ongoing discussion about the "right" to healthcare, freedom from hunger as a "right", etc.  I think there would be a unanimous vote that in the best of circumstances, nobody in America would be hungry and everyone would have access to healthcare (healthy lifestyles, healthy food, and access to facilities when infirm).

Now, let's consider the other "rights" we enjoy in this country... starting with those "certain unalienable" rights "endowed by their creator" of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Then consider the rights granted in the first ten amendments of the constitution:  all are personal rights afforded to the people by the people to support the creation and maintenance of a free and open society.  (Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, limitations on government impingement to private property, etc.)

To consider that provision of services by the government to defeat hunger and provide healthcare (while they are worthwhile ideals for free individuals to pursue) somehow rise to the same level as the founding principles plus the subsequent amendments (women's vote, civil rights, etc.) just defies logic to me.  The one is a collection of beliefs to be granted and enjoyed, the other requires the government to pry away treasure from some in order to give to others.  Not the same things at all.

Another MNB user chimed in:

Without sounding like a heel and I know there are truly people out there who do need help. I feel we are headed to more government help with this article. As I have said in the past, spend some time behind a register and watch what is bought by people who are on “EBT”. Many of them buy on impulse, or because of convenience. You cannot feed a family all month on food stamps from the frozen food department, or spend $20 at the salad bar, or $40 on a bakery department birthday cake. You do not have enough column space for me to go on. I am not unsympathetic to anyone who needs a hand up; growing up my own family needed help. There is a distinct difference between a hand up and a hand out. It is no wonder their benefits do not last all month, they need a lesson in shopping, and cooking.

And MNB user Deborah J. Maestu wrote:

The negative reactions to this subject continue to amaze me.  Leaving aside the implication that many people in America seem to think it is okay for children to go hungry, do they not realize the implications?  If we don't feed our own children, what happens when someone else does?  What happens when someone else reaches out a hand in kindness, offers food, knowledge, refuge?  Children grow up, and hungry children who grow up with the knowledge that their country has turned a back on them, owe no loyalty to that country.

I don't really understand people who object when we say that children have a right to be fed.  Are they implying that, because of the accident of birth, the child of a rich man has a right to food, having done nothing to "earn" it and the child of a poor person doesn't?

Finally, MNB user Hugh McManus had a thought:

You say you were a fan of the original “The Prisoner” but just below your review you missed the opportunity to sign-off with “I’ll be seeing you!”

True. But only because I’d done that a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was looking forward to the new version. Having been disappointed by the remake, I decided not to use the classic line from the original.
KC's View: