business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got some responses to yesterday’s “Broad Brushes, Stark Colors” MNB Radio commentary...

MNB user Ben Ball wrote:

I agree with a lot of what you said – but I think we have the opposite problem as well. Here’s what I mean.

Pundits to politicians – we are much too willing to jump at the most readily available fact AND to incorporate that fact into support for our previously held paradigm. Using your words we are unwilling to work hard enough to understand and accept nuance.

But on the other hand, we are also spineless as a society. We are unwilling to take a stand when one is warranted and to stick to it. We have no sense of commitment, loyalty nor personal obligation.
Two of my favorite colloquialisms -

1)       Pick your battles.
2)       You’ve got to stand for something – or  you’ll fall for anything.

MNB user Connie Montgomery wrote:

Loved the article.

Speaking of colors, we all tend to see Wal-Mart BLUE every single day.  And they are the biggest and the "baddest" in the business; or at the least are guiding the trends and pricing of their competition.

The people who have discontent on your comments are trying to pretend the company does not exist and that their success is not real. I agree there is good and bad in the company, but "it is what it is".  Wake up to reality people!

Personally, I go back and forth between Wal-Mart and HEB here in San Antonio for my shopping. Maybe I do not live in the "enlightened" world where some have such a large variety of Grocers to choose from.

I live in an area with 3 Wal-Mart Super Centers and 3 HEB stores, one a PLUS, within 5 miles North, East, South or West from where I live and work.  There is one Fiesta Store in the mix, but that's it.

A lot of people would think that a market in which one could choose between Walmart and HEB is a pretty good place to shop. 

MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

Your comments are absolutely the most intelligent comments I have ever seen posted on MNB and I could not agree more with you on this issue.

However I am sure some will accuse you of lacking passion, or being wishy- washy or some other such thing. These days it seems if you are not part of the lunatic fringe you get blasted from all sides.

MNB user Don Longo wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with your radio commentary: Wal-Mart is the largest organization of its kind to ever exist on the planet; it does many things well and like any large organization it has plenty room for improvement. People who focus on just the negative overlook what that the company has accomplished what no other retailer ever has – not Sears, not Kmart… both were top retailers until they hit the same wall that Wal Mart smashed right through and continued growing.

MNB user Steve Kneepkens wrote:

I am amazed at how people and consumers see Wal-Mart so black and white. They have done a tremendous amount to increase the efficiency of not only the retail industry – but of many industries who study logistics, inventory management, and sustainable business practices. They have made mistakes along the way, but all organizations make mistakes. I am not an apologist for Wal-Mart either, but they have moved our industry forward – not backwards.

The end result does not cover mistakes, but it should be recognized for what it is: The largest company in the world bringing value to consumers in markets they serve.

MNB user Christine A. Myres wrote:

You so often say exactly what’s in my mind and can’t seem to articulate, thanks for the comments on the way we so often take the easy route to opinion. I’ve been thinking lately about how everything seems to be black & white, no middle. And although I am still having difficulty finding anything positive about the Gulf oil spill, there are many other thing that deserve to be considered in all their complexity and not labeled so glibly as good or evil.

And MNB user Randy Friedlander wrote:

I’ve always counseled my children that when trust is lost, it’s very difficult to get it back.  The Walmart (Wal-Mart) of the 1990’s and early 2000’s created many of the negative perceptions that haunt the company today . . . accusations of discrimination, ruthless dealings with suppliers, a cult-like obsession with defeating the competition, and more.  Despite some very positive contributions to the contrary by Lee Scott and now Mike Duke, Walmart still has a big PR hole to climb out of. 

As they say, “You can’t talk your way out of problems that you behave yourself into.”  Nevertheless, would the old Wal-Mart have embraced sustainability or commit to supporting food banks?  Would the old Wal-Mart CEO have spoken out in favor of health insurance reform?  Announced an intention to substantially reduce waste and emissions? Made investments in organic cotton farming when it costs more than double?  I doubt it.  They aren’t perfect, but they aspire to be closer to perfect than they are today.

To some, Walmart is like the New York Yankees.  It’s common in America to despise the team with the most money and talent, and root for them to stumble.  But if there had been no Sam Walton and no Walmart, somebody else would have eventually stepped in as a ruthless EDLP competitor . . . with many of the same consequences.  Walmart is a uniquely American success story.  And, similar to the Yankees, you don’t have to like them to admire the franchise that they have built.

On another subject...

In my piece about Washington Nationals pitcher Steven Strasburg, i noted that while he was extraordinary against the Pirates, we’d have to wait to see how he does against the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa.

To which MNB user Bill Drew rightly responded:

Strasburg is going to face the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays?  Seems as though you already have the Nationals in the World Series.  I have to give you an E1 for the comment, even though nowadays, the official scorers don't hand out errors as often as they used to.  Having said that, he is going to be a joy to watch - a potentially great pitcher with what seems like a good head on his shoulders.

I guess I had a bit of a brain freeze on that one - the Nationals, of course, play in the National League, while the Yankees, Boston and Tampa are in the American League. (Not sure when that abomination called inter-league play will put them all together.)

I should have referenced the Phillies and the Padres. (And, if they are playing at CitiField, the Mets...who only seem to be able to win at home this season...)
KC's View: