business news in context, analysis with attitude

On Friday, we had an Eye-Opener about growing discontent about the shape of the US economy, the seemingly expanding chasm between the haves and have-nots, and the expressions of discontent that are finding their way onto America’s streets and could have an impact on what and how people spend.

One MNB user wrote:

I hate to say this but all the hubbub about corporate greed is misdirected in my view.  I recall an article about the iPhone where Apple was being scrutinized for having it built in China.  Even Steve Jobs had to wrangle with the disparity in labor rates in a world economy and could not justify or compete with a product that, had it been built here, would have cost twice as much.  We the US consumer is to blame because we don’t care.  We don’t care that when we buy a cheap product made somewhere else that your neighbor lost a job so you could get it so cheap.  We vote with our wallets and we want the iPhone even if it means shipping the job overseas.  People don’t get it.  Walmart though struggling today was wildly successful by encouraging manufacturers to move overseas to provide ever cheaper products that we were all too eager to gobble up.

Where was our government in all of this?  And this I think is the crux of the issue and that people are completely missing.  Our elected officials were asleep at the wheel for allowing the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs and their living wages to disappear with no corporate consequence!  I blame the politicians squarely for allowing this to happen.  Their inaction and on-the-take corruption created the situation we are in right now. 

All the talk about Bush created it, Obama’s made it worse, blah, blah, blah.   Presidents are nothing more than rubber-stamping talking heads.  The Legislature writes the laws that He signs plain and simple not the President.  I’d love to see line-item veto power for the Presidency but it’s been overruled numerous times by the Supreme Court.  It will take a constitutional amendment to create and since it takes power away from Congress probably has little chance.  Then there is the unscrupulous activity of having amendments being created “in committee” behind closed doors so that it doesn’t get pinned on any one politician directly, no author as such.  Transparency took a hit, and I’m sure our wallets did as well.

Then there’s the tax code.  It is outdated and full of holes as in loop-holes.  Plenty of blame can be found on either side of the aisle for this one.  And shame on the politicians for spinning and framing the effort to close corporate loop holes as a tax increase!  It’s not! 

If you have a problem with a Corporation quit buying their stuff.  Want to fix the Country, fire a politician on the take.

MNB user Gary Lochrie wrote:

Always interesting to note that those who ‘have’ (FOR THE MOST PART), work harder, with more focus, are more competitive and perform at a higher level, than the ‘have nots’.

Imagine (for example) if all high schools had protests against those students who had better test scores, could play a musical instrument, played on the football team and spoke foreign languages. FOR THE MOST PART, these students worked a lot harder to accomplish these goals and now enjoy the rewards. I’d suggest these same have not’s were the ones who made the choice not to work harder and did not have much in mind for their career goals or future. They simply thought showing up was going to make them successful. Failing in that, they now complain about those same students who worked a lot harder in high school and beyond. Remember, many of these same students were raised by parents who demanded that their children not be held back because of low scores, be given awards for ‘trying’ (and not accomplishment) and downplaying the role of competition. If the parents had a business, they would know that hiring the best employees gives any business its greatest chance at success. I’d suggest that those who ‘showed up’ thinking they didn’t have to perform at a high level are now convinced the ‘Haves’ are cheating them out of their entitled wealth.

MNB user Mike Franklin wrote:

Interesting reading on these two trends…the only thing for sure is that we are changing.

Recent articles discuss one of two trends are taking place, “The BIG SHIFT” or “The GREAT DISRUPTION,” but, I am not really sure these are the only two options especially, speaking only from a U.S. perspective, if we are able to downgrade corporations to servants of the people (they are not citizens) and to reverse globalism back to localism and convert capitalism to natural capitalism…and restart the broken compact between the upper class and the middle class…but then maybe that’s just me speaking from a glass half full perspective…still thinking the American dream can be preserved.

MNB reader Avie Rosacci wrote:

We are challenged with finding unemployed people who are employable.  Record number applying with with felony records.  Regarding the youth....we are so restricted on hiring youth as well as the fact that so many of them are spoiled rotten and don't really want to work.  The kids in our neighborhood have such a sense of "entitlement". Not all of them, but a vast majority.  Keep giving them more...I am worried about the next generations ability and desire to be employable.

I was talking to an oil man and they cannot get people to move to the oil wells in South Dakota because they can stay in Denver and remain on unemployment.  Back in the day, they would move from oil field to oil we pay them to stay home.

From another MNB user:

This is a disgrace, how many more jobs must be lost and our standard of living lowered before we wake up?

How many groceries would the employees of 42,000 closed factories since NAFTA and the China WTO be buying? How much would that ripple through the economy and how much lower would our unemployment rate be?

This benefits no one except the large Multi-National Corporation, from whom being an American means as much to them as me being an honorary citizen of World means to me, which is...........nothing!

Here’s what I think.

There is no question that there are people out there who feel entitled, who believe that by being born in the US over the past 30 or 40 years, they are constitutionally guaranteed to have a job where they don’t have to work hard or take any risks, and are guaranteed to be able to own every gizmo made by Apple, or their equivalent.

But I think it is a mistake - and short-sighted - to work on the premise that the vast majority of people who are expressing their discontent fall into this category. There are a lot of people out there who are having problems finding jobs, who even with jobs are having trouble supporting their families and sending their kids to college, and who are suddenly realizing that the American dream can become a nightmare.

To dismiss these people as malcontents is to deny the facts and ignore the numbers.

And I think that marketers need to be open-minded about the possibility that there’s something happening here, even if what it is ain’t exactly clear...

I took a minor shot at the whole idea of boxed wine the other day in a story about unorthodox marketing efforts engineered by Black Box, a wine company, and BzzAgent, a marketing firm owned by Dunnhumby.

Which led MNB user Harvey Posert to write:

What an odd dig at BiB wines.  Most of us (I was at Robert Mondavi for 20 years) wanted several things for wine in America -- quality and value being primary, but also innovative marketing and now environmental positives; all things you have favored.  With cost- and carbon-savings initiatives at the industry forefront (The Wine Group is the leader), and BiB the best of wine packages in that area, please pause a minute and share a glass from the spout.

You mean you actually want me to spend money on boxed wine?


I’ll have to think about this one. But I’ll promise to keep my eyes open for Black Box wine when I’m doing my wine shopping.

But it may hurt.

KC's View: