business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, MNB took note of a story in The Olympian about the continued influx of donations to both sides in the battle over mandated labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms ( GMOs) - Initiative 522, which is on the ballot on November 5.

One MNB user responded:

Wow. Think what $67 Million could buy for schools, for infrastructures, for a host of needed things the communities could use....  Seems the corporate taxes are insufficient to have this kind of Fluff money to throw around…. 

MNB user Jim Godwin wrote:

Kevin, just a quick question. Whether or not anyone believes that GMO Labeling should take place or not, shouldn't this be decided on a national level, rather than at the state level? Manufacturers are forced to comply with each individual state's rules and regulations and thus multi-state retailers get caught in the middle. This seems to be a case of good intentions on the wrong stage.

I actually agree that this would be better dealt with on a national basis, but recent events, I think, make it hard to argue that the federal government is better equipped to deal with such issues than the states.

I do think that it has been smart for states like Connecticut to pass mandated labeling laws but make them contingent on enough other states also passing them … this is actually an intelligent way to legislate.

My general position on labeling has more to do with transparency than GMOs, and yesterday I wrote:

The transparency movement - which includes everything from product labeling to political donations - is only going to continue to gain momentum … and will even be fueled by the big money/big power/big influence efforts to control what people know.

Which led one MNB reader to chime in:

This is why I read your column every morning.  A quote like this is inspiring on so many different levels, and it is a battle cry beyond product labeling and political donations.  Because the world is changing so rapidly,  "transparency" standards apply to many things, including the jobs we all do.   All of us should ask ourselves, can we explain the jobs we do each day to our consumer so that they would understand its value?  Because that is what transparency means and better to confront it head on before it "sneaks up" on us!

And MNB reader Adam Hobbs wrote:

So true – feel free to add: “…to the advertising business, including placements by channel and property, rates, measurements & KPIs and compensation (be it by fees, commissions or performance-based).  Transparency is becoming less of a service differentiator (not trading our own book, etc) and more of a SOX-compliance type of risk management/legitimacy play.   

Very interesting stuff, and just to further bring you into our world, the next big arena for us is, obviously, social… how on earth do you measure that animal?  What we do know is that the first person to do so effectively, leaving behind a roadmap for everyone else to follow, will be a millionaire for sure.

On the subject of Southwest Airlines considering the possibility of charging for checked baggage, a potentially image-changing move, one MNB user wrote:

I don’t think SW charging for bags will make a difference.  First  there is not a viable alternative.  Secondly and most important people I know fly SW because they offer convenient flight times, they don’t charge for changes, they are reliable, they provide great customer service, have reasonable leg room and perhaps most importantly they are generally the best price.    SW already gets a fee increase by charging to get an A ticket.  That has not chased customers away so I don’t see charging  a few dollars for bags will make a difference.  The only drawback I see is it will encourage more carry-on baggage.  

I agree charging for bags does decrease some of their allure but not enough to affect their business when you compare the miserable experience you expect on other major airlines like United.   Can’t understand why United works so hard to alienate their customers but that is another discussion.

From another reader:

You've hit my sore spot about traveling today. Years ago I avoided traveling on Southwest Airlines because of the cattle chute mentality and not having assigned seating. Once they went to "A" "B" and "C" groups I have come to love it. Mostly because I fly enough to have preferred status and guaranteed an "A" seat. I love them for not charging for baggage. I almost always check my baggage so that I can place my briefcase in the overhead bin without feeling guilty for being a "bin hog."... those annoying people who place multiple bags in the overhead space.

Anyway, I have always felt that airlines should charge for carry-on and let you check for free. As one of your previous subscribers wrote I think it would speed up the boarding process and if people need to have their roller bags in the over head bin they should have to pay for the convenience. While I am on my soapbox I also think that seats should not recline unless you compensate the passenger behind you. When you fly you are paying for space and why should the person in front of you get to take your space without compensation? Or, maybe create several rows with reclining seats and charge more? Traveling today is a huge hassle.

Got the following email from MNB user George Denman (who, it should be noted, works for Graeter's, which makes some of the best ice cream on the planet):

Great article on Disney’s opposition to gambling. I see similarities within the Graeter’s organization with their opposition to selling Wal-Mart. We were just approached by Wal-Mart again last week to sell Graeter’s in the local Wal-Mart stores in our home town where we would likely sell quite a bit.

But Richard Graeter, our CEO, is opposed to doing so for he does not feel that the two brands align. Call Wal-Mart what you want, but it is a mass merchant selling on price. Graeter’s is a hand crafted local ice cream that is dedicated to delivering quality unmatched in the industry in select retailers where ice cream aficionados expect to find the best of the best, where price is not the number reason for shopping. The two just do not align. There is something to sticking to your guns….

Intelligent loss of business…

Finally…I noted yesterday that Michael Sansolo and I were chatting about how Bill Mazer had been born 30 years later, he would’ve been an enormous star on ESPN or WFAN or any of the other all-sports format media ventures out there today. And you’re right … in many ways, he was the father of many of them.

MNB user Gary Loehr wrote:

Pretty sure Bill Mazer was on WFAN for a few years. I think he was one of many that was on after Imus and before Mike and the Mad Dog.

True. He actually hosted a lunchtime show, live from Mickey Mantle's restaurant on Manhattan's Central Park South, in the late eighties.

But my larger point is by that point - Mazer was born in 1920 - he was approaching age 70. Had he been in his forties when sports radio and ESPN became hugely popular, he might've had a very different career. Which is not to diminish what he did accomplish … because I'm one of those kids who used to listen to his late afternoon show on WNBC-AM in the mid-sixties.
KC's View: