business news in context, analysis with attitude

I've often expressed the opinion that when retention bonuses get handed out, there ought to be money reserved for the folks on the front lines, who ultimately are responsible for whether a retail turnaround can be achieved. (As opposed to just giving the bonuses to people in the executive suite.)

One MNB user wrote:

I agree with you 100% regarding the bonuses for the front line people. The people who are at the “bottom” generally are the ones supporting the ones at the “top”. Personally, I think the ones on the front lines who deal with the customers every day should be given something as well for their hard work and effort. Every company is made up of people – both executives and sales associates (and every role in between). I think everyone should get a slice of the pie, even if some slices are bigger than others.

Regarding yesterday's piece about Amazon's Marketplace and how it is an enormous advantage in the e-commerce wars, MNB reader Herb Sorensen wrote:

Absolutely agree.  However, as good as Amazon is, as long as shoppers live in bricks houses they will be shopping in bricks stores.  Their expertise ALWAYS puts the shopper first.  I'm not aware of any other retailer that does that.

To reiterate something I wrote above: My premise is that ricks-and-mortar retailers should not be concerned that they all will be replaced by internet shopping.  However, they should absolutely behave as if this is going to happen.

It's good to get up in the morning as if your hair is on fire.

Last week, I got roundly criticized by some folks for a position I took on global climate change, with some folks suggesting that if I continued taking such positions - and criticizing people who I think are misguided on the subject - I was at risk of losing a substantial portion of my readership and, eventually, my business. (The subject came up when Chipotle said in an SEC filing that global climate change could create conditions in the future that might impact some product availability, forcing it to make menu changes.)

My short answer to that was that if I were going to worry about alienating people with my opinions, I'd probably have to choose a different business model.

Got a number of emails in response to this discussion…and while I don't want to belabor this point for too long, I did not want to leave the impression that the only people writing in were the folks who disagreed with my take on the subject.

MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

I have to weigh in on this “debate” that is going on over global warming.

Who do I want to believe, scientists who’ve spent years pouring over data, taking readings and studying history, or  political ideology spouted  by a talking head?

Now, no one is going to accuse me of being a tree hugger, but, I do feel some responsibility for the care of the  planet we live on.  If the scientific community has reached a consensus that we, people, mankind has engaged in behavior that is contributing to an unnatural climate change, we need to at least investigate why.  We need to at least take it seriously, instead of saying it doesn’t fit with our political agenda and say because it doesn’t fit our ideology it’s not true.

BTW, I love the quote, “You can have your own opinion, but not your own facts.”  Problem is, too many take opinion as fact.

From another reader:

“The reason we have been in such gridlock the last five years is that the art of compromise for the better good is nonexistent in government; apparently compromise is now equated with weakness.  You have a higher than average intelligence base among your readers, but when it always comes back down to the left side of the aisle as the root cause of all that is wrong with our great nation, they lose me.  I have been voting for 40 years, and I have always registered as no party or independent for precisely this reason.

We are all in this together.

We get it that weather goes through cycles, but people a lot smarter than me have real concerns regarding the changes that are experiencing.  We can either choose to ignore it, or address it.  If it is a “cycle” like the Dust Bowl, then things will improve; if this is a sign of more radical changes in our global climate and by changing what we burn to keep the lights on or commerce moving reverses these changes, what does it hurt to explore it?

It’s a jungle out there, kiddies; have a very fruitful day!

As always, keep bakin’, Kevin; keep bakin’…

Extra credit for quoting a Jimmy Buffett song…

And by the way, I agree with you. Liberals have plenty for which they can be legitimately be blamed. Not sure it is productive or accurate to blame them for everything.

MNB reader Ron Pizur wrote:

Good for you for bringing this debate up. I can agree with your detractors that the environment goes in cycles, like the economy, and we just have to ride it out. However I also agree with you that the speed at which the climate is changing and that it is happening at the same time as man's industrialization is just too coincidental to ignore.  The solution to nature is just not going to be solved by the U.S. alone, if at all. That being said it just makes good sense to mankind to be more responsible in how we treat our environment. 

I was just reading about Easter Island and how that civilization died out because they completely deforested the island. So not acting responsibly and not thinking about how your actions today will impact future generations is just shortsighted and silly. Eventually we will run out of coal, oil and natural gas and then what is the option. Why wouldn't we think about better solutions and try to move in a more responsible direction?

I think the people who are sticking their heads in the sand and criticizing anyone who is making money by trying to do something better for all of us are just modern day Easter Islanders.

From another reader:

Very well written and quite fun to read the entire debate.  It amazes me that someone would stop reading your posts because they don’t agree with you on a few points.  Stop reading when they get to Your Views, there is still a ton of information about retail and business.

MNB reader Peter Lee wrote:

Just wanted to say thanks for today’s MNB.  Today was one of the best.

Thoughts coming from today’s article that I had to share:

I’m amazed by how stupid, or more appropriate, ignorant some people can be.

I’m also amazed by how many ignorant people there are in the world.

And finally, realizing there are so many ignorant people in the world, it makes me tremendously nervous for my children’s future.

But I’m sure we will find a way to come to a consensus on how to face our biggest problems… or I hope we can…

I'm probably going to tick off a bunch more people with this, but I actually feel a lot of compassion for folks who find it difficult to deal with so much change in so many societal, cultural, religious, political, and even scientific areas. ("Don't pity us! We're right and you're wrong!" I can hear them saying.)

But change is hard to deal with, especially if you've been raised to believe that things are and ought to be a certain way, and that there is no room for compromise or discussion, because that way darkness falls. ("Damn right!" they're saying.)

But I guess that somehow I've been trained (by the Jesuits, though I cheerfully offer them plausible deniability) to believe that there are actually very few immutable laws, and pretty much everything else is open to change. ("That's your problem!" is the cry from those who disagree with me.) I think you're supposed to make the most of your own talents and abilities, to be true to yourself, to behave in a kind and ethical manner towards everybody, to be loving and supportive to your spouse, loving and nurturing to your children. For some, all of this involves a relationship with a deity, and for others, it means just being the best human you can be, and teaching your kids to do the same.

And that's pretty much it. Which I think maybe allows me to be more open to the idea that the climate seems to be changing and maybe we ought to do what we can on the off chance that we're contributing to the problem, or any of the other so-called radical notions that seem to challenge political/religious/cultural orthodoxy.

Interestingly, the discussion seemed to dovetail with a bunch of other stories, leading MNB reader Gary Loehr to write:

Wow, a lot of strong opinions coming out on a variety of topics.  What I don't get is the "if you disagree with me, I'll stop reading you" threats.  Part of the reason I read you is because I might learn something.  You don't learn from reading only those opinions that you already share.   The thing that makes an opinion an "educated opinion" is understanding all sides of the issue, then coming up with a position.   People need to loosen up a little.

And from MNB reader Andrew Turpin:

I’ve drafted a couple of messages before to send to you, in the spirit of the healthy debate, to challenge an opinion.  I’ve never sent because I felt that in the end, they wouldn’t add a ton of value.  But in reading your posts for the last few months, I’ve been constantly surprised by the diversity of your followers.  And while there are many T-rex (perhaps a bit older, not ready to accept new reality, and more than likely pretty conservative) types out there, I hope they see your side of the coin and can accept the difference of opinion without the vitriol that is often spewed.  It helps that I think I’m philosophically more aligned with your social views than I am say for your undying love of the ‘River’ (it’s a fantastic company that is totally game changing, but there are other interesting developments in retail and e-commerce that may warrant coverage).  Keep up the good work and stir the debate.  If nothing else it’s an entertaining way to be vicariously involved.

As I wrote last week, I fully expect that only 50 percent of the MNB readership is going to agree with me as much as half the time.

I'm okay with that. In fact, I embrace it, because that's what makes it worthwhile to get up in the morning and write the stories and read the emails.

Ultimately, I just want to keep the conversation lively, entertaining and illuminating.
KC's View: