business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to our story about how Walmart handed out some bonuses and raised its US minimum wage because of what it said were benefits it would see from new federal tax laws, MNB reader Bill Hogan wrote:

The bad news! The tax break does little for S Corp food retailers— except put us at a bigger disadvantage. The 20% pass through after losing many of our present deductions- does not result in much in the way of tax savings. So, as we try to keep up- most of our wage increases will have to come from the bottom line. Wait, I thought that the intent was to help small business- the true job creators? Such false hope on my part. I should have known.

Regarding ongoing political debates in the UK and Italy about plastic bag bans, one MNB reader wrote:

This political football has been passed around for years. Bans have not worked and consumer costs have risen as a result.

Austin, Texas, for example, now has more plastic in the waste stream since the new reusable bags contain 4 times more plastic than the previous bags which were also reusable. Claiming these new bags are 100 percent recyclable is a lark since plastic grocery sacks have always been 100 percent recyclable. Plus these new bags are now being billed to the consumer as was predicted.

Recycling this product is still the answer and in areas where they have tried recycling it has always worked flawlessly. PC correctness continues to block the only viable solution because it doesn’t eliminate plastic and punish Big oil ! Hypocrisy at work.

Last Friday, we posted an email from a reader who wondered about my enthusiasm for All The President’s Men, a poster for which sometimes seen in the background when I do my “FaceTime” video commentaries from my office. The reason - Dustin Hoffman is in the movie, and he’s one of the people accused of sexual improprieties.

I wrote, in part:

There already is a cultural discussion taking place about art vs. the artist. Can we separate the two? When I was young, I probably would have argued that they must be separate. I’m not so sure anymore.

I always loved Woody Allen movies. Annie Hall and Manhattan are two of my favorites, and I often have quoted from The Front on MNB. But I just don’t think I can go to any of his movies anymore, and not just because they’re usually not very good. Because he seems so creepy, I can’t support him.

Same goes for Mel Gibson. And Kevin Spacey. I’m thinking that the same may go for James Franco. The list is growing.

The Dustin Hoffman accusations creep me out. Does that make All The President’s Men less of a classic, or make it less personally meaningful to me? I don’t think so, but there’s certainly a subtext to the movie now that wasn’t there before.

It is increasingly difficult to separate the art from the artist. This reckoning is just beginning, there are a lot of feelings to sort out and if nothing else, I think that in my own life, I am mostly going to try to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Time’s Up for any other approach, I think.

One MNB reader responded:

Your answer to the reader question about your All the Presidents’ Men poster struck a chord. As I sift through the repercussions of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and the vile acts by, and attitudes of, the men who made the movements necessary, I also struggle with how to separate art from the artist. American Beauty will now probably be too creepy to watch again because of the relationship it depicts between a teenage girl and a middle-aged man. But what about The Usual Subjects?
Anyway, these musings of mine don’t do justice to your full answer, which describes how I feel, and what I’d like to do in response, better than I could have put it myself, or have read or heard from anyone else.
Well said.


As I thought about this question, I found myself putting into a different context. Let’s say that there was a CEO of a major public company who over his career had doubled or tripled sales and profits, done a wonderful job for investors, and even was beloved by employees for what was seen as a progressive and inclusive leadership approach. And then, he was accused of serial sexual harassment.

First of all, he’d be immediately suspended or, probably, fired. And, his reputation would be in tatters … it is hard to imagine how he could rehabilitate himself, or get another CEO job with a public company … no matter how good he was at growing sales and profits. He’d be done.

Of course, maybe this wouldn’t happen. For lots of reasons. Maybe people would never know, because victims were paid off for their silence. Or maybe there would be a high-level publicity effort designed to discredit and/or demonize the victims. Or maybe nobody would care, because sales and profits and investor dividends were deemed more important. (Though I think this latter possibility is less likely these days, and that’s a good thing.)

Now, I’ve been around enough movie sets and theater companies in my life to know that they’re not like corporate offices, nor should they be. If they were, the art they generate would be a lot less interesting and entertaining. But that said, no matter who you are or what industry you work in, if you have power of any kind you have a responsibility not to abuse it. Full stop. End of story.
KC's View: