business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader John Rand:

No offense that you missed the parking lot shooting at a Walmart in Maine. But probably it isn’t Walmart’s fault, or yours.

There have been over 240 mass shootings in the U.S. since the beginning of this year, which is nearly one per day. The pace is far above any previous year of which I am aware.

There are more mass shootings than days on the baseball schedule.  There are more gun deaths than traffic deaths per year. I noticed that last year more children under 19 died from gun deaths than from cancers; only  auto accidents caused more child deaths. According to the CDC gun deaths now outpace automobile accidents and only trail drug overdoses as a cause of early mortality for everyone.
It seems, to put it mildly, a problem for us all. You are certainly forgiven for not being able to keep track of them all.

MNB reader Scott S. Dissinger wrote:

I am not sure banning them is the issue. Although I do support bans on the military grade stuff.

Some interesting annual statistics…

14,000 die at the hands of others from guns (another 23,000 take their own lives with guns)

11,000 die at the hands of drunk drivers

37,000 from traffic accidents

88,000 from alcohol related issues

Do we ban guns, cars and alcohol?  To what degree do we allow the glorification/advertising of each?  Do we treat them like sugary cereals for kids?

I guess your answer depends on your relationship with the subject matter.  I think I remember that the alcohol ban was tried once before.

MNB reader Chris Weisert wrote:

Has anyone thought to look at the purchase of body amour? Seems like its use is pretty specific and a lot of these crazies are wearing it. I doubt those that truly need it on the good side of the law would not mind a vetting process (they most probably get this equipment through their employer anyway).
I know there are some that would argue the same for some of the guns and accessories for those guns, I just wanted to open up another conversation that maybe has not been explored.

And MNB reader Gloria Olson wrote:

I’m not surprised Walmart will continue to sell guns. This is typical Corporate America thinking: bottom line sales are more important than the lives of customers and employees.

MNB reader Kelly Dean Wiseman wrote:

Amen and bravo to not waiting for Washington anymore!

Yesterday we took note of a Bloomberg story detailing ways in which Amazon manipulates its site and pressures its vendors - all with the goal of assuring that it has the lowest prices on items for which it deems it important. It is, the story says, yet another example of behavior that could prove problematic when examined by antitrust regulators.

One MNB reader responded:

Personally I believe the only difference here is increased transparency that the practice is being done.  Large retail competitors have been monitoring prices and promotions for years.  Anyone who has been a CPG AE across the table from a buyer knows the heated conversation and ramifications of distribution and pricing that take place when they see the pricing or promotional price one of your colleagues has sold into the competitor.  This happened quite a bit at Walmart when when they caught a promotional price at a Hi-Low retailer.

We had a story yesterday about a new book written by a woman who worked for two weeks as an Amazon fulfillment center employee; while the work is tough, workers also say that “it’s one of the best jobs a person without a college degree or specialized skills could land.”

One MNB reader responded:

Yes it's very hard work, as is retail.  Understaffed stores, and we have to present a happy face to the customer, answering questions, etc while trying to stock our departments. Maybe it's just where I work, but it's not fun anymore…

MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

Maybe it is just me, but I find it a little disturbing that our definition of a good job has become primarily that it pays well over federal minimum wage. The Union movements of past days were fueled as much by working conditions as wages.
People do what they have to do to support their families and survive but at some point it almost always begins to be too much and they push back.  I’m thinking jobs with ambulances waiting outside because they know people are going to pass out from the heat, with managers isolating employees from each other to enhance productivity and treating them as if they aren’t smart enough to think might just qualify as a ticking bomb.

We also had a story the other day about how United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx are introducing Sunday deliveries as a way of keeping up with an e-commerce economy in which customers want everything tomorrow and retailers want to keep them happy, but that they’ll be paying the Sunday delivery folks lower wages than paid to weekday drivers.

Prompting one MNB reader to respond:

In today's MNB the last comment is from a reader stating traditional market economics points about paying people less to deliver on Sunday.  That could work because people will do it as a second job maybe, and are desperate.  In the old days, when you worked on weekends, at least with a union job, you'd get a premium.

But I think the point you were making, and the point the guy completely missed, is about optics.  The optics of this will be really bad.  Union organizers will make a point of it.  Etc.  Like your example of InstaCart but even better, about Uber or Door Dash, etc.
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