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More comments in our "what's wrong with America" conversation…

One MNB reader wrote:

A big thank you for the Morning News Beat, it is a great addition to my mornings and no doubt to many others mornings. 

It’s not common for me to speak up, but I felt it important to add a different kind of comment to your take on the problem with America. 

The comments that you shared with us, and your own commentary as well, all expressed the same thing, that too many Americans have stopped caring. Multiple comments reinforcing the existence of the issue, but beyond calling it out there were not any calls to action. In the industries that we represent we have the privilege of touching the lives of practically every person in this country. Surely we can do more. More to model the correct behavior, to teach it, to encourage it. 

How do we help others do better, at home, at the workplace, in little interactions in our daily lives? I won’t pretend like I have the answers, and I’m not demanding any either. But I’m willing to bet there are people out there with more to offer in that regard. We all just need the courage to speak up, to call it out, and then to go further. 

Got the following email from MNB reader John Lacaria: 

Wow, Kevin! I watched your rant about what’s wrong with America and agreed that entitlement is a real problem. However, I was disappointed to see the “Your Views” letters you decided to give air to today.

From the “l can tell if a person is disabled by looking at them” to the “I’m a big man so I call people out, but I don’t want my (weak, fragile???) wife doing it” comments, I think you might be peddling in dangerous territory. After reading some of these comments I found myself questioning who is acting entitled. What happened to assuming best intentions?

I’d argue people who make assumptions about others are more likely to exhibit behaviors that are discriminatory. Besides, many cities allow delivery vehicles to use no parking zones for the purpose of making deliveries. Was your SUV driver just some poor gig worker trying to complete enough deliveries to put food on the table? Keep up the great work with Morning News Beat. You regularly show your strong sense of character and I’m sure you’ll take this opportunity to let your readers know you don’t condone discriminatory behavior.

Of course I don't condone discriminatory behavior.  But…

To be honest, I read your email and had to go back to see if somehow I'd let something get through in the letters that I had not intended.

Maybe I just read it differently than you did, but the reader who wrote … 

I get irritated when people who are physically able don’t put away shopping carts, drop their trash wherever they want, and the most irritating, people who park in handicapped spots and no parking spots like the large white SUV in the background of your video.  I regularly call people out who do these things (I don’t want my wife doing it) but I am a larger man and rarely has anyone wanted to physically challenge me.  What happened to common courtesies and looking out for your fellow human? 

… didn't strike me the same way it did you.  To me, he was just suggesting that there are people out there who park in handicapped spaces, or park their SUVs in spaces reserved for fuel-efficient vehicles, or men who park in spaces reserved for pregnant people, ignoring rules and/or social niceties.  I don't think he's wrong on that.  As for his being protective of his wife … maybe you could accuse him of being a tad gender-regressive, but I thought it was kind of sweet.  (Maybe I'm old-fashioned.)

As for the SUV in my video…the guy parked there, and went into Starbucks.  Then 4-5 passengers (family members, it appeared) jumped out and went into Starbucks.  And they were in there for at least 15 minutes.  This was just thoughtlessness, pure and simple.  (Keep in mind … all he had to do was pull up maybe 15 feet into an empty parking space, and we're not even having this conversation.)

MNB reader Steve Anvik took the conversation in a different direction:

Using Your ‘pulpit’ to call out perceived “rule breaking” is admirable .. Unless .. you’re Elon Musk, who is Really putting His money where His mouth is; by taking on his perception of rule breaking (“slanted content at Twitter”) to call that out. Not for thee, but ok for me? That is the progressive playbook chapter 1. So while I agree with You 100%, I also see Musk’s point 100%. We can both disagree on details of the way forward, but the starting points are closer than you think.

My quibble with Musk has nothing to do with any rule breaking he may be doing.  I have no problem with that … I think it is important to kill off some sacred cows from time to time and challenge conventional ways of doing business.

I do have a problem with his cavalier treatment of employees.  I do have a problem with what appears to be a knee-jerk approach to running Twitter.  And I have a real problem with the lack of moderation (in both senses of that word) that allows for - and I think sometimes even encourages - hate speech, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.  That's not rule-breaking … that's just plain irresponsible, in my view.

Just to be clear … Musk owns Twitter, so he can do what he wants.  He paid for the privilege.  (Way, way, way overpaid for it, in fact.)  But companies don't have to advertise on it, and people don't have to use it, if they find his ownership and approach to be offensive.  This isn't cancel culture.  It just means he isn't the only one with rights.

Responding to Michael Sansolo's column about backlash against self-service options at retail, one MNB reader wrote:

Yes, self-serve checkouts are here to stay (unfortunately for me, too).  Look at the basket sizes for the people that use these lanes.  I would like to see some type of info on the comparison.  My guess, and this is a personal assumption, they are much smaller than staffed registers.  If that is a true observation, what then is the real impact of self-serve?  From a community standpoint.  Bad indicator.  Keep your head down.  Don’t interact with anyone and get the heck out of the store.  From a business standpoint, less revenue going out the door.  Look at club stores.  They too have self-checkout, and the majority of those users have small orders too.  All the larger orders go through the staffed registers.  And yes, the shrink aspect is real.  How many people especially in the current economy don’t ring up items? 

So, the question becomes, what is the real savings to the business?  Less labor but more shrink, where is the tipping point?  How does a retailer provide service and become a point of differentiation?  I still say, staff the checkouts.  Create the atmosphere for interaction.  At slower times get the staff in the aisles.  Create as much opportunity to engage your customer.  Maybe, just maybe, those head downer, get out the store quick shoppers, will linger longer, enjoy a smile, and GFB… buy more goods. 

And from another MNB reader:

I agree with him. I don't like bagging, don't mind scanning so much BUT when I purchase certain items someone has to come over and okay the purchase anyway. Didn't save me anytime because now I can't move forward until I am approved to check out. AND when my local Walmart remodeled they got rid of most of the self checkouts that had conveyors, so I am trying to check out, bag, load my cart and not miss anything in the process. I end up frustrated. So I am being a cranky old lady and standing in line for the one cashier. If I am going to waste my time I would rather have someone else bag my groceries.