business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to the story the other day about the Los Angeles seafood monger who is finding that doing business with Amazon Fresh there is a good thing for business, one MNB user wrote:

Interesting that the seafood supplier found the extra sales to be a positive so far for his business.  I always find the more interesting and elusive number to be whether he found it profitable to have those extra sales after netting out the share of his margin that Amazon Fresh has to charge him and the difficult to determine factor of how much of the new sales (presumably a minority, but not necessarily negligible) is from his own cannibalized volume (the sales that would have made it to his shop without the delivery option and paid full price to him).

The more geographically distant the new sales, the more likely they’ll be incremental new sales, of course, though still at a significantly lowered margin.  Hope it works for him long term.

Yesterday, MNB took note of a Seattle Times report on the ongoing battle in Washington, DC, over the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require the charging of sales taxes on all internet purchases. The Times reported that the battle has turned into a multi-million dollar conflict between special interests and highly paid lobbyists. Those in favor of the bill say that it will level the playing field between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers, and would like the exemption level to be set a lot lower ... The bill is supported by the likes of, Walmart and Best Buy, and opposed by eBay, the Heritage Foundation and other organizations.

And, I wrote:

The people opposed to the bill appear to be reflexively anti-tax, and at the very least feel that it ought not apply to any retailer doing less than $10 million in annual sales ... Those in favor of the bill say that it will level the playing field between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers, and would like the exemption level to be set a lot lower.

Which prompted MNB reader Ron Rash to write:

It is interesting that those opposed to the tax are painted as being "reflexively anti-tax", but those for the bill are not described in the same article as being "reflexively pro-tax."

If that is the prevailing attitude it sounds like the lobbyists for the tax are beating up the lobbyists against the tax.

Point taken. I may have allowed my own bias to slip into that characterization.

I do think that a lot of the folks opposing the tax are "reflexively anti-tax," believing that pretty much all taxes are anti-growth. I think the bill probably makes sense, but I'm certainly not reflexively pro-tax. I just try to keep an open mind.

I got an email yesterday posing the following question:

Can you help me understand why we cannot have our comments posted on your site at our discretion? We can leave a comment but it has to be accepted by yo to be posted.
You are the proprietor so you can do as you please – but you speak of transparency all of the time and I am curious where transparency fits in to your model?

I've always been very transparent about the fact that "Your Views" is moderated….I get to choose the topics that get discussed and which emails get posted.  I try to be fair to all opinions, especially the people who disagree with me, but I also retain the right to not run emails that I think are gratuitous, overly personal (except against me, in which case I don't much care how personal they get), or don't move the conversation forward in a way that I think is helpful.  This is the way it has been for almost 12 years, and I get few complaints.  Mostly, people seem to like the idea that it isn't a bulletin board where people can say what they want, something that many people find to be a waste of their time.

Speaking of moderated discussions ... I'm not quite sure why I'm allowing this to go on, except that I find it kind of perversely amusing.

We've had an email exchange the last couple of days that goes back to a video we ran that spotlighted how sad it is that people have allowed cell phones to dominate their lives, even to the point of inhibiting actual human contact.

A lot of people liked the video, but one reader decided to use it to explain his "rules" for anyone who goes out with him, with no negotiation allowed. And yesterday, challenged by me on being so dictatorial, he wrote:

There are plenty of desperate single moms looking for a meal ticket who will lower themselves to going out with me.  I make it very clear beforehand phones are to be turned off or left in the car.  They know this going in and have plenty of opportunity to opt out.   It might be 2013 but when someone is with me its 1963.  Oddly I've found the worst offenders are the women over 50.  The women under 25 are actually the most obedient.

Lots of reaction to this, as you might expect.

Normally, I would think this guy was putting you on.  Your comments are spot on.  He sure is smug about his lack of class, grace, or appreciation of others.  I feel for any woman who would debase themselves enough to be in his company—if there really are any.  Once people get as delusional as he seems to be, reality isn’t quite as real any more.

This guy doesn’t need a woman in his life.  He’d be lucky to have a dog. 
And I thought all the Neanderthal men lived in DC.  Then again, maybe he does too!

Wow, I’m a single mom, farthest from desperate, never looked for a meal ticket and one who would personally tell Moron, “My son is the most important thing I’ve ever created in life, his cellphone, my cellphone – lifelines!”.  Oh, yah, I’m over 50 and obedient should never be used for a partner in a relationship, it is not a dictatorship, MORON.

Unfortunately there’s nothing to be done about men like David Livingston (good guess?).  They make me physically ill.  But there’s no changing their world view.  And some of them are young, too.
The best we can do is show this to our daughters.  Warn them that men like this exist.  And advise them never ever to befriend, date, work for, marry or in any way associate with these disturbed individuals.

As a former “single mom”, the reason I became single is because I found life desperately better for both myself and my child away from idiots like him. Whatever is popping up on the date’s phone is obviously way more enticing than anything he has to offer.

I happen to be one of those single moms he described.  I will categorically submit that a) I am not "desperate" (a dog can be much better companion, ask Harry Truman) and b)  I do not need a meal ticket, since I provide that for myself and my children.   
I agree that it is rude to check your cellphone constantly during a date.  I know, it's been done to me.  However, I humbly submit that as the single mother of a 16 year old, I would not turn off my cellphone for him or anyone.  I don't know of any single father that would do so either.  
I can only hope that he does not inflict his misery (for surely he is a miserable person) on those he works with and/or for.

Just thought I would provide some perspective after the typical comments from User X.  If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon of internet “trolls”, then I would look it up.  I suspect you have one living under your metaphorical bridge – that last comment from him seems so absurd that I question its very basis in ever happening.  It’s also likely he actually acts nothing like this in ‘real life’ nor really believes this nonsense – it’s all for the thrill in the land of the internet.  While frustrating to deal with, I try to keep in mind most of these people are smoke and mirrors and few exist in the business world as they may depict themselves online.  Thank goodness.  Keep smiling and don’t let trolls get you down!

“Women under 25 are actually the most OBEDIENT”!!?? Maybe this guy should be dating dogs if he thinks his dates should be obedient. WOW.

Regarding the reader’s comments about cell phones and dating, he said “It might be 2013 but when someone is with me its 1963.” He may wonder why he is still single and dating – because he thinks in 1963 terms. I, for one, wouldn’t tolerate this thinking and I know a great many other women who wouldn’t either. I’m in my mid-30s and dating. On occasion I do look at my phone while on a date, as does my date. Get over it.

Finally, the fellow who wrote the original email (and yes, those of you who guessed his name were right on the money), got back to me one more time:

Maybe we on on two different planets but I just don't think its polite to talk or text in church, at funeral, at family dinners, on dates.   Or worst of all, during a passionate moment.  If someone is that addicted to their electronics, its not going to work.  A person cannot serve two masters.  Do the math.  Your video you posted a few days ago was very eye opening.  The phone has become an idol that people worship, taking their focus off of more important things.    My time is important and I don't want it wasted listening to someone trying to tell their kids how to make macaroni and cheese.

I think you probably got yourself in trouble with "obedient." And probably with "desperate single moms."  Nobody is arguing with the notion that turning off one's cellphone from time to time is a good idea, nor with the idea that common courtesy ought to be observed by everyone, in business as well as in personal relationships.  Where I think - and the vast majority of MNB readers, if the email so far is to be believed - you went too far was in the way you decided that you were going to dictate iron-clad rules.  Consideration cuts both ways … and being available to one's kids is not necessarily the same thing as being addicted.

Imagine, if you will, that you are dating a single parent who has not gone out a lot, and his/her kids are not yet comfortable with the idea of he or she going out.  (i'm using both male and female pronouns on purpose.  I don;t think this is a gender-specific issue … though I suspect there are more men who are morons about this stuff than women.  Just a guess.)   That kid may call to find out how to make macaroni and cheese, but really that kid needs to be reassured about something else entirely.  The ideal response might not only be to welcome the idea that the mom would take the call - I think single parents probably worry a lot about how their kids and dates are going to get along - but to quickly schedule a time when the parent, the date and the kid could get together to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

I also think that if your dates are using their cell phones during passionate moments, it clearly indicates that you are doing something wrong.

Okay, I think we're done with this. Like I said, I find it perversely amusing. But even perverse amusements have to end sometime.
KC's View: