business news in context, analysis with attitude

We've had some discussion here in recent days about the case of an Albertsons baker who refused to inscribe a birthday cake with the words, "Trump 2016." After the customer drew attention to the incident on social media, local TV stations picked up the story, and then it went national.

My original comment:

This stuff just makes me nuts. You're a baker. Bake the freakin' cake, and write whatever the customer wants on top of the cake, assuming it isn't profane or vulgar. This goes for gay weddings and presidential endorsements. Writing something on top of a cake does not constitute a personal endorsement.

But I was challenged on this, by a reader who wrote:

Kevin, I’m curious if you have ever refused an advertiser to your site? It is that baker's constitutional right to deny a customer. The customer’s rights have not been infringed upon. In fact, if I use the knowledge I have gained from reading your blog, that customer should find a baker who will do it, or start her/his own bakery and develop a niche catering to issues other bakers don’t want to. I don’t understand why you don’t take the stance “Why doesn’t the customer just go to another baker and not make a big deal out of it?”

I responded that the customer clearly has the right, and probably would be well-advised, to just go to another baker. But I'm not clear that Albertsons would be happy about losing business because of one of its employees' political opinions ... this could be a slippery slope.

And I think that's a difference between MNB and this Albertsons bakery. MNB is very much a reflection of my opinions, feelings, taste, whims and biases ... so when I've turned down advertisers, it is because I think the message is inconsistent. I'm not sure that's the case at the bakery.

However, another MNB reader disagreed:

I think you are off base on your response in saying that writing something on a cake does not imply personal endorsement, yet placing a banner ad on your site would.  I would argue that every single cake that a baker makes is just as much of an advertising piece (call it a tiny edible billboard for his business) as placing that banner ad on your site.  In that sense, refusing to decorate a cake with a message that he does not support is no different than you refusing the tobacco advertising based on your personal beliefs.

While I applaud the notion that a baker in a supermarket should feel that every product he or she makes is a reflection of their personal taste and opinions, I'm just not sure this is the case. And by the way, when I worked for other people and companies - in newspapers, magazines, video and online - I could not expect that those properties would be a direct and consistent reflection of my opinions.




Regarding Walmart's plans for self-driving shopping carts, MNB user Brian Blank wrote:

I think you may be confusing self-driving shopping carts with the existing shopping cart status quo when you describe the “chaos” you imagine.  From my experience in the aisles and parking lots, I think even if shopping carts become self-aware and rise up against us, it will still be an improvement over the way things are.




We got a number of responses to Kate McMahon's column yesterday about the outrageous prices being charged for EpiPens.

One MNB user disagreed with Kate's outrage:

Why would you even care about the cost of EpiPen? You have no right to complain about what profit or salary someone is paid. Let's try this, an iPhone cost $15 to make but sells for $600, what is the difference? Hillary Clinton charges $250,000 to speak, I have not heard you complain about that fee. Same profit but no one complains.

You also never mentioned Adrenaclick as a cheaper alternative to EpiPen. The next time you complain about the cost of something you need to remember simple economics, supply and demand. All the complaining in the world will not change that.

By the way, I use and carry the EpiPen as well, I have no problem paying $600.00 because I'm grateful something is around that can save my life in an emergency. There is no need for me to look the gift horse in the mouth.


But another MNB reader wrote:

I too join in the outrage. I don’t have an epi pen but I have asthmatic allergies and I know what it is like with the ton of bricks on your chest squeezing your air passages to a pin hole and the struggle to get a little bit of air. How would CEO Heather Bresch otherwise have otherwise behaved had she and her family been in an anaphylactic crisis?  She does not “get” what she is doing to kids and their parents.

I blame the b schools for this Greed training.  They will need Epipens in hell...


MNB reader Bob Thomas had a one-word response:

BRAVO!

MNB reader Timothy Bastic wrote:

Well stated, really tired of overcompensated executives especially when they take advantage of a situation that affects people’s health and ultimately their lives!  This totally unacceptable an inexcusable.  I am in business to make a profit as well but not by overcharging due to a non-competitive environment.

MNB reader Paige c. Grunnagle wrote:

My two year old son was diagnosed with nut allergies this year.  And lucky us, we have three locations where he receives care so we wanted 3 sets of pens to be safe.  We settled for 2 and lots of daily shuffling because of the outrageous price. 
 
Mostly, I wanted to tell you that I loved your quote at the end of the post.  And yes, it really is the best book out there.


That quote, at the end of Kate's column, was this:

“For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”

MNB user Tom DeMott wrote:

Thanks for quoting scripture, there are many good business lessons in this Book for all of us. It’s sad to see that greed seems to drive many individuals in business and in life.

Can I get an "amen?"
KC's View: