business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader David Fischer:

You've written a number of stories about Target's grocery efforts, here's an observation that I made this last weekend.

On Thanksgiving Eve, I went to Fred Meyer to do some last minute grocery shopping. The store was packed with people as you would expect on the busiest grocery shopping day of the year.

Afterwards I went to Target to pick up some personal items. I like going to Target for those items since they have a better selection and lower prices than Fred Meyer. I wandered over to the grocery section, which was nearly empty. I looked around and realized that you could buy anything you needed for a thanksgiving meal at Target. So it got me thinking, why are so few people buying their food at Target?

Here's the revelation I had. Target's problem isn't so much selection, rather it's perception. Yes, their produce selection needs help. And they don't carry much in the way of meat but they have enough for most people. Not having a deli or bakery probably isn't a deal killer. The problem is that they shove the department to the far end of the store. Out of sight, out of mind. It sends a message that grocery is an afterthought at Target.

So imagine if you were to walk into Target and the first thing you see is the food department with a nice produce section to entice you. By flipping apparel and food, Target might just be able to turnaround the department. Hiring the most brilliant grocery merchant will probably have little impact when visually food seems irrelevant at Target. It's at least worth a test.

Last week, MNB took note of a New York Times report that federal judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the Eastern District of Texas has ruled that the Obama administration's Department of Labor "exceeded its authority" when it expanded "by millions the number of workers who would be eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay," raising the salary limit to salary limit below which workers automatically qualified for overtime pay to $47,476 from $23,660. Mazzant issued a nationwide temporary injunction preventing implementation of the rule, and the Times writes that it seems likely that he will strike down the rule permanently once he has considered the case on its merits."

I commented, in part:

I'm not sure what the number should be, but it does occur to me that the previous $23,660 ceiling is just three grand higher than the national poverty level for a three-person household. My point being that $23,660 doesn't go very far these days, and that when people have to work overtime for that sort of salary without any extra pay, it doesn't seem very fair, and certainly creates an environment in which employers can exploit employees. As to whether the Labor Department should be making such changes ... well, I guess this a decision up to the courts.

One MNB user responded:

I agree that it is unbelievably unfair that workers are expected to work overtime for such little compensation.  I’ve read many articles on this and have another take on the many companies that have come forward to say that their labor costs will go up for a combined millions of workers:  You have a business model that requires and exploits employees to work overtime without compensation.  This is morally wrong and I hope the law is changed.  How could this be legal?

The answer, I think, is that one man's exploitation is another man's end-of-year bonus for keeping labor costs down.

Got the following email from MNB reader Michael Eardley:

My wife and I went to see Arrival after your review, what an awesome movie! Still attempting to think it all out and I am sure I will be watching it again numerous times in the future.

Outstanding direction and filming!

Reminded me of the theme running thru a number of Kurt Vonnegut’s books years ago (you and I were both In Catholic grade/high school). He wrote about the visitors to the earth who described humans way of looking at time as “looking at life thru a pipe” only seeing one piece of life instead of looking it in totality. He was such a great writer/author.

I'd forgotten that line from "Slaughterhouse-Five." You're right. It is a good one. And I fear that too many of us these days are looking at the world through a pipe, seeing only what we want to see, assuming that the opinions with which we agree are the only legitimate opinions out there.

This is how cultures die.
KC's View: