business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, we took note of an Associated Press report that the Massachusetts Food Association has said that it could support a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that is being considered by lawmakers there if a longer-phase in time than 3-4 months is adopted. The trade association seems to feel that a statewide ban is preferable to a patchwork of local regulations that makes it hard on companies operating in a number of communities. But they also seem to feel that taking an approach similar to New York - which recently implemented a ban, but gave retailers a year to get ready for it - makes more sense.

One MNB reader responded:

This is crony capitalism at its best, or worst I guess. Same thing happened here in California. Retailers working with the state government and environmentalists to ban plastic bags. Why? Not for to save the whales my friend. No, No, No. Environmentalists get their way, and supermarket retailers get to turn one of their biggest supply expenses into a revenue stream. Go figure.

I confess that I have trouble seeing why this is a bad thing. If legislation can be implemented that is good for the environment - I happen to like the ideas of saving the whales - that doesn’t hurt retailers and in fact may even be good for their bottom lines, I’m enough of a capitalist to think that this is a good thing.

Crony capitalism at its worst, it seems to me, is when the entire goal is to line certain people’s pockets. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

On another subject, from MNB reader Anne Hubele:

CVS isn’t really interested in my health or they would have hand sanitizer lotion or wipes readily available as you enter/exit the store.    Had the unpleasant experience of shopping at CVS this past winter at the peak of the cough/cold season.   Quite a few shoppers sneezing and blowing, the guy in line in front of my obviously very sick and purchasing an assortment of OTC cough/cold remedies, but I had to ask the cashier (before I picked up the stylus to sign for my credit card purchase) for some hand sanitizer.   They had it – behind the counter, for the employees. Nice. I’m not really a germaphobe, but I think most people would agree that a high percentage of sick people shop at drug stores. Even my local IGA store has hand sanitizer wipes at the entrance!

Consider your concerns communicated to the folks at CVS.

Yesterday, MNB reported on data showing that if the Trump administration follows through with its threat to shut down the US-Mexico border over immigration issues, it could have an enormous impact on what food stores are able to sell, and in turn, what people are able to eat. Among the products that we’ll run out of - maybe in as quickly as three weeks - are avocados, which would then create a guacamole shortage.

I commented, in part:

Forget the political implications of all this. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve just crossed the line. We’re going to have hoarding, maybe guacamole lines stretching as far can see, with people only allowed to buy guac on specific days, depending on their birth date. From there, it will be inevitable … Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! 40 years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

MNB reader Jim Huey responded:

I loved the Ghostbusters reference, one of my favorite comedies of all time.

Although I am not old enough to have experienced the gas lines, when I was in school we still studied such things in History class. I appreciate your hyperbole as it sheds light on the unintended consequences of our actions. No matter which side of the aisle we stand on I think we can agree that our elected officials do not always think about these unintended consequences. If they did (in this case the Trump administration) I would expect some sort of news release that acknowledges the downside but makes a case for why the measure needs to be enacted anyway. Show some empathy but appeal to their patriotic pride. If politicians really believe what they are doing is for the best, this should work, but all too often what we get are mandates that smack of “we know what is best for you so just do it”.

I don’t want to be over-sensitive about my age here, but the comment that you are not old enough to have experienced gas lines but studied them in history class may be one of the meanest things ever written to me by an MNB reader.

Well, not really. But it was a dose of cold reality.
KC's View: