business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to a story last week about the generation-rooted gap that seems to exist between what young workers want and what some employers are willing to offer, MNB reader Rich Barle wrote:

The headline should read “Younger workers have always had a gap between work expectations and reality (and the trend continues)”.  The following might sound like a “Who’s on 1st spin off” but….

When you are first starting out, you always think you know more than you do, faster than you do, and you don’t realize what you don’t know until you are older and have life experiences of ups and downs for you to realize that you didn’t know as much as you thought you did when you were younger.  It was that way when I started out back in the dark ages, and it hasn’t changed, and will likely never change.  It’s common for a generation to say that the generation after them are lazy, entitled, not smart, etc. and that will likely never change.  Our parents did it to us and now we’re doing it to our kids.  I’ve met a number of hard working younger kids (my daughters included) that are very hard working and ambitious, just like I’ve worked with people 50+ that have less than stellar work ethic, so it goes both ways.

Regarding the cashless store debate, MNB reader Tim Moman wrote:

I like they idea that has been raised previously in your blog … only Amazon Prime members can go in. Now the store has “club status” and I bet there is a legal loophole somewhere for that as it relates to being cash-free. Also, anyone shelling out the prime membership dues .. likely has some association with a bank .. therefore they are “Banked”.

Kate McMahon wrote a piece last week about how she was less than impressed by the new price cuts at Whole Foods, which prompted one MNB reader to write in, linking her story to the speculation about Whole Foods moving into abandoned Sears locations:

I compare retail meat prices as a part-time job. I have been monitoring Amazon's "lowering prices at Whole Foods" and I assure you that this is a relative term. Other than the fact that Whole Foods offers a clean store with a variety of expensive foods, I truthfully do not understand why anyone would want to shop there! Their prices a sky high. The clientele that shops there appear to be upper middle to upper income levels which begs the thought that this is more status than anything else. (Probably a little to do with location.) With this in mind I can't see WF looking at many closed locations, of the listed stores, as a possible location for a "bricks and mortar" location. Their appeal is high-end and truthfully I can't imagine many of the closed locations fit that scenario. Just my 2 cents.

On the subject of concerns about Amazon personnel listening - via Alexa-powered devices - to the people who own and use them, one MNB reader wrote:

Feels like there’s been just a little too little outrage on the ‘Alexa is listening’ topic. One of the more insidious, dismissed as ridiculous Orwellian conspiracy theories turns out to be true!

We've been taping over the cameras on our laptops, now I suppose someone will make some money coming up with a way to defeat the ambient listening mode of Alexa. Hate to think which of the remaining 3 senses (smell, touch, taste) will be secretly deployed next.

Separately, I am now regretting calling Alexa a bitch all those times when I thought she wasn’t listening.

MNB reader Tim Phillips wrote:

For many years now I have been trying to convince my better half to place an Echo in our home to assist in our daily activities. She has shut me down at “hello” due to her concerns about our privacy and what the Echo may capture in its memory.

She (as usual) has been absolutely correct on this. Amazon has not been forthcoming with its consumers and she feels very justified with her decision on this. This product will never show up in any of our homes or those of our family. To me they have been a bit shady in their dealings on this. I am a passionate Prime member and viewer of their content but also think differently about them now and it may impact my transaction with them.

And finally, regarding the contretemps between Amazon and some of its competitors - Amazon challenged them to raise their minimum wages, and they challenged Amazon to actually pay federal taxes - one MNB reader wrote:

I am in agreement with most of your comments regarding Amazon and I am a huge Amazon customer and Prime member. However I am shocked by the US Corporate Income Tax issue of 11 Billion in profits with a tax refund of over 100 million.

I have no doubt that Amazon pays corporate income taxes in some states and they obviously return millions in collected sales taxes to various governments and agencies and in fact they may pay corporate income taxes in some other countries. But a tax refund from the federal government of the USA on profits of 11 Billion?????? How is that supposed to make me feel about the deficit, about what I pay in Fed taxes, about the poor infrastructure in this country, about the high cost of health care, etc, etc, etc.

I am rethinking my attachment to Amazon in spite of the benefits that they offer me as a shopper.

I also fully realize they are using legal means to avoid paying the taxes. This is about our tax laws, about fairness and equity, about building a better world not just a bigger more intrusive company. For me it becomes a moral issue.

I would totally agree (especially today) that the US tax system needs to be overhauled.

But I have an admission to make. I have never, ever paid more taxes than I’ve been required to because of any moral or ethical concerns.
KC's View: