business news in context, analysis with attitude

Earlier this week we took note of a Los Angeles Times report that in Southern California, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has adopted new regulations - said to be the first in the nation - designed to cut down on pollution and reduce the health risks in communities where 'massive logistics warehouses' have been built.

With the opening of these warehouses, the Times writes, have come "increasing numbers of diesel trucks … plying routes closer to homes, schools and neighborhoods," which tend to be "disproportionately Black and Latino … already burdened with some of the dirtiest air in the nation."

I noted that One of the passages that I found most telling in the Times story was this one:

"A report by the Inland Empire-based People’s Collective for Environmental Justice and the University of Redlands examined e-commerce sales to find that the communities with the greatest concentrations of warehouses, such as Ontario, Fontana and San Bernardino, do the least online shopping among large cities in the Greater L.A. region."

One MNB reader responded:

This is just throwing legislation against a perceived problem without thinking it through. 

First of all, this is not a victimized issue.  It affects everyone.  So take that off the table … Here could be a great example of how both public and private would work together for solutions.  Government wants solar?  Ok, provide incentives.  The same for electric fleets and charging stations.  Provide incentives, not punishments.  As far diesel engines, great progress has already begun in this area with ULSF diesel and DEF additives.  DEF is standard for all newer diesel engines since at least 2017 which changes diesel emissions to nitrogen and water.  ( you could run your truck in the garage.)  Then ULSF (ultra low sulfur fuel ) which has been mandated for many years too, which dramatically reduce emissions.  Which BTW law enforcement check as part of truck stops through a dye test.  So let’s ask both sides of the aisle, where is the need for additional legislation??? 

Not sure I agree that there are no victims here.  The story makes clear that there are - and the regulations are designed to look out for the communities where people are being victimized.  In this case, government is acting as those communities' voice.

Doing it without regulation would be preferable.  I'm just not persuaded that it would get done.

On Monday we reported on a Washington Post piece suggesting that another way to look at the current jobs crisis is that "there is a great reassessment going on in the U.S. economy. It’s happening on a lot of different levels. At the most basic level, people are still hesitant to return to work until they are fully vaccinated and their children are back in school and day care full time. For example, all the job gains in April went to men. The number of women employed or looking for work fell by 64,000, a reminder that child-care issues are still in play.

"There is also growing evidence - both anecdotal and in surveys - that a lot of people want to do something different with their lives than they did before the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic psychological effect on workers, and people are reassessing what they want to do and how they want to work, whether in an office, at home or some hybrid combination."

One MNB reader responded:

I do agree that we need not place blame on just one part of this puzzle, however we do need to assign responsibility to all for getting people back to work.  To have both the private and public sectors working in conjunction with a singular goal of getting people employed is the only way our economy will come back and grow.  Right now, these two opposing “towers” are not working in conjunction.  Businesses are reevaluating their needs and working to stay afloat since the forced economic shut down, government is doling out free money without requirements.  Total opposite focuses.  The best, and longest lasting approach may be to have the public “tower” assist the private “tower”, enabling them to provide training and opportunities for the long haul.  Just throwing money at people, is such a near sighted approach, that has zero potential of sustainability.  Call it the “Work for Welfare” program.

Reacting to the poem about tortillas, one MNB reader wrote:

I know what I'm having for dinner tonight!

Right?  There's nothing like a warm, fresh tortilla.  Getting hungry just thinking about it … especially the tortillas they use for the fabulous breakfast burritos at the Enchanted Sun booth at the PSU Farmers Market … my stomach is rumbling just thinking about them.

Finally … Axios reported yesterday that "new rankings from the Axios/Harris 100 poll — an annual survey to gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in the country — show that brands with clear partisan identifications are becoming more popular."

The survey suggests that Patagonia - which has been aggressive in its promotion of environmental causes in ways that have veered into the political - is the top brand in America.  But it isn't just companies with liberal positions that have benefitted.  Companies like Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby and Goya either moved up on the list or appeared on it for the first time.  (Awareness doesn't always translate into trust, though:  MyPillow has high awareness, but a negative reputation, the survey showed.)

MNB reader Howard Schneider wrote:

I’m a little ambivalent here. I do support companies whose values reflect my own, and I know that choosing brands based in part on their values (and actions) is a growing and powerful trend – and mostly, a good thing.

But I feel some regret at the increasing politicization of almost every aspect of American life. If I’m in the grocery store wearing my mask and my Patagonia jacket, and the unmasked customer next to me is buying Goya products, will we feel just a little bit of resentment toward each other based on our assumptions about the political statements our brand loyalties imply? Sorting people into tribes sporting signals as recognizable as street gang colors makes it harder and harder to find common ground.

I think that masks are a different issue … there is a public health issue involved (which now is not a problem because of the CDC ruling).

But I have to be honest.  I'm trying to think of a time when I ever looked to see what other people were buying, and passed judgement on them.  I never even think about it.

You're right - if we get to the point that fights break out between people buying Ben & Jerry's and people buying Goya, we've probably gone down a political/cultural rabbit hole from which there may be no return.  

I'd like to say that such a situation is unlikely.  But on the other hand, we know that there are morons who are fighting over trading cards, so anything is possible.  Maybe even probable.