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The Happiest Place

August 28, 2014

I awoke this morning to the news that the Market Basket problem had been resolved.  After dropping my youngest at school, I stopped in.  What a treat!

It was like a reunion.  As I approached the entrance to the parking lot, there were signs thanking me and welcoming me back.  For the first time in a long time, there were cars in the parking lot.  I parked my car, grabbed a carriage (yes there were carriages in the parking lot at 8:00am), and headed into the store.  I was immediately greeted by an employee, “Welcome back.  Thank you for your support.”  I got this a lot.  Everyone did.  We were all smiles — employees and shoppers alike.  We won!

The meat case was sparse and there was no produce to speak of.  (There were no pumpernickel bagels.  I really miss the pumpernickel bagels.)  The rest of the store was well stocked and well staffed.  As I shopped, the meat case filled up.  It was very exciting to be in the store as it sprung back to life.  It was like Spring.  Spring had sprung at Market Basket.

Customers renewed acquaintances and shared war stories.  We shared knowing smiles and nods as we passed throughout the store, at the registers, and in the parking lot.

Today customers, employees, suppliers, and a CEO who loved them all prevailed over greedy shareholders while resisting overtures from the Teamsters, Occupy New Hampshire, and some really scummy politicians.  It’s a great day for the rest of us.   Stop in to congratulate these people and fill your cupboards.  The food tastes much better steeped in victory.

Obama’s America

August 22, 2014

The following are 30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed

  1. In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall. But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.
  2. According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.
  3. One out of every seven Americans rely on food banks at this point.
  4. One out of every four military families needs help putting enough food on the table.
  5. 79 percent of the people that use food banks purchase “inexpensive, unhealthy food just to have enough to feed their families”.
  6. One out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections”.
  7. Only 48 percent of all Americans can immediately come up with $400 in emergency cash without borrowing it or selling something.
  8. The price of food continues to rise much faster than the paychecks of most middle class families. For example, the average price of ground beef has just hit a brand new all-time record high of $3.884 a pound.
  9. According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now.
  10. The overall homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.
  11. The homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.
  12. According to one recent survey, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.
  13. The average age of vehicles on America’s roads has hit an all-time high of 11.4 years.
  14. Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.
  15. Amazingly, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job at this point.
  16. One recent study found that 47 percent of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” looking for a job.
  17. 36 percent of Americans do not have a single penny saved for retirement.
  18. According to one survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
  19. More than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year in wages.
  20. Only four of the twenty fastest growing occupations in America require a Bachelor’s degree or better.
  21. In America today, one out of every ten jobs is filled by a temp agency.
  22. Due to a lack of decent jobs, half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.
  23. Median household income in the United States is about 7 percent lower than it was in the year 2000 after adjusting for inflation.
  24. Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
  25. It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.
  26. According to one study, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.
  27. Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
  28. If the middle class was actually thriving, we wouldn’t have more than a million public school children that are homeless.
  29. If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.
  30. In terms of median wealth per adult, the United States is now in just 19th place in the world.

Obama Presidency Lifting Some…

August 21, 2014

Miss Me Yet?

George W. Bush is enjoying a renaissance of sorts as people grow weary of the failures and excuses of his successor.

In his 2008 convention speech, Barack Obama declared that as president he would clean up the mess created by “the failed presidency of George W. Bush.” Now many Americans say he has done a worse job in office than the man he replaced. A new Quinnipiac poll finds that a plurality rated Barack Obama the worst president in the past 70 years — worse even than Richard Nixon, who resigned in scandal. That is quite an achievement.

And, to add insult to injury, a new Gallup poll finds that confidence in the presidency has dropped from 51 percent when Obama took office to just 29 percent today (4 points lower than Bush at the same point in his presidency).


Gallup Poll

Patronize Walgreens

August 6, 2014

Wall Street killed Walgreens in part due to their decision not to exploit tax avoidance strategies employed by other companies.  Walgreens, like Market Basket, has placed ethics above profits and should be applauded.  Walgreens is my pharmacy and should be yours too!

from USA Today

Addressing the issue of whether Illinois-based Walgreens should shift its headquarters overseas as part of the deal with Alliance Boots, Wasson said officials and expert advisers at both companies carefully analyzed the potential risks involved.

Such a shift is known as a corporate tax inversion. It’s being considered by at least a dozen U.S. companies, because reincorporating in lower-tax locations overseas is one way to significantly cut the annual cost from the 35% top business tax rate in the U.S.

But Wasson told analysts Walgreens’ assessment found the potential risks of a headquarters shift “included potentially putting the company in a significantly worse position than if we had  not inverted at all, such as a protracted controversy with the IRS” and possible “litigation which could go on for three to 10 years” significantly complicating “everyday business planning.”

Walgreens also weighed the “harder to quantify” but equally significant risk of  “consumer backlash and political ramifications , including the risk to our government book of business,” said Wasson, referring to the millions of dollars in revenue the company gets from federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In a separate statement issued with Wednesday’s announcement, Wasson said “the company also was mindful of the ongoing public reaction to a potential inversion and Walgreens’ unique role as an iconic American consumer retail company.”

“In the end, the parties could not arrive upon a structure that provided the level of confidence required by the (Walgreens) board to ensure that the transaction could withstand almost certain intense protracted IRS scrutiny,” Wasson told analysts.

Sacking Demoulas

July 17, 2014

My first job was at the Shop’n’Save (Hannaford) in Seabrook.  It was a great job.  They has really smart managers who took great pride in product and presentation.  I was part of their transient work force.  We cam in for a few summers then went to college and got real jobs.

My second job was at Demoulas (Market Basket) in Seabrook.  Demoulas was not as polished as Shop’n’Save.  The store manager looked like he probably got his start sacking groceries.  If he did, good for him.  Rumor had it that he made $100,000 a year in salary plus as much in bonus running Demoulas’ flagship store.  Demoulas was a meritocracy.  If you sacked well, you got a shot at stocking.  If you stocked well, you got a shot at night crew.  The work force wasn’t transient.  Kids who were not going to college got an opportunity to be ‘full timers’ and a lot of those kids got a chance to be managers as Demoulas expanded throughout New Hampshire.  I love to run into a kid I sacked groceries with who is running his own store.

I run into those kids a lot because, as an adult, I have come to appreciate Market Basket for it’s value propositions — first rate product, great service, and terrific prices.

The Demoulas family has been a mess since I was a teenager.  Now the feud has resulted in the ousting of Artie as CEO.  This action has upset employees and customers of the grocer.  Employees have threatened an action if Artie is not restored as CEO.  The pretend CEOs have promised to replace employees who support Artie.  If they do that, a lot of other grocers will get better.  The board of directors (who owe their livelihood to Artie Demoulas) will meet Monday to discuss this matter.  I plan to call their switchboard tomorrow and let the operator know that I will not set foot in a Demoulas/Market Basket until Artie is reinstated.  If you would like to express an opinion on this, here is the number…

1 (978) 851-8000

The switchboard is open at 7:00am Monday-Friday.  Just politely inform the operator that you support the guy who has filled your shopping cart without emptying your wallet and will not patronize the company unless Artie is reinstated.

In this age of combative management-employee relations, it is rare that a corporation enjoys commercial success while satisfying its customers and sustaining its employees.  Artie Demoulas has done that.  Demoulas, Inc. will not.  Tell the ‘suits’ in the family, you support the grocer in the family.

Will Obama Save America?

July 15, 2014

If his presidency has this impact on 10% of the people who voted for him, Obama will honestly be able to claim to have made America a better place…


Broadcast Television

June 12, 2014

I had to take down the url and change the password because someone was recording shows.  Without controlling access to the device, the FCC might construe this as a public showing.  If you would like to borrow my antenna, send an email to me with full name.  If I can confirm that you are local, I will send you the url and password so that you have exclusive use until someone else requests access.

In May of 2010, I replaced Comcast with an antenna, Netflix, and Fairpoint high speed internet.  At that time, my my Comcast bill was $170 per month.  I pay $45 for Fairpoint and $8 for Netflix.  Over the course of four years, we have saved $5,616.  Comcast has probably raised rates in the last four years, so my savings has probably been greater.

My reason for changing was complicated.  After we lost power in 2008, I purchased a generator.  Initially I put an antenna in the attic so we could be entertained and informed during any future outage.  During the 2010 outage, we watched broadcast television for a week.  There were a lot of channels and quality was very good.  About this time, Comcast began their transition to digital cable.  We had one TV on a DVR and others simply plugged into the cable.  During the transition, Comcast moved many HD channels to frequencies that required a box.  When my antenna delivered more HD channels than box-less Comcast, I pulled the plug.

Since then, I have added DVRs and streamers.  At this point, we enjoy a better entertainment experience than we did when we had Comcast.  In Danville, you can expect to bring in 36 stations with a stationary antenna.  With a rotor, you can add another dozen stations by pointing to Portland or Londonderry (WBIN).

If you would like to sample our local broadcast offerings, feel free to ‘borrow’ my antenna.  Send me an email:  Include your address.

FYI, is a web interface to a DVR sitting in my basement.  Click on a show in the Home screen to watch it live.  Click on a show in the Guide screen to schedule a recording.  Watch the recordings in the My Shows screen.  We can also access the DVR using a Roku streamer or an android device, so I was able to watch the Red Sox from an airport in Detroit and catch the news from the side of my pool.  All of the channels except WENH (PBS 11) and WMUR (ABC 9) are received on a stationary 91XG uhf antenna.  WENH and WMUR are captured with a Y5-7-10 vhf antenna.



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