Re: “Plan is raising banks’ anxiety,” Jan. 27:
Manny Korman of Buckingham Research Group can’t be serious when he says that large investment banks “are meritocracy-oriented organizations that like to have a free hand to make their own fortunes.”
The concept of meritocracy flew out the window when the Big Boys ran their companies into the ground, giving the federal government the choice of using our money to bail them out or allowing the entire U.S. economy to go into free fall.
If meritocracy were truly in play, the top-earning 20% of the people at every one of those banks would be gone, out of a job, and stripped of every asset they owned in order to pay back part of the billions they lost of other people’s money.
Sam’s Club layoffs raise moral issues
Re: “Wal-Mart to cut 11,200 employees at Sam’s Club,” Jan. 25:
One of the world’s largest employers with billions of dollars in annual profits, Wal-Mart already has been known for seriously underpaying its employees. Now it sinks lower by snatching 11,200 of its low-paying positions -- most of them jobs demonstrating products and handing out food samples to customers -- and outsourcing that work, possibly to even lower-wage earners!
How can I accept, in all good conscience, food from a person I believe isn’t earning enough for three square meals a day and a roof over their head in California? May I take the sample and watch them eat it as my daily good turn?
Simple math would demonstrate to these extremely intelligent Sam’s Club executives (who are certainly worth their weight in gold) that living off the California minimum wage is akin to human slavery.
May ye profit a hundred-fold!
Put ‘Avatar’ sales in perspective
Re: " ‘Avatar’ close to sinking ‘Titanic’ record,” Jan. 25:
Why do people insist on comparing film grosses of today to film grosses of yesteryear? It’s totally unfair to compare “Avatar” with “Titanic” when the ticket prices were vastly different. If you’re going to compare, you have to adjust for inflation.
Entertainment Weekly does it right. “Avatar’s” adjusted gross in the U.S. and Canada is far from cracking the top 10. The list remains:
1. “Gone With the Wind”
2. “Star Wars”
3. “The Sound of Music”
4. “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”
5. “The Ten Commandments”
8. “Doctor Zhivago”
9. “The Exorcist”
10. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
On marketing aimed at Muslims
Re: “Marketing to Muslims poses risks,” Jan. 25:
Best Buy’s special marketing to Muslims was certainly a bad business decision.
Why would it make sense to do ethno-religious marketing to a group that constitutes less than 1% of the population of the United States? It makes about as much sense as a major corporation doing this kind of religious marketing to Buddhists or Scientologists.
Oh, come on, America! It’s great that Best Buy stepped out during the holiday season and acknowledged Muslims by wishing a happy Eid al-Adha. If Best Buy can respect the diversity of different faiths and denominations, why can’t Americans? Isn’t this supposed to be the big melting pot?
Airlines’ refusal of paper money
Re: David Lazarus’ consumer column “Why doesn’t cash fly on many airlines?” Jan. 24:
Use of credit cards creates a false sense of financial well-being by distancing us from the realities of money. Americans need to get back in touch with their cash. It’s the only way to understand the value of a dollar and how to manage money.
Plastic is a mirage. Even writing checks is a mirage. Reminds me of that blond joke, “How can I be out of money when I still have checks in the checkbook?”
Glad to finally see that cash money will no longer pass through the hands of flight attendants, but not merely to simplify in-flight transactions or to keep employees honest.
An unintended benefit may be a reduction in the spread of germs. It virtually never fails that an attendant will pick up a clean drinking glass, fill it with the desired beverage and then hand it to you -- holding it from the rim that your lips will touch -- with fingers that have just collected filthy cash.
Though credit cards aren’t sterile either, their use is a step in the right direction.
If this concerns you, do as I do and carry a supply of covered drink straws (it’s still OK with the Transportation Security Administration).
Thanks for bringing the discontinuation of airlines’ accepting cash to our attention. As a parent of a minor who flies unaccompanied frequently, it forces me to plan her travels differently. The last thing I want is for other passengers to pay for my child’s food or headphones.
Don’t be surprised if airlines soon begin offering passengers the option of buying a charge card to use for in-flight purchases. Until then, looks like those Visa and MasterCard gift cards may be the answer.
Fond memories of flying on a 747
Re: “A big bird, aging gracefully,” Jan. 21:
Back in the spring of 1972, my first year of college in Springfield, Mass., some school chums decided we should go on spring break to Puerto Rico. I managed to come up with the money somehow, and my girlfriend and I joined the others on the adventure.
Being from a rural town in western New York and never having flown before, you can imagine my delight while boarding one of the new fantastic 747s for our flight to the island. The thing I remember most clearly is walking up the spiral staircase to the piano bar lounge, where we enjoyed a cocktail while singing Beatles songs accompanied by some passenger tinkling the ivories. Man, we don’t fly like that anymore, do we?
Your excellent article on the 40th anniversary of the 747 jetliner brought back warm memories of traveling on the 747 in the early 1970s. The architectural firm I was with allowed everyone to fly first class, and every flight was always a special pleasure.
In those days, all the men in first class (and they were almost all men) wore suits and ties; there were no frequent-flier miles, so everyone was a corporate executive, a Hollywood celebrity or independently wealthy.
After takeoff, we would climb the spiral stairs to the cocktail lounge for self-service cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and make business connections until we were called to lunch.
Lunch included huge menus and multi-course meals on fine china accompanied by champagne, wines and after-dinner cordials. As we dined, we watched the nation pass beneath the plane (no movies on morning flights) and chatted with our seatmates (no laptops or iPods).
Truly, we were sorry when the flight ended and we had to get off.
Martin A. Brower
Corona del Mar
Folks who flew on 747s will recall that there were martini-swigging travelers in the cheap seats too. On American Airlines flights, many of them gathered around the electronic piano at the rear of economy class.
I played the piano frequently and once, when the flight was full of boisterous Washington Redskins fans heading from D.C. to Los Angeles for a Super Bowl game, I was forcibly taught the Redskins fight song, which I had to play over and over during the long flight. Many years later, the words and music are still stuck in my head.
Carlos A. Cuadra
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