Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why I shop at Costco, and why it matters...

...well, it matters to me, at least.

In 2014, retail giant Target announced that they would no longer offer healthcare benefits to part time employees, instead directing them to the newly formed ACA exchanges. Their rationale at the time was that “by offering them insurance, we could actually disqualify many of them from being eligible for newly available subsidies that could reduce their overall health insurance expense."

At the time this decision was made, Target was still doing quite well and was profitable, though their earnings year over year had declined slightly. They hadn’t yet felt the full effect of their credit card breach, so this was not a reaction to adverse market conditions: this was purely a calculated business decision. When you look at it at face value, it makes sense for Target to do what it can to lower costs to compete in an already tight retail sector. But in reality what happened was that Target took its internal cost of providing benefits, previously paid for by consumers through retail pricing, and passed it along to everyone, not just their customers.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Playing the Trump Card

Though it was nearly twelve years ago now, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I sat around a lunch table with a bunch of coworkers in my new job and one of them picked up the newspaper to look at the election results. “I just don’t understand how anyone can vote for them?!” Them, in this instance, being Republicans. John Kerry has just been beaten handily by incumbent George W. Bush, despite all attempts to make the latter out to be the cronyist incompetent that he had become. The sentiment was widespread, and not just limited to our lunch table. But if you look at the map from that election, the widespread nature of this sentiment was limited to geographically small, but very densely populated sections of the country.

Fast forward to 2016, and those same areas of the country are bewildered at how anyone could vote for Trump in their own backyard. Let me say this at the outset – I would never, ever vote for Trump. I don’t think he’s a good human being, never mind a good presidential candidate. But deep down, I have to admit something: I understand why people are voting for him.