business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we had a story about whether employers will be able to mandate employees to get vaccinations for the coronavirus, and I commented:

As a matter of engendering comfort among customers, I think it will be important for stores, theaters, airlines, museums, restaurants and other venues to be able to reassure them that all employees have been vaccinated … and even, in the short term, only allow in customers who have been vaccinated.

This may mean, in terms of workers, some sort of incentive program to get some people over their trepidations.  But this is a public health crisis - one that killed close to three thousand people yesterday.

I think that the powers that be will have to tell the story in a compelling, persuasive way.  They'll have to make the case that being vaccinated is an act of patriotism that will allow the country to regain some sense of normality in terms of the economy and the culture and our personal relationships.  This cannot be taken for granted … the story has to be shaped and then told and told again and then told again.

One MNB reader responded:

As I recall, these vaccines don’t prevent the virus from attacking you, but instead reduce your symptoms so that you are essentially asymptomatic. Requiring employees to be vaccinated will not make their interactions with each other or customers any safer in terms of contracting the virus. It may, however, help keep health costs down (like not smoking), so maybe the best option is incentivizing it via a healthcare plan discount.

I'm not a doctor, nor do I have any sort of expertise in epidemiology.  But my reading suggests that the vaccine creates antibodies, and it is the antibodies that offer some sort of immunity.  At least, that seems to be the expectation … it is certainly not my impression that all the vaccine will do is eliminate symptoms.  

Another MNB reader wrote:

I strongly oppose a mandatory vaccination when the recovery rate is 99.5%.  And this is a new vaccine, that truly has had no mass testing.  I’ve heard from some in the test groups, and the side effects/symptoms were worse for some folks vs. the ones I know that actually caught Covid.  Lastly, the vaccine ingredients make me take a pause.  My heart truly goes out to all those that have passed with Covid, Flu, Pneumonia, etc.

You say that the recovery rate is 95 percent … but I would point out that according to the CDC's website, if I am reading it right, last year the so-called regular flu claimed 34,200 lives.  We're perilously close to ten times that right now.

Still another MNB reader took issue with my belief in mandatory vaccinations:

I completely disagree! Vaccines are limited in their effectiveness. Health is an individual responsibility. The body has the ability to heal itself. You have to take care of your immune system and the body will do the rest. The misinformation surrounding this so-called pandemic is ridiculous. It has been handled very poorly by politics and the media who are far from medical experts!

The body may have the ability to heal itself, but we're closing in on 300,000 people whose bodies were unable to do that, and who probably would've been glad to have a vaccine.

For the record, I've never passed myself off as a medical expert.  I'm just listening to people like Dr. Anthony Fauci … who is a medical expert.

And MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

I’d love to be first in line for a vaccine – I tried to get accepted into a trial as well – but I think the idea of mandating vaccination is counter productive at best, maybe even crazy at worst. First, none of them are 100% effective so they aren’t a guarantee anyway but more importantly, mandating compliance on anything in this country is just such a long shot. It would almost certainly turn off a percentage of the population who might be on the fence but see a mandate as a reason to resist. And if someone encounters serious side effects (you know there will be some) the lawsuits will be unending, particularly if the government made people do it.

Another MNB reader wrote:

“Act of patriotism”.... great way to go with getting most folks vaccinated! Please share your suggestion with the media, celebrities, thought leaders and the powers that be!

Not sure I have all that much influence.  But I appreciate your confidence.

On another set of subjects, one MNB reader wrote:

Many conflicting feelings about your news today. 

My wife Christmas shopped 75% of our presents online, she loved it. I have witnessed 3 deliveries to our doorstep in one day from Amazon. I wonder how much longer shipping can continue to be free?

I think that until shipping costs are prohibitive, online will continue to grow. Once the product is cheaper at the brick and mortar stores, then we may see the pendulum swing back. Who knows though. The wallet is a powerful decision tool.

Concerning your post on vaccines; Making people get a vaccine will be like making them wear a mask. (Full disclosure, i want the vaccine and I want my team to have it, it is about personal safety.)

So you achieved what a good writer does; induce thought and conversation. Thanks.

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone talk about free shipping not being able to last because of the cost, well, I could afford to pay for shipping.

I think that free shipping probably is a fact of life … as long as Amazon offers it, it will compel most retailers to offer some version of the same, at least with people who make transactions of a certain size.

Responding to our posting of the new Ryan Reynolds-produced commercial for yesterday, one MNB reader wrote:

Hmmm… I suppose it’s terrific if you have a bromance with Ryan Reynolds and everything he does, but the actual dumpster fire as symbolism… WEAK.

I'm sure sure what I have qualifies as a bromance.

What can I say?  I liked the commercial.  And the year has been a freakin' dumpster fire … I thought the joke worked.

Yesterday I posed an email that was responding to my approval of a Nasdaq proposal requiring listed companies to have a certain amount of diversity on their boards.  This email suggested that I needed to practice what I preach … that MNB largely is the province of aging white males.

I responded that I'm not getting rid of Michael, but pointed out that MNB is a very lean organization - it consists of one staffer.  Me.  I added:

This actually is something that we talk about a lot, and one of the reasons that, whenever possible, I've asked a diverse group of young people to contribute to MNB … I want as many different opinions as possible, reflecting as many different experiences as possible.  And for the record, we actually have a fair amount of diversity in the "Your Views" section, though much of it is invisible because people are not always named.

Inevitably, there will come a time when I'll hang up my laptop, at least in terms of five-day-a-week MNB punditry, and hopefully there will be a new Content Person.  I would hope - and will work hard to be sure - that this person is someone who is very unlike me in terms of world view and experiences.

Prompting another MNB reader to write:

In my opinion you responded to whoever wrote the above in a perfect way. You were precise, gentle and thoughtful. One of the reasons I could not ever have a job like yours is this : I would have responded with : Mind your own damn business. You do your job and I’ll do mine. ( Smile)

If you think about it, my job is to listen and respond - and if occasionally I can be precise, gentle and thoughtful, well, that's a good day.