Yesterday we took note of a New York Times report that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents “descended on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country before daybreak on Wednesday, arresting undocumented workers and demanding paperwork from managers, in what the Trump administration described as its largest enforcement operation against employers so far. The sweeps of 98 stores in 17 states, from California to Florida, resulted in 21 arrests.”

MNB reader Gail Nickel-Kailing responded:

Immigration officials raid 98 7-Eleven stores in 17 states and net 21 arrests. How much did that really cost?

“Descended on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country.” OK, let’s assume that the meant 24 for the sake of estimates, could have been many more. Probably 2-4 officers at each store, again for sake of estimate let’s say 3 per store. How many hours per store? I have no idea but let’s say 2 1/2 not counting travel time to/from and lodging/meals, etc., since the officers surely didn’t all live in the communities where these stores are located.

BTW, an immigration officer gets paid an average salary of $53,718 per year (just under $26/hour). (Per the site:

Then add the rest of the stops that followed along to way to reach 98. The total has to be in the millions - all to catch 21 undocumented workers? (98 stores/21 arrests equals a productivity rate of 21.4%…

Seems to be overkill - but that’s just my opinion.

You’re assuming that this has more to do with policy than politics.

From another reader:

I am all for ICE rolling up at the door and making sure all workers are legal. This however is just the beginning of the story and by no means the sole solution to the issue.


In our local, small town, we have ICE come in a couple years ago and detain, deport illegals that were working at a pallet company.  The company set up housing next to the plant and maintained “control” over these individuals.  From the little money they made some went back to their native land, Mexico, and the rest went to the company for rent.  Not a good scenario.  Plus for some of the deportees, this was a second or third time caught.

So I say to all those on both sides of the fence, bring these people out of the darkness and into the light.  If you want to hire from outside the country, then bring them into the light and make them legit.  Have a program or structure that assists in making them legal immigrants.  Then the lousy living conditions go away.  Taxes get paid.  The USA has time to review criminal records.  The company has lower cost workers since while they are in the “probation stage” of becoming legal, they earn a lower wage, or the wage is subsidized by state or federal income structure.  This ties into the “work for welfare” proposals floating out there as well.  Wouldn’t it be novel idea, if we could use our mighty industrial strength to truly create real, concrete opportunities for our citizens and ones that want to go through the correct process to become citizens.

Again not the total answer or a quick fix, but hey, something needs to be done and changes are needed.

And from another reader:

You will find more than 21 illegal immigrants in one Walmart than 100 Seven-11s.  That applies to just about any country.

Walmart announced yesterday that starting next month, it will raise its national minimum wage to $11 an hour and, according to the Wall Street Journal, will “hand out one-time bonuses as competition for low-wage workers intensifies and new tax legislation will add billions to the retailer’s profits…”

I commented:

There is no question that this infusion of capital gives Walmart the ability to invest in people and technology in a way that it believes will make it more competitive. My main skepticism about the tax bill has been that most CEOs are rewarded based on lowering their companies’ labor costs and increasing investor dividends, and it gives me some hope when I see companies like Walmart doing this.

I just hope that this is the beginning of a pattern of investment, not an isolated moment that generates good PR. And, I hope we don’t find out down the road that Walmart has figured out a way to eliminate so many jobs that its labor costs don’t actually go up.

One MNB reader responded:

Smart move by Walmart, we'll see how it plays out.  At the Shaw's I work at in NH, we're losing high school/college kids who aren't willing to stay for $8.00 hr., some after 3 years.  Market Basket pays a starting wage of $11 in NH when they don't even have to, just to keep pace with MA.

MNB reader John R. Watt chimed in:

I appreciate your optimism for this and while I agree that money talks and this is a good thing for those that work at Walmart (and the overall economy), I really don’t see this as “investing in people”.   Positive human resource management is so much more than financial compensation.  It really should be investing in your employees by showing them you care about them (flexible hours, benefits, promote from within, listening and implementing their ideas, etc).  Then, you are creating a contagious environment of positive energy that will ultimately be passed on the customer.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be naïve to think that someone is going to work for a company JUST because it’s a nice place to work.  While a bump in pay may make Walmart employees happy in the short-term, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their people will suddenly become a beneficial asset or prove that their company respects their employees.

MNB user Hy Louis wrote:

You know full well Walmart is using the tax savings for stock buybacks and dividend increases.  The small wage increase and bonus is a result of the American labor shortage.

My daughter works in a coffee shop in Sydney, Australia on a work visa.  They offered her $18 a hour.  She said no knowing they have a labor shortage and are desperate for front line workers.  The owner of the small chain met her personally because he really needed her and countered with $23 a hour paid in cash, no taxes taken out.

And she gets to live in Australia? Wow.

Regarding ominous signs for Sears’ future, MNB reader John Rand wrote:

I just have to ask (not to be more than my usual amount of flippant): is there a way we all can just jointly sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order for Sears? We have been holding a national eulogy ceremony for this retailer for years now, waiting for closure from a patient that is clearly dying. The pain of watching this is immense, the patient’s doctor clearly has no clue of a cure, has zero credibility, and can only prolong the agony while he continues to enjoy his yacht and a large order of luxurious privacy.

I am so sad for all the employees but anyone left there at this point must know it is a short-term gig at best. I cannot imagine any responsible banking organization or fund manager wanting to risk any more money to extend this. No one should want to work there knowing how screwed they will be. No one should want to buy anything from them that needs parts, or service, or anything that requires the seller stand behind it. No supplier should be able to assume the bills will be paid.
Most of us, once we have reached a certain age, have unfortunately experienced that moment where you have to “let it go”.  Let’s all have a final day of mourning and then walk away.

MNB reader Cathy Hennessey, however, seems to hold out some hope:

Sears needs to find a way to re-invent their brand.  Sears was always known for their tools / appliances.  If they unload another ‘brand’ known to them they don’t have much left aside from being just another department store, which, in my opinion, has the ‘look’ of Macy’s & JCP, but sell items more ‘like’ Kohls and Target.
If they cannot figure that piece out then they’ll just be another memory as Filene’s, Bradlees and Caldor.

Or EJ Korvette.

I wrote yesterday about the growing obsolescence of print circulars, which prompted MNB reader Howard Schneider to write:

I’ve been in advertising and marketing all my life (and I’m old enough to have learned how to set type in high school). I don’t think I’ve yet seen a medium become completely obsolete; though the role of any given channel in the media mix certainly changes, today more rapidly than ever. Radio, television, print and postal mail all continue to have value in the right place, at the right time, for the right audience and the right product. The importance of old school media continues to diminish in the face of the flexibility, low cost and immediacy of mobile messaging and other channels, but completely obsolete? Haven’t see it happen yet.

Point taken.

Finally, one MNB reader wrote:

I have been following you for some time.  I enjoy your views and many times agree and disagree with them.  That comes with Morning News Beat. 

I noticed as I was listening to you today your movie poster for All The Presidents Men in the background.  Great movie and for many of us we lived through it.  With today’s environment the question I have for you today…Dustin Hoffman?   Accused sexual harasser prominently displayed by you.  Do we rise up and shout you down because of your insensitivity to the plight of women everywhere.  Do we no longer enjoy the banter that is Morning News Beat, or do we risk being accused ourselves of that same insensitivity because we allow this to continue by doing nothing, or not raising our voice against you?  Where is the line?

To be honest I am at a loss.  As a journalist this movie and book I would guess is near and dear to you.  The movie did nothing.  Dustin Hoffman may have.  He has been accused, not convicted.  Natalie Portman spoke out at the Golden Globes against the all-male nominees for Best Director.  Do only chauvinistic men vote for this honor?  No women?  Maybe, just maybe the best Directors did get nominated.  Maybe not.  Help!

I have no idea.

I’m not being glib here. I really don’t.

There already is a cultural discussion taking place about art vs. the artist. Can we separate the two? When I was young, I probably would have argued that they must be separate. I’m not so sure anymore.

I always loved Woody Allen movies. Annie Hall and Manhattan are two of my favorites, and I often have quoted from The Front on MNB. But I just don’t think I can go to any of his movies anymore, and not just because they’re usually not very good. Because he seems so creepy, I can’t support him.

Same goes for Mel Gibson. And Kevin Spacey. I’m thinking that the same may go for James Franco. The list is growing.

The Dustin Hoffman accusations creep me out. Does that make All The President’s Men less of a classic, or make it less personally meaningful to me? I don’t think so, but there’s certainly a subtext to the movie now that wasn’t there before.

It is increasingly difficult to separate the art from the artist. This reckoning is just beginning, there are a lot of feelings to sort out and if nothing else, I think that in my own life, I am mostly going to try to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Time’s Up for any other approach, I think.