Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why Costco fought Washington State liquor laws

Dear Bratty Friends,

As many of you know, Costco threw over $20 million dollars at an initiative to destroy Washington's State-owned liquor business in the Nov. 2011 elections. With numbers like that, it's no wonder Costco won this round, and Washington State liquor stores are set to close in June 2012, putting more people out of work instead of creating new jobs in an era when we could really use them.

Why did Costco do this? Well, like the question, why are we in the Middle East, everybody with a brain knows the answer: oil. But nobody's owning up to it. And we all know why Costco wanted into the liquor business: profits. But in this Seattle Times interview with retiring Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, he sure isn't mentioning money.

Q: You spent $19 million on a voter initiative this year to get the state out of the liquor business. Why?

A: When I tell you this, you're going to say, "This guy is so full of it." But the whole reason we did this is we thought what was happening in this state and some other states was wrong for the consumer.

There was no justification for that type of system — certainly no justification for the state being in the business of selling alcoholic beverages, and no justification for all the price fixing that was going on relative to the distribution — and the consumer was paying the price for that.

As a result, many times when people were traveling to California or Arizona and other places, they were coming back loaded with liquor.

We think our customers expect us to take up the battle on those types of things. I think they expect us to be the consumers' friend; we consider ourselves the consumers' friend. ...

Now, you're not going to get any of your readers to believe that. They're all going to say it's a bunch of crap, but that really was a motivation for doing this thing.

The money he mentions later, when he talks about Costco's plans for the future:

Q: When you look back here in 10 or 15 years, what do you hope to see?

A: I would hope that 10 years from now, Costco would have sales of probably close to twice what they are right now and that they're significantly more profitable and that we have an even bigger presence internationally than we have today, that we have twice as many members shopping with us, and that we have established ourselves as a leading consumer advocate in the countries where we do business.

We think our mere presence in a community lowers the price of goods for everybody, even if they don't shop with us, because competition is a very good thing. Sometimes we moan about competition, but if we didn't have good competitors out there, we would get very lazy and not be a very good company.

Hmmm. Too bad they couldn't have kept Washington State as competition, since it would only make Costco better, no?

Locally, one liquor store is already closing - Waterville's Mitchell's Hardware, Drug, Floral and Liquor, a 113 year-old family owned and operated institution. Owner Dick Steinburg explained the effect of the Costco win on his and other small businesses that depend on liquor sales for their survival:
“The small independent contractors will be seriously hurt by that law,” said Steinburg, who acknowledged that a substantial portion of his business comes from liquor sales. “A huge number of independent contractors just won’t be able to compete against larger stores and chains. My guess is that 60 to 70 percent of small contractors will be closing their doors.”
In other related articles, you can read the full text of the bill, and see what other rules and regulations Costco revised for its own gain - not necessarily for the voting populace's well being.

More later,


Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Horoscopes

Dear Bratty Friends,

It is time once again to collect a smattering of 2012 predictions for the next year and see what's shaping up. Here are a few projections for Libras for 2012:

Libra decan 2 can enjoy some relaxation, fun times and good luck in 2012 from a most favorable eclipse and one of the luckiest of transits. For the first part of 2012, you will be under the influence of a trine from the December 10 2011 lunar eclipse. This emotionally balancing eclipse will last through early June 2012 and the energy boost will favour making great progress in your personal and professional life. Relationships are also likely to run smoothly and you should face much less tension and challenges than usual.
The confidence from that eclipse and the assistance you can expect from other people is carried on later through 2012 with a trine from Jupiter, lasting from the end of July though December. Jupiter trine Sunis a very lucky transit where you will be able to take advantage of many opportunities for personal and material growth, making money is favored and so is enjoying better relations with family and friends. A good time for starting new studies or go on a vacation.
Your road hasn't been easy since Saturn the Taskmaster entered your sign on Oct. 29, 2009. You may have already run into your share of setbacks -- and there could be more difficulties ahead -- but your sincerity and consistent hard work should pay off, because karmic Saturn gives you what you earn. There's no time to waste complaining or feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, push through any negativity by meeting challenges and fulfilling your responsibilities. Although Saturn can reveal where you have failed or areas of your life that need serious attention, it also demonstrates where you are on the right track and fully rewards your efforts. Since sobering Saturn remains in social Libra and your 1st House of Personality until Oct. 5, you may be less likely to fritter away your time by playing the role of the host or hostess, unless taking care of others also brings you tangible benefits. In the long run, it's better for those you love if you organize your life now in a way that will allow you to give of yourself more freely over the years to come. Saturn's entry into possessive Scorpio and your 2nd House of Personal Resources on Oct. 5 will thankfully relieve the pressure. Hold on to what is most important to you and let go of the rest. Shift gears and build on what you've already started to better establish yourself in the world.
Handling money is another key issue this year, with responsible Saturn in your 2nd House of Self-Esteem until Oct. 5. This transit also reminds you to treat yourself kindly and to maintain an emotional balance that acknowledges your strengths as much as your weaknesses. You gain the confidence and status you need to succeed when you're respected and your opinions are listened to. The importance of social graces cannot be overstated. All the hard work and expertise in the world may not compensate for an inability to express yourself well. If you're uncomfortable making small talk with strangers or speaking to large groups, investing in a class to improve your communication skills is an excellent idea. Venus, the charming ruler of your 2nd house, retrogrades in your 10th House of Career from May 15 until June 27. On the positive side, this can reconnect you with someone from your past who can benefit you professionally, or revive a talent that's been dormant. However, complex interactions with others can make your job more difficult. Repairing relationships starts when you demonstrate flexibility and a friendly attitude that's open to new and different points of view.
Meanwhile, Uranus the Awakener continues a seven-year visit to your 7th House of Companions. Unusual characters enter your life while you find freedom from controlling partners or stagnant relationships. Other people and shifting circumstances may have already begun to shake up your life, because unpredictable Uranus has been in your 7th house since March 11, 2011. However, it's likely that your attraction to the avant-garde will continue to grow as a result of your desire to break out of established patterns. When you take more risks and live closer to the edge of unconventionality, you can actually reduce the likelihood of unexpected surprises. Nevertheless, profound changes in the way you interact with others will make an indelible mark on your personal world as Uranus forms dynamic squares with evolutionary Pluto in your 4th House of Roots on June 24 and Sept. 19 in a series of aspects that recur five more times through March 2015.
Snake natives can expect continuing challenges, but overall success in the Year of the Water Dragon, January 23, 2012 to February 9, 2013. Collaborative efforts will bring you the best luck. Identify your friends and then work closely with them. 

The element Water emphasizes the importance of going with the flow. You will have a kind of sixth sense about when to make a move. With little effort and no obvious agenda, you can be extremely convincing and win others to see your point of view. The self-confidence that Dragon brings encourages you to follow your natural curiosity into new and amazing places.
Although many have secretly been dreading the arrival of 2012, you've personally been looking forward to it. That's because karmic taskmaster Saturn has been doing a number on your life over the past two-plus years. Relationship lessons have been relentless throughout this time. If you haven't made important decisions about where to commit - and where to quit - these are your final months to do so. Don't wait another 30 years to get clear on what you truly want in your relationships. You'll be in the throes of Saturn's testing until October, when it moves into your neighboring sign, Scorpio. Consider this your final exam!

Jupiter will be in its fellow Venus-ruled sign of Taurus, making a magical aspect to your stars for a good portion of 2012. Jupiter's lucky presence in your sector of sexuality, transformation and other people's money brings every material and emotional resource you could ever want or need. You'll have no problem attracting the proper support to fund your current or future projects. This is also the year for coming into your true power by transforming all the dead weight of your past. Change looks good on you, Libra. You've been shedding layers of karma, and now you're about to reap the wonders of renewal.

World travel beckons in 2012, so pack your bags! The spring-summer eclipse patterns activate your travel sector in May and June, and Venus is in your travel sector between April and August. During the retrograde phase in May and June, you may want to be lay low or avoid more intricate itineraries. Mars will be spending the entire first half of the year in your sector of sleep, unconscious processes and dreams. This could create some inner turbulence (if not all-out insomnia) if you don't give yourself enough expressive and physical outlets. As always, it's about finding balance, Libra.

I think the last one is my favorite!
2012 Ahoy!
What is your sign and what is your favorite horoscope for 2012?
More later,