BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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The irony of drug marketing


The late Anthony Bourdain.

Last night I watched a series of programs about Anthony Bourdain on Gusto TV. During one episode in particular he spoke honestly about his entry into the world drug abuse, heroin in particular. He sat with a group of recovering addicts in Greenwood, a small town in Massachusetts plagued with the problems associated with opioid abuse. A local doctor explained how doctors freely prescribed Oxycontin and other pain-killers for everyday problems like sports injuries, getting wisdom teeth removed and back pain because the drug companies assured the doctors the meds were not addictive. When patients can no longer get legal pain-killers, they resort to street drugs and heroin. It’s a problem no longer limited to big city slums. Small towns are now victims of big-city drug abuse problems.

Nearly very commercial aired during this hour-long show was by a major pharmaceutical company promoting an assortment of remedies for real or imagined ailments. ‘Just ask your doctor’, followed by an exhaustive list of qualifiers. If you’ve ever watched television in the United States (not U.S. stations in Canada with substituted Canadian commercials) you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve counted up to 13 drug ads in a commercial break with 15 commercials on American television. Just an observation.


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Mr. Trudeau . . . we have a problem, a big one


Canadian border agents are being pulled from their posts at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and being relocated to rural sites in Manitoba and Quebec. The reason? So many asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are teeming across the border at remote locations that extra border service agents are need to handle the volume. The government is providing food, clothing and accommodation for these illegals while thousands of our indigenous people do not have basic housing, safe, clean drinking water and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The government’s solution is insane. Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers from the United States should be turned back, not welcomed.

Illegal asylum seekers awaiting admission to Montreal stadium. Canada should tighten the border to illegals.

Our government is now building temporary housing (at taxpayers’/our expense) at these remote locations to accommodate those illegal immigrants. And now they’re inconveniencing legitimate, legal, tax-paying Canadians at Canada’s largest international airport so they can take care of illegals. That’s just wrong, wrong wrong. These immigrants are crossing from the United States into Canada at weak border points and getting preferential treatment which is unfair to those who go through proper legal channels to gain landed immigrant status. And furthermore, despite the current political climate in the United States, it is not a hostile country compared to Iraq, Syria or Russia. Legal immigrants are relatively safe and do not require asylum coming from the United States while they undergo proper processing.

The appeal of Canada may lie in our generous welfare system and universal health care. These immigrants will ultimately migrate to cities where they may or may not be able to find jobs, further stressing social welfare systems. University dormitories and sports facilities are being refitted to accommodate them while Canadians foot the bill.

The current approach of welcoming illegals and diverting resources to accommodating them completely disregards and disrespects genuine asylum seekers, people truly deserving of our resources. I’m totally in favour of immigration when done through proper channels. Asylum seekers from truly dangerous countries are welcome; the United States does not qualify. While the illegals are being treated to free meals and housing, legitimate Canadians are sitting for hours on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport because there are no border agents available to service them. Resources that could be going to help legitimate asylum seekers, our indigenous people on remote reserves and underprivileged Canadians are being diverted to aid illegals. Where’s the logic in that?


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Here’s how to win an election


The promises that accompany every election campaign are piling up. The provincial Liberals are promising universal child care and increasing debt/deficit. They’re trying desperately to cover up the great smoldering pile of doo-doo they’ve created over the last few years.  NDP’ers say they’ll take back Ontario Hydro, as if it’s not enough of a joke already in business management case study circles. They’re also promising free drugs and better healthcare (that mean free facelifts?) for everyone. The Conservatives are going to give us the subway and public transit system of our dreams, but with absolutely no fiscal accountability. Just like Trump promised a wall between the United States and Mexico and to reopen the mines in West Virginia, or the Labour Party in U.K. promised Brexit, the political rhetoric and hollow promises are flying.

One thing is guaranteed about election promises. They’re all lies. Bait to lure in gullible voters. Why do politicians keep doing it to us? Worse still, why do we keep falling for it? We’re not stupid. Right-wing Americans fell for it big-time, to their everlasting peril. Britons are now questioning their choices. Canadians are left to cope with the unfortunate shortcomings of Trudeau’s hollow election promises and growing debt/deficits and Ontarians are wondering how in hell we’re going to make a decision among three disastrous parties running for election, four if we factor in the impotent Green Party. It baffles me how political parties can be so phenomenally inept at representing the best interests of the people.

The only blessing in this cesspool is that our election campaigns have a time limit of a few weeks, unlike in the United States where the agony never ends. We should be thankful we live in a democracy where we have free elections but the politicians treat voters like idiots and corporate lobbying makes a joke of the laws they enact. Let’s be clear on one thing: politicians are in it for their own personal interests not in service to the people. After a mere six years sitting part-time on those comfy seats in parliament, members of parliament get full, pork-barrelled pensions for life. Who in real life gets benefits like that? Don’t raise your kids to be doctors; being an MP or MPP is the best gig going. And don’t even get me started on The Senate.

Economic disaster, social disaster or track-record of disaster? Take ‘yer pick.

We’re now getting down to the nitty-gritty in the Ontario election campaign. The personal insults and hollow promises are flying like confetti at a wedding. Whoever makes the most outrageous promises in sucking up to voters will probably win. And don’t forget—all that cash they keep promising to buy our favour with is our hard-earned money that we pay through taxes. Government money is not fairy dust; it’s mine and yours.

Keeping those promises will inevitably be pushed aside by the winning party as “things were worse than we were led to believe” or “the situation has changed so we’ve had to adjust our position”. The rhetoric is so predictable. As a concerned citizen I’m frustrated and angry. I’ll definitely be voting, because, tempting as it is, a protest vote is useless. I’ve made up my mind about which of the incompetents I’ll go with but as a proud Canadian and a conscientious citizen I’m not a happy voter. But who cares? After all, we just pay the bills!


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Got a problem? Get an enemy.


It’s a page right out of The Handbook for Dictators. When you’re in deep doo-doo, find someone else to blame. It’s an effective distraction tactic as old as time itself. When you sleep in and are late for work, blame traffic. Stalin blamed the intelligentsia and packed them off to Siberian labour camps when things didn’t go his way. Hitler wrongly blamed the Jews and other minorities for all Germany’s problems. We know how tragically that turned out. During the Cold War, the United States blamed communism for the world’s ills. That rationale gave them the green light to invade foreign countries and impose their own political agenda on local populations. Failing at school? Blame the teacher (that one never worked particularly well for me). Can’t lose weight? Blame menopause—well, bad example because that one is actually true. The point is, find a scapegoat and push your agenda until your perceived enemies are kneecapped.

Donald Trump has seized on this principle with amazing tenacity. In the bizarro world, he has the Midas touch. Everything he touches turns to disaster. So he blames fake news. He blames Mexico, China and Canada. He blames the NFL, FBI and immigrants. Autocrats need fake enemies. In a further manifestation of this philosophy, Donald Trump has now set his sights on Amazon and in particular their use of the United States Postal Service who handles a large portion of their deliveries.

Someone has to explain this business case to me. I do not have an MBA. In fact I can barely calculate the tip in a restaurant so I’m not exactly the brightest light on the tree. But it seems to me that when a business attracts more paying customers, especially ones with the power of Amazon, the result is usually:

Amazon also creates thousands of jobs.

  • more business, which equals
  • more revenue to grow the business, which equals
  • more jobs created to support the business, which equals
  • more sales revenue, which equals
  • more profits, which equals
  • more taxes paid, which equals
  • more happy people

Except for Donald Trump. Do you suppose his beef with Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon has anything to do with the fact Bezos is a known critic of Trump? And this from the guy who said not paying taxes is just “smart business”.

Full disclosure here. I’m a big fan of Amazon. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have an Amazon box arrive at my door—a book, an item of clothing or a kitchen gadget. I even took Warren Buffet’s advice and bought stock in a business I understand and have some knowledge of or experience with, which means I also own shares in Amazon. They were purchased as a long-term investment and I’m holding on to them. In fact with their market price now low, I’m tempted to buy even more shares because I believe in the business. They’re certainly not perfect corporate citizens but we have to accept progress while remaining cautious in our choices.

Working through the blame theory to its natural conclusion

The basic strategy of blaming others for our shortcomings is perhaps something I should investigate on a personal level. It certainly has advantages. That means the dairy industry’s marketing is responsible for my passion for butter pecan and black jack cherry ice-cream. That’s why I weigh more than I should. Not my fault. Martha Stewart set impossibly high standards for entertaining. That’s why I am incapable of making decent hors d’oeuvres and generally do not like cooking. Not my fault. Five Guys’ french fries? Probably laced with cocaine. Not my fault I’m addicted. Same thing with Tim Horton’s steeped tea and peanut butter cookies. Fake news and not my fault?

Hey—that was easy. Donald Trump is on to something. I’m sure he’s well aware of it and we can expect to see and hear a lot more ‘passing the blame’ as time goes on . . . and on . . . for nearly three more years. That should be all the time I need to convince myself that this approach is not fake news and my failings are not my fault. Will it work? What do you think?

Footnote to Mr. Jeff Bezos: Want to put Mr. Trump in his place? Locate your planned new Amazon distribution centre in Canada! Canada Post would be happy to work with you and your employees would get health care, work in a country that doesn’t worship guns and respects the hard work and contribution of immigrants.


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Guns . . . from killing accessories to fashion accessories


Every day when I put on my earrings, my watch and wedding ring, I slip a hammered stainless steel bangle on my right wrist with the serial number 17805 engraved on the side. That’s the serial number of the gun the metal in the bracelet came from. That’s my one small step toward helping eliminate guns from the civilian population. Canadians, fortunately and wisely do not share the Americans’ preoccupation with guns. We operate under the assumption that if only the good guys (police, military and qualified hunters) are allowed to have guns we don’t need guns to ‘protect our family’. It’s not easy to get a gun in Canada and the system generally works.

When I started blogging in 2013, one of my first posts was about a gun amnesty program started under then-Mayor Cory Booker (now Senator) of The City of Newark, New Jersey. Here’s an excerpt:

My kinda’ gun control

The City of Newark, New Jersey joined forces in 2012 with a jewelry designer to recycle the metals from guns collected during a paid gun amnesty program and seized during crimes to create bracelets and other jewelry made from steel and brass parts. Each bracelet has the serial number of the original gun inscribed on the piece. A portion of the profits produced from this program is returned to Newark to continue the program. The bracelets are available in three sizes for a custom fit and the one I bought fits perfectly. I currently have a steel one and plan to order a brass one as well.

In addition to bracelets, the organization has other jewelry and clothing.

In addition to bracelets, the organization has other jewelry and clothing.

The Caliber Foundation aims to offer support to victims and families of illegal gun violence.

When a community is affected by gun violence there are many unforeseen and unplanned-for expenses, in the worst cases; funerals, and for those lucky enough to survive there are; medical bills, wheelchair ramps, and lost income. Churches and community organizations struggle to meet these needs, just as the Caliber Collection™ creates opportunities for those who may never have walked the streets of Newark to participate in making the city a safer place, the Caliber Foundation connects anyone who donates with the organizations and people on the front lines of re-building lives one small act at a time.

Six Years Later . . .

It’s now 2018 and crime involving guns has only increased. The recent school shootings in Florida and similar acts of violence prompted me to revisit the site and see if the program is still in operation—and it is. The Caliber Foundation takes parts from guns seized at crime scenes and guns turned in by citizens and recycles the metal parts into unique jewelry. The proceeds are returned to the community and police organizations to assist in furthering the removal of guns from the streets and provide assistance for victims of gun violence.

When I originally posted this piece, I sent a copy to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department suggesting they adopt a similar program, but received no reply or acknowledgement. Maybe we could all send it to them again as a suggestion they create a similar program. It may be a small step, but it’s one thing we can do to demonstrate our opposition to guns in society. I’ll make it easy. Copy this blog posting and forward it the Chief of Police. Here’s the link:

officeofthechief@torontopolice.on.ca

I’ve worn my bangle every day for the past five and a half years. Every time I put it on I think about the ongoing struggles with gun control. At the very least, check out the website to learn more about the program. I encourage you to think about purchasing a piece of jewelry or item of clothing to show your support. Here’s the link:

http://www.calibercollection.com/


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It’s true. No news is good news.


I’m surely not the only Canadian who is sickened, angered and appalled by Donald Trump’s reaction to the Florida school shootings. His solution? Arm teachers, but only the ones “who have the aptitude for using a gun”. And they’ll receive a ‘bit of a bonus’ for the extra training to carry and deploy a weapon.” Turn schools into a free-for-all shooting range. Imagine armed swat teams patrolling the halls of your child’s school. That thinking is absolutely insane. They’re also proposing that schools should be equipped with airport style security metal detectors at entrances. These band-aid responses totally ignore the cause of the problem—too many guns. As the anti-gun advocates say, “Mental illness is global; mass shootings are unique to the United States.” The craziness is out of control and if it’s keeping me awake at night, I’m probably not the only one.

We all have friends, family members or acquaintances who are teachers. Teachers are people who went into the profession because they are kind, patient, caring women and men who enjoy promoting and sharing knowledge with children and youth, not hate and killing. School is a place for meeting and making friends, not enemies and killers. Imagine one of the teachers you know being asked to take weapons training and packing a hand gun? It’s so inconceivable it’s ridiculous. As I’ve said before, remove guns from the general population and then no one will need guns. The United States is the only country in the world that doesn’t understand this simple concept.

He just doesn’t get it.

Surviving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who visited the White House came away this week feeling their concerns were not heard and certainly not understood. Trump even had cue cards in his hands reminding him to say “I hear you, I understand” because he most certainly did neither and had to be prompted to parrot someone else’s words. If the politicians won’t listen to their children, what chance do they have? The anti-gun lobby in the United States has been impotent against the mighty NRA and they need to up their ante—out-muscle the bad guys. Politicians will address the protests and create a couple of lame-duck new laws that fail to address the root of the problem—guns have no place in society. The NRA contributed $30 million to Trump’s election campaign and he made them promises he intends to keep. Trump’s idiotic pro-gun stance is no doubt bolstered by the fact his sons are “big game hunters”, the horrific and immoral sport of shooting helpless, beautiful animals in the wild for trophies.

I no longer watch local news on television because the litany of shootings, robberies, preventable car accidents, scams and violence is just too depressing. It leaves me angry, frustrated and emotionally drained. In order to keep abreast of what’s happening politically and in business I sometimes watch the national news but it too has become too much to bear. From now on, I’ll just make supper in silence or listen to music and talk to the dog. No news is the only way I can save myself.


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The Hudson’s Bay Company welcomes new CEO and this shopper couldn’t be happier


Helena, girlfriend, I really need you to listen. I’m only trying to help.

Canada’s venerable 350-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company (for non-Canadian readers it’s comparable to Macy’s in the U.S.) is getting a new C.E.O. Her name is Helena Foulkes and she comes from CVS, a health-care company with about 9,700 pharmacies in the United States. Since January 2014, Foulkes was the company’s executive vice-president and president of subsidiary CVS Pharmacy. As a shopper, loyal Canadian and feminist I’m thrilled with the news and thought I’d take the initiative on behalf of all baby boomer women and make her feel welcome:

Dear Helena:

Welcome to Canada. When I heard you were taking over the reins at The Hudson’s Bay Company, I was so excited I could hardly pour my Geritol this morning. For more than twenty years I’ve been lobbying The Bay, making suggestions about how they could improve business and keep their retail stores prospering. And for as many years I’ve been ignored. Maybe we finally have someone who will listen. After all—I’m just the customer—what do I know? I hope you don’t mind me calling you Helena. I feel we’re BFFs since I wrote that complimentary post about you on my blog recently: (Click here to read Brushing away wrinkles and imperfections doesn’t fool anyone.”). I was soooo impressed that you took a stand against digitally altered beauty ads (Photoshopping) in CVS stores.

Anyway, Helena, as I said, my emails, snail mail, blog postings and letters to a series of Hudson’s Bay CEOs have all been ignored over the years and I really want The Hudson’s Bay Company to do well. To make your job easier, here are a few simple things you can do that I guarantee will improve sales and sustain your retail business. This is a simple a point-form summary but you’re free to read links to previous posts with further details about the issue which I’ve conveniently included at the bottom of this posting.

  1. Hire more sales associates. If it means eliminating a few pairs of designer jeans from inventory to come up with the money to pay these people, it’ll be a worthwhile investment. Unlike in European stores, it’s impossible to find knowledgeable staff to assist shoppers in Hudson’s Bay stores. This is particularly critical in suburban mall stores which are severely understaffed compared to your downtown Toronto flagship store.
  2. Make the cash register/sales desks easier to find. I once stood in the middle of the second floor of the Square One Bay store in Mississauga and literally yelled for help. The place was abandoned.
  3. Train your sales personnel to take pride in their work. And what about paying these people a more attractive salary to improve morale? Coming from a corporate marketing background myself, I’ve always felt that valued employees should be treated like clients. Happy employees are the secret to the success of the company, just like those ‘contented cows’ who produce good quality milk. Nordstrom sales associates are trained to walk around the counter and hand me my little silver shopping bag like it’s a special gift and they value my business. I like that.

    We really want you to succeed.

  4. Up the ante on the on-line experience for your customers. American retailers have nailed this and Canadian retailers are woefully late to the game. I’m a dedicated on-line shopper who prefers to do business with established retailers. As baby boomers age, we’ll come to depend on this service even more.
  5. Speaking of baby boomers—I just want to remind you that we’re a huge, overlooked target market. We have time; we have money; we love fashion. But no one acknowledges us anymore because we’re not the 18-45 demographic.
  6. On the subject of listening, have you ever considered appointing customer feedback mechanisms? Perhaps on-line surveys or better still, customer councils?

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, Helena. I really do want Hudson’s Bay Company to succeed and grow. If you’ll just take my advice, I think you’ll find the boss will want to give you a raise. Feel free to just call me anytime. Let’s have a cup of tea and sort things out. No charge.

Sincerely, Your friend, Lynda

P.S. To give credit where it’s due, I’m glad someone responded to my earlier plea to upgrade the ladies washrooms in suburban mall stores. They were pretty disgusting and I’m pleased The Bay is making an effort to correct this.

P.P.S. Here are the links I mentioned above:

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2017/06/09/top-10-suggestions-for-hudsons-bay-to-survive/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/02/01/its-my-fault-retail-stores-are-closing/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/31/retail-rant-hits-home/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/29/the-solution-for-canadian-retailers-is-as-easy-as-1-2-3/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2016/11/07/what-on-earth-was-the-hudsons-bay-company-thinking/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/08/31/support-is-growing-for-truth-in-advertising/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/01/29/hello-saks-goodbye-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/09/14/how-to-improve-sales-at-hudsons-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/01/19/brushing-away-wrinkles-and-imperfections-doesnt-fool-anyone/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/hbc-cvs-helena-foulkes-1.4520526

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