STICKER SHOCK IN THE BAY STATE SUPERMARKETS … TRAUMA OF NEWTOWN, UNFORTUNATELY, IS PART OF A RESPONDER’S JOB; INSURER DENIES EXTRA COVERAGE FOR OFFICERS, AND RIGHTLY SO
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, DEC. 29, 2012) — You hate the government meddling into your business. We hate the government meddling in our business. But the politicians at the State House in Boston (85% Democrats, by the way) love it, as they did when they sent to my dining buddy from Wheatleigh and Blantyre, Gov. Deval Patrick, a ridiculous legislative bill that, of course, makes the life of the average person, the Mary Jane and Joe Kapanskis of the state, even more difficult.
As of Jan. 1, you might be in for a surprise the next time you go shopping at Price Chopper, Big Y, Stop and Shop, or another supermarket. Check this out, from the Associated Press. You might have otherwise missed it. It will affect you every time you go to the supermarket.
Welcome to Massachusetts.
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BOSTON (AP) — Food stores in Massachusetts will no longer be required to place individual price stickers on each item for sale in their shops.
A law taking effect on Jan. 1 allows shop owners to place price scanners throughout their stores. Customers can then use the scanners to determine the cost of each item.
The bill was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick earlier this year.
Store owners pushed for the new law, saying it would save them the expense of having to put stickers on everything in their shops.
But consumer advocates opposed the law. They say scanners can be unreliable, forcing consumers to play “guess the price” before heading to the checkout line.
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You can imagine how some of our more technologically challenged food shoppers will fare with this provision. There are lots of people out there who can’t figure out how to work a cell phone and who think that VHS is the latest video format.
Even for technologically savvy folks, the new law will mean locating the nearest scanner, schlepping an item to it, hoping there aren’t other people wanting to use the same device, scanning the item, committing the price to memory, all the while trusting that the scanner is giving you accurate information. Then, you have to hope that the information stored in the aisle scanner agrees with the information stored in the computerized cash register up front.
You idiots on Beacon Hill and in the Corner Office: Way to make our food shopping experience more pleasant than we have a right to expect.
THE PLANET predicts the cost of many items going up based on this little ruse alone. Oh, wait. We forgot. Every penny the grocer saves for not having to put price labels on items will be given back to the customer …
Data suggest that affixing individual price labels provides more accuracy than scanners, which often ring up the wrong price or information. Creating a label with one of those neat little sticker guns requires a person to deliberately punch in an exact amount, say, $3.59. Scanners, notoriously unreliable, can and do easily misread bar codes. The misreads, by the way, are almost always in the house’s favor.
Thank you, Boston, for again saving us from ourselves. Consumers, thanks to the governor and our heroes on Beacon Hill, you just got screwed again.
THE HORROR OF NEWTOWN, UNFORTUNATELY, IS PART OF AN OFFICER’S JOB; LIKE IT OR NOT, RESPONDERS MUST LEARN TO SUCK IT UP
This will be a popular entry, we predict, one that will draw a lot of comments. Unless we are mistaken, much of the opinion will excoriate us for being heartless, uncaring, unkind, cold, callous, cruel, and the only person in America who will not go to see The Hobbit.
And you thought it wasn’t serious.
Be that as it may. There is something to be said about the overreaction to the random Newtown slayings, and we shall say it. THE PLANET has already addressed the hand-wringing angst of politicians nationwide, including the city of Pittsfield, to the shootings. Invariably, they have staged photo-ops and Big Meetings to Go Over School Security. In Pittsfield, Mayor Dan “The Amazing, Transparent Mayor” Bianchi conducted such An Important Meeting that he barred the public and press.
Now there is another example of how we have lost our collective heads in America.
Union Demands Rewrite of Insurance Contract
It seems that some of the police officers who responded to the gun tragedy in Newtown, Conn., were “critically affected,” a term employed by the lawyer for the police officers’ union, Eric Brown, to describe 15 of the responders (out of several hundred). A tiny number of these 15 (officials won’t say how many) have not reported back to work, citing residual trauma from the crime scene. The people are using sick leave and vacation time to keep their paychecks coming, as well they should. The problem, says the union, is that the official, contractually granted leave time will run out in some cases in January.
The union, through Brown, has been pressing the town’s insurance company for more generous assistance than what the contract specifies. The union is also lobbying politicians to change state law in Connecticut to increase workman’s comp for officers who witness trauma or tragedy.
These are all bad ideas.
Re-negotiating the terms of an agreement after the fact to adjust to specific circumstances is never a good idea. It happens frequently in Major League Baseball, after someone has a career year and then botches about the three years remaining on his old contract. It should never happen in municipal government.
THE PLANET agrees with the town’s insurer, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, which has ruled that officers are entitled only to the benefits specified by the contract. Social engineering is rarely a good idea, but especially changing terms of an agreement to the detriment of taxpayers based solely on emotion. The job of police officer (and soldier, for that matter) puts people in positions where they often see people at their worst. That is, however, part of the understanding when one volunteers for that line of service. No one is conscripted into police service or into the armed forces. The ability to stomach the worst is part of the job. Those are the hard, cold facts.
The aim of the change sought by the union for a tiny percentage of its officers is noble enough, but its practical application will open up a municipal mess. For example, how does one define “trauma?” One person’s traumatic reaction is another person’s day at the office. Would any death qualify for extra coverage? Based on what and whose testimony? Would the officers who witness the devastation of a car accident qualify? What about the witnesses to child child abuse? What about soldiers who have seen combat? Human nature being what it is, if the officers win this exception, there will be others to follow, more questionable and more inclined to dishonesty.
As taxpayers have seen in Pittsfield for years, when generous allowances for Workman’s Comp became the norm in the city, those in genuine need were taken care of, but then the inevitable occurred. The goldbrickers rushed in with their freeloading ways. These are the “public servants” who think the world owes them a living, you know, the ones out on Workman’s Comp for phantom back injuries who are seen every day jogging or working out at Gold’s Gym. They are a minority, true, but an overly expensive minority that taxpayers cannot afford but nonetheless have to support because of lack of accountability, lack of oversight, and garden-variety corruption.
The fact remains that by far the vast majority of responders to the Newtown shootings have held up well, have returned to work, and have done so productively. This includes the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, by the way, who have resumed classes with few problems. The town as well as outside agencies have been provided boatloads of counseling services for people needing help coping with the enormity of the tragedy. That help will be there long term.
That’s how it often is with this type of situation. The overwhelming majority is OK, but somewhere along the way, the expectation has been to legislate in favor of the tiny exception. We are a litigious society, and this is one odd and interesting example of it.
Unfortunately, we can’t go back in time and prevent the shooter from his appointed rounds. An event like the Newtown shootings sets up an unblinking test of survival: It will weed out those who can’t suck it up and handle it. Most can. Those who cannot need to find another, less stressful job.
O Memory, where is Youth, which used to say that Love was Truth? — T. Hardy. Happy Weekend!
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.