CVS No Longer Carries Cigarettes

rtr2gt28CVS has lost almost $2 billion a year in potential revenue by becoming the first national drugstore chain to voluntarily stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products. The chain made their decision in early February and will institute it by October 1st, 2014. Many state attorney generals have been putting pressure on businesses and CVS was the first major brand to cave. State attorney generals have not tried legal action but this has happened before with another addictive substance, think soda and NYC. Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to limit the size of soft drinks failed because legally he couldn’t dictate what consumers could purchase. The same may be said of cigarettes, however they have a much more adverse affect on health than soda. Regardless of whether the use of cigarettes can be legislated, drug stores are feeling great pressure to stop offering them to customers.

Other pharmaceutical retailers that sell cigarettes and other tobacco products include Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Kroger, Rite Aid, and SafeWay. The Attorney Generals have been putting pressure on each of these chains to stop offering tobacco products in their stores. Each of these companies will lose a great deal of revenue if they stop the sale of tobacco products, so what is the incentive? CVS was happy to lead the charge because they have reaped the benefits of positive press coverage and receiving goodwill from many consumers. Losing tobacco may hurt the company’s annual sales for a while, but they are confident they will catch up again.

The other two major chains, Rite Aid and Walgreens are now in a tough position. If a second chain goes tobacco free they will miss out on the positive press that CVS received because they will be second. Additionally, if two major pharmacies are tobacco free it leaves all of the tobacco business with the third. Either way, there is increasing pressure from possible legislation so someone will have to act soon.

UNC Athlete’s Joke of a Paper – Who’s to Blame?

qtqabrucmtcj6dzna1bpThis past Tuesday, Outside The Lines broadcast a piece regarding an unfolding academic scandal unfolding at UNC which, according to the whistleblower that provided the attached image, has been funneling athletes at the university into sham classes that require minimal effort, work requirements, and low standards for high performance. The web’s big takeaway from the unfolding scandal is based on the essay attached, which reportedly received an A- grade and is, by all accounts, a terrible paper about Rosa Parks.

I’m sure that all of us can agree that this paper, its grade, and the diploma factory that is UNC’s African and Afro-American Studies program are all fronts to allow athletes to circumvent what are generally accepted principles associated with getting a college diploma – hard work, diligent study, and an appreciation of the material which you are learning. How you react to this paper is a reliable litmus test for where you fall in the grander debate regarding college athletics, and the standards that are asked of college athletes required to maintain an academic record consistent with the eligibility requirements associated with the athletic scholarships big-name universities give to their athletes.

This idea can be argued from two sides: one that puts the NCAA system at fault and one that puts the university at fault. On one hand, (many, most?), people will point the finger at UNC for a joke program that’s clearly designed for keeping athletes eligible to maintain their athletic scholarships when they would otherwise most likely fail out. It’s an absolute violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of college sports, and is deserving of strong sanctions from the NCAA. UNC deserves blame for blatantly cheating the system, and on the athletes for skating to a degree without putting in any work, where other college students are putting in much greater work for a much steeper scale of acceptable performance.

On the other hand, the argument could be made that the NCAA system is at fault. That the NCAA’s amateurism model is a joke that invites exploitation of athletes and academics alike, and encourages schools to bend rules to enroll teenagers who everyone knows are there first and foremost for their athletic abilities. They are compensated solely by a college education, which many of them either don’t need, don’t want, don’t qualify for, and don’t know what to do with after they get it. The money is in sports for big-name universities, and to keep that money flowing and the best athletes coming, of course schools are going to pull things like this. The athletes are merely pawns (unfortunately), in a scheme that makes others very, very rich.

Manufacturing in the U.S. is Expanding

iZwj5sNpbKScManufacturing in the U.S. has expanded at a faster pace than originally projected for February. In January, The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose from 51.3 in January to 53.2. Additional figure showed consumer spending climbed more than expected in January. Additional estimates may have been low because of considering home heating bill and households enrolling in the Affordable Care Act.

This pickup in manufacturing may have been even stronger if not for a slight slump in production. The slump was due to a shortage of parts, but this means orders will improve directly, after stockpiles are replenished. Senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc., Russell Price states that “manufacturing remains a bright spot for the economy…there’s still a sizable amount of pent-up demand in the consumer and corporate sectors.”

As far as the Global manufacturing goes, things are mixed. China had a couple factories decline in February and the index from the HSBC showed a seven-month low. In Europe, manufacturing was higher than previously estimated. France had a seven-month high in manufacturing and the index in the euro region rose significantly.

In the U.S., manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the economy. Production has recently been slowed because of inclement weather throughout the country, but should pick up with a high demand for backlogs. Bradley Holcomb, the chairman of the Institute for Supply Management conducted a survey that indicated there was “pretty broad-based optimism” in regard to future orders. Additionally consumer spending has increased more than expected for January. Purchases account for nearly 70 percent of the economy and this also rose.

Specifically, there has been more spending on construction projects, according to the Commerce Department. This marks a housing rebound with home renovating chains like Home Depot and Lowes showing higher sales. Once the harsh winter weather subsides we may feel the full effect of less fiscal restraint and progress in the job market that will boost the GDP.