• How to find a brokerage if you are just beginning to invest

    Taking the first step to invest in your financial future may seem daunting if a parent or a mentor did not help you get started. Although the internet is a morass of both good and bad advice, the NerdWallet website, which is not selling particular products, is one place to get investment information. 

    The attributes that NerdWallet uses to define "best" stockbrokers for beginners include low commissions, good selection, trustable research, bonuses for starting an account, and low- or no-minimum buy-in. The brokerage firms they considered in their analysis for stock beginners included: TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, OptionsHouse (eTrade), and Merrill Edge.

    Source: "Best Online Stockbrokers for Beginners 2017," by Dayana Yochim, NerdWallet, February 22, 2017.

    Follow up

    • Read the link to compare the brokerages...and then, actually invest. Pick a brokerage that has no minimum deposit amount if you have to, but take the plunge. Which one did you pick? How much did you invest? What is your investment plan? Start a notebook or online folder to keep track of your statements. 
    • Read up on good investment strategies for the long term. Discuss the strategies with your peers, and with financially successful individuals whom you trust. 


  • The ATM is 50 years old today: how things have changed

     An instruction manual for an early ATM, from the article linked below

    On June 27, 1967, the first ATM --or "robot cashier"--was put into service at London's Barclays Bank. It was greeted with suspicion and fear, and often broke down. Nevertheless, by 1980 there were about 54,000 machines installed world-wide, and today there are over 3 million ATMs.

    The ATM changed a fundamental part of people's economic lives. Before 1967, in order to get any cash, a person had to go into a bank and actually interact with a bank teller. Cashing a paycheck week after week created an environment where bank customers became known personally by bank employees. So, when it came time to get a loan there was already an established relationship. 

    Source: "Happy Birthday, ATMs," by Marielle Segara, Marketplace: American Public Media, June 27, 2017. 

    Follow up:

    • Read the article. What happened with respect to the number of bank branches and the number of bank tellers between 1970 and 2010? What are the positive and negative aspects of this statistic? 
    • To get a feel for how different banking relationships were prior to ATMs, see the movie It's a Wonderful Life (it is a winter holiday classic). In the context of the film, what are the advantages of old-fashioned banking relationships. What do you see as advantages and disadvantages of the way we do banking today? 
  • Ring, a "smart doorbell" company, intervenes in tenant lawsuit

     how a Ring doorbell works

    The Ring Doorbell brings video and smartphone technology to connect a resident to their front door, even when they are not at home.  A tenant in Santa Monica installed a Ring doorbell when security gates in her apartment complex were inoperable, and she wanted to keep herself and her children safe. Because the installation of the device technically "defaced" the property, the landlord used this as a reason to evict the tenant unless reparations were made and the device was removed. As a side note, rent control laws in Santa Monica allow a landlord to raise the rent to any amount when a tenant vacates the property, but rents can only be raised annually by an amount determined by a governmental board for continuing tenants. 

    After the local newspaper published an article on this situation, the CEO of Ring, Jamie Siminioff, became involved. In an unusual display of customer support, he hired an attorney to represent the tenant's interests (and right to keep the Ring installed).  The letter was successful in getting the landlord, American Career Investments,  to back off on its demands. 


    Follow up

    • What are the two revenue streams that might motivate a landlord to invest in residential rental property? What, in substance, might motivate a landlord to harass a tenant over a doorbell in a rent-controlled situation? State and justify your opinion on this landlord's possible situation.
    • Why would a technology company like Ring get involved in a case like this? State the possible positive and negative outcomes.


  • How much mark-up is there on a smartphone?

     WSJ makes a cheap smartphone

    Does everyone who owns a smartphone wonder what the real cost and profit involved might be? What is a reasonable profit anyway? The Wall Street Journal experiment is enlightening.  

    Source: "The Wall Street Journal Just Made a Phone for 70 bucks," by Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst, Marketplace American Public Media, June 23, 2017. 

    Follow up

    • What, in your opinion, is a reasonable return on profit?
    • What is the optimal mark-up percentage, and why? How does risk enter into the estimated return?


  • Ford opts to build Focus in China, not Mexico

     Ford plant in China, from NYT Daily 360

    In January 2017, Ford Motor Company scrapped its plan to build a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico, partly in response to "chiding" from Trump. Instead, at that point they planned to re-tool an existing plant in Mexico where some of the Ford Focus cars would be built.

    Those plans were changed this week. Ford announced that it would be building the Focus in China--and exporting those cars to the United States. The decision was based on projected cost savings. From the NYT

    "Ford’s head of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, said the company would save $1 billion by building the Focus in China instead of Mexico — including $500 million in savings announced at the time the Mexico plant was canceled — and would be able to spend more money expanding American plants that make high-profit trucks and S.U.V.s."

    Source: "Ford Chooses China, Not Mexico, to Build its Focus," by Bill Vlasic, New York Times, June 20, 2017.

    Follow up

    • Research Ford's original plan to build the Focus in Mexico. What were the details of what happened?
    • According to the article, what decisions affecting jobs were made regarding U.S. production of Ford and Lincoln S.U.V.s? 


  • Amazon: the Conglomerate reinvented

     image from Investors Business Daily

    Just when we thought that Amazon was already everywhere, it decides to buy the decidedly on-ground Whole Foods chain for $13.4 billion. What next? 

    When it comes to a conglomerate form of business, we don't really know what is next, as the companies that they control may have little or nothing to do with each other. This is different from vertical integration (buying suppliers or distributors) or horizontal integration (buying competitors) in an acquisition.. Investopedia defines a conglomerate as: 

    "A conglomerate is a corporation that is made up of a number of different, seemingly unrelated businesses. In a conglomerate, one company owns a controlling stake in a number of smaller companies, which conduct business separately. Each of a conglomerate's subsidiary businesses runs independently of the other business divisions, but the subsidiaries' management reports to senior management at the parent company."

    A "controlling stake" is a majority of the shares of stock outstanding. This means that the "parent" or majority shareholder ALWAYS prevails in board votes.  Amazon, for example, is the conglomerate with a controlling stake in "subsidiary" companies like Zappos...or Whole Foods (assuming the deal goes through). 

    Because conglomerates such as Amazon and Alphabet (Google's parent company) arose from the Silicon Valley type of corporate culture, they don't look like the big conglomerates of years past--RJR Nabisco or General Electric, for example. Nevertheless, the management issues that plagued the older entities may also be a problem for the newer conglomerates. 

    Source: "Conglomerates Didn't Die. They Look Like Amazon," by Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, June 19, 2017.

    Follow up

    • The Big Picture: Check out the "everywhere" link, and make a three-column chart. List, in one column, the businesses that Amazon owns or controls. In the second column, indicate the main product or service provided by each company. In the third column, indicate the competitors (if any). Discuss what other businesses may have folded as a result of Amazon's presence.
    • Personal involvement: Do you have an Amazon Prime account? Or any Amazon account? How much have you spent via Amazon, year-to-date?  How much did you spend in 2016? Do you have an Amazon Prime Video account?  An Amazon Prime credit card? Discuss your use of Amazon and how it has grown over the years--or why you do not use it or use it less. Include whether or not you own Amazon stock, and why. 
    • Business analysis: How has Amazon been able to stay in business over the many years of running at a loss? [Hint] [Another hint]
    • Management: According to the NYT article, what are the problems that exist with conglomerates?


  • Energy job growth will NOT be coming to the coal industry

     John Oliver 6/18/17; (trigger warning: swear words)

    Coal miners have been promised by the current administration that they will be fully employed, as climate considerations will no longer influence federal energy decisions. But the full employment does not necessarily follow from the change in focus. Statistics show that coal jobs have been declining for a long time. One reason is that productivity per miner has gone up.  

    Another reason is that fracking has made natural gas cheaper than coal. And cost savings is a compelling driver of purchase decisions for both businesses and retail consumers. 

    Even though coal mining jobs have decreased, there are more jobs in the solar energy sector over recent years. The West Virginia newspaper linked below cited these statistics from The Solar Foundation

    2010 2015
    number of coal workers 89,838 65,971
    number of solar workers 119,016 208,859

    Of course, this only matters to an unemployed coal worker if he or she has access to training to switch industries. 


    Follow up

    • Look at the chart on coal jobs over the last decade. Describe what you see. Research other sources, including the charts particularly in Wikipediato draw your own conclusions about what is happening to coal jobs. Some of the dialogue in the John Oliver piece also addresses the job economies of mountain-top removal mining. Please address those economies as part of your answer. 
    • Watch the John Oliver video. Do you get the impression--listening only to the words of the coal executive--that jobs will be increasing for coal miners? Cite specifics to support your answer. 



  • Oneida: a story of communal capitalism

    Image from Replacements LTD

    Once upon a time (in the middle of the 1800s), the Oneida Commune was started by a charismatic man named John Humphrey Noyes. He believed in the religious philosophy of Perfectionism. There were many optimistic, hardworking craftspeople who were attracted to this philosophy. Several of their qualities overlapped those of enterprising  businesspeople. One person, Sewell Newhouse, almost literally "built a better mousetrap": he developed a way to quickly build the best animal traps. Since fur was then at the height of fashion, the traps made a lot of money for the group, which shared its profits like a very large family. They were able to build a huge hotel-like mansion to house 250 Perfectionists, where they prospered for several years. But for several reasons (some scandalous), they voted to dissolve the Commune in the 1880s, but converted their business operations into a private company with shares of stock. In today's dollars the company was worth about $14 million.  

    The company was at a crisis point when one of John Humphrey Noyes' sons, Pierrepont Noyes, shifted the focus of the business to flatware--primarily silver-plated flatware. Several factors in the business environment in the first half of the 1900's converged to help Oneida thrive under Pierrepont Noyes's leadership. He was also able to continue some of the principles of the prior generation (industrial socialism) because the company was so profitable.

    Nevertheless, other factors at the end of the century and the beginning of the 2000s did not bode well for Oneida. Although Oneida flatware can still be purchased, the company was reorganized after a bankruptcy. 

    Source: "Episode 777: Free Love, Free Market," by Noel King and Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR: Planet Money, June 9, 2017. [transcript]

    Follow up:

    • Summarize the Oneida story regarding its timely entry into a specific marketing niche and how it became a leader in flatware...and the factors that lead to its failure. Can you identify any parallels with other industries over this same timeline?
    • What is the whole adage regarding "building a better mousetrap"? Give some examples where that adage has been shown to be true.



  • The oligopoly of PBMs and rising drug prices

     image from Avalere Health LLC via Investopedia

    A PBM is a "Pharmacy Benefit Manager." This is a middleman in the insurance-pharmacy-drug-doctor-patient industry. Originally, these entities worked for big providers like state and federal government insurance companies, who had the clout in terms of numbers to negotiate volume discount drug pricing schedules. Similar organizations arose to extend the buying power to grouped smaller providers. 

    Now, however, after several mergers, there are three big companies that seem to be controlling drug prices: OptumRX, Express Scripts, and CVS Caremark. Together, their management revenue is $200 billion a year. But there have been problems. Last month a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles. It "alleges that Irvine-based PBM OptumRx and drug company Novo Nordisk joined in an 'illegal pricing scheme' in which the drugmaker inflated the price of Victoza, a diabetes drug, to pay for 'illegal kickbacks' to Optum. From 2009 through 2016, the lawsuit asserts, the average wholesale price per package of Victoza rose from less than $450 to $897.16 for roughly a one-month supply."

    For customers trying to get drugs, or to get insurance companies to pay for drugs that should be covered, the person-hours required to get a claim resolved over several layers and locations of responsibility could probably pay for the cost of the drug itself. How will this play out over time? 

    Source: "How 'price-cutting' middlemen are making crucial drugs vastly more expensive," by Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2017. Published in print as "Culprit behind drug price hikes" on June 11, 2017.

    Follow up

    • Read about PBMs at the link. What is a TPA? What is an oligopoly? How does this business environment affect commerce and pricing?
    • Expand the graphic above. How many tiers of profit-making exist? Think of how real cost-cutting might be achieved. 
    • Describe an insurance or drug reimbursement nightmare experienced by you or someone you know. 


  • TMI: what is one's responsibility to co-workers and to the organization?

     image from Human Resource Services

    What can a person in a small business do with information regarding organizational problems, if they don't have any real power?

    The Workologist advice column linked below asks the question: "How can I be the best advocate of the health and well-being of both my organization and my co-workers?"

    This is a big one. A person in a 25-person nonprofit who has the ear of many a co-worker can be privy to information that others may not be aware of. The person who finds himself at the nexus of information asks the Workologist what responsibilities he or she has in such a situation. Must he or she inform people who have the power to change things, for example? Might things shared in confidence need to be passed on? The intent of the person in receipt of this information is to "mitigate harm."

    The Workologist took a few steps back in order to answer this question with perspective, and my guess is that the person who submitted the query may have cringed at the answer. The Workologist  identified "The Irreplaceable Me Syndrome." Ouch. The individual with the information about workload, pay, hiring, or relative responsibility complaints might believe that they are the only one with all the information to solve the problem. And they might be attached to the power that this information gives them. 

    But the most effective way to deal with this situation might be to empower the individual that confides in them to seek solutions within the organization on their own. There are other solutions as well. In any event, it probably is not effective to want to "be the hero" and present the problem and the solution to the higher-ups when one's source of information is private conversations. 

    Source: "Stuck in the Middle (With Good Ideas)," by Rob Walker, New York Times: The Workologist, June 8, 2017. 

    Follow up:

    • What other suggestions did the Workologist give the Go-Between? What else might you suggest?
    • Check out some of the previous columns written by Rob Walker (The Workologist) for the New York Times. Which ones resonate with you and why?
    • What would YOU ask the Workologist? Formulate a question...and speculate about the answer.

  • Customer service loses a stellar advocate

    image from NYT; The Haggler

    The Haggler is moving on. He is taking a position with the London Times, as his real life persona, David Segal. The Haggler Twitter presence is dissolving. His work is changing. Consumer advocacy has lost a brilliant and dedicated investigator with a unique bully pulpit

    For those of you not familiar with the work of The Haggler, he wrote a column for the New York Times Business section which dealt with consumer complaints. A customer who had exhausted many avenues of inquiry in the face of egregious treatment from a business could bring his problem to The Haggler's attention. And, in print in the New York Times, the Haggler would bring the business's actions to wide attention.

    Source: "Hanging Up His Fedora, The Haggler Bows Out," [published in print as "Got a Complaint? You're On Your Own"],by David Segal (a.k.a. The Haggler), New York Times, June 9, 2017. 

    Follow up:

    • Find a previous blog that dealt with an issue that was addressed by The Haggler (hint: business ethics would have been a hashtag). Describe the complaint and the resolution. You can also just research the column itself.
    • What business ethics principles do you think the Haggler may have applied on to every situation? Make a list.


  • "The End of Advertising"

     advertising copy for Essex's book (ironically)

    Andrew Essex, who founded the ad agency Droga5, recently published a book called The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die and the Creative Revolution to Come. Essex left the agency he founded in 2015. He is now the CEO of Tribeca Enterprises

    In interviews, Essex clarifies that the real title of his book should be, "The End of BAD Advertising." He particularly decries the state of TV advertising, which he describes as "annoying, excessive and lacking creativity." He also notes the problems that ad blockers impose. 

    Where do YOU think advertising will be in the next 5-10 years? 

    Source: "Toasting the Ad Industry and a Book Predicting Its Doom," by Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times, June 11, 2017. 

    Follow up:

    • Discuss the issues of trust, hope and advertising. What has changed that might affect this formula?
    • What kind of advertising agency is Droga5? How does its mission fit with the thesis of Andrew Essex's book, if at all?
    • Do you agree with the premise of Essex's book? Explain. Include in your answer whether you agree with his opinion about what is "better than the 30 second ad."


  • Pigweed, profit, and murder

     from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada

    How much money would it take to justify a murder? This has been a business ethics issue for decades (e.g. Pinto). Farmers in Arkansas (and elsewhere) are dealing with this issue now.

    Pigweed is an invasive, aggressive weed that can take over and ruin a crop. The (indiscriminately deadly) chemical RoundUp previously used to eradicate it (along with everything else that wasn't a genetically modified soybean plant or cotton plant), but pigweed has mutated into a RoundUp-resistant form. Pigweed can now take over any soybean- or cotton-planted field. 

    There is a chemical that can eradicate pigweed, but it is illegal. Dicamba.  Nevertheless, desperate farmers sometimes use it. Unfortunately, there is "overspray" to nearby farms, and the poison kills the other farmer's crops. Farmer Mike Wallace was a victim of illegal Dicamba use. He reported it to authorities. And when he went to talk to a worker at the farm that used the illegal poison, he was shot dead. 

    This is an extreme instance of a businessperson believing that he needs to take matters into his own hands when, in his opinion, regulations were limiting his ability to make a living. It also points up the problems of being a whistleblower when other people's livelihoods are at stake. What would you do?

    Source: "Episode 775: The Pigweed Killer," by Marianne McCune et. al., NPR: Planet Money, June 2, 2017. [transcript]

    Follow up:

    • What is pigweed? Why is it a problem? How does the use of it pertain to business rights?
    • Listen to the podcast. What is the short-term dollar amount (based on the crop) that is equated with the death of Mike Wallace by Curtis Jones? Who may have stood to benefit from this death? Think beyond the immediate stakeholders. 
    • What issues underlie the pesticide problem? How should problems like this be solved?
  • Ransomware that you "share" with your friends

     image from Kaspersky Blog

    How could ransomware get any worse? Now it is being reported that ransomware victims are being given a choice: either pay up in bitcoin...or turn on the ransomers to two more potential victims. Popcorn time is the first ransomware demand based on the Ponzi scheme model.

    Source: "Ponzi scheme meets ransomware for a doubly malicious attack" by Sheera Frenkel, New York Times, June 6, 2017.

    Follow up:

    • Have you or anyone you know been involved with ransomware? How about any viral attack. Describe the situation and the outcome. 
    • Bitcoin, the transactional medium by which these ransomware attacks are resolved, has gained a lot in value over the past several months. Comment on the ethics of investing in bitcoin. What profit could one have gained if one invested in 10 bitcoins on December 31, 2016? 
    • How does the Popcorn time ransomware fit into the Ponzi scheme model? 
    • What is the model of the "Wanna Cry" ransomware?

  • Hip-hop provides an entrepreneurship template

    an angry "pep talk" regarding entrepreneurship from rappers via YouTube 

    The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship (IHHE) provides a tuition-free program on the East coast for a small cohort of 18- to 32-year-olds to learn entrepreneurship. As a template, it uses lessons from the business of hip-hop. Hip-hop is a music genre that invented itself in the 1970's and achieved cultural penetration, so it is a good model for business growth and development. 

    The podcast linked below focuses on "guerrilla marketing," a technique used by businesses at all stages of development to promote a product in a public arena--with a minimum of investment. 

    If you are an entrepreneur of any kind, it can help to learn how  to "Craft Your Hustle".

    Source: "Using the lessons of hip-hop to start a business," by Marielle Segarra, Marketplace American Public Media, June 6, 2017.

    Follow up

    • Summarize what "guerrilla marketing" is, based on the material presented in this podcast/online article. Provide several examples. If you have an entrepreneurial idea of your own, describe a possible guerrilla marketing campaign for that product. 
    • What other lessons are part of the nine month IHHE curriculum? 
    • Where does the sound bite "Craft Your Hustle" come from, and what does it mean?


  • "Girlboss"--and other women business leaders in films and TV

      trailer for Girlboss (Netflix via YouTube) [trigger warning swearing]

    Girlboss is an episodic Netflix series that is based on the real-life Sophia Amoruso, who founded the Nasty Gal online clothing business. It is hip, sassy and bold--and has the blessing of the real-life entrepreneur on whom the series is built. Some observers, however, found it disappointing in terms of the way women in the series were portrayed.

    Joanne Clarke Dillman, a media lecturer at the University of Washington-Tacoma, was interviewed by Marketplace about other portrayals of businesswomen in films and TV. Her list included:

    • Mildred Pierce--an intense restaurant entrepreneur is portrayed in a film by Joan Crawford, and in a recent miniseries by Kate Winslet.
    • Baby Boom--a businesswoman "inherits" a baby and changes career direction. Starring Diane Keaton.
    • Chocolat--a woman moves to a small town in France and opens a chocolatier. Starring Juliette Binoche.
    • Waitress--a woman lets part of her work--pie-making--become a channel for creativity and distraction from her other problems. Starring Keri Russell. 
    • Coco before Chanel--a biopic about the French designer. Starring Audrey Tautou. 

    I would add a few other businesswomen from TV series to this list: 

    Source: "'Girlboss' is on take on women in business--here are some more," by Adriene Hill and Sean McHenry, Marketplace American Public Media, June 5, 2017.

    Follow up: [check out the links in the attached podcast and article]

    • Give several examples of women who are portrayed accurately in films or limited TV series. 
    • Give several examples of women who are portrayed inaccurately in films or limited TV series. 
    • Which are positive role models and why? Which are negative role models and why?
    • Add to the list of businesswomen in the media. 


  • Artists' copyright and the non-existence of U.S. "resale rights"

     Edvard Munch's The Scream (in the public domain)

    The main categories of intellectual property are patents, trademarks and copyrights. In the previous blog, the SCOTUS ruling on patent limitations was discussed. Patent and other intellectual property rights can be sold at a profit by the owners, or licensed for a certain period of time. But copyrights--especially for artwork--is a little different. This is because there are two things of value in art. One is the image, which is protected by copyright law from reproduction or any other kind of copying or partial copying without remuneration or permission. This protection for the artist remains in place even if the item itself is sold, and these rights are not specifically licensed. 

    The other value is contained in the item itself--an artwork is a physical object. This object can be sold by the artist. Under U.S. law, the artist does not retain an interest in any art item sold. For example, in 1973, the painting Thaw by Robert Rauschenberg was sold at auction for $85,000. Rauschenberg had previously sold it to Robert Scull for $900. None of that $85,000 went to the artist--it all went to Scull, as the investor.

    "Resale rights," however, exist in several other countries. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) explains these rights on their website: 

    "Visual artists like painters, sculptors and photographers benefit from a resale right (droit de suite) in some 80 countries around the world. This intellectual property right provides a legal foundation for these artists to benefit from proceeds of sales of their works mainly by auction houses or art galleries. These proceeds enable visual artists to live from their art. While a fair number of countries have laws in place, many countries have not yet put these laws in place. With the increased globalization of the art market, visuals artists the world over are losing out on precious income."

    Source: "International Conference on the Artist's Resale Rights," various presenters at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, April 28, 2017. 

    Follow up

    • Read the article at the Robert Rauschenberg link, as well as the WIPO explanation. What is your opinion about the rights of artists to participate in profits when their works are resold? Explain your position. 
    • What does "in the public domain" mean? When does it come into play?
    • What are the intellectual property rights that you have as the author of a school essay turned in as a class assignment? What responsibilities exist? Give an example of what is allowed and what is not allowed. 
    • What is the difference between a patent, a trademark and a copyright in terms of what each covers and the different rules and limitations that apply to each. Give an example for each. 


  • Supreme court unanimously supports the right to refill toner cartridges

     image from atlantic inkjet, a different toner refill company

    Refilling toner cartridges at a discount price might not seem like a high priority for the Supreme Court. The issue underlying the case, however, involves rights under patent laws. These intellectual property rights are often misunderstood and subject to a wide range of interpretations.

    In this case, Lexmarka Chinese-owned company based in the USA, holds a patent on toner cartridges. They sued Impression Products, which bought used cartridges and recycled them by refilling them with toner and selling them at a discount. Lexmark asserted that their patent could be used to forbid this practice. Although lower courts sided with Lexmark, the Supreme Court, unanimously, did not. 

    What does this mean? From the linked article:

    "Mark Lemley, director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology, said that anyone who refurbished, repaired or resold used products would now be protected from patent infringement claims. The ruling will also prevent manufacturers from forcing consumers to buy supplies only from the original source."

    This is good news for consumers.

    Source: "Supreme Court Rules Patent Laws Can't Be Used To Prevent Reselling," by Adam Liptak and Vindu Goel, New York Times, May 30, 2017.

    Follow up

    • Give at least three examples of products in other arenas that are refurbished and or refilled and then resold by companies different from the original producers. How does this affect pricing or distribution? 
    • Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not concur with one aspect of the decision. What was that special case and what might be the reasoning behind her position?