The week that was: 02/23/14

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Next Presidents Day, please honor Benjamin Franklin

The online coupon company Groupon launched a Presidents Day promotion offering $10 off on purchases of $40 or more. The pitch: "Groupon Celebrates Presidents Day by Honoring Alexander Hamilton." Mr. Hamilton, whose face is on the $10 bill, was once treasury secretary, but he never got to sit behind the big desk at the White House. Though the Groupon slogan sounds like a laughable ignorance of history, it actually could be a stroke of marketing genius as the error -- and the promotion -- lit up the Internet.

The drifting, and sometimes disappearing, apostrophe

Speaking of last week's national holiday, Chevrolet ran an ad in last Sunday's Post-Gazette promoting "Chevy Presidents Day," but on Monday The Wall Street Journal's digital subscription service was offering a "President's Day Sale." Macy's, meanwhile, went with the plural possessive "Presidents' Day" in its ad.

So where does that apostrophe belong, if anywhere? The official word is little help: The federal Office of Personnel Management website says the proper designation for the third Monday in February is "George Washington's Birthday."

One step up and one back

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported a Democratic proposal that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour lifting 900,000 families out of poverty -- and reducing total employment by 500,000 jobs.

Honey, pick up milk and flea killer on the way home

Pet medications are becoming big business for grocers, chain pharmacies, specialty pet stores and big retailers such as Walmart and Target, reports Post-Gazette staffer Joe Smydo. While the stores get to tap into the $7.6 billion market, customers find they pay less and get to take advantage of store discounts and promotions. The list of pet medications includes antifungals, pain relievers and parasite killers.

Some good news -- if you're a bank

Student loan debt, quadrupling to $1.2 trillion since 2003, is not a critical threat to the U.S. economy, a Federal Reserve analyst said. While an average $30,000 debt might keep many young graduates in Mom and Dad's basement for years, the analyst reasoned that banks won't face the same exposure they did during the housing crisis.

"We don't want people looking at this thinking that it is no big deal because we won't have a banking crisis," Ann Marie Wiersch said. "We just want to make sure people are not fearing we will have 2008 all over again."


Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.

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