retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subjects on Amazon's drones, and its hopes for dedicated air space in which to fly them, MNB user Bill Kadlec wrote:

I happen to live in a neighborhood airport community that is self regulated (meaning unattended for take-offs and landings). There are TONS of these across the landscape. I wonder how this plan of Amazon’s to fly between 200-400 feet could be managed effectively with all the small aircraft communities. That flight height is dead on the take-off and landing elevation and would no doubt encounter conflicts. And I can’t imagine little airports like this having the ability to monitor what could be thousands of these things flying around once this delivery mechanism takes hold.
There has to be some plan for avoiding major airports in flight paths. I don’t even know if all the small air fields are even cataloged.
Maybe there’s an answer to this. But, nothing is readily evident to me.

My assumption is that the skies are going to look like an episode of "The Jetsons."

MNB reader César González wrote:

“Get ready to duck”; that’s a very serious joke.  There are so many SAFETY things that must be check and re-checked, prior to seeing these drones authorized.  Once they are approved, who will be responsible for damages that could result from accidents; Amazon, other drones users, NASA, FAA, or none of the above?  How are they going to control traffic in major urban areas, with people and cars in the way?  Please don’t tell us that the drones industry will be “just another industry like the airlines”; it certainly is not.  That’s what’s on my mind today.

Like I said ... just watch an episode of "The Jetsons."

On the subject of a possible spinoff of Save-A-Lot by Supervalu, one MNB user wrote:

Think of Save A Lot as Aldi, but mostly owned by franchisees. They stock almost all private label items, sourced from Save A Lot unique warehouses.  They were founded as an independent company and they operated as an independent company for many years before SuperValu scooped them up from founder Bill Moran.

I would guess that a sale would be accomplished to generate cash to reduce debt since Save A Lot is a stand-alone Division of SuperValu and the sale could be very clean.  The other reason is not that Save A Lot faces increasing competition from Aldi and Lidl, but SuperValu as a wholesaler has as their base independent retailers that don’t like competing with a discount operation owned by their wholesaler.

From another reader:

This idea of spinning off Save-A-Lot as a separate company, whose majority stockholder would probably be SUPERVALU has been kicking around the company for many years.  It is not something new, SUPERVALU always thought that it was undervalued, because the value of SAL was masked by the other slower growth portions of the business.  Prior to 2005, when SUPERVALU was a solid company with a more long term view, it was afraid that actually putting a value on SAL, would attract unwanted takeover bids.

I see this as a way to raise the stock price and give the stockholders, a large chunk of whom are still Cerberus, a nice big one-time dividend.  This is all about doing what is right for the stockholders in the short term.  It creates extra bureaucracy and expense and in the long term makes the company less profitable.

From another reader:

From this  long time Supervalu employee's experience, the announcement is not good news. It seem to be more for the stock holders and for Save a Lot to benefit from the IPO. We will lose some logistics efficiencies and I would not be surprised that if in the name 'getting better' there will be more rounds of layoffs, so they can continue the past trend of awarding large bonuses like the $12 million they gave to Wayne Sales a little over a year ago.

In talking about the minimum wage debate the other day, I wrote, in part:

I am extremely sympathetic to the position that increased wages could cost jobs and inhibit an economic recovery. I am less so when it comes to the argument - sometimes advanced here by certain readers - that any minimum wage is socialism, and ought to be disposed of.

Where I run into trouble rationalizing all this is when it comes to people who may be working 50 or 60 hours a week at minimum wage jobs because that's all that is available to them, for employers who believe it is their mission to keep labor costs as low as possible, and then cut them some more. Those people may not be in a position to get more training or education so they can get better jobs, because they've got to feed their families and pay the rent ... and even if you work 50 or 60 hours a week, if all you are making is minimum wage, it is hard to get by without some reliance on public services, which has its own impact on the economy, not to mention the culture.

If the two warring factions in this argument could sit down and figure out a nuanced, sophisticated, compassionate and yet economically sound way to address these issues, I'd be all for it. And if it could be done in such a way that state and federal minimum wages laws don't have to be changed, all the better.

But I don't hear the low murmur of intense and reasonable discussion, but rather the clanging bell of a dissonant and dysfunctional political system that isn't addressing the problem.

MNB user Joe Davis responded:

I just wanted to call out that I thought you wrote one of your greatest lines ever today.  I am speaking about this comment:  “I don't hear the low murmur of intense and reasonable discussion, but rather the clanging bell of a dissonant and dysfunctional political system that isn't addressing the problem.”
So great, in fact, I am ashamed to say I “googled” it as I would a lyric from a song to see if you had perhaps borrowed it from some great body of work.  You got skills, Kevin.

Thanks. I'm just glad that I didn't steal the line ... I thought I was making it up, but I could've accidentally appropriated it from somewhere.


MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

Very well stated! And the statement applies to virtually every major decision facing this country. All sides are at fault. A new way is required.

Finally, reacting to our story about Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

Tom Brady destroyed his digital evidence (his cell phone) and is suspended for four games.  Hilary Clinton destroyed digital evidence (her personal server).  Will she be suspended for the first four primaries?

Here's the difference. Football, unlike politics, has rules and referees.

And quite frankly, I expect a higher standard of behavior from sports figures.
KC's View: