business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Ken Wager, responding to last week's FaceTime about the mismatch between available jobs in the US and the skill levels of those who are looking for work:

I've been around for a long time and I find nothing evil in companies using technology to limit human employees. It only makes business economic sense. On the other hand I also don't think it is realistic to think that very many coal miners can be retrained as IT workers. My son has an IT degree and has to work and study very hard just to keep up with the rapid changes in that field and is under constant threat of his job being outsourced to India or elsewhere due to equal abilities at lower wages.

What is economically good for my business or industry today may or may not be economically good for my industry or the world in the future. Ford's production line changed world industry in a positive way for decades but Enron's behavior, not so much.

My point is simply that the threat of a growing population with fewer overall good paying jobs is a real threat that is not in my opinion being considered much less addressed and which has no easy answers. We are unlikely to solve theses problems in our lifetimes but that makes them no less real. It seems to me we should acknowledge the problem even if we have no idea how to fix it.

Just one old retired guy's opinion.

We all so love easy answers to complex problems but those easy answers rarely work long term.

Keep up your good work and keep challenging people to think!

When I made the "train coal miners to be computer programmers" suggestion, I recognized that I was drawing in stark, back-and-white terms ... I know that it'll never be that easy.

I guess my larger point is that one has to grapple with the economy/culture one has and will have, not the economy that we used to have or wish we had. Nostalgia is nice, but largely is illusory.

On another subject, MNB reader Lisa Malmarowski wrote:

Hooray - meal kits cut down on food waste.

This is greenwashing at it’s finest, designed to make the end user not feel bad about the extra fossil fuel it costs to ship it not to mention the excessive packaging. And of course it was underwritten by a, wait for it, meal kit shipper.

I’m surprised you didn’t call them on this glaringly obvious fact.

To be honest, I didn't think of it. So I'm glad you did.

Though, to be fair, I did point out who funded the study.

Yesterday, MNB took note of a Bellingham Herald report that "a group of creditors still owed money from the Haggen bankruptcy is going after the grocer’s previous owner in court. The lawsuit filed in a Delaware Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday, Sept. 7, alleges that Comvest Group Holdings covertly siphoned away valuable real estate assets that Haggen acquired from Albertsons to benefit Comvest and not be used to pay back creditors."

I commented:

I don't know the ins and outs of the deal, but it would not be hard to persuade me that when Comvest did the original deal, acquiring 146 stores from Albertsons that I thought from the beginning it would have no shot at operating successfully, it had to have a way to make money even if the chain collapsed. So, did these guys screw over creditors? Seems plausible to me. Did they protect themselves so that suits such as this one won't be successful? Wouldn't surprise me at all.

MNB user Joe Ciccarelli responded:

Kevin, the answer to your two questions is yes and yes. I know several of the creditors (CPG manufacturers) and when you examine all the facts and connect all the dots as they have it was a “dirty deal” designed from the start to line their pockets at the expense of others – including a lot of former employees.
KC's View: