business news in context, analysis with attitude

The other day we pointed to a Detroit Free Press report that "Target plans to open a distribution center for online orders in Detroit at the old State Fairgrounds off 8 Mile and near the new Amazon Fulfilment Center."

I commented:

I'm fully expecting a press release tomorrow from Sen. Tom Cotton in which he argues that opening a sortation center in Detroit is discriminatory against less ethnically diverse metropolitan areas, and threatens 'significant and likely costly litigation' unless Target changes its strategies and tactics.

This was, of course, a callback to Monday's story about how Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), following up on the Supreme Court ruling that banned affirmative action in college admissions - or at least mandated that race could not be used by colleges as a factor in determining who to admit - "urged Target Corp. to end its efforts to racially diversify its workforce and vendor network.  He called the Minneapolis-based company’s programs 'discriminatory' and threatened 'significant and likely costly litigation' should Target fail to change its ways."

I was very critical of that statement, writing, in part:

There is basically one reason that companies like Target and Walmart pursue diversity and inclusion initiatives.  It is because businesses are better when more people of different backgrounds, beliefs, genders and ethnic origins are represented around the table and in their stores.  Businesses are better when employees at all levels reflect the customer base, and I think that in most cases, these efforts are to be admired, not condemned.

I'm not sure what Cotton's standing would be in such a lawsuit.  (He would know better than I, being an elite Harvard and Harvard Law School graduate.)  But I'm sure he's right - someone probably is going to sue Target.  And probably Walmart.  And maybe even any other company that tries to be proactive about diversifying their ranks.

But one MNB reader took me to task:

You know you are going to get a bunch of mail for this comment KC. Regardless of where anyone shakes out on the political issues in our culture, you take a cheap political shot that cheapens your blog.  You can show more restraint, especially as you seem to expect that of people who believe differently than you.  Come on man!!! 

I would agree that it was a shot.  But a cheap shot?  Don't think so.

But let's assume you're right.  I'll stop taking cheap shots at politicians when they stop trying to make cheap political points.  

Plus, restraint really isn't my thing.

Let me repeat what I said the other day:

It isn't about anything other than scoring political points.  But again, to be fair, that's a game that people play on both sides of the aisle.

I have no problem with that, except when, as a result, people get hurt, people get bullied, people get disenfranchised, and people are denied rights that they should be able to take for granted.  But it ends up, of course, that there is very little that we actually can take for granted.


I got a similar criticism about another comment I made about a different story:

Business Insider reported that a $300 million superyacht, the Kaos, owned by billionaire Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie, was vandalized as it was leaving Ibiza on Sunday.  Two "activists" sprayed the stern with red and white paint and held up a sign saying, "You consume, others suffer."

According to the story, "The two activists were detained and are expected to be released. No word on what they'll be charged with.

I commented:

I put "activists" in quotation marks above because they really should be described as vandals and criminals.  I'm not sure what good it did anyone - including their cause of climate action - for them to spray a bunch of paint on a boat.  I'm all for climate action, too, and even, in some cases, for legitimate civil disobedience - what the great John Lewis used to call "good trouble."  But this is just silly and ineffective.

The only good thing about the story is that it has a fairly detailed description of the boat, which sort of puts into perspective how much "Always Low Prices" can buy on the open market:

"Her vessel, which flies under the Jamaican flag, has four decks and can accommodate 31 guests and 45 crew, per the yacht-enthusiast website Yacht Bible.

"It hosts 16 guest cabins and at least 24 staff cabins as well as an elevator, a steam room, a gym, a cinema, and an indoor beach club.

"It costs from $20 million to $30 million every year to keep the Kaos running, according to Yacht Bible."

Here's my question:  What does one need with an indoor beach club when you're traveling on a yacht?  

And one more question:  Wasn't "Kaos" the name of the evil organization in "Get Smart?"  Who the hell names their yacht that?

One MNB reader wrote:

Here is what I read from your comment. Shame on the "activists" who are everyday common criminals. Good start.

Yet you had to take a swipe at someone else's legal choice to have a luxury item.  So really what you are saying is - shame on both the vandal and the heiress. Judging other's success is petty. You achieve as much in your comment as the vandals did in spray painting their yacht. NOTHING. As a matter of fact it subtracts from your credibility. 

Why does everyone in this world have to judge everyone else's choices? My goodness the soap box is tall but not as great as the fall!

First of all, have you ever read MNB?

I judge and take swipes at people and companies all the time.  It is sort of what I do.

I only have a few rules.  One is that I try to only punch up.   (Punching down is what bullies do.)

Another rule is that if people want to take shots at me, I'll post them.  If I can't have a sense of humor about myself, then what's the point?

Now, let's be clear.

I wasn't accusing Nancy Walton Laurie of doing anything illegal.  I wasn't even judging her success, or that of the family that made her an heiress.  (For the record, she does seem to engage in philanthropy, for which she should be applauded.)  I was just observing and gently mocking her conspicuous consumption.  And I still want to know -  what does one need with an indoor beach club when you're traveling on a yacht?  

If the day comes that I no longer can poke a little fun at anyone who owns a yacht with four decks, 16 guest cabins, 24 staff cabins, an elevator, a steam room, a gym, a cinema, and an indoor beach club, and costs $20 million to $30 million a year to operate … well, that'll be the day that I call it quits.

These things - whether owned by Nancy Walton Laurie or Jeff Bezos - exist to be made fun of.  And my feeling is that if if you have the money to buy such a thing, a) good for you, and b) be prepared to be made fun of, at least by some of us.