business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Janis Raye about our broader discussion of millennials and specifically The "Millennial Mind" column that Chelsea Ware contributed last week:

I think Chelsea is missing the point, and like my own millennial-aged son, a bit too touchy about how he thinks the rest of us view his age cohort. As you have already pointed out, sometimes we want the social experience, and sometimes it’s quicker and easier to use a machine. This started a long time ago when answering machines were new, and we began to hope that the machine would pick up so we could just leave a message and go. Likewise, once we were accustomed to ATMs, we often found it faster and easier to use them rather than to —what was it -- cash a check at the teller window?

Thirty years ago, I ate at an automated sushi restaurant in Tokyo, where the food came around the restaurant on a long conveyor belt. Sure, it wasn't gourmet, but it was kind of fun and was a quick lunch in the middle of a busy day. There’s a place for automation and robots in our world as another choice, and it’s not because anyone thinks millennials can’t be humans, too. (Although they’ll have to pry my cold, dead hands off my Roomba to get that particular robot away from me!)

I had to look up what a "Roomba" is. Now I understand.

On the same subject, from MNB reader Jesse Ehlen:

This talk of robotic vending machines and the 'antisocial Millennials' who [supposedly] love them has me wondering...

Were the Boomers labeled as antisocial and misanthropic when they quit going inside restaurants, favoring, instead, to not even get out of the car, but rather be handed a feed bag at a slow roll from an anonymous person standing inside a little window?

Excellent point. BTW...Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos would both be characterized as Baby Boomers, I think. (Bezos is on the edge. Jobs was right in the middle.)

And, from MNB reader Philip Herr:

When I first arrived in the USA – 1977 – I visited the last standing Horn and Hardart, which was on 42nd Street in Manhattan. The heyday of the automat was in the post war 1940s I believe.  And that pre-dated my (boomer) generation. This was the period of vast economic expansion driven by the “greatest” generation.  So “robotic” food is neither new nor confined to a younger generation. (Refuse to use the “M” word.)

I would've thought that you'd been in the automat there during its final days ... but a quick Google check revealed that it actually closed in April 1991. I was shocked to see that; I worked in midtown Manhattan from 1980 until the early 90's, and I don't remember it being around that long ... but that may be more a function of how long it hung on after it became irrelevant.

I'm old enough that I can remember being taken there by my grandmother and some aunts and uncles during the late fifties ... it was a busy place then, and a big deal to go there before being taken to Radio City Music Hall for a show and movie.

On another subject, from an MNB reader:

A bit off topic perhaps … I know that drones are making an impact in the market place, but I recently had one make an impact in my personal life.  Last weekend, several of us got together and made a short film for a 48-hour film contest.  We had 48 hours to write, produce, and edit a short film based on a genre, dialogue line, prop, and character name we were given.  One of our team members brought his drone, and we used it to shoot the opening and closing scenes.  We also used it as one of the characters.  When I first heard about drones, I thought they were interesting but not anything I’d ever be involved in.  Now I want one!  I think drones may have a bigger impact than a lot of people predict.


Regarding Netflix's growth, from MNB reader Terry Mullery:

I don’t know if this is happening to anyone else, but lately, every time we go to use Netflix on a Saturday evening, we get content downloading issues, and have to attempt multiple times before we can load the content.  It does not happen at other times during the week.  It’s rather frustrating and it seems either Netflix or my provider Comcast has bandwidth issues on Saturday evening.  Wondering if anyone else is experiencing the same.  We are now starting to get most of this content now from Amazon Prime because Netflix is so frustrating.

Regarding our ongoing discussion of the minimum wage, MNB reader Neil Reay wrote:

The minimum wage only goes up every 8-10 years, but executives think that it is still a “livable wage.” What has happened to the CEO and C-level salaries over the same period of time? I guess a couple of million is not a “livable wage” for them, and they need to be incentivized more every year to show up every day for work. Maybe if executive salary increase were held to the same level as average wage/salary increases, they would think more about those on the lower end of the scale.

Chiming in on our discussion of Kroger's management culture, MNB reader Larry Ishii wrote:

I was with Fred Meyer Inc, when it was acquired by Kroger. Having had been through seven or eight consolidations already, I held my breath.
For one year (1998/1999) I was in a position in my job on the West Coast to work closely with the Kroger grocery buying staff and found the company culture to be amazing. Kroger understood then that the companies (and people) they added through acquisition had value and were not to be simply ignored and/or “steam rollered”. Rather, they looked for what could be used in the entire company to bring more value – nothing was by accident.
That year of my 49 years in the grocery industry was an amazing one in which I learned a great deal more about how a truly successful company really works. At that time ten cents out of every dollar spent for groceries in this country was spent in a Kroger-owned store. I believe that number is higher today.

Regarding the about-to-be-imposed soft drink tax in Philadelphia, MNB reader Gregg Raffensperger wrote:

Typical political double speak.  I seriously doubt the “additional funding” from a soda tax will go specifically to education and libraries.  It sounds to me, more like the lottery and how that funds the senior programs.  How long did that last?? 
Me thinks the next tax target will be salty snacks….only after they pass medical marijuana.

I think they call that synergy.
KC's View: