business news in context, analysis with attitude

We've spent a lot of time here on MNB talking about the problems - and, I would argue, the continuing promise - of America's cities, which prompted one MNB reader to write:

In a very recent interaction with a woman who said she would not come into downtown Minneapolis, fearing crime, and thus remaining in her 20 mile-away sleepy suburb, I commented “ so you wont see a Twins game at Target Field, you won’t see Hamilton at The Orpheum, you wont go to the Guthrie Auditorium for theater, no Taste of Minnesota on Nicollet Mall, no Basilica Block Party, no downtown Farmers Market, no Stone Arch Bridge, Vikings Game at US Bank, Manny’s Steak House, and no Springsteen at Excel Center…..”.

I enlightened her on how much crime has recently taken place in the Minneapolis suburbs, but it was no use. When I asked what she and her husband do in the suburbs, she told me they hunt a lot. Ahhh, the irony of it all.

They hunt in the suburbs of Minneapolis?  For what?

Thanks for making it clear what your city has to offer on any given day.  It is a reflection of the advantages and pleasures, even these days, of many cities.

We also had a piece the other day about how Kroger, acknowledging that smartphone-challenged customers would be ill-served by its elimination of print advertising and coupons, said that those customers "can receive the discounted pricing at any customer service desk.”

One MNB reader reacted:

Kroger provided a great career for me, and I enjoyed working for them for 40 years but …

Have you ever tried to get service at the service desk?

The other day we reported that "the nonprofit ParentsTogether coalition has come out against Kroger's proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons, saying that in its estimation the deal will 'likely raise grocery prices, undermine competition, and lower worker wages.'

"According to the statement, 'Over 13,000 parents signed a petition demanding that the Federal Trade Commission complete a thorough investigation and ultimately block the merger to prevent a grocery monopoly and protect the wellbeing of economically strapped families'."

I commented:

Kroger and Albertsons, of course, would dispute the assertion that a merger will raise prices and lower wages and be bad for competition - it will make the argument to the FTC that precisely the opposite will happen.

I'm not sure the degree to which the opposition will affect the FTC's deliberations and eventual decision, though the current FTC leadership seems more inclined to put up roadblocks to these mega-mergers.  The noise at the moment seems to be coming from the opposition, but there almost certainly is a lot of groundwork being done by proponents who hope they will be able to smooth the path to a merger.

One MNB reader responded:

Parents Together is another left of center group that is supported by Teacher’s Unions. 

Doesn't necessarily make them wrong.  Doesn't make them right, either.  I think it is better to consider the quality of the argument and weigh it against the other side.

For the record, I should point out that I live in a family of public school educators.  Mrs. Content Guy is a retired teacher but still a member of the teachers' union.  My daughter is a teacher and member of the teachers union.  I have a sister who is a teacher and member of the teachers union.  My dad was a teacher and member of the teachers union.  So, I'm not one of those folks who demonizes teachers unions - I don't always agree with them, but I certainly wouldn't characterize Randi Weingarten, the longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers, as “the most dangerous person in the world."

One final note:  To those of you who worried that I was only getting emails from one side of the culture wars (the side that told me that I'm going to hell), I just wanted to say, thank you.

I'm good.  I have a thick skin.  I know I have a lot of brothers and sisters in this debate.  And the good news is that, unlike businesses that have to sell stuff and legitimately worry about taking positions, I actually trade in opinions and (hopefully civil) discourse.