It will be missed!
I just got a new craftsman table-saw yesterday basically for free. I need to pick it up before they go bankrupt!
They need to get their act together of they have any intention of competitors with GrubHub and the other twenty food delivery services.
Screw their line item refunds too. If I have to drive somewhere because someone is left out of the meal there was no point in ordering at all.
Wow, that's pretty badass. It is sad as lot's of people on HN have no idea the monster Sears once was. I still remember as a kid ordering a remote control fire truck from a Sears catalog. It had lights, sirens, full latter control, and even air brak sound effects as it stopped.
I worked at my local hometown Sears after high school
selling computers and the original iMac (should have loaded up on Apple stock) as fast as iMac's were selling (Oops).
Let's not forgot Sears employees a great number of people still, and unfortunately they are soon going to be out of a job.
RIP Sears, Roebuck and Company the retail empire of yesterday!
The book is really worth reading because the contrast between Houser and Lambert (and most all CEOs now) is striking. I think just the title of his book demonstrates how different capitalism is now in comparison to Houser's day.
"Human Values" is not something we hear CEOs or financial talking heads speak of much anymore. (Has Jim Cramer ever used that phrase?)
I will point out that Arthur Martinez did help bring Sears back to a customer centric business model in the mid-90s but he missed the boat when the internet came into the mix. Sears was perfectly positioned to become what Amazon is now and they did almost nothing to move on it.
Hard to imagine anyone rising up the corporate ranks like Houser did these days. I can't think of a single example that compares to it.
I think it would be interesting to review Sears fall from the top from that perspective because I suspect we'd probably see their decline began when they stopped promoting CEOs from within their own ranks. That changed the focus from their customers to their investors, and that's why they're where they are today.
Cramer himself is not an idiot regardless of the quality of his stock picks. He’s a successful entertainer, like Jon Stewart.
>When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.
It's been quite a saga.
What are we expecting returns to be here after all the financial engineering and various fees from investors?
He gutted the place and got the real estate.
It's a heist, not a fiasco
Also, is it schadenfreude to hate hubris?
If a company can't make money from it's valuable real estate, then maybe it doesn't deserve to be a company, and should stop wasting everyone's time and money pursue goals that will fail.
Eventually you have to learn not to throw good money after bad. If anything, the people who are trying to keep zombie corporations around are the thieves.
A company thinking thats a better strategy and failing and going bust is a great one though.
This could be its own chapter in a book about how to cripple a thriving business. Right after the chapter on leveraged buyouts. Motorola, among others, eventually succumbed to this business-cancer.
What's the real difference?
How does a free market protect you from this?
Lampert has done virtually everything to make the company fail, from employer actions that drove away anyone good, to screwing suppliers so that he now has no inventory, to letting the actual stores look like dingy, deserted, wastelands, so no one wants to shop there.
Even in the age of Amazon, many brick&mortar stores are actually learning to thrive, including BestBuy and Walmart. Sears has a corporate history of being Amazon 100 years before Amazon -- they sold everything by its famous catalog, up to and including houses. Of course, much of that institutional memory has faded, but it still arguably could have been leveraged to help it thrive today.
I have zero doubt that if it had been run recently by someone who knows and cares about great merchandising and service, it would be thriving, instead of dying by being run by a financial 'engineer' bent on using it as chop-shop fodder.
Lambert was the final nail in the coffin.
Following the coffin analogy, I'd say it was sick, but the family wasn't even talking about coffins, but Lambert came in and upended the bed, threw the patient out the window, bought the coffin, put the body in, and nailed it shut all by himself. Now, he's off to bury it.
Also note that the difference between "leech" and "recycler of misplaced assets" is thin to non-existent.
Welp I guess if we're talking about Ayn, I'll crack a beer and go start the popcorn now....
I think its popularity is due to the fact that it tells people what they want to hear, and they can think of themselves as John Galt-esque ubermenschen.
Of all the heroes we could encourage people to have, is John Galt really so awful? He's described as bright, hard-working, self-reliant, but also collaborative and supportive of the work of those around him. He's driven and entrepreneurial, but not anti-social. He doesn't come across as anti-government so much as desiring government that isn't kleptocratic or set on regulatory capture. So... is any of that so awful?
There's a spectrum here... those who praise Rand and Objectivism might do so with a bit too much fervor. But,I'm skeptical toward those who turn up their nose with disgust.
When you realize that you can't just write off people because they didn't turn out to be brilliant entrepreneurs or perky worker bees, and that the workings of government and justice are more complicated than Rand would allow, Atlas Shrugged does become pretty repugnant. Granted, she was reacting to her experiences with communism, so I don't totally blame her for going all the way to the other extreme.
But insofar as someone wants to invent great things and do well from them, I don't take issue with that.
It's a work of fantasy, why does anyone point to it and say "This is what I base my beliefs on."? That would be like using LotR as your moral compass. Except with worse plot holes like gross misrepresentations of how small mountain village economies could possibly function.
Given that this is the topic that we are discussing, I do not find her ideas to be fantasy at all.
Stalin and Mao killed many millions of people, both intentionally, and through mere neglect. Probably more than the Nazis. So given that this is the topic, her criticism of a collapsing society doesn't seem that ridiculous.
In the book society was already collapsing. Plenty of regular people in the novel realized something was wrong and removed themselves from the looters' economy to roam the country.
Galt simply refused to be the one to prop up the looters failing economy.
Interesting that you see Galt as the one collapsing society. Rand's point was that the looters collapsed society and that they were too ignorant to understand why or how.
The point is that the looters pushed the weight of the world on to them, and that's the failure of their society.
Galt and the others that removed themselves from the collapsing society were not the ones that were collapsing society, nor was the collapse their end-goal.
In the story, the looters were causing the collapse, and were taking everything not nailed down in the process. Galt and the others simply decided to leave them to it.
The message and moral I took from her stories was essentially pro-human, where the archetypal good is that independent man who creates according to their own taste, without any overlords, and without the approval of others. The greater any effort is collectivized, the greater the sin.
Rand's is a hyper-optimistic view of the individual - it feels like an atheist's attempt to replace God with Man and then posit him as the highest virtue. And in the introduction to The Fountainhead, I believe Rand even said her philosophy was a form of worship of Man. It's foolish because life is much too brutal for man to ever truly ascend that way. In any case, her brand of optimism is so rare, and that sells.
It's so interesting to me that your critique went to group politics and identity, though. Rand was consistently negative about groups and big government cronyism. She treated her archetypes as equally noble whether they were breaking rocks in a quarry or engineering some new miracle metal. Do you view the world through such a group identity lens that you couldn't see that in her writing? It's absolutely plain.
The evil archetypes in the Randian universe are any nullifying spirit, destroyer, or parasite. Remember, these are archetypes, no-one in the real world is so black-and-white. It's not a bad characterization of evil, and has parallels in religion and literature.
I’m not really sure what you’re talking about. I do have thoughts on group and identity politics, but I certainly wasn’t referencing them in my post. Not consciously or in any way that is obvious to me, at least.
Re: her archetypes being treated as “equally noble”, I didn’t suggest they weren’t? Although she certainly presents a hierarchy of value that depends on what a given character is doing / capable of. Rearden is without question the lesser man in Rand's and Dagny Taggart's eyes, compared to Galt.
> Galt is basically trying to collapse society for everyone but the former.
There is an interesting feature of the Christian bible where God starts out walking/talking directly with Man, and as the stories progress, God grows more and more distant. Eventually, God can only communicate with mankind via prophets and Jesus. I think the point of this storytelling device was to indicate the increasing sin divide between humanity and God. God, being incompatible with sin, simply could not approach us even though He wanted to.
I believe Rand uses this same 'disgusted separation' device in Atlas Shrugged to remove her heroes further and further away from the fallen world.
That you took Galt's exodus and luring of the most productive people from society as an offensive move to destabilize that society struck me immediately as a "class struggle" thought. You had formed Rand's productive archetypes as some kind of oppressive elite class, or some such.
I wish there was some gray in Rand's writing and thoughts to allow for that. In her philosophy, voluntary denial of one's productive capacity to others could never be considered terrorism.
I clearly see targeted terrorism in Galt's luring of key people out of society, regardless of when and why, because we all need one another, period. But Rand thought Galt was saving those people from an already too-far-gone, collapsing world, there to help rebuild after the old world finally bottomed out.
> When you realize that you can't just write off people because they didn't turn out to be brilliant entrepreneurs or perky worker bees
This felt to me like another oppressor/victim thought you had where the oppressor might be the employed and the victim might be the indigent or jobless. Life is more complicated than that, so those characterizations are only sometimes true (and perhaps not even mostly true in my personal, subjective experience.) Reducing the world down to too generic terms risks missing the truth of things, giving one false rationale for all kinds of mischief.
You make a good point about gradients in Riordan vs Galt. It's been a couple of years since I read AS, but I recall Riordan's "sin" was that he loved the work too much and gave in to the government cronies rather than just shrugging them off. Ugh, that book was a hot mess...
I said that, forgetting there was terrorism (hero blows up a building) in The Fountainhead. AS is definitely a more pure statement of Rand's philosophy, but I think she rationalized away too much in every case to cleanly make her point.
So same basic concept as nitschze espoused?
You're saying Ayn Rand is popular because of the optimism in her works?
I hope to God Rand's writing isn't gobbled up for its sex scenes, yikers!
Also, you may want to read what I wrote again. I said "Star Trek is not pretending to be a moral philosophy." Ayn Rand claims that Objectivism is the basis for ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, etc. How on Earth does that compare to the Ferengi being greedy as a parable of capitalism?
I gave a link showing it was Roddenberry's directive. Also, what do you think of the Prime Directive? (Which, of course, is routinely violated if the aliens don't conform to progressive ideals.)
> besides a few nerds
I've read progressive newspaper columnists citing Star Trek as a model to emulate.
Her experience was of the communists taking and breaking everything, one should keep that in mind. She's basically warning about government overreach, something we should all be able to get behind. It's a valid argument until you take it too far and use it as an excuse, like all political arguments.
Even John Galt stands on the shoulders of giants. He had no resources to implement his ideas and stole from his employer. If she had something smart to say about misallocation of capital then Galt might be an interesting character.
Can you list what Galt stole? I don't remember him stealing anything. He even leaves his greatest invention, his motor, to his old employers as he concedes it wasn't his because they paid for it.
I'm not an Ayn Rand sycophant by any means, but there _is_ some merit to her literature that doesn't discredit it entirely.
Rand grew up in Russia, and her works were a direct criticism of the failures of the Soviet Union and communism.
For someone who was watching their former country being torn apart, by cartoon villians, it makes sense that she would write about the exact problems that she saw happening. IE, cartoon villians looting the country.
She died in her Manhattan apartment , not some government funded facility. And colleague Leonard Peikoff  was heir to her estate, including the copyrights and royalties on her works.
She eventually took $11k over 8 years from social security until she died....which isn't much at all (about $1.3k/yr, hardly a 'living wage' as people on the left like to say).
Quite a big difference from 'depending on the state' or 'capable people leeching off of other hardworking individuals' as she despised. Regardless she lived in the US, not in her idealistic economic system. Expecting her (or anyone) to live perfectly like they would in their fantasy ideal political/economic system is a ridiculous standard and dismissing all of her (flawed) work because of it is a no-true-scotsman-esque fallacy.
I'm sure she would have preferred paying into a private retirement insurance fund and people donating to private retirement security funds for those who weren't capable of investing in insurance themselves (which she most certainly was).
I believe the parent was referring to government institutions such as social security, which Ayn Rand wound up using after being signed up by a social worker. She spoke out against such programs her whole life. However, she needed it, it was different. A common refrain with such people.
It seems a little ridiculous for a economic conservative to refuse to accept social security despite being forced to pay into it their whole life. Just as much for an economic liberal to pay the highest taxes possible and give all of their extra income to the Government too.
I think optimizing your current situation given what the rules of your society currently actually are doesn't preclude you from advocating for a different set of rules.
Her actual position, from 1966:
The thing with Social Security is we're all forced to pay into the system. It's not immoral to accept the paycheck. I'll be accepting those checks, too, despite opposing SS and consistently voting against it.
Disliking being "excessively taxed" your whole life doesn't preclude you from trying to get some of it back. In fact, I dare say you'll try even harder to get it back.
Just because you didn't want to blow the budget on the Christmas party doesn't mean you can't show up.
Now, if you persuade a client to come along for the ride with your vision, good for you. But the idea that a building is all about the architect's vision and no other consideration is egomaniac territory.
It's fine to go off and do our own thing. But that doesn't mean we'll have any leverage to gain the concern or help of other people. Subsequently calling them out is just rude.
... so he made $40 million?