You’re Not That Hot Anymore. Are the institutions of our society failing us, or just failing to live up to their over the top narratives? A bad customer service experience leads into a discussion – presented as sort of a rant but meant as a question – about whether the business models and technology that seemed so forward five to ten years ago don’t seem that way at all now. Technology companies, Internet Service Providers, consumer products, office supplies, services, health care, travel, utilities and all kinds of services in the western world seem to have stopped progressing in terms of service to the customer a few years ago. No longer is it good enough to deliver a great product or service, you have to have an ‘amazing’ story, be saving the whales, or making your product in some aboriginal prefecture where you pay fair wages and post the obligatory pictures of building schools, or handing out water at the local marathon or breast cancer walk. What happened to buying a toaster that works, and when it doesn’t being able to rely on a customer service approach that says, “Yep, here’s a new one”? Instead you get protocols, upsells, long waits at the help desk (with the same three songs that play over and over) bored, surly or overwhelmed ticket agents, or admissions ‘techs’. The gauntlet of nose-ring festooned ‘greeters’ sporting ‘man-buns’ or just plain mean city, county, state and federal workers is actually the new normal. We need to talk about it, and we need to fix it. Is the problem that companies are spending too much time saving the whales, and not enough time saving the customer? Or is it excessive government regulation, poor economic growth, or we’re just not as competent as our ‘amazing’ history and resume says we are? No institution in our society is more dangerously corrupt and incompetent than the government, despite what the politicians say about Wall Street. What can be done? Meanwhile…still on hold with customer service. Sponsored by X Government Trucks and Pride of Homes and Luke Team Real Estate. (Editor’s Note: Podcast 429 isn’t done yet, and will be on the way…so here’s podcast 430. Don’t worry you didn’t miss one.)
Updates! The Correspondent’s dinner is a colossal waste of time, and discussions now center on how to fix it. How do you fix it when the news reporters who should be in Baltimore covering riots are ‘the story’ at a glitzy, hollywood style celebrity roast, including the President. How is the public to expect objectivity in its nightly news given that kind of display. NBC Nightly News, as predicted, has reportedly asked Brian Williams to find the door as more evidence of his ’embellishments’ emerge. Williams has done irreparable harm to NBC News. The Comcast-Time Warner deal is kaput. It can only be hoped complaints about customer service at both companies contributed to it. It’s starting to become apparent that the balance of power, when it comes to energy, is shifting in favor of the United States. Fracking made it possible, and today’s technology made fracking so efficient oil companies can scale them up or down at much cheaper costs, and exploration is cheaper as well. With the US the second or first largest oil producer, and controlling as much as ten percent of the world’s oil production, substantive changes in middle east policy are now possible. The new reality also extends to how we deal with countries like Venezuela and Russia, not just the Middle East. Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison wants to end so called subsidies to the ‘evil’ oil companies. What are subsidies, what tax breaks and loopholes specifically apply here and who really benefits? Meanwhile real subsidies for wind power, ethanol, electric cars, light rail and rail roads that deliver the oil – rather than the Keystone Pipeline – continue. Who benefits? The top selling car at GM is not a gas-electric, or even the fully electric Volt. It’s the Suburban, Yukon and Escalade as people trade in their electric cars for SUV’s, now that gas is cheaper. The war on the car, the individual and independent-government-free living continues. Latest in the struggle is the Southwest Light Rail project now expected to cost Minnesota Taxpayers 2 billion dollars, which shocked and appalled Governor Dayton. The solution? Kill the project. The aging hippie governor and his 60 year old pals at the Hennepin County Council, City Councils and a duchy known as ‘The Met Council’ have a vision. That vision is our return to the early 20th century city utopia, where cars were scarce and trains carried people from residential areas of big cities downtown. Forget that those cities, at that time, were hardly utopias. The last, best hope of these statists is the Millennial generation, which they expect will move into downtown, thus populating the expensive (1500 to 3000 a month) high rise apartments, and drinking in the bohemian bars and coffee shops, and in general contributing to something called ‘the creative class’. Truth is, Millennials are moving to the suburbs and the exurbs because housing is cheaper, and there are yards for their new families. Babies and toddlers don’t prefer sitting in outdoor coffee cafes, riding around on bikes and getting tattoos. Is the statist dream of returning to the early 20th century city doomed? Sponsored by X Government Cars.
Net Neutrality. If you were called on to explain something called ‘Net Neutrality’ could you? Most people can’t, and many in the telecommunications business are challenged when it comes to explaining it in terms ‘regular’ people can understand. In spite of this, the FCC has issued new rules regarding Internet Service Providers based on something called Title II, of the Communications Act of 1934. Hey! Did you fall asleep? These new rules – now pay attention – reportedly begin government regulation of Internet Service Providers in a way similar to how telephone companies have been. With the passage of the new regulations, media coverage of this issue has exploded. Now, the earliest these rules can go into effect is this summer, and there will be court challenges, and public pressure brought to bear in the meantime. The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency within the executive branch, and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler was in favor of a lighter touch here, until President Obama issued a video purported to be directed to the public, but the audience was in fact Tom Wheeler, appointed by the President. So, Wheeler knuckled under and issued harder regulations. Reportedly, supporters of Net Neutrality (oddly enough mostly on the political left) issued as many as four million emails supporting the President’s version. If you are one of those people slapping the table and decrying another power grab by the President, how many emails did you send? The real issue here is the increasing power and proliferation of government agencies controlled by bureaucrats appointed by executives to issue rules with the force of law, controlling our lives. The last months of the Obama Administration will be one wild ride after another, triggered by executive order, executive memoranda, or prosecutorial discretion. This is the reason every little thing in life seems political, and its the reason people who want to cut the Gordian Knot of Government have to get involved and stay involved. Sponsored by Baklund R&D.