Just Getting By. This was a big weekend. Doing business stuff for The Bob Davis Podcasts, which includes doing some final work on taxes – yes filing late for the first time in many years – and discovered many people who have donated to Mobile Podcast Command who need to be thanked for their generosity. Finally with a complete list, we work our way through the people who have been instrumental to the road trip podcasts both for the sake of travel – a new topic category with The Bob Davis Podcasts – and for covering the 2016 primary campaigns earlier this winter/spring. Another subscriber asked me to talk about the economy, and it’s been awhile, so this podcasts focuses on the Just Getting By economy. We start off with how to inform yourself about economic news, then move onto a discussion of the problem areas with the US and world economy. A slow down in demand and low inflation has hit emerging economies like China, Brazil, Russia as well as basket cases like Venezuela. Meanwhile central banks keep pumping cash into these economies, encouraging more government and corporate debt. In the US, there have been as many corporate defaults this year as 2009. Not a good sign despite economic growth and improved employment numbers. Yes we’re out of recession, no it doesn’t feel like dynamic growth because it isn’t. We’re Just Getting By. Don’t expect the next president, or congress to solve any problems because no one is discussing how to spur the growth of new technologies that will form the building blocks of a new economy and a new society. Our political leaders are still talking like it’s 1999, or maybe even 1909. Employment may be higher, but the quality of those jobs isn’t as good as it was before the 2008 recession, many of them are part time, and don’t cover benefits. Many people are freelancing, which many writers don’t seem to think is a great idea, although some people in the so called 1099 economy love the freedom, and some make pretty good money if they hustle. While companies are hiring they are being more cautious. Stories about the ‘hell’ of the modern workplace proliferate these days, although working is better than not working. Meanwhile autonomous machines, self driving cars, single seat drone aircraft you fly by wire, dirigibles, supersonic airliners, robots who can operate like human beings, artificial intelligence, new advances in communications, anti aging, advances in medicine, compounds used in manufacturing and construction, changes in money, and many more new ideas are coming down the pike at a frightening or exhilarating speed, depending on what your fear level is. The new economy is coming, whether we want it or not, and if the government gets out of the way, it might just be pretty great. Let’s work through it and figure out what to do, because clearly this crop of 1900’s trogolodites doesn’t know what to do. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul, Brush Studio, and Hydrus.
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.)
Minnesota, Land of Confusion. What is the nature of what has been described as Minnesota’s ‘quirky’ political tendencies? Doubling as a Minnesota News Update, and commentary on the political state of affairs in the state, this podcast delves into the top political stories in the current time frame, and the conservative ‘movement’ in the state. As the House, with a Republicans majority vote to increase the education budget, the Senate with a Democrat majority votes to increase the gas tax by 16 cents. A tax which will come on top of the state’s 28 cent a gallon gas tax, federal taxes and local taxes. What’s the money going to used for? Roads and Bridges … Oh wait! Transportation. This, in addition to some three hundred million dollars a year which comes from the state’s recent Transportation Amendment, and existing bonding and budgeting for, well, roads and bridges. Senator Scott Dibble makes the ridiculous statement that ‘young people are leaving … for better transit options’. Richard Florida’s unproven assertions aside, studies show young people are moving to smaller, and larger cities like Austin, and Dallas, Denver, Des Moines and Omaha for career opportunities and cheaper housing. And what about the ‘lack of investment’ in the last thirty years? Projects on 94, 35W, 62, 100, the 610 interchange, the interchanges on 100 in the west metro this summer, innumerable ’roundabouts’ built all over the state, not to mention trains, trains, trains! And new buses. And a police force for the Met Council, and salaries for the Met Council. It seems as though, in this state Infrastructure, Education and Trains have taken their place next to entitlements as ‘third rail’ issues. Everyone wants more money, but they don’t want to have to pay for it. Solution? Tax the rich, tax corporations. And how many people in rural Minnesota really think they’re going to get their farm road repaved, or a new bridge down on the corner when the mayors of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Duluth and rich Doctors in Rochester have their hands out for ‘infrastructure’ and transit projects of their own? And yet another Minnesotan has been killed by the ‘safe and clean’ Green Line … this one an employee of the Minnesota Senate. Meanwhile, reports are the Met Council actually plans for about 5 deaths like Lynne Thomas’ every year. Target laid off another 100 employees downtown, with more to come. Educators lied through their teeth about how STEM education was needed because STEM jobs were going unfilled in Minnesota. Most jobs in the state are for unskilled labor. Despite all this, it appears the conservative ‘movement’ in the state is failing. The republican leadership is moderate. Polls show the state’s population leans to the left. Why? Minnesota is an island of old-time-democrat-union-monopoly, in a sea of forward thinking, business oriented policy and politics in all the surrounding states. What’s wrong with us? Year after year the same arguments about Sunday liquor sales, stadiums and light rail, and yet the money is taxed, the outraged brooked, and the cycle starts over again. Is this how Minnesotans ARE? What can be done about it. SHOULD anything be done about it? Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul. Image from the tenth amendment group.