Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - April 3, 2016
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
The problem of unoccupied, un-maintained houses that start to deteriorate and "bring down the neighborhood" is a serious issue, since so many people have large shares of their net worth tied up in their housing stock.
They'll provide the keyboard and a 14" screen in a laptop-like unit. Users will provide the smartphone that will act as the "brains".
If being a technology company isn't enough to save yourself, then technology alone isn't going to save any company.
Their original bid was 489 billion yen -- and the actual sale price is about 100 billion yen less than that. That's not the direction these negotiations usually go. Japanese news reports reveal a whole lot of resentment at Sharp over the outcome. The buyer is Taiwan's Hon Hai (better known as Foxconn).
Tin Foil Hat Award
IDS Center, Minnesota's tallest building, goes up for sale. It's been in current hands for just three years. This is "trader" capitalism. While not immoral or unethical, per se, it isn't the same as constructive or productive capitalism that depends upon transforming things of lower value into things of higher value. It's also not the same thing as proprietor capitalism, in which a person proudly owns his or her business for what it creates. Again, this doesn't make trader capitalism evil or wrong -- but we need to be very careful about celebrating the cowboy antics of trader capitalism. Trader capitalism tends to be a zero-sum game, or close to it. The other forms are decidedly non-zero-sum: They deliberately turn out something better at the end than what was put in.
Yay Capitalism Prize
Tesla introduced its Model 3 sedan this week -- a car that isn't even going to be produced until next year -- and it already has 232,000 pre-orders. That's an astonishing number of orders: It's in the same order of magnitude as the Honda Civic, which was the #5 car sold in America last year.
I admit openly that I never thought Tesla would succeed this much, this fast. But they have.
The Model 3 will be an electric car starting at $35,000, with seating for 5.
Also newsworthy this week
That's a huge decline, largely tied to the drop in commodity prices. Lower prices mean less cash flow, and when the outputs don't justify the cost of the capital (here, that capital is land), the market price of the capital is bound to fall.
And where is the shame that should shadow the fact that 69 people have been killed in a terrorist bombing -- but because it happened in Pakistan, it isn't making the same kind of headlines as an equivalent attack in a city in Europe?
Both companies are testing projects to deliver Internet access from very high altitudes -- above normal commercial air traffic. But they're running into complicated rules on the way there, as well as some hassles with the lack of clarity about the rules that apply to air traffic at such high altitudes. Also, there's the sticky issue of flying across borders.
Netflix, Intel, Sony, and Samsung also make the top ten list. That likely says something not necessarily about technology-oriented companies being inherently more reputable than others, but about how high levels of consumer scrutiny and very low barriers to customer switching helps to keep these companies on their toes.
One thing that may be happening without sufficient attention is that the forces that cause the white-collar classes to work exceptional numbers of hours and to spend much of their free time in activities that also pass as career networking may also be the forces that serve to pull apart important civic organizations. It seems hard to find people with valuable skills who have the time and inclination to support civic institutions with their time and talents -- especially if they're spending time doing things like toting kids around to league sports.
Thus we all can think of a town that has lost a factory to "outsourcing" -- but many people would find it hard to quantify how much trade benefits them personally. This tempers how people understand trade, since it means we overweight the costs and underweight the benefits -- even though the benefits overall far outweigh the costs. Sensitivity to those concentrated costs is important, though: If we benefit at-large, then we need to tax at-large as well in order to help the people who are directly hurt by the effects of trade.
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (Technology alone can't save a company in trouble)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (Zombie houses are real)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (Trader capitalism vs. productive capitalism -- don't blame one for the sins of the other)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (Turning smartphones into laptops)
- Official station page for this episode