Friday, October 17, 2014

Killer Business Model

Excellent article in the Washington Post about how furniture rental companies gouge three times the value of the furniture from people who can't afford to buy. This is called the Genius of Capitalism.

Faced with a need or a shortage, do you set about filling that need, that shortage, or is your first question how to exploit the shortage to the fullest advantage?

Is human vulnerability something to take advantage of?

Is poverty a profit opportunity for your company, the deeper the poverty the greater the profit?

Is someone else's helplessness part of your business model? When you see helplessness do you feel sympathy or greed?

Is helpfulness a naïve and foolish custom? Is it unbusinesslike to include generosity or humane consideration in your business plan?

Let’s imagine you manufacture flotation devices, lifesavers they’re called. It costs money to make them, so you sell them for a price. Naturally.

But here’s a business model: you provide flotation devices to lifeguards. Call these lifeguards sales agents and pay them a small commission. Then when someone is drowning don’t have your agent throw them a buoy free of charge, let the market set a price. Dicker with the floundering. Or rent the device to the person fighting for his life, loan the use of the buoy at so much per second. They’re really eager to rent, so set that rate as high as you can. Plus interest, compounding every second.

This is what’s known as a killer business model.

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Fear Card

Freedom of speech now protects the sacred right to yell fire in a crowded theatre as long as it is for political purposes. We’re that crowded theatre.

This is what Republicans and the Republican news network are doing these last few weeks before the election. Ginning up irrational fears that Islamic extremists and ebola are on the verge of killing thousands of Americans. These fears are irrational. The danger is remote. Of course we only have scientists and national security professionals to trust on that. Why believe experts when there are attractive blondes on Fox telling us ebola is just outside the door and Islamic terrorists hiding under the bed? Pretending these threats are imminent here in America is shrewd politics. Never mind the ethics or the dishonesty problem.

“Be afraid. Vote Republican!"

Fear is persuasive and the FoxNews strategy is making us into a nation of cowards. Working towards that goal would once have been called unpatriotic, unAmerican, but we mustn’t speak ill of a major network, particularly one that is so obviously losing its mind. It would be impolite.

Neither problem is made any easier to handle when Republicans slash CDC budgets and the budgets of other key government agencies.

Isis is emboldened by Republicans’ persistent and dangerous efforts to undermine and handicap the president and our federal government at home and abroad.

Fear is the GOP’s stock in trade. They have an entire network devoted to creating fear and suspicion and hatred and anger in American viewers.

News media are so intimidated by Republicans they are afraid to call a lie a lie or an extremist and extremist lest they appear “partisan.” Genuine science is diminished when our public conversation has to give equal respect to irrational, unscientific garbage. Honesty used to be considered the best measure of fairness. But money now does our talking for us.

Money is now speech, as surely as corporations are now people. Which has the effect of diminishing the freedoms of the rest of us who are not corporations and are strapped for money. Love money? Want money? Help sell the right wing agenda; money will pour in. Money is the ultimate validation in the new Republican value system. If you own for a living, you are holy. But if you work for a living, be prepared to show your papers. Be prepared to prove you’re a legitimate member of society.

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