Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Industrial Revolution is dead...Long live the Service Economy

Or, so we are told as more and more good jobs disappear over the horizon.

The question then becomes: How efficient and competitive is the new Service Economy?

Answer: It's inefficient and getting worse.

Reason: Service in our nation is in a rapidly deteriorating condition that, if not address ASAP, will soon lead to shrinking economic growth.

While it is true that the technological revolution has led to rapidly growing productivity, it is also true that it has led to much frustration on the part of users.

I, for one, recall the "good ol' times" when, say, AT&T responded to calls rapidly and courteously: AT&T, can I help you?

Sadly, human voices have been replaced by machines that present a litany of choices that, more often than not, are unable to respond effectively to the callers' request.


I also recall that when buying, say, appliances with ONE warranty meant that they would be installed properly and work correctly. That is no longer the case. Instead, two warranties are generally required, one from the store and one from the manufacturer and, when something goes wrong, one blames the other for whatever went wrong.

I replaced my refrigerator, dishwasher and oven last year. I had major problems with all three, spending countless hours on the phone and wasting precious time at Best Buy and Lowe's.

The made to order refrigerator was suppose to fit in a tight spot and the two big, strong males sent to put it in place were unwilling to do so. Instead, I was forced to hire to individuals who turned out to be Mexicans, about half their size, who had no trouble doing the job. I had already paid the store for delivery but, was not reinmbursed for the extra cost. I'll skip the details about the dishwasher and stove other than to say it was an exercise in frustration.

Seeking help in a retail store is next to impossible these days. And, when available, it is highly likely that the individual is totally uninformed as to the merchandise he/she was hired to sell. Heck, even finding a cashier is difficult at times.

But, nothing is worse than losing your Web connection.

If you call AOL they'll send you to Verizon. If Verizon can't find the problem they'll send you to Lynxis (assuming you are on wireless). If Lynxis can't fix the problem they'll send you back to Verizon and on and on and on....

I'll take a root canal to seeking help from providers any time.

And have you ever tried to cancel a subscription? Once they catch you, they'll try to retain you for life. Renewals are "automatic" and the next thing you know you'll get another bill, usually for a larger amount, long before the original subscription has expired. Try as you may online, you can't find a place where it says "cancellation."

The question then becomes: How do we transform FRUSTRATION into SATISFACTION for our Service Economy to succeed?


Advertising might work to lure the client to the store or institution but, unless he/she leaves satisfied with a job well done in a timely fashion, our economy will soon lose its luster and the U.S. will become just another wanna be leader, particularly at a time when competition from abroad becomes ever more fierce.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Will reason eventually prevail?

My good ol' buddy Dana Pico says:

Part of the problem is a real intellectual split between the party activists, who want to run on real liberal ideas, including raising taxes, and the actual politicians, who see that as a looming disaster. In the end, it is the candidates, not the activists, who decide on what they are going to run.

And in the very end, the critics among the side that loses will all claim that victory would have been theirs, if only their advice had been taken.

Correction: In the end, hopefully, the best ideas will prevail now that the majority of Americans finally realize that Cheney-Bush and their "neoconservative" cohorts have led this great nation in the WRONG direction.

For a concise summary of the Winning vs. Losing strategies, please see my previous post.

Foreign Policy: Winning vs. Losing Strategy

Cheney-Bush and their "neoconservative" cohorts promised the American people that they would win the war against "terror" regardless of cost in lives and treasure.

Why they decided to PROMOTE terrorism instead, is a mystery that escapes me.

For those who are confused, here comes a winning and a losing strategy.

Winning strategy:

a) Launch war on Afghanistan, dismantle the Taliban and capture bin Laden.

b) Establish a functioning government for the whole Afghan nation.

c) Develop a new "Marshall Plan" that would lead to real progress and prove that democracy can indeed work in the Arab/Muslim world

d) Lean on Ariel Sharon (now Olmert) to get serious about allowing the establishmen of a viable Palestinian state with E. Jerusalem as its capital.

e) Or, declare Jerusalem an OPEN CITY and INVITE Christians, Jews and Muslins to govern the city where all great religions converge. Highly recommended.

f) To end the Israel-Palestinian conflict is essencial since the humiliation of Palestinians is seen in the Arab/Muslim world as the humiliation of them all.

g) Withdraw U.S. military forces from Arab/Muslim lands given that they provoke resentment and hatred. (How would we like a foreign power establishing military bases in, say, Texas, Oregon and/or Arizona?)

h) Treat friend and foe with RESPECT as opposed to arrogance and petulance given that the latter invariably provoke more resentment and hatred.

Had these steps been taken, the U.S. would have gone a long way toward winning the war against hatred.

Losing Strategy

a) Invade Afghanistan and withdraw most troops before a serious effort to stabilize the country has been started in order to trigger an UNprovoked war against an Arab/Muslim nation, Iraq.

b) Arrogantly proclaim that nations that do not cave to our demands are "evildoers."

c) Ignore and/or withdraw from treaties that have served our nation and the world well for decades.

d) Ridicule those who worry about global warming instead of joining the efforts of those who care about the environment.

e) Antagonize friend and foe alike as Cheney-Bush and their "neoconservative" cohorts attempt to control the world.

f) Show incredible ineptness in implementing policies, both domestically and internationally.

g) Deceive the American people and the world by using intelligence to fit their policies.

h) Use secrecy as a weapon to restrict U.S. civil liberties

i) Abuse and torture individuals who may or may not be guilty of crimes thereby totally ignoring our very own Constitution.

Sadly, Cheney-Bush and their right-wing cohorts adopted the LOSING strategy thereby painting the face of the UGLY American on our nation and inflicting incredible pain and suffering on tens of thousands of innocent individuals.

What we are forced to witness is the making of a great tragedy that easily could have been avoided. Not surprising given the war mongering, deceitful gang sitting in the White House.