Cyreenik Says

May 2017 issues

A recession is a time of dream changing: retailing is certainly feel that

This year has been a tough one on retailers of all sizes. This is happening because "the dream" -- what has been the conventional way of shopping in the US -- is changing. Customers are doing a lot more on-line shopping and less in-store shopping and the industry is having to adapt to that. As with any recession, and dream change, there are winners and losers, and lots of researching and experimenting by those affected to try and come out on the winning side.

Retailing is getting its dream changed this year. Here are some other dreams I see changing over the next ten years:

o driverless cars are going to change car buying -- as driverless cars become ubiquitous ownership is going to change. People are going to treat cars like they do furniture -- some people will continue to take pride in ownership, but most will just use the nearest one that is available. Ownership is going to be more Uber- or taxi-like. This is going to create a big dream change all through the auto industry.

o pervasive surveillance will change health care -- as we can monitor health more closely with steadily more sophisticated wearables the health care rituals are going to change. This will be a dream change in the health care industry. Because health care is so intensely ritualized, and will remain so, how it will change is not as easy to forecast as the driverless car change.

These are examples of dream changing I see coming over the next decade, or so.

Freaking out about flying: This instinct is still strong

Is The Fear strong in this one? You bet!

"This one" being many commercial airline passengers and "The Fear" is fear of flying. This fear shapes the commercial flying industry in many cumbersome ways. Highest profile of these cumbersome-adding choices is the TSA. It adds a lot of ritual to the flying process. How airports are designed is another, they could be a lot more numerous and convenient to move through. And this following WSJ article is revealing yet another symptom of this deep, deep fear.

This 14 May 17 WSJ article, United’s Cockpit Door Security Codes Inadvertently Revealed Pilots union says problem was resolved; airline had told pilots to take extra precautions by Andy Pasztor and Susan Carey, is another symptom.

From the article, "United Continental Holdings Inc. sent out an alert about a breach in cockpit-door security procedures after a flight attendant mistakenly posted information that included access codes on a public website, according to a pilot who was briefed on the matter.

Officials at the Air Line Pilots Association union said Sunday that the problem had been fixed."

This article is describing a minor "Oops!" In any other industry it would not get media mention. And unless airplane terrorists are patiently waiting for years and years for a momentary opening into a commercial jet cockpit, this is a minor issue in the airline industry as well. Yet, here it is getting front page coverage on the Wall Street Journal web site.


It is showing up because the fear of flying instinct among some passengers is so strong. Each time one of these fearful passengers gets on a plane, they are being brave, real brave. Being brave once in a while can strengthen character -- it is the stuff of story telling. But if you have to do it every week for years on end, it gets draining rather than strengthening.

What helps? A ritual. If you undergo a ritual you don't have to feel quite so brave. This is the function of the TSA -- it is a priesthood blessing passengers so the plane flies better.

What this means is that if we want the commercial air travel experience to dramatically improve -- and it can -- we need to be directly working on solving this fear of flying issue. We need to find something more efficient and effective than TSA rituals to solve this issue. When we do, getting on an airplane can get as simple and convenient as getting on a bus. And I, for one, would certainly love that!

(By the way, I see a neat solution coming in about two decades. Here is a future forecasting essay I have written on the wearables we will be wearing in the 2050's. They will be something else! In the Surprise Uses section I talk about them helping to cope with fear of flying.)

Trump's theme of Surprise! continues with the firing of James Comey

Trump has been surprising the media and the world ever since he started his presidential race. The latest Surprise! episode is his firing of FBI director James Comey. The media and the world are still trying to figure out what the implications of this are.

As I see it, the biggest implication is that this is just another episode in Trump's signature leadership style.

Obamacare versus Trumpcare: lots of arguing about trees while missing the forest

There has been lots of social media chatter this week about the bill The House just passed to replace Obamacare. Most of what I am reading is people in outrage that those with preexisting conditions won't get health insurance.

But all sides on this are missing the big picture, "the forest". The big picture is:

o If governments are paying for your health care then governments are deciding what is good for you.

o If insurance companies are paying for your health care then insurance companies are deciding what is good for you.

Whoa! How patronizing! And how are you, a patient, going to get what you think is good for you? (The short answer is: you get lucky.)

The longer answer is: ...Envelope please. ...[riiip]

o If the patient is paying for the health care then the patient is deciding what is good for themselves.

How simple! But how hard it is for people to see this forest.

The way to have this "patient pays" happen is to develop some kind of voucher system for routine health care issues. (catastrophic and emergency issues can be handled by insurance and government, as they currently are in other activities) The patient gets a voucher from whomever is providing his or her health care financing (the patient, the insurance company, the government) and the patient then decides how to spend that voucher. He or she shops around, comparing what the various health care people and organizations are offering, and he or she makes the choice as to what to spend on.

Again, the patient makes the choice. And when this happens the patient becomes the customer to the healthcare provider.

When things are happening this way, then the health care industry can pay serious attention to patients, and not treat them has just a ticket punch that they then turn in to some insurance company or government agency for their money. When this ticket punching is happening the insurance company and the government are the customers, not the patients.

Patient Pays. This is the forest that will solve lots of health care issues in ways that make the patient happiest.

Slippery Slope Populism claims another victim in the Caribbean

Slippery Slope Populism style of government is deeply seductive. It can't pay for itself and it can't last, but that doesn't stop many communities from indulging.

The latest Pay the Piper casualty is Puerto Rico. This 3 May 17 WSJ article, Puerto Rico To Request Bankruptcy Protection Move sets up showdown with Wall Street firms owed billions of dollars by Andrew Scurria, describes Puerto Rico filing for bankruptcy. It is following in Detroit's footsteps, only with much bigger feet.

From the article, "Puerto Rico is requesting bankruptcy protection, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Wednesday, setting up a showdown with Wall Street firms owed billions of dollars in the largest-ever U.S. municipal debt restructuring and further complicating the U.S. territory’s efforts to pull itself out of a financial mess. ...The board is pushing a combination of debt restructuring and spending cuts in a bid to revive an economy scarred by a 45% poverty rate and a population decline."

Humans learning how to loan to each other and then get paid back was a huge social success that dates back to prehistoric times. The benefits have been tremendous. But it is a tool, and both the benefits and the abuses need to be learned by each generation as part of growing up and becoming a responsible adult. The chronic problem is this tool amplifies the "spend the windfall" instinct that many people have. The problem with that is: in the case of borrowed money this is not a windfall, it is an obligation. But, alas, that must be taught, over and over. When this is not taught well, then the Slippery Slope happens.



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