Archive for the ‘ Business ’ Category

Capitalism and Power

Capitalism is the process of using money to make more money. It needs social structures, such as banks and markets to operate in. And makes possible the accumulation of great wealth and power.

It also created another type of organization – the Company, legally a corporation. That would employ the workers – and also control them. Organizations such as the Schools and the Military also operated as companies. With hierarchical social structures, that enforced large disparities in income.

It does not provide mechanisms for the proper control of that wealth and power – and putting these controls in place is difficult. The wealthy and powerful want to stay that way.

All of these artificial social structures – came to be regarded as natural and inevitable. And the majority of people (who desperately needed jobs) would enforce these organizations.

They became, in fact, antisocial organizations – and created antisocial people to operate them.

So far, what I have been describing, happened in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. In the middle of the 20th Century – with TV and then the Computer – huge changes happened. That we have not begun to understand – and was marked by people who did not want to understand.

All they had to understand was simple enough – to put it in Biblical terms, the Idol they had been worshipping had feet of clay – and they needed to find another one, that would stand up better. The Computer would make this possible.

They needed to consider what wealth consists of, in the Information economy. The economy that is now in control – and has made the Industrial economy obsolete.

They have to give up their hard-won advantages in that economy – and learn about operating in another one. This sounds like a simple change – but for them, it is like changing their religion. The noose would have to be around their neck – with the hangman asking if they want to convert to his religion.

Absent this kind of force – they will not change.

How Wells Fargo is Doing it Wrong

And I mean really wrong – in the most fundamental way. In the way it treats its customers. It could not have a worse attitude toward them. “We are everything, and you are nothing!”

It probably feels it is typical of American companies now. But that is no excuse – just because everyone else is incompetent – you do not have to be incompetent also.

The chickens will come home to roost sometime – and that time may not be far away. The Financial Industry is changing rapidly (with FinTech) and WF may be left holding the bag.

I started out writing a much longer posting, giving the reasons for my unhappiness with Wells Fargo.

I decided to skip them – because you do not want to hear of another person’s problems. And the mess in another company.

You have been in the trenches, and have your own battle wounds.

If Someone Destroys Your Mind – They Destroy You

There has been some talk, lately – from guys who should know better (such as Stephen Pinker, in his The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined). Who is telling people what they want to hear – that they are getting better all the time.

This guy is not living in the real world, and has never had a real job – where blood flows between the cubicles, people get stabbed in the back – and everyone takes careful note of this, and does their best to make sure they are not the next victim.

This atmosphere kills people who take it too seriously – something every organization wants you to do.

To Die on the Cross, for them.

Business Ethics

I am living in a time where the gap between what Americans say they are, and what they actually are – is immense. And no one seems to find this surprising. “That’s just the way it is!” they will say. As if this justifies anything.

I have recently bought a couple of new digital cameras – and have been shocked by the problems I ran into trying to use them. Aren’t these companies trying to protect their brand names?

I brought down an older digital camera from the shelf where it had been gathering dust, took out the CDs for installing it, and went through the installation process. This was straightforward cookbook stuff – do this, do this, and you will get that. And sure enough, the camera worked fine, and I can save my stuff from my camera, to my computer!

I now hang it around my neck when I go on my bicycle rides – in case I see something I want to take a photo of, or a video, of.

If I see something interesting, I have to work fast – to make sure my camera sees it before it goes away!

Starbucks Responds to Trump’s Immigration Ban With a Controversial Move


The last time I was in the States, visiting my cousin, who lives in the DC area – we visited a local Starbucks, at my insistence. I wanted to taste their latest coffee blend. I liked it, because it had a distinctive taste.

My cousin took an instant dislike to the place – it was too elitist for his taste. And not really American. He bought his coffee next door at a fast-food drivein. He got a lot of coffee for his money, and he didn’t have to get out of his truck.

What Do We Think of People?

This might seem like a stupid question – but it seems to me, to be the most important question we can ask ourselves.

Sometime in the middle of the 19th Century, we started to think of ourselves as better than people. And in a sense, we were.

We had discovered Objective Reality – as contrasted to the Subjective Reality that we had lived in before. New concepts of space and time that let us think about the very big and the very small. And let us plan for the future.

Living in Costa Rica, part of Latin America, I can see how they are handicapped by not being able to do this. Americans can do a cost/benefit analysis for any problem that comes up – and select the best solution. Latinos cannot.

On the other hand, they do have a big advantage – they still like people, and consider themselves people. When Americans do not.

I am finally getting to the main thing I wanted to talk about in this posting – America’s attitude toward people. They consider themselves superior beings – better than people, and able to take advantage of them.

They acquired this attitude directly from the British, and their British Empire. When this ended, at the end of WWII, the Americans took over.

American organizations (especially American Corporations) moved into positions of power, and took control of the global economy.

Americans identified with this power, not with the people it subjugated – including many of their own people. The people in control of any organization, had power over those below them, and considered them secondary beings.

From Customer to Consumer to User

This change happened in my lifetime – the last half of the 20th Century. This was characterized by Industry, Television, and the Computer.

I was born in an Industrial town, Ft. Madison, Iowa, in 1936. The West End of town was dominated by the Santa Fe Railroad – and the East End by the Sheaffer Pen Company. It had the two fundamentals of Industry – Transportation and Manufacturing.

Ft. Madison was a part of the huge manufacturing complex in the American Midwest that produced half of the World’s goods at the time – as well as much of its agricultural produce. Chicago, not far away, was the Hog Butcher to the World.

It had jobs and lots of them. And it knew how to do everything.

Then came the TV. And its impact was overwhelming. People didn’t have to go to the movies anymore. The movies were delivered to them, in their living rooms – for free! People were no longer active customers, choosing what they wanted to buy – they were passive consumers – buying whatever they saw advertised on their TV.

Then came the Computer – which people saw as an extension of the TV – only better! And they had the same passive attitude toward it. It was there to entertain them. And that was all they wanted – better entertainment!

This consumer culture quickly became global. People did not think about their situation – they only wanted more of everything. And they saw no reason whey they should not have this. They wanted what the saw on their TVs – and then what they saw on their smartphones.

They did not care how the Computer – with its networks, the Internet and the Wireless – worked, but Business did. And quickly took advantage of it.

This resulted in a new way of doing business – and a new relationship to those who used their services. Who became users.

A new kind of worker also emerged – knowledge workers. Who understood what was going on in the computer scene – and were well-rewarded for their efforts.

A new symbiosis appeared between companies and their users. They both needed each other!

They had to develop a new relationship toward each other for each new kind of product that was developed. This meant a new user interface (UX) had to be developed, with the company and its users, inventing it with each other!

Gone were the days when a business knew everything. It now had to assume it knew nothing – and it would have to work in the dark, rapidly trying out new ideas – with its users.