Friday, November 19, 2010

When Logic is Abandoned p2

I received some comments from Professor Kim on my previous, when Logic is Abandoned, post:

Food for thought.




I'm confused. My job for the past 20 years has been to identify the best segments or targets to market my products against. Once identified, often using demographic data such as gender, age, household size, or income, I would then discriminate and send certain offers based on consumer profiling. I would not send offers for petfood to men, nor promotions for bridal gowns to older women. You see, we know that it is ridiculous, inefficient, and wasteful to send the wrong offer to the wrong person. So....using past data we profile. And based on the profile, we determine if you are somebody who will receive a marketing message or not. Profiling is at the heart of what marketers do. We call it segmentation, but it is essentially determining the likelihood of different groups to want your product or service.





I believe it is only responsible to segment / profile. And I say this as somebody who has been on the receiving end of being perceived to be the wrong profile. I've bought more cars than I can count, and as a 40 something year old female, I still have to tell car salesmen that I have cash and am a serious buyer. You see, they profile me. I've bought 4 houses and have been profiled. I walk into an upscale department store wearing workout clothes, and they profile me. Profiling is endemic because it helps us use our resources wisely. If we had unconstrained resources, we wouldn't care. But we don't. It's time that we face facts, use a little common sense, and use data to help predict the next terrorist. It's simply dumb not to!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Logic is Abandoned

I remember clearly when I realized my government was going to abandon logic.  Not long after the passage of some anti-discrimination laws, the insurance industry lost an important trial.  An insurer was charged with discrimination on the basis of sex, because life annuities paid less per month or year for women than men.  Court ruling: clearly discriminatory.  But the data on life span is abundant, robust, and unchallenged.  In the U.S., women, measured by average length of life, by the median, or any distribution measure one can use, live longer than men.  Over their life then, they would receive just as much.  Logic and math didn't matter however.
That was clearly a portent.  The lemming -like behavior of TSA is Exhibit #1.  First, a whack job gets some explosive Nikes made up, and now, we must all go barefoot through security.  Now, because some nut case wrapped his penis with C4 and tried to use his underwear as a fuse, we all can get our crotches felt up.  Well, if it keeps me from getting on an airplane and getting blown up, it is worth it some may say.  Logic failure I retort: that assumes no other alternatives.
But we know, don't we, that there are alternatives. The terrorists aren't grandmas from West Virginia, or surfer girls from LA, or truck drivers from Texas, or car-builders from Detroit.  They are Muslim extremists.  Logic would dictate concentration of effort on a small group with known characteristics.  Not only would it be far less costly, it would be more effective.
Yesterday I listened to a radio interview with a soldier, who, while in uniform, had been subjected to a full pat-down, complete with what would otherwise be considered inappropriate touching.  Let me reiterate that.  A member of the U.S. Army, on his way to Iraq, in uniform, had been TSA groped, because his uniform didn't play well with the scanning machine.  If someone tried that in a bar, the soldier would have likely administered a major ass-kicking to the perp.
The abandonment of logic results in the conclusion that it is preferable to feel up our military men and women than to apply the scientific method to identify the statistically most likely mass murderers.
I despair for our country when reason is tossed overboard for some weak hypothesis that no group may be offended.  And that all cultures are equally valuable.  No, they aren't.  Western civilization advanced farther than most. 
The Aztecs ripped the beating hearts out of the sacrificed. Our civilzation is better than theirs. Iran still practices stoning.  A ccouple of thousand years ago, the Jews practiced stoning too, but they advanced with western Civilization and stopped.
And I despair for myself.  If the next would-be murderer stuffs dynamite in his anus, what will I be subject to then courtesy of the TSA?  A colonoscopy with every flight?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Conservative Dilemma

According to the Office of Management & Budget, the deficit is trending to $1 trillion, 171 billion.  While the accumulated debt is $13 trillion 727 billion.  That's $13,727,000,000,000.  So, while the new House Republicans are talking about $100 billion plus of cuts, they really should be talking about $500 billion to matter.  The with a lot of breaks, perhaps tax revenue will grow to get to a break even.  However, to pay off the debt requires a surplus in the range of $250 billion for 55 consecutive years.

I don't see how that happens without a lot more tax.  Otherwise, us Baby Boomers are taking it in, and our grandchildren get the bill - it is way to big for just our children...

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Responsibility of the Conservative Citizen

In the wake of the Republican Party winning a majority in the House of Representatives, what is the responsibility of the Conservative Citizens who elected them?
Slightly over four years ago, the Republicans began the slide that resulted eventually in the election of a first term Senator from Illinois to the Presidency, along with significant majorities in both chambers. I was making long drives frequently at that time, and remember my violent reactions to whiny-assed Republicans appearing on Sean Hannity's radio program, proclaiming how much worse things would be if we didn't re-elect them.  My reaction was that, since they had failed miserably and completely, they couldn't run on a record of accomplishment.  Instead of making progress on immigration - an issue of importance to conservatives - they had engaged in internecine fights over which proposal was more like amnesty.  Abandoning free market principles, they supported tariffs on Canadian lumber and steel from multiple countries.  And, worst of all, they went on an unbridled spending spree, complete with record-setting earmarks.  I had no  sympathy for their argument that things would be worse.  I'd rather have an honest Liberal than someone who can't be relied upon.
As apposed to many of my conservatives friends, I have no rancor with the President.  In my view, he is exactly as advertised: we new he was a Liberal when we elected him.  Indeed, I think conservatives should be quite surprised that he has prosecuted the war so aggressively.
The remaining Democrats are largely the most Liberal - although not exclusively.
So what is the role now for the Conservative?
It seems to me we must concentrate on watching our own side, and being  relentless in raising hell if they slip back into the patter of 2005.  Things we must monitor:
First, absolutely no earmarks.  (I have great respect for conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt and understand his view that earmarks for the Defense bills are different.  Sorry Hugh, I don't trust them that far yet.)
Second, the deficit is around a trillion dollars.  The currently discussed $100 bil in cuts isn't even a serious effort.    Conservatives should prepare themselves and their representatives for spending reductions of $500 billion.  That means everything must be on the table including conservative favorites: defense, Homeland Security (thanks Jesse Ventura for your expose' on waste there on your new Conspiracy Theory TV show) CIA, FBI.
Third, real work could be done to spur economic growth by dealing with the regulatory bureaucracy.  It takes 20 years to build a nuclear power plant.  Time to exempt nuclear plants from environmental laws and tell the NRC they have 90 days to approve construction plans, or they are automatically approved.  And immediately pass a law excluding carbon dioxide from regulation by the EPA.  Otherwise, the next wave of economic destruction will be released by the EPA.  I believe that massive reduction in the scope of regulatory agencies would be far more stimulative than extending the current tax rates.
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Sunday, November 07, 2010

James Madison Veto

The Nov. 3rd Wall St. Journal printed President James Madison's veto message from 1817.  One of the Founders and writers of the Constitution wrote "The power to regulate commerce...can not include a power to construct roads and canals..."
I wonder what Mr. Madison would think of earmarks?
Already we are hearing noises that perhaps Defense appropriations should be exempt from a suspension of earnarks.  I don't think so.  There is nothing convincing that we can trust our elected representatives.  Until we have our confidence in their reliability restored, I see no reason to assume they will spend additional defense money wisely.
And I think the military knows they can leave out essentials and keep the fat in, because Congress can be counted on to add to the budget.
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Visiting editor

A guest commentator on Morphsview.  Dr. Kim wishes to remain anonymous.  As a marketing professor at a large university, the good doctor is a rare thing - a conservative.  As such, Dr. Kim must be undercover a certain amount of time to avoid punitive administrative responses.

A comment from Dr. Kim on Andrew Klavan's editorial:

Interesting article. I really think it's simple. Obama swept into office totally on marketing (window dressing). He had no "product" -- no results, no past, no history, etc. So....he won almost solely based on speeches. Now he has to govern and he both product and marketing.



And what do we know about marketing?

The marketing needs to match the product (think KMart as an example of a failed product/marketing match). When you overpromise (marketing) and underdeliver (product) you will fail. When you say one thing (marketing) and do another (product), you will be discovered. And....when you have a bad product that people don't like (think New Coke), nothing you say can fix it (hence, the elimination of New Coke and a return to Original Coke....and Coke knows a thing or two about marketing and couldn't save the failed product).


What do we know about CEO performance?

Holding everything else constant, experience matters. If it didn't, we would take the 19 year old genius at Harvard and put him in as CEO of Procter and Gamble. But experience matters. It develops tacit knowledge that over time ensures greater knowledge and ability to navigate complicated decisions that CEOs and Presidents encounter.

Put these two together and Obama's lack of knowledge and understanding about how marketing REALLY works helps us understand why he believes that his rhetoric is more important than his policy....that his problem is about what he says and not what he does. The reality is that it's very simple. His product (policy) is inconsistent with what America wants. And the more he tries to convince us to buy his policy (think New Coke), the more he loses credibility, trust, support, and votes. America really isn't as dumb as he seems to think we are -- that we are sheep who ignore what he does and blindly adhere to what he says.


The one thing I do know is that Obama isn't "coachable". He would have "gotten" the message much earlier than now if he had been and adjusted his behavior. Instead, he digs in and commits to his "we haven't communicated well" world view. And what do we know about success? You simply can't succeed unless you are coachable and can adapt, adjust, and alter behavior when what you are doing isn't working.



So....unless unemployment drops to 7% I'm not sure he is re-electable, but time will tell. Maybe this vote was enough of a punch to the solar plexis to wake him up. We'll see.