Random Thoughts In A Random World
1. Detroit is going bankrupt, government dawdles
The cash will run out as soon as this month. The result of this bureaucratic gridlock could be the largest municipal bankruptcy ever.
The city can’t overcome the white flight that has lowered the tax base. Now, it’s trying to fix crushing problems with no money. Oh, and apparently its island is sinking, too. The New York Times offers no solutions.
All of those residents and businesses that fled the city aren’t coming back. City government? Still fiddling around while the cash is almost gone. Irresponsibility in governance is everywhere it seems.
2. No more Saturday mail, government dawdles
This issue has been around for a while … the US Postal Service could save billions by not delivering on Saturday. The USPS announced Wednesday they were unilaterally ending Saturday delivery, because Congress hasn’t told them they can’t do that this year. Previously, Congress has always specifically blocked the initiative, which they still could. For now, however, they haven’t said NO, so the Postmaster General has taken the initiative.
This week’s LA Times editorial blames the Republicans for mandating the USPS fund the retirement program for its employees. The vicious plot imagined by the LA Times is not seen by the Washington Post, which observes the bureaucratic nightmare is the problem:
Like Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians, this supposedly independent, self-supporting entity answers to a presidentially appointed board, Congress, several labor unions and a regulatory commission — not to mention the demands of corporate mailers and, last but not least, the general public.
But what’s really to blame? Revenues are down 37% over the last 5 years. Losses last year were $15.9 billion. Any business – any business – would struggle with losing over a third of its revenue over 5 years. Add in a rigid cost structure with bureaucratic oversight, and you’ve got a mess. And we do.
Who’s for ending Saturday delivery? According to the NY Times, the American people. And, the Obama administration.
Here’s a piece from George Will about the controversy when we ended Sunday delivery – and it was just as controversial.
Personally, I am a supporter of sending and receiving mail, but have no problem with 5-day delivery to save money. As the saying goes, a billion here and a billion there … and soon, you’re talking real money.
3. 92% of electronic data is under two years old
Let that statement sink in a minute.
Almost all electronic information – 92% – has been created in the last two years. Imagine the profound differences in our world when data mining matures as a business. Feeling like you have lost some privacy? You ain’t seen nothing yet. And the perspective of one of the chief data miners is that by marrying databases, we aren’t even losing privacy, as it’s all anonymous!
Personalized ads are already popping up on cellphones and news feeds everywhere. It’s just a matter of time until that personalization adds geographic proximity and we’re confronted with ads from nearby stores specifically targeting us based on past behavior. We saw that in the 2002 film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. It was frightening then, and it’ll be frightening when it’s “normal.”
Gian Fulgoni was a co-founder of comScore; he’s definitely on the leading edge of getting this massive amount of data to work for companies. To see what he’s thinking about, read this fascinating piece about the priorities and progression of data, here.
4. Congressional drones object to the President’s drones
Here’s what the Washington Post has to say on the topic, here. And, some other views….
Here’s to next week being better for us all!