Enough Environment Already!

Earth Day seems like a good day to once again raise the contrarian flag. The environment is way down the list of serious world problems below disease, totalitarianism, terror, torture, hunger, slavery, and more. Global warming is occurring but not as severe as several times in world history.  It brings benefits as well as problems. Examples of benefits include fewer hurricanes and typhoons and lower energy needs and better crops and vegetation in cold climates. The worst problems brought on by global warming are wrought by its enemies who want to throw away freedom, distort the world economy, and take food out of our mouths to make uneconomical and inefficent fuels.

Plan for a slowdown and get a pleasant surprise

Yosemite National Park expected a decline in visitors due to very high gasoline prices. Instead visitation rates have increased. Excellent weather helped but the main factors are:

  • High airfares and a falling dollar mean more Americans are choosing domestic vacations rather than going abroad.
  • Hassles at airports push people into ground transportation and automobiles.
  • Europeans, with their strong euros and pounds consider California and the national parks to be ‘on sale.’

While it makes sense to plan for a slowdown, it is wise to have a contingency plan for an unexpected upturn.

Educated and Financially Illiterate

Over beers near a lovely lake, several Silicon Valley professionals heard an interesting story today. Even highly educated people often know next to nothing about finances. Lori Ellingson, Investment Advisor, sees this phenomenon often. Her workshops are filled to capacity; they move people from naive to informed. I have listend to Lori stories on several occasions. She is genuinely concerned about the financial welfare and peace of mind of her clients.

Rebates inflate sales taxes

State and local governments must love rebates. Everything from a $3 rebate on cosmetics to $60 on a computer to several thousand on an automobile result in sales taxes paid on nothing! Here’s how it works: a person buys a product that costs $100 and has a $20 mail-in rebate. The government collects sales tax ($3 to $10 depending on the local rate). Yet the product actually costs only $80 and the sales tax should be 20% lower.

Prospering in a Recession

Nobody wants a recession but, it one does happen, it make sense to plan to prosper from it. Some middlemen profit as the economy moves up, others as it goes down, and a few in both directions.  Obvious sources of recession prosperity include  processing bankruptcies and foreclosures. Less obvious are product maintenance (because people use products longer), moving services, auction services as people dispose of possessions, and so on. In a typical office environment, think of services that you or your team can perform so that the company no longer needs to buy these services outside. This could postpone or prevent layoffs.

Business Model Practice: Artificial Skin

Business models are critical for companies, non-profits, clubs, governments, even individuals. Who creates the service or product? Who benefits? Who pays? As an exercise, consider artificial skin. The creators would be scientists, physicians and engineers plus surrounding organizations: manufacturing, marketing, sales, support, and more. The beneficiaries would be burn victims, scarred individuals, wrinkled folks and others. The payers would include the victims as well as relatives, friends, charities, and governments. The business models link these and define how the producers, consumers and payers work together for mutual profit.