Elon Musk’s Achievements

Agree with Stuart Varney:

Elon Musk doesn’t give a hoot about what people think of him or say about him. He took a lot of heat for smoking marijuana on camera. He was ridiculed for his wild, middle of the night tweets. Lots of name calling because of his behavior. I think its time for a re-evaluation. I think its time to look at the man’s achievements, rather than his public image.

Like him, or not, Elon Musk is surely the prime example of a brilliant entrepreneur.

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The Two Men Behind Cheaper, More Efficient Air Travel

Allan Golombek:

. . . When seatmates American Airline CEO C.R. Smith and IBM salesman R. Blair Smith introduced themselves during a flight from Los Angeles to New York 65 years ago, and realized they had the same last name, it was the start of a conversation that would revolutionize the airline industry, advance the economy – and help make air travel a real option for the middle class.

. . .

Each [airline] reservation took 90 minutes to complete – longer than the time it takes to actually complete many flights.

. . .

Six years later, the SABRE system was launched. Other airlines, feeling the tug of competitive pressure, created their own systems, such as Delta’s DATAS and United Airlines’ Apollo. Soon, facing demands from travel agents, all airlines launched 24-7 computer reservation systems that allowed agents to share data across all airline systems. Travel agents could use any system (such as SABRE) to book a flight with any airline, a process that required only 15 seconds.

From 90 minutes to 15 seconds. Not bad! Excellent example of how commercial advancements make our lives sooo much better.

Bacon Vending Machine

USA Today:

Ohio State University is temporarily hosting a bacon vending machine as a fundraiser through Dec. 13.

The machine was announced on Tuesday by the Ohio Pork Council and on Wednesday by Ohio State University’s Meat Science Club. It sells cooked bacon strips and bacon bits for $1.

Bravo! Put aside whether you actually like the idea or would buy bacon from a machine, you can admire the innovation, ingenuity of the concept and actual building of the machine. So your taste in food is different from someone else’s, a little tolerance goes a long way.

Just say Yes to innovation and tolerance.

Better, Faster, Cheaper

Ronald Bailey, conclusion: 

One very crude way to measure just how much improved technology has increased consumer well-being would be to consider the discount en masse. To purchase a refrigerator, a color TV, a record player, an air conditioner, a microwave, and a calculator roughly five decades ago, the average family would have had to spend $12,155 in today’s dollars. Buying similar (though vastly improved) products today would cost just $1,404. That’s a reduction in real prices of more than 88 percent. And of course, virtually every household now has at least one cellphone and/or computer—two categories of products that could not have been acquired for any amount of money in 1968.

Amazing progress.

The ‘discount en masse’ includes a refrigerator, television, air-conditioner, microwave, and consumer calculator. And, as Ronald wrote, that list does not include cellphones or computers.

Note the improvements in quality, choice, and concomitant decreases in prices. Products that are in competitive, global markets, and lightly regulated. We don’t even know if the industries are subsidized.

Again, amazing progress.

The laggards, not noted in this article, are those with heavy government regulation such as health insurance and other healthcare products and services. This disparity disproves the theory that increased demand causes only price increases, as witnessed in the healthcare products I mentioned. It is government involvement that is preventing the improvement.

Notes About Automation

Automation scares people these days: driverless cars, robots doing housework and manufacturing parts, devices that listen and talk to you.

Automation means a machine of some sort does the work instead of humans. “Machine” is a generic term that changes depending on the situation. Consider something you may be familiar with, for example, automatic payments to pay some of your bills. Do you pay your cable, electric, mortgage, rent, credit cards, or insurance electronically? That’s automation. You no longer manually write checks or send cash and there is no person on the receiving end opening the envelopes or counting the cash. There is no mail delivery to transport the checks or cash. Imaging yourself having to write 15-20 checks per month. No frickin’ way. The convenience is too good to give up.

Well, automation is taking place elsewhere, and that’s what we see. Do you have an electronic account with the medical center or hospital? Let’s you see your lab results, schedule appointments, pay bills.

And that’s only you as a consumer involved. How about business-to-business or within an organization? That’s robots or just some computer software to automate calculations.

Technology, of whatever type, is important to automation because that is the physical thing doing the work. But technology is useless without human action to invent the ways in which it could be used. Even a chainsaw is an improvement over an ax. And a car is an improvement over a horse.

If you’re worried about people losing their jobs, well, automation takes over the repetitive tasks humans can do. It may seem better to have a job where you perform repetitive tasks over-and-over, but after a while you’ve perfected the movements, what’s left? You’d feel like a machine, a cog in the wheel. That’s not good for your mental health.

Coal Industry in the U.S.

Salena Zito:

The Acosta Deep Mine in Somerset County marks a dramatic upturn for the area. And while President Trump cannot claim that he brought the industry back here personally (this new mine was already being developed before the election), he is an effective cheerleader for folks who’ve been discounted by the political elite.

Instead of trying to kill an industry under piles of regulations and poo-pooing any notions of its survival let along thriving, I think the government should lay off and let the people in the industry configure itself for the economy.

Maybe its smaller than in the past or maybe bigger, maybe more specialized, maybe more dispersed or stays concentrated in a geographic area. How do they compete and serve a customer base? What technologies can they use and invent, and what business processes can they use and invent? How do they attract capital?

These are questions for the people in the industry to figure out from the bottom-up, top-down, and inside-out, not from top-down impositions and elite opinion. And the people in this industry must do so in a free market environment.

Op-Ed of the Day: “The Entrepreneurial Way to 4% Growth”

By CARL J. SCHRAMM:

Trump should set a goal: fix the business climate so a million Americans a year can start companies. . . .

More people have joined the ranks of the chronically unemployed, slipping into poverty at alarming rates as their skills decay and dependency on public assistance grows. Considering population growth, America needs at least 325,000 new jobs every month to stanch the growing numbers of discouraged workers. . . Merely bringing back factories from overseas will not solve this problem. Technology has made every factory more productive. Fewer workers make more goods no matter where they’re located. At the same time, fewer U.S. businesses are being started. . . .

New firms are the country’s principal generator of new jobs. Data from the Kauffman Foundation suggest companies less than five years old create more than 80% of new jobs every year. . . .

This absence accounts for an estimated seven to 10 million jobs that, had they existed, could have provided employment for every one of the nation’s discouraged workers. Simply put, the U.S. will never reach full employment without more startups. . . .

First, increase economic growth. More businesses start when GDP expands at 4% rather than 2%. Existing businesses look for new markets, often turning to young companies for innovative ideas. . . .

Mr. Trump should also focus less on Silicon Valley, which already receives disproportionate attention from Washington. . . .

Government must also widen the scope of innovation by stepping back and letting the market find the future. By promoting trendy ideas and subsidizing politically favored companies, government dampens diversity in creative business ideas. Why start an electric-car company when the federal government already has picked the winner?

The new president must also make it possible for local banks to get back in the business of financing startups. For 200 years, community lenders were the principal source of capital for startups. The application of complex Dodd-Frank provisions has led community banks to finance fewer and fewer promising businesses—despite their unique knowledge of local markets. . . .

Mr. Trump can also reverse regulatory sprawl and cut government-imposed requirements that add to every entrepreneurs’ costs and risks. Anti-growth policies like ObamaCare and minimum-wage increases make hiring workers prohibitively expensive. Municipal regulation is particularly onerous. Cities commonly use sanitation and building codes to protect incumbent businesses. Uber cannot operate in many cities because officials have chosen to protect local taxi cartels, denying their citizens the innovative efficiencies of the shared economy.

With these policies in mind, President Trump should set another goal: that his administration will create an environment that enables one million Americans to start companies every year.

 

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