Saturday Musings

This would be a good week for Spencer Levin to prevail.  I hope to see him win while I’m still on this planet.

In discussions about television networks and their strategies, sometimes we give management a bye with, “Hey, they are just giving people what they want.”  That’s far too simple.  Business decisions are often wrong.  Probably mostly wrong.  Remember: most businesses are gone before they reach the ten-year mark.  The owners of those businesses are not deliberately failing; they make bad decisions.

Let’s say I own my own doughnut store.  I pay my employees a decent wage, and I take my cut.  They are happy enough, and I’m happy enough.  We use costly ingredients, offer some items we don’t sell many of (and probably don’t make any money on, if I ever bothered to look into it).  We leave money on the table, no doubt, but the employees get paid, and I do better than I ever dreamed.

A big company, GM, say, decides to get into the doughnut business and take on Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Doughnuts.  When I retire, they buy my store to get their feet wet.  They see the money I left on the table.  They find cheaper ingredients, they pay employees less, they plaster the store with c0-promotional material.  Perhaps they play Justin Bieber background music to appeal to the “young people.”  The purpose of the store shifts from the owner making a good living to the corporation maximizing the profit.  (That’s actually in the job description of CEOs in corporate bylaws in the SEC filings.)  All of this is not necessarily the best development from the customer standpoint.

Now, consider this fact, from Wiki: “In the 1960s a typical hour-long American show would run for 51 minutes excluding advertisements. Today, a similar program would only be 42 minutes long.”

So, tell me, is giving viewers another nine minutes of commercials — about one minute of ads for every two minutes of programming — “just giving the audience what it wants?”  They maximized the profit, but every additional minute of commercial time escalated the race to the bottom.

Back to golf: The idea that viewers have to be passive go-with-the-flow zombies because the television programmers know what’s best and most profitable — “the best of all possible worlds,” as Voltaire sarcastically put it — is faulty.  (1) Maximizing profit does not magically lead to the best product, and if you put short term profits above long term gain, is that even “maximizing profits”?; (2) People running companies make mistakes all the time.

The assumption that Golf Channel’s programming decisions/obsessions are logical is a faulty one.

  [This item has to do with the new ACS guidelines for breast cancer screening.  If that’s a topic you’d rather not read about, skip this section.]  A prime purpose of this website is to show how people in positions of power will use deception and political pressure to push an agenda.  I’m not sure if this is anywhere more apparent than in the world of mammographies.  Six years ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came out with recommendations for less frequent mammorgraphies for breast cancer screening.  They were immediately blasted from all sides.  (The right said it was the work of government “death panels.”  The left said it was corporate greed and proof women’s lives were considered unimportant.  In other words, a bunch of idiots running around making absurd claims they knew were untrue — all in the interest of padding their own pockets, or enhancing their own power.)  Their crime, their sin?  Using facts to make a logical decision.

The primary reason for the dissent was the huge industry making vast sums of money by scaring women into procedures that were questionable at best, dangerous at worst.  One of their talking points in 2009 was that the ACS (American Cancer Society) disagreed with the new recommendations.

Well, well, this week, the ACS announced new recommendations and — surprise, surprise — they were very much in line with the USPMTF recommendations of 2009.  The reaction was predictable.  Now, instead of being the voice of reason, the ACS is now labeled a bunch of misinformed idiots who hate women and love death panels.

Anyway, it’s a fascinating issue.  Here’s a real good writeup about it, if you have any interest.  I realize this is not the most cheerful of topics, but the false narratives being pushed in regard to this issue are among the most egregious.

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3 Responses to Saturday Musings

  1. NikeRules says:

    In golf news…..Chad Campbell leads the Shriners……another dude I’d like to see get back in the winners’ circle.

  2. Kris says:

    To the mammogram thing, I say YES! I’m glad real information is getting out there. Healthcare in the US is profit driven, not evidence based. People need to educate themselves. I know people who have had skin, breast and ovarian cancer scares because of unnecessary screening. If they’d never been screened they never would have known they had abnormal cells/growths. Sometimes taking a biopsy of abnormal cells causes them to turn cancerous when they would have been innocuous had they been left alone. Plenty of older men develop prostate cancer, but it often progresses so slowly they probably would have died of old age before the cancer had the chance to dramatically impact their quality of life, but profit-hungry doctors convince them to get treatment that makes them sicker than the cancer. Preventative healthcare is a racket. That’s not cynicism, it’s an understanding of how the world works.

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