RETAIL-KING AMAZON

This Giant Infographic Has 140+ Facts on the Scale of Amazon

 

As Amazon continues its takeover of the retail sector, the scale at which it operates continues to impress.

Today’s infographic continues along that same thread, except this time focusing on Amazon from more of an operational perspective.

Amazon: At a Glance

Amazon has more than 304 million users, and 3 billion products selling on their 11 marketplaces – and every day, 1.3 million new products are added.

The company has a 43.5% market share of U.S. ecommerce spending. It’s no surprise then, that the average customer spends $700 per year with Amazon, and that 34.7 items are shipped every single second.

Shipping and Logistics

Amazon has 45,000 warehouse robots that work in the company’s 77 million square feet of warehouse space. This is equivalent to the size of 1,336 football fields.

The biggest single warehouse is in Schertz, TX, just outside of San Antonia, which alone measures 1,264,200 square feet. Warehouses this size can ship up to 1 million items per day during the holiday rush.

Amazon Prime and Partners

A whopping 64% of U.S. households have Amazon Prime, which has proven to be a lucrative model for Amazon since those subscribers spend $1,300 per year on the site. Impressively, there are 40 million items eligible for Prime, and 8,000 cities where same-day shipping is a possibility.

Amazon Partners also play a big role in the ecosystem. There are 2 million sellers on Amazon, and 70,000 of them have sales of $100,000 or more per year using Amazon as a selling platform.

Why do sellers use Amazon? About 47% of sellers say it’s because it gives them access to new customers, while 65% say it’s to increase sales.

The top five categories for Amazon sellers: Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry, Electronics, Home & Kitchen, Sports & Outdoors, and Books.

The trend toward the experiential is the main driver of successful retail in the future. From now on, there is no day off, no downtime; consumers are on all the time, and so should retailers be. Retailers are not just competing with other retailers and other brands. They’re competing for what consumers want to spend money on. The U.S. apparel industry last year grew 3%, while the U.S. domestic travel industry grew 5%, and there are seven million more cruise passengers today than there were 10 years ago.

Last year, for the first time, American consumers spent more at bars and restaurants than on groceries. People are spending more on experiences. We know they want to look good when they’re taking all those selfies – so how can retailers be there?

We expect winners to emerge from retailers that can find innovative ways to deliver goods. Free shipping is ubiquitous, but is also one of the largest P&L expenses from an e-commerce standpoint. It’s just not sustainable having UPS and FedEx be the core delivery system. Amazon has done great stuff around drones and developing pick-up spots. We see that trend increasing.

Providing an omnichannel customer experience requires companies to become more flexible and responsive. Although consumers have quickly adopted digital channels for both service and sales, they aren’t abandoning traditional retail stores and call centers in their interactions with companies. Increasingly, customers expect omnichannel convenience that allows them to start a journey in one channel (say, a mobile app) and end it in another, by picking up the purchase in a store.

For companies, the challenge is to provide high-quality service from end to end, regardless of where the ends might be. That was the case for a regional bank that sensed that too many customers were falling into gaps between channels. Mapping its customers’ journeys confirmed the suspicions. Four out of five potential loan customers visited the bank’s website, but from there, their paths diverged as they sought different ways to have their questions answered. About 20 percent stayed online, another 20 percent phoned a call center, and 15 percent visited a branch, with the remainder leaving the process.

The channels’ differing performance pointed to specific problems. Ultimately, more than one-fifth of customers who visited a branch ended up getting loans. But in the online channel, less than 1 percent got a loan after almost 80 percent dropped out rather than fill in a registration form. Finally, in call centers, a mere one-tenth of 1 percent of customers received a loan—perhaps not surprising, since only 2 percent even requested an offer.

To integrate digital and traditional channels more effectively, the bank had to become more agile, with the understanding that its one-size-fits-most processes would no longer work. Complex registration forms were simplified and tailored to different types of customers. Revised policies clarified which channel took the lead when customers moved between channels. And new links between the website and the call centers enabled agents to follow up when online customers left a form incomplete. Together, these types of changes helped increase sales of current-account and personal-loan products by more than 25 percent across all channels.

 

The secret is in customization: dynamic-pricing solutions must be tailored to a retailer’s business context, objectives, and ways of working. When it comes to dynamic pricing, Amazon is still the retailer to beat. Other retailers continue to marvel at—and attempt to emulate—the e-commerce giant’s ability to rapidly and frequently change prices on millions of items. Amazon continually burnishes its low-price reputation by undercutting competitors on top-selling, high-visibility products, while protecting margins by charging more for less price-sensitive items. Indeed, the success of Amazon and a handful of other leading online players has made clear that dynamic pricing is a critical capability for competing in e-commerce, omnichannel, and even brick-and-mortar retail to drive revenue and margin growth.

But as retailers have begun to invest in dynamic-pricing solutions—whether off-the-shelf or custom-built by third-party providers—they’ve often run into the “black box” problem: none of the end users actually understand the math or logic behind the algorithms. The tools somehow crunch data and spit out pricing recommendations, which are sometimes much higher or lower than current retail prices. The pricing staff thus ends up rejecting them entirely because they don’t trust the recommendations.

Overcoming that trust barrier requires customizing every part of the solution, including the implementation. In our experience, a dynamic-pricing solution should be optimized for use by category managers and pricing managers. These end users should be involved in developing, refining, and rolling out the tool and be able to override the pricing recommendations. Only when this happens can businesses expect to capture significant and sustained impact—typically, sales growth of 2 to 5 percent and increases of 5 to 10 percent in margins, along with higher levels of customer satisfaction through improved price perception on the most competitive items.

Dynamic pricing plays a crucial role in boosting both consumer price perception and retailer profitability. Many retailers sell about one-fifth of their assortment at very low prices to shape their price image and remain competitive. These key value items (KVIs) are usually top sellers, traffic generators, or highly-searched SKUs whose prices consumers tend to remember. Key-value categories can account for up to 80 percent of an average retailer’s revenue but only half of its profit. The retailer therefore needs to make up margins in the rest of the assortment—the “long tail” items. However, identifying KVIs isn’t as easy as it sounds, and setting and validating prices for long-tail items is difficult precisely because of the sparse historical data on such items.

Dynamic-pricing solutions help retailers overcome both of these challenges. Generally speaking, a robust dynamic-pricing solution should consist of five modules, all working in parallel to generate price recommendations for every SKU in the assortment . The long-tail module helps a retailer set the introductory price for new or long-tail items through intelligent product matching—that is, the module determines which data-rich products are comparable to new items (which have no history) or long-tail items (which, as mentioned, have limited historical data). The elasticity module uses time-series methods and big data analytics to calculate how a product’s price affects demand, accounting for a wide variety of factors including seasonality, cannibalization, and competitive moves.
The KVI module estimates how much each product affects consumer price perception, using actual market data rather than consumer surveys. This enables the module to automatically detect changes as to which items consumers perceive as KVIs. While a best-in-class solution includes all five modules, retailers can often begin with only the KVI and competitive-response modules. These help retailers nimbly respond to competitive moves on key items. Retailers can then add the rest of the modules over time.

Developing a world-class dynamic-pricing solution starts with a thorough understanding of the retailer’s business context and objectives, and then translating those into mathematical “recipes” that can be executed repeatedly. Careful selection of the inputs, as well as the sophistication of the underlying analytics, will largely determine the accuracy of each module’s calculations. The tool needs to be flexible and adaptable enough for businesses to customize the inputs and features based on their particular objectives and existing capabilities, which greatly increases confidence in the outputs. And of course, whether category managers and pricing managers will ultimately use the solution in their daily work depends partly on how intuitive the interface is and how easily it integrates into the retailer’s existing systems and work flows.

To build a case for dynamic pricing, a retailer could first quantify the potential of introducing dynamic pricing into the organization—for instance, by systematically comparing the retailer’s price levels to those of its chief competitors, assessing how frequently competitors change their prices, and studying how competitors react to the retailer’s own price changes. The findings from such an exercise will almost certainly spur the retailer to take action on dynamic pricing.

The next logical step would be to conduct a pilot in a handful of categories for concept design and testing. Done right, the pilot—and the subsequent rollout of dynamic pricing across all product categories—will yield meaningful improvements in revenue, profit, and customer price perception.

The following examples illustrate how retailers can tailor dynamic-pricing modules to their particular business needs and objectives. In each case, the retailer collected massive amounts of granular data, used advanced analytics, and made sure that category managers and pricing managers participated in developing and testing the solution.

A US-based general retailer with more than two million SKUs in its assortment had two high-priority business objectives that required frequent trade-offs: to maximize absolute revenues and to increase productivity. The objective functions of the algorithms in each of its modules therefore had to be adjusted accordingly—a level of customization that wouldn’t have been feasible with an off-the-shelf solution.

To build its long-tail module, the retailer assembled a rich set of data, including daily sales data for its 100,000 top-selling SKUs, competitor prices (gathered via web scraping) for those SKUs, data on customer browsing and purchasing behavior, product attributes and descriptions, and online metrics such as impressions and search rankings. With algorithm-design experts and analysts working alongside category managers, the team codified a set of product-association rules specific to the retailer, using factor analysis to assign “attribute similarity scores” that indicated which products its customers find comparable. The retailer set simple ground rules for its product groupings—for example, a grouping should have minimum sales of 20 units a week, or all products in a grouping should be in the same life-cycle stage. The algorithms also helped the retailer understand which of its product prices should move in concert so as to avoid cannibalization effects.

In just eight weeks, the team built working prototypes of both the long-tail module and a competitive-response module. Both were designed and tested with pricing managers to integrate simply into the retailer’s regular pricing processes and cadence. The impact: up to 3 percent increases in both revenue and margins in the pilot categories.

A leading Asian e-commerce player aspired to develop an item-level pricing strategy that could optimize for both profit and gross merchandise value (GMV). To that end, the company knew it needed to be able not only to change prices frequently, but also to take many more factors into consideration when setting or changing prices.

As part of a broader dynamic-pricing effort, the company built an elasticity module. At its core was a multifactor algorithm that drew on data from approximately ten terabytes of the retailer’s transaction records. Data for each product included the price of the product, the price of a viable substitute product, promotions, inventory levels, seasonality, and estimates of competitors’ sales volumes—creating a custom module unique to the retailer’s available data and pricing strategy. The module then generated pricing recommendations, taking into account both of the retailer’s business objectives.

Recommendations were displayed on an easy-to-read dashboard that category managers helped design and test. Category managers, who on any given day would be weighing other important trade-offs with regard to, say, a product’s growth potential or expected additional inventory, could then accept or reject the pricing recommendations. The retailer felt strongly that category managers should have the final word on pricing decisions. After only a few months of using the module, the company saw a 10 percent rise in gross margin and a 3 percent improvement in GMV in the pilot categories.

Looking to stand out from competitors, a leading European nonfood retailer sought to identify and prioritize the KVIs in its assortment. It built a tailored KVI module that could statistically score each item’s importance to consumer price perception on a scale of 0 to 100. The module generated this “KVI index” by analyzing granular internal and external data, including shipping costs, return rates, search volume, number of competitors carrying the product, and competitor pricing. It also identified which other retailers were the true competitors for that specific item. Importantly, the module was flexible enough that category managers could adjust the weighting of each parameter.

The module defined the price range, or the upper and lower price bounds, for each item Each product’s exact price position within the range would then be based on its score in the KVI index. But a KVI index to help set the base price was only the first step. Via the competitor-matching module, the retailer also programmed into its dynamic-pricing solution a set of business rules that would trigger pricing changes. For instance, if inventory levels for a certain SKU were high or if a competitor reduced the price of that SKU, the solution might recommend a price drop for the SKU. These rules would all feed into the solution’s recommended price, which the category manager could either accept or reject based on additional indicators and considerations.

At the end of a three-month pilot, the retailer saw a 4.7 percent improvement in earnings before income and taxes in the pilot categories and identified a 3 percent improvement potential in overall return on sales. And it had a trusted solution that category managers could incorporate into their work flows.

In each of these examples, the retailer custom-built the algorithms and invested time and effort to ensure that the tool was adopted by end users. A test-and-learn approach, beginning with a pilot in a few categories, will help produce a solution that builds trust and yields market-proven, statistically sound results. Just as important, the testing process can pinpoint how best to embed the solution into end users’ existing work flows.

Each of the three retailers invested in detailed documentation and thorough training to strengthen the organization’s skill base and capabilities in dynamic pricing. One of the retailers even established a certification program for dynamic pricing, creating a pipeline of employees who would be qualified to manage and continually improve the pricing process.

In light of the explosive growth of e-commerce, dynamic pricing is fast becoming a must-have capability to drive growth while sustaining margins. By understanding how to move quickly and customize solutions, retailers can build this capability into a significant competitive advantage.

 

In Supply Chain 4.0, supply-chain management applies Industry 4.0 innovations—the Internet of Things, advanced robotics, analytics, and big data—to jump-start performance, and customer satisfaction.

Over the last 30 years, supply chain has undergone a tremendous change. What was once a purely operational logistics function that reported to sales or manufacturing and focused on ensuring supply of production lines and delivery to customers has become an independent supply-chain management function that in some companies is already being led by a CSO—a chief supply-chain officer. The focus of the supply-chain management function has shifted to advanced planning processes, such as analytical demand planning or integrated sales and operations planning (S&OP), which have become established business processes in many companies, while operational logistics has often been outsourced to third-party logistics providers. The supply-chain function ensures that operations are well-integrated, from suppliers through to customers, with decisions on cost, inventory, and customer service made from an end-to-end perspective rather than by each function in isolation.

Digitization creates a disruption and requires companies to rethink the way they design their supply chain. At the same time, customer expectations are growing: recent online trends have led to growing service expectations combined with much more detailed orders. Also, a definite trend toward further individualization and customization is driving strong growth of and constant changes in the SKU portfolio. The online-enabled transparency and easy access to a multitude of options regarding where to shop and what to buy drive the competition of supply chains.

To build on these trends, cope with changed requirements, and enable a wide range of new technologies, supply chains need to become much faster and much more precise.

The digitization of the supply chain enables companies to address the new requirements of customers, the challenges on the supply side, and the remaining expectations in efficiency improvement. Digitization leads to a Supply Chain 4.0, which becomes faster. New approaches to product distribution can reduce the delivery time of fast runners to few hours. How? Advanced forecasting approaches, such as predictive analytics of internal data (e.g., demand) and external data (e.g., market trends, weather, school vacation, construction indices), when combined with machine-status data for spare-parts demand, provide a much more precise forecast of customer demand. What once were monthly forecasts instead become weekly—and, for the very fastest-moving products, daily. In the future, we will even see predictive shipping, for which Amazon holds a patent: Products are shipped before the customer places an order. The customer order is later matched with a shipment that is already in the logistics network, and the shipment is rerouted to the exact customer destination.

Supply Chain 4.0’s ad hoc, real-time planning allows companies to respond flexibly to changes in demand or supply, minimizing planning cycles and frozen periods. Planning becomes a continuous process that is able to react dynamically to changing requirements or constraints (e.g., real-time production-capacity feedback from machines). Even after products are sent, agile delivery processes let customers reroute shipments to the most convenient destination.

New business models increase the supply-chain organization’s flexibility. Rather than maintaining resources and capabilities in-house, companies can buy individual supply-chain functions as a service on a by-usage basis. Service providers’ greater specialization creates economies of scale and scope, increasing the potential for attractive outsourcing opportunities.

An Uberization of transport—crowdsourced, flexible transport capacity—will significantly increase agility in distribution networks as well. Manufacturers may therefore see new direct-to-consumer opportunities in what once was a playing field only for retailers.

With customers looking for more and more individualization in the products they buy, companies must manage demand at a much more granular level, through techniques such as microsegmentation, mass customization, and more-sophisticated scheduling practices. Innovative distribution concepts, including drone delivery, will allow companies to manage the last mile more efficiently for single-piece and high-value, dense packages—fulfilling customers’ customization needs while delivering their orders even faster than is possible today with mass-market, standard products.

Next-generation performance management systems provide real-time, end-to-end transparency throughout the supply chain. The span of information reaches from synthesized top-level key performance indicators, such as overall service level, to very granular process data, such as the exact position of trucks in the network. The integration of that data from suppliers, service providers, and others in a “supply chain cloud” ensures that all stakeholders in the supply chain steer and decide based on the same facts.

In digital performance-management systems, clean-sheet models for warehousing, transport, or inventory set targets automatically. To keep performance-management aspirations in focus even if supply-chain disruptions occur, the systems will automatically adjust targets that can no longer be achieved to more realistic aspiration levels.

We will see performance-management systems that “learn” to automatically identify risks or exceptions, and that change supply-chain variables to mitigate harm. These capabilities enable the automatic performance-management control tower to handle a broad spectrum of exceptions without human involvement, engaging human planners only for disruptive, unplanned events. The resulting continuous-improvement cycle will push the supply chains closer to its efficient frontier.

The automation of both physical tasks and planning boosts supply-chain efficiency. Robots handle the material (pallets or boxes as well as single pieces), completely automatically the warehouse process from receiving/unloading, to putting away, to picking, packing, and shipping. Autonomous trucks transport the products within the network.

To optimize truck utilization and increase transport flexibility, companies share capacity through cross-company transport optimization. The network setup itself is continuously optimized to ensure an optimal fit to business requirements.

To create an ideal workload in the supply chain, the system leverages the high degree of transparency and dynamic planning approaches to drive advanced demand-shaping activities, such as special offers for delivery time slots with low truck utilization.

Supply Chain 4.0 will affect all areas of supply-chain management. Supply-chain planning will benefit tremendously from big data and advanced analytics, as well as from the automation of knowledge work. A few major consumer-goods players are already using predictive analytics in demand planning to analyze hundreds to thousands of internal and external demand-influencing variables (e.g., weather, trends from social networks, sensor data), using machine-learning approaches to model complex relationships and derive an accurate demand plan. Forecasting errors often fall by 30 to 50 percent.

Heavily automated, fully integrated demand and supply planning breaks traditional boundaries between the different planning steps and transforms planning into a flexible, continuous process. Instead of using fixed safety stocks, each replenishment-planning exercise reconsiders the expected demand probability distribution. Consequently, the implicit safety stocks are different with every single reorder. Prices can then be dynamically adapted to optimize profit and minimize inventories at the same time.

In the consumer-goods industry, several of the most prominent global conglomerates are leveraging advanced planning approaches, and a strong interest in broader application can be observed.

Logistics will take a huge step forward through better connectivity, advanced analytics, additive manufacturing, and advanced automation, upending traditional warehousing and inventory-management strategies. Easy-to-use interfaces such as wearables already enable location-based instructions to workers, guiding picking processes. Advanced robotics and exoskeletons could have equally dramatic effects on human productivity in warehouses.

Autonomous and smart vehicles will lead to significant operating-cost reduction in transportation and product handling, while at the same time reducing lead times and environmental costs. Linking warehouses to production loading points may even enable entire processes to be carried out with only minimal manual intervention. Finally, as production facilities start to rely more on 3-D printing, the role of the warehouse may change fundamentally.

Performance management also is changing tremendously, with several major food companies taking a lead in making detailed, continually updated, easily customizable dashboards available throughout their organizations. Gone are the days when generating dashboards was a major task and performance indicators were available only at aggregated levels. Instead, performance management is becoming a truly operational process geared to real-time exception handling and continuous improvement, rather than a retrospective exercise on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Using data-mining and machine-learning techniques, this type of revamped performance-management system can identify an exception’s root causes by comparing it with a predefined set of underlying indicators or by conducting big data analyses. The system can then automatically trigger countermeasures, such as by activating a replenishment order or changing safety-stock or other parameter settings in the planning systems.

Order management is improved through a pair of measures: no-touch order processing integrates the ordering system to the available-to-promise (ATP) process, and real-time replanning enables order-date confirmations through instantaneous, in-memory rebuilding of the production schedule and replenishment needs in consideration of all constraints. The net result is reduced costs (via increased automation), improved reliability (via granular feedback), and better customer experience (via immediate and reliable responses).

The supply-chain cloud forms the next level of collaboration in the supply chain. Supply-chain clouds are joint supply-chain platforms between customers, the company, and suppliers, providing a shared logistics infrastructure or even joint planning solutions. Especially in noncompetitive relationships, partners can decide to tackle supply-chain tasks together to save administrative costs and learn from each other.

One leading consumer conglomerate has already found that collaboration along the value chain allows for much lower inventories through an exchange of reliable planning data. It also slashes lead times, thanks to instantaneous information provision throughout the entire chain, while providing an early-warning system and the ability to react fast to disruptions anywhere.

Following the need for further individualization and customization of the supply chain, supply-chain setups adopt many more segments. To excel in this setting, supply chains need to master microsegmentation. A dynamic, big data approach allows for the mass customization of supply-chain offerings by separating the supply chain into hundreds of individual supply-chain segments, each based on customer requirements and the company’s own capabilities. Tailored products provide optimal value for the customer and help minimize costs and inventory in the supply chain.

Eliminating today’s digital waste and adopting new technologies together form a major lever to increase the operational effectiveness of supply chains. The potential impact of Supply Chain 4.0 in the next two to three years is huge. Expectations include up to 30 percent lower operational costs, 75 percent fewer lost sales, and a decrease in inventories of up to 75 percent. At the same time, the agility of the supply chains should increase significantly.

How did we calculate these numbers? They are based on our experience with numerous studies and quantitative calculations. The three performance indicators are highly correlated; for example, an improved inventory profile will lead to improved service level and lower cost.

Supply-chain service/lost sales. When customer service is poor, the driver is either a wrong promise to the customer (e.g., unrealistic lead times), a wrong inventory profile (ordered products are not available), and/or an unreliable delivery of parts. Lost sales in addition occur if the required products are not available on the shelf or in the system; customers will decide to switch to another brand. This is true for both B2C and B2B environments.

Service level will increase dramatically when the supply chain significantly improves interactions with the customer, leverages all available point-of-sale data and market intelligence, improves the forecast quality significantly (up to more than 90 percent in the relevant level, e.g., SKU), and applies methods of demand shaping in combination with demand sensing to account for systematic changes and trends. With the resulting service improvement, lost sales will decrease significantly.

Supply-chain costs. Driven by transportation, warehouse, and the setup of the overall network, the costs can be reduced by up to 30 percent. Roughly 50 percent of this improvement can be reached by applying advanced methods to calculate the clean-sheet costs (bottom-up calculation of the “true” costs of the service) of transport and warehousing and by optimizing the network. The goal should always be to have minimal touch points and minimal kilometers driven while still meeting the required service level of the customer. In combination with smart automation and productivity improvement in warehousing, onboard units in transportation, etc., these efforts can achieve the savings potential.

The remaining 15 percent cost reduction can be reached by leveraging approaches of dynamic routing, Uberization of transport, use of autonomous vehicles, and—where possible—3-D printing.

Supply-chain planning. The planning tasks such as demand planning, preparation of S&OP process, aggregated production planning, and supply planning are often time intensive and conducted mainly manually. With advanced system support, 80 to 90 percent of all planning tasks can be automated and still ensure better quality compared with tasks conducted manually. The S&OP process will move to a weekly rhythm, and the decision process will be built on scenarios that can be updated in real time. This combination of accuracy, granularity, and speed has implications for the other elements, such as service, supply-chain costs, and inventory. Systems will be able to detect the exception where a planner needs to jump in to decide.

Inventory. Inventory is used to decouple demand and supply, to buffer variability in demand and supply. Implementing new planning algorithms will significantly reduce the uncertainty (the standard deviation of the demand/supply or forecast error), making safety stock unnecessary. The other important variable to drive inventory is the replenishment lead time: with more production of lot size 1 and fast changeovers, the lead time will be reduced significantly. Also, long transport time—say, from Asia to the European Union or the United States—will be reduced, due to a significant increase in local-for-local production. In addition, 3-D printing will reduce the required inventory. We would expect an overall inventory reduction of 50 to 80 percent.

The transformation into a digital supply chain requires three key enablers: a clear definition, new capabilities, and a supportive environment. Defining the digital supply chain starts with an understanding of the current operation’s digital waste. Capabilities regarding digitization then need to be built; typically they require targeted recruiting of specialist profiles. The final prerequisite is the implementation of a two-speed architecture/organization. This means that the establishment of the organization and IT landscape must be accompanied by creation of an innovation environment with a start-up culture.

This incubator needs to provide a high degree of organizational freedom and flexibility as well as state-of-the-art IT systems (two-speed architecture independent of existing legacy systems) to enable rapid cycles of development, testing, and implementation of solutions. Fast realization of pilots is essential to get immediate business feedback on suitability and impact of the solutions, to create excitement and trust in innovations (e.g., new planning algorithms), and to steer next development cycles. The incubator is the seed of Supply Chain 4.0 in the organization—fast, flexible, and efficient.

 

Amazon has expressed a mission to take over the retail world, and it seems to be working. While the company’s chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, was criticized years ago for plowing profits back into the digital platform, that strategy has given the company the ability to sell virtually anything that can be shipped anywhere.

Their model is that the product is almost a commodity. They can control those products, but what they’re differentiating on is the retail experience and technology. So, they take out all the pain points in shopping, and they lock you in. Amazon Prime is the perfect example. Prime, a subscription service that offers free or low-cost shipping to members, creates incredible loyalty among customers who prefer the ease and convenience.

Another way Amazon builds customer loyalty is through pricing. Its staggering assortment of goods enables it to offer everyday low prices, so shoppers don’t have to watch for a sale. They take out the cognitive dissonance that’s increasingly infecting department store customers who shop and wonder whether today’s the day they should buy something because tomorrow or the next day they might see it at a lower price. There’s a persistent belief that when it comes to clothing, customers prefer to try, touch and feel the garments before they purchase. But more and more consumers are willing to forgo that option for Amazon’s ease.

The old thought is, retail is detail, and they are practicing that at an extraordinary high level. They’re killing legacy retailers who basically have been dropping the ball for years on the basis of poor assortment, poor price strategy and terrible presentation. I think customers, for the most part, will want to touch and feel and try things, but the experience in stores is so abhorrent to so many customers that they’d just as soon not.

The outliers in retail are stores that have managed to stay successful by hyper-focusing on improved customer relations. Nordstrom is one such retailer; Costco is another. If customers are going to spend precious time trudging through a store, they want the process to be pleasant and the sales associates to be attentive.

That’s simply not the case in most brick-and-mortar stores anymore. Too many of our legacy retailers are full of dispirited employees. The stores don’t look crisp and clean, and they’re not well-merchandised, so the malaise that is expanding is really frightening.

More than a dozen clothing retailers that have traditionally populated the American mall landscape have announced bankruptcy, shuttered locations or closed down completely in the last several years, including Macy’s, The Limited, Wet Seal, Bebe, Guess, Payless ShoeSource, BCBG Max Azria, Abercrombie and Fitch — the list goes on. Those who haven’t shut down or scaled back are stagnant, such as Target and Kohl’s.

The legacy retail business is in terrible shape. For big players like Macy’s — who are not in imminent danger of bankruptcy but, frankly, don’t have a strategy to go forward — this is breakage that is just starting to reveal itself. We’re looking at a paradigm shift that’s just getting started. But it’s a fool’s game for these retailers to try to compete with Amazon at this point. They need to chart their own path and figure out what will work.

If you are not willing to change, you are going to lose in this market. For these legacy retailers, it’s very hard for them to change because they’ve had so much infrastructure, they’re so big and they’ve had this established way of doing things that it’s hard for their systems to change, it’s hard for their people to change. Some smaller boutiques and retail clothiers have enjoyed success because they offer their products online, have good customer service and appeal to certain types of shoppers. These stores are green shoots and disruptors.

It’s a myth that all the lost retail jobs will be replaced. While it is true that Amazon is adding a significant number of positions, the assumption that those jobs will be filled by laid-off retail employees is not. Amazon’s fulfillment centers typically are not in major metropolitan areas with a large population, and laid-off retail employees may not be able to pick up and move to where these centers are. The nature of the work at fulfillment centers is also very different than the customer-centric jobs that traditional store employees are used to. In addition, there are few job-retraining programs available. The retail industry is shedding jobs a lot faster than e-commerce like Amazon is adding them. There are going to be far more retail workers out of work than, for example, coal miners.

It’s fair to say that Amazon now provides the largest cloud computing service in the world. The company is continuously investing in technology and infrastructure, including its fleet of delivery jets, trucks and drones. Amazon is also refining its formidable ability to collect and aggregate data about customer preferences.

This is an outfit that doesn’t consider any boundaries as insurmountable. We recently peeked at Amazon’s first grocery store in Seattle, in which customers can walk in and out with nothing, but all their purchases are uploaded to their account and delivered. Amazon’s goal is to lock you into their universe. They can recommend such personalized products that you’ll never want to leave.

 

At the Rebecca Minkoff store in New York’s Soho, “smart” digital walls and mirrors let you tap for a different clothing size or color — as well as a free glass of champagne. At the Warby Parker store near Hollywood, you and your friends can create your own 15-second shareable video in a “green room” furnished with props and backdrops. At Jungle Jim’s International Market near Cincinnati, bizarre animatronic figures entertain you while you browse unusual gourmet foods. And at Pirch’s luxury home appliance stores, you can try out the appliances before buying them, including shower heads (just bring your own swimsuit.)

Other brick-and-mortar retailers offer cooking classes, celebrity appearances, personalized makeup advice, wine tastings: the list goes on and on. Much of this activity, of course, is intended to combat the juggernaut of online ordering via Amazon and other sites.

“The customer can get all of their clothing without ever leaving their bed,” says Stacey Bendet, CEO and creative director of designer clothing company Alice + Olivia. “So the experience in-store has to become more VIP, more exciting.”

But are these in-store “experiences” worth the effort and money that retailers are pouring into them?

“You can’t just [look at] … what’s the ROI on a certain thing in the store, like short-term, immediate impact,” says Denise Dahlhoff, research director at Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retailing Center. While various measurements are possible — comparing test stores to control stores, measuring differences in amount of revenue or number of new customers — she recommends thinking bigger-picture. Store experiences should be considered holistically, “part of your branding and marketing in general.”

Barbara Kahn, a Wharton marketing professor and director of the Baker Retailing Center, cautions that not all in-store experiences are created equal. For example, simply installing a photo booth in your store probably isn’t enough to get people to come in and shop. Rather, retailers should “create something that’s of value … an experience that people would go out of their way to take part in. Not just incidental experiential trappings.”

She talks about “drop culture” as a successful example. Urban clothing brands such as Supreme create specially-timed launches — “drops” — of unique new apparel that actually draw crowds. The scenario is similar to people camping out outside an Apple store to get the newest iPhone. With Supreme’s drops, she says, you can only get that cool thing if you’re in the right place at the right time. The customer is essentially purchasing excitement, a crowd experience, a social experience in addition to the clothing itself.

Another experiential success, in Kahn’s view, is Eataly, a chain of Italian marketplaces that combines restaurants, grocery stores and cooking schools. It capitalizes on the appeal of Italian culture and sophistication. “It all works together like a little universe,” she says. “There’s a nice synergy there; you can taste the foods in the restaurant … you might then go to the grocery store to buy it so you can make it at home.”

Beauty products, too, lend themselves well to in-person experiences, says Kahn. She says makeup is about “trying on, learning, a little bit of instruction about … what will look good on me particularly; talking to other people.” Physical stores such as Sephora and Ulta are doing well as a result. While cosmetics are of course sold online, too, says Kahn, those transactions are missing that experiential, social piece.

Dahlhoff notes that successful in-store experiences, “because they often involve human interaction, and services, and unique kinds of things … create stickiness and loyalty.” And there are other benefits. For instance, customers engaged in an experience tend to think less about how much things cost. “In this retail environment where everybody’s so focused on promotions and discounts, and nobody buys at full price anymore, adding an experience … diverts your attention from the price,” she says.

Generating in-store excitement is also a way for a store whose offerings don’t change very much to keep customers interested, says Dahlhoff. She references J. Crew, which has held special themed weekends. On one weekend, customers learned how to create their own fresh flower bouquets. Another featured a career theme: Store associates gave advice on career-boosting outfits, and shoppers who spent over a certain amount received a premium LinkedIn account.

If someone has an interesting experience in a store, they may well share it on social media, Dahlhoff says. Wharton marketing professor David Bell agrees and considers this a key benefit of today’s in-store events. He comments that 20 years ago, if 100 people visited your store, maybe 10 of them would tell someone else about the experience. But today, “when you have a physical footprint somewhere, 100 people come and maybe 20,000 learn about it because whatever goes on in there can be amplified through digital.” Your audience has an audience, he says.

“The sales per square foot of someone like a Warby Parker, or an Away luggage … those folks are definitely doing very, very well from the offline retail,” adds Bell.

Less Buzz, More Data?

Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader isn’t quite as convinced of the value of in-store experiences. While acknowledging that they do have a role in the marketing mix, he notes that competing to create ever-more-stimulating retail environments could lead to an “arms race,” similar to the way online retailers have competed to reduce shipping costs and have basically trained customers to expect free shipping. What’s more, it’s easy for businesses to copy in-store event ideas from each other so they no longer serve as differentiators.

Moreover, efforts to create dynamic in-store experiences don’t necessarily insulate retailers from the problems currently plaguing the industry – for example, J. Crew has struggled with debt woes and the recent departures of longtime CEO Mickey Drexler and creative director Jenna Lyons amid declining sales.

Plus, Fader says, with many of the things we shop for, we’re not really looking for a fun and engaging experiences. If you’re just buying underwear or a dish drainer, you probably want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Of the Rebecca Minkoff store experience, he comments, “As if that is going to break them away from the pack. As if that is going to keep people from going to Amazon: ‘Oh, I can get champagne.’”

In fact, he characterizes many of the initiatives that brick-and-mortar retailers engage in — at a time when many companies are forced to close their doors — as merely “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

For Fader, a better strategy for retailers is to focus on data and analytics: to understand their customers’ lifetime value and find ways to make the in-store experience better for individuals who are more valuable to the business. Essentially, the idea is to treat different shoppers differently and solve important customers’ pain points on the spot, rather than trying to “wow” everyone en masse. “Someone walks into your store and you should know right away, through a mobile app or some kind of status indicator, whether they’re worth lavishing attention on or not.”

But in his experience, retailers are resistant to the idea, unlike their colleagues in industries such as banking, packaged goods, gaming and pharmaceuticals. “I build a lot of these predictive models and teach a variety of companies how to build appropriate strategies around them. And there might be no sector … less willing to embrace it than retailers.” He says that as a group, retailers are risk-averse, afraid of data, and too set in their ways — and he believes they are making a mistake.

“A magic [dressing room] mirror, anyone can have,” says Fader. “But a deep understanding of your customers … you just can’t buy that.”

Online-offline Retail Hybrids

Tying together their online and offline operations – seamlessly — is a goal for many retailers, according to the experts. And it’s evident that online and offline retailers each recognize the value of each other’s business. Bell points out that digital native Amazon recently bought Whole Foods, and brick-and-mortar king Walmart has been buying up a spate of small online companies.

Bell notes that the jewelry, fashion apparel, and home goods sectors have had good success with the “buy online, pick up in store” model. When the customer visits the store to pick up, they may start browsing other merchandise, too. Kahn describes another big benefit of this model: it’s cheaper for the retailer. “The most expensive part of delivery is the last mile to the house. If you can get the customer to go into the store and pick it up instead of having it trucked to you, that reduces costs.”

Alice + Olivia’s Bendet notes that over the past few years, a major focus and challenge for her business has been integrating wholesale, retail and e-commerce “to create a more seamless shopping experience” and to build back-end technology for her company’s future. “I think the best experience is a hybrid one,” she says.

Bell believes that brick-and-mortar retail’s future lies in developing a white-hot focus on customer service and divesting itself from carrying inventory. “What’s wrong with a traditional store in my view is that you’re trying to accomplish too many things. You’re trying to hold inventory, which is a real pain the neck, [dealing with] how many blue blazers you need to have on the floor and how many in the back…. Trying to provide excellent service and manage inventory all at once is completely inefficient.”

He foresees physical stores which showcase only a few key items and offer personalized customer interactions. Purchases are then completed online and the items are shipped to the customer.

He says a similar model can be seen at the online men’s fashion retailer Bonobos (one of the companies recently purchased by Walmart), which runs physical stores called Bonobos Guide Shops. A customer makes a reservation to meet with an associate, who shares style pointers and personalized recommendations. The store holds a limited amount of stock, but has swatches of all the colors available. The shopper makes his purchase on an iPad, and the items are shipped to him the next day. “Separating out the inventory holding from the experience is doing what a store’s really good at, which is giving someone potentially a great experience with the brand,” Bell notes.

Bendet echoes this type of approach to the physical store: “Our salespeople are trained to be stylists, creating a more exclusive and personalized shopping experience.”

Whatever form the experts project physical stores would take in the future, none predict they would disappear entirely. Kahn, while stating that the U.S. is “over-stored” and that many stores are closing or being turned into distribution centers, says, “People do have a need for enjoying their day, for something that’s fun to do.”

She compares in-person shopping to going to the movies — something that pundits were predicting “forever and ever” would go away. “Some people want to go out on a Friday night. They want to do something; they don’t want to hang out in their house the whole time.”

Building hybrid retail is a new challenge that requires new guiding principles. Digital retail relies on the winner-take-all dynamic underpinned by zero marginal costs, network effects, access to data, and user convenience. But hybrid retail cannot succeed through technology and scale alone. Operating in the physical realm means dealing with the messiness of hardware. Hybrid retail tends to have a narrower scope because they require deep domain knowledge and dense business relationships. They tend to grow more slowly both because of physical constraints and because the prerequisites of growth can often be acquired only through experience and commitment. Therefore, hybrid ecosystems will likely not achieve the breadth and scale of purely digital ecosystems.

Consider Toyota, which orchestrates a hybrid ecosystem of suppliers, innovators, and collaborators to enable not just superior manufacturing but constant innovation.6 Toyota’s super-ecosystem is a prototypical hybrid ecosystem, in that it simultaneously involves a dense network of traditional physical suppliers and a newer digital ecosystem that can explore capabilities like fleet management, ride sharing, and autonomous driving. Toyota has built this ecosystem over decades, investing in its partners and their capabilities. Even so, Toyota is just one of the many players in the auto-manufacturing space, with less than 20% share globally.

The difference between hybrid ecosystems and those that are purely digital is reminiscent of a pattern in ecological succession. Pioneer species (so-called r species) in a new niche succeed by prioritizing growth. They quickly conquer the niche by reproducing and dispersing quickly. However, as the ecosystem matures and the environment becomes more diverse, new strategies emerge. In later stages, species optimized for competition in higher-density environments (K species) tend to thrive. Their strategy involves more parental investment in fewer offspring. The strategy shifts are a natural consequence of the changing ecological environment. In the same way, different types of business environments favor different managerial approaches. The management of hybrid ecosystems requires major shifts in approach.

Technology and Relationships. Technological edge is clearly a key success factor for digital ecosystems; delivering a strong digital product, scaling it, and making it possible for stakeholders to seamlessly build on it are all primarily technical challenges. Digital ecosystem orchestrators tend to focus only on certain relationships, neglecting others. For example, Amazon is known for its customer obsession—and for being less focused on its third-party vendors. Hybrid ecosystems face high technological requirements, but in the physical world, where business success often depends on customization, consulting, or enablement, relationships are also important. For an ecosystem to reach critical mass, the orchestrator must deeply understand and shape the real-world behaviors of the people and the enterprises in it. This requires building strong relationships with multiple actors and often developing specific capabilities. Creating value in hybrid ecosystems requires not only transactions but also change management.

Depth and Breadth. The breadth of successful digital ecosystems is one of their chief characteristics. For example, the vast majority of consumers in developed countries use the services of near digital monopolies like Google and Facebook. But these ecosystems tend not to be deep; they are not optimized for specific niches or particular modes of use but instead fulfill the “common denominator” use cases. Hybrid ecosystems need to develop sufficient breadth to reach critical mass but, at the same time, must have a deep focus on particular problems and deploy the relevant domain expertise to address them. Their business model relies on creating greater value by solving specific problems rather than populating a large open niche. Only in this way will they be able to fully satisfy customer needs.

Creation of New Ecosystems and Rejuvenation of Old. Digital ecosystems mostly occupy completely new niches, and the occupiers are mostly upstarts. They have the luxury of starting from scratch and writing the rules as they build out new markets. Hybrid ecosystems will mostly involve existing niches, with existing capabilities and existing competitors. Therefore, hybrid ecosystems must balance between creating entirely new capabilities and taking advantage of or actively reshaping existing ones. They must be able both to create something new and to rejuvenate something old.

It’s natural to ask whether any company has successfully translated these guiding principles into action. Let’s turn to a company that has done so serially and has demonstrated a robust repeatable formula.

Recruit is currently one of Japan’s most successful large companies, with close to 20% annual growth in the past five years in a sluggish economy. The company’s approach to management: to build multiple digital-physical ecosystems in areas as diverse as tourism, dining, education, used-car sales, and recruiting. In each area, Recruit aims to be the orchestrator of a tight, vertically focused hybrid ecosystem of digital and physical players.

For example, Recruit has built an ecosystem of restaurants in Japan by bringing together hundreds of thousands of restaurants and various service providers and developers onto a single platform. Through this platform, AirREGI, restaurants are able to access not only a variety of Recruit’s own services but also dozens of others in areas such as advertising, accounting, work force management, procurement, payment processing, and even cutting-edge recommendation engines powered by machine learning. Although Recruit’s role was to build the digital platform, the company was able to penetrate the physical restaurant market only because it had a capable field force that already had relationships with restaurants and vendors.

Recruit has been successful in building hybrid ecosystems in part because the company underscores the importance of coming up with generalizable formulas (called “kata”). In fact, when it chooses employees for its company-wide innovation award, it explicitly looks for innovations that have the potential to be applied in multiple contexts. Recruit calls its formula for building and managing successful hybrid ecosystems the Ribbon Model. The following five imperatives are some of the key elements of this model.

Create a culture of serial entrepreneurship. Given their tight vertical focus, hybrid ecosystems tend to lack the scale that broad digital ecosystems enjoy. This implies that companies that seek to become hybrid-ecosystem orchestrators must create multiple ecosystems in order to maintain their growth trajectory. In fact, this is how Recruit approaches growth: it has invested in more than a dozen ecosystems.

This means that Recruit must hire and train entrepreneurial talent, and it does so by building an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the company. Recruit acts as seed accelerator, venture capitalist, advisor, back-office service provider, and recruiter for would-be entrepreneurs within the company. Recruit is able to systematically identify, encourage, and nurture entrepreneurial talent through programs that allow any employee, potentially in collaboration with outside stakeholders, to apply to start new businesses, which could develop into new ecosystems. One such program, New Ring, receives more than 1,000 proposals every year and has given birth to some of Recruit’s core ecosystems.

Combine domain and technology experts. The competitive edge of digital ecosystems often lies in their superior technology, and the orchestrators unsurprisingly obsess over technological talent: strong engineers and designers are crucial for scalability and creating a superior product experience. However, in hybrid ecosystems, domain experts are just as necessary to uncover and address deep customer needs. Therefore, the crucial capability of hybrid ecosystem orchestrators is to recruit both domain and technology experts and to bring them together to solve challenges collaboratively.

Recruit facilitates collaboration between such experts by allowing some of its top talent to roam freely across business domains. For example, Recruit was able to vastly reduce the labor cost associated with processing online customer reviews by connecting a content management expert and a machine learning expert, who technically resided in separate companies. Such successes are shared in an enterprise-wide platform to motivate other technologists and domain experts to seek opportunities to collaborate.

Balance all sides of the ecosystem, including the supply side. Within an ecosystem, there is often a particular group of stakeholders that generates revenue (consumers, advertisers, or business clients, for example). It’s tempting to focus on catering to the needs of the revenue-generating side. In digital ecosystems, this group is often end consumers, and suppliers and innovation partners in these ecosystems often feel neglected or squeezed. Hybrid ecosystems, more so than other ecosystems, depend on all participants, and their orchestrators must make sure that each stakeholder group gets its fair share of attention.

Recruit has built this notion into its model for ecosystem management, which places Recruit as the glue between consumers and suppliers, with many explicit milestones between first contact and value creation. For example, the milestones on the consumer side of the used-car-sales ecosystem include number of views, number of inquiries, number of in-person contacts, and number of sales. These milestones are then translated into and measured as KPIs, along with indicators that track the overall health of the ecosystem.

Experiment and co-evolve with other stakeholders. In order to thrive in the long run, hybrid ecosystems must adapt and learn continuously. The orchestrator, which is in the position to set the ecosystem’s direction, must drive this process. But rather than setting the agenda by dictum, the orchestrator should act as an antenna that picks up on learning opportunities as well as an enabler to help guide other partners to address those opportunities. Orchestrators must have the humility to experiment and learn with other members.

At the heart of Recruit’s ecosystem innovation strategy is its strong field force and its emphasis on co-evolution. Recruit’s field force is trained not only to generate revenue and hit targets, but also to build deep relationships with clients so that it’s able to learn about latent opportunities in the market and mobilize stakeholders around them. For example, Recruit coordinated a large campaign called Yuki Maji! 19 to revitalize winter sports in Japan. This campaign, which provided free ski-lift tickets to 19-year-olds, initially experienced strong pushback from resort owners. However, by working with advertisers, government agencies, resorts, and industry organizations, Recruit was ultimately able to persuade hundreds of resorts to participate in the effort, which was a commercial success.

Have the courage to re-engineer old ecosystems. Every successful company faces a dilemma born from its very success: it is often difficult to change what has been working. This is the familiar story of Kodak and Blockbuster, who had extremely profitable business models and ample resources, but still failed to respond adequately to highly visible disruptions. This is a persistent threat for both physical incumbents and digital natives. To win the battle for new hybrid niches, companies must be willing to cannibalize their existing business models, whether digital or physical. Often, this requires creating a sense of urgency to stir up energy for self-disruption.

Recruit experienced this in the early 2000s, when it transformed its magazine-based tourism ecosystem (called Jalan) into an online travel ecosystem. Jalan, which sold advertisement slots in its magazines, faced revenue declines of 5% a year because of increasing competition. Jalan’s online platform had no booking functionality and could not compete with more advanced online travel agents. In the 2000s, Jalan went through a painful transformation, replacing its old business model with a new, untested online model. This required both decisiveness and persistence: Recruit placed new managers (from outside the travel industry) in the business to signal a new direction, and it invested in the new model for seven years before reaching profitability. The approach was like gene augmentation therapy—the company pulled in completely new “genes” to endow an old ecosystem with new capabilities.

Recruit’s experience demonstrates how to be successful in the realm of digital-physical ecosystems. But purely physical incumbents can also be competitive in this realm. Emerging opportunities at the intersection of the digital and the physical give incumbents a new opportunity to build valuable ecosystems.

To make the most of these opportunities, incumbents should recognize that they are no longer playing catch-up but are pioneering a new game—one in which they have the potential to define new niches and new rules. Leaders of physical businesses can take a few lessons from Recruit to aid in their journey.

First, they must reinforce strategic ambidexterity: the ability to explore the new and exploit the old at the same time. Managing conflicting goals is crucial for all business leaders today, but it is doubly so for those attempting to build hybrid ecosystems. That task will be about both technology and relationships, breadth and depth, and creation and rejuvenation.

Second, they must have the courage and the ability to envision and shape new spaces and orchestrate corporate and noncorporate stakeholders. These “shaping capabilities” are often more strongly associated with digital giants than with physical incumbents. It is thus all the more urgent that physical incumbents start investing in the management skills essential for ecosystem building and management.

Finally, they must treat hybrid ecosystems as repeated rather than one-off games. Unlike in digital ecosystems, where winning once was sufficient, hybrid ecosystems will often involve multiple wins and a system for achieving this. Companies may end up as orchestrators in one ecosystem and participants in others. This dynamic will favor plays that invest in a repeatable formula and prioritize trustworthiness and collaboration.

The digital ecosystem is one of the most successful business model innovations we have ever seen. Nevertheless, it is only one of many possible models of collaboration in business. As digital economies grow and proliferate, they will inevitably create new opportunities for digital-physical ecosystems. Incumbents should start preparing today.

DREAM TOILET PAPERS!

Trump watches Berkeley



 

 

 

Tis the season for more than three million college applicants and their parents to stress as college admission and financial award offers begin landing.

 

According to The Princeton Review’s 2018 College Hopes & Worries Survey, the company’s 16th annual survey of college applicants and their parents, anxiety levels about the admission process are consistently high this year.  73% of the over 10,500 respondents reported high levels of stress—17% more than in the survey’s initial year, 2003. For this year, more students (74%) than parents (69%) reported high stress levels.

The rising cost of college may well have contributed to parents’ and students’ college application stress: 99% of the respondents this year said financial aid would be necessary to pay for college. 65% deemed it “Extremely Necessary.”

For the sixth consecutive year, Stanford was the college that both applicants and parents most named as their “Dream” college.  Among students, Harvard was the second most named and MIT was second most named among parents.  (Lists of students’ and parents’ top 10 dream colleges follow.)

The Princeton Review® (www.princetonreview.com), one of the nation’s best-known education services companies, has conducted this survey annually since 2003. Findings for the 2018 survey are based on responses from 10,958 people: 85% were college applicants, 15% were parents of applicants. Respondents hailed from all 50 states and Washington D.C., as well as more than 80 countries abroad. The 16-question survey ran in The Princeton Review book, The Best 382 Colleges: 2018 Edition (Penguin Random House, August 2017), and on PrincetonReview.com from August 2017 through early March 2018.

A complete survey report is at www.princetonreview.com/college-hopes-worries.

Top 10 “Dream Colleges”

Answering the survey’s only fill-in-the-blank question, “What ‘dream college’ do you wish you or your child could attend if acceptance or cost weren’t issues?”, respondents wrote in names of more than 800 institutions.

The colleges students most named as their “dream college” were:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Harvard College
  3. New York University
  4. Princeton University
  5. University of California—Los Angeles
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. Columbia University
  8. Yale University
  9. University of California—Berkeley
  10. University of Southern California

The colleges parents most named as their “dream college” for their children were:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. Princeton University
  4. Harvard College
  5. Yale University
  6. Brown University
  7. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
  8. University of Pennsylvania
  9. Columbia University
  10. Cornell University

For survey questions with multiple answer choices, findings among respondents overall (students and parents) indicate:

· Priorities shifting: focus is on finding the best program for a student’s career interests
In 2005, over half the students and parents focused on the best overall college fit when choosing a college and less than 25% emphasized career, while in 2018 career interests were a much higher priority (42% of students and 41% of parents).

· Toughest factor? All the applications
Asked which part of the application process was the toughest, 35% (the plurality) chose the answer, “Completing applications for admission and financial aid,” while 32% of respondents chose the answer, “Taking the SAT®, ACT® or AP® exams,” as the toughest part of the process for them. A majority (69%) of respondents said it is “Somewhat,” “Very,” or “Extremely likely” that they would take (or have their child take) both the ACT and the SAT.

· Main benefit of college? Jobs & Earnings
41% said the biggest benefit of a degree was a “Potentially better job and income” while 34% said “Exposure to new ideas” and 25% said the “Education.”

· College cost estimate? $50,000+
85% estimated their degree to cost “More than $50,000.” 41% said “More than $100,000.” Parents’ estimates were higher than students’.

· Biggest worry? Debt
42% (the plurality) said their main concern was “Level of debt I/my child will take on to pay for the degree.”  In 2006, the answer most chosen by the plurality (34%) was “Won’t get in to first-choice college.”

· Issue of most disagreement between students and parents? Location, Location, Location
50% of parents would like their child to attend a college less than 250 miles from home while 67% of students said they would like to attend a college more than 250 miles from home.

Colleges now sing their swan song. Smart kids do not go to college anymore, and colleges cannot find enough stupid clients to stay in business. Harvard kowtows to Islam, because it receives huge donations from Arabs.  Selling the Harvard soul for petrodollars shows the double standards of higher education and how low college morality can go. Inviting disgusting Jihadis and other terrorists to speak at Harvard makes you vomit.

Mass production of uneducated college graduates is a result of the expansion of college education for all. Colleges exploit students and adjunct professors to serve a few tenured professors. Commencement is a vanity fair to distribute toilet paper! Those who can’t do, teach. Colleges are frauds. Ivy league schools sold their souls to Islam with huge donations from Arab princes. Many administrators rob the funds, many professors trade grades for bribes and sex, and students dumb down!  Anyone who wants to learn anything can do it much better on the Internet, without retreating to fraudulent concentration camps, called campuses. Allons enfants de la Patrie! The college bubble is just about to burst. Kids are being sold on the claim that college degrees are simply a must for future employment but this nonsense has become an artifact of history.

Colleges are full of slaves, called adjunct instructors, on short-term contracts with low pay and minimal long-term prospects. This kind of slavery has been going on for centuries. The adjunct eggheads’ working conditions are the students’ learning conditions.

Working on multiple campuses, juggling curricula, and often having to find additional ways to pay the bills, all are reflections of the low pay and high workload that adjuncts bear. Too often, the results are stress and exhaustion. Egghead-student relationships cannot help faltering under that burden.

Less obvious are the classroom impacts of the precariousness of the adjunct work contract. Those contracts are offered semester to semester, are typically subject to cancellation up to and including the first day of classes, and are most often dependent on the mood of one department chairman, who looks for favors, such as sex, bribes, gifts, and putting his name on an article he did not write!

The lack of academic freedom of adjuncts undermines cherished ideas about the role of eggheads in higher education. This lack of the freedom to speak on charged issues in a majority of college classrooms undermines a much larger awareness and understanding of social justice. The conditions of adjunct employment deprives students of the debate essential to citizenship. A primary unintended lesson students learn from the adjunct paradigm is how to neglect justice.

Adjuncts’ fear affects not just students but also the public at large. When adjuncts, who account for seventy percent of college eggheads, put the renewal of their teaching contracts at risk if they dare tell the truth, or to speak about a controversial issue with a journalist, the role of academics as public eggheads suffers.

A public egghead uses his work to pursue the public good, while addressing the public directly, through writing, lecturing, or being interviewed. An adjunct egghead cannot afford to put the public good ahead of his own job safety in his research or teaching decisions. 

Since WWII, college has falsely been sold as the guarantee of better employment and higher salaries. But the costs outweigh the benefits. There are several problems with college today, not the least of which is its exorbitant costs. Kids are graduating sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, a debt many won’t be able to satisfy for decades. Some will never pay it all off. The result is that the costs are fast outweighing the benefits and it won’t be long before people just stop indulging this pointless waste of time and money and will just start to go right into the work force out of High School.

Essay mills seduce gullible desperate students with a rubbish product. Responsibility for that lies with college practice and government policy. Fierce competition between colleges for customers has led to the admission of some students who struggle to write a postcard, never mind an essay. They plagiarize, copy and paste, as many have been taught to do at secondary schools obsessed with their positions in league tables.

Ultimately, students may feel less ripped off by essay mills than by colleges. Prospectuses promise a collegial atmosphere, an unforgettable student experience and unrivaled preparation for a rewarding career. In reality, college managers are running a no-frills, bums-on-seats business with costs pared to the bone and tight control imposed on academics by performance measures. Student satisfaction is purchased with lax academic standards: Eighty per cent of undergraduates can now expect to graduate with excellent grades.  They bribed their professors with excellent evaluations of their teaching methods!

Essay mills provide extensive interaction with writers, turning the construction of essays into the kind of social exercise with which modern students are comfortable. Their existence is nothing more than an indicator of the rot in colleges. Eliminating them, even were this possible, would do nothing to address the basic problems: that neither students nor colleges are much concerned with learning, and that the government either has not noticed or does not care.

All too often, when we see professors who aren’t writing, we look away. If they’re assistant professors, we shrug as their tenure clock ticks — they’ll either make it or they won’t. If the writer’s block comes after tenure, we ignore that too except maybe in their annual reviews, until we finally dismiss them as deadwood.

Publish or perish. Writing-stalled faculty members tend to cope with their frustrations in ways that end up being ineffective, or even destructive. Instead of writing, they throw themselves into teaching and service. They get unnecessarily embroiled in departmental politics. Or they create a flurry of research-related projects that won’t meet tenure-and-promotion criteria no matter how creatively framed.

Some blocked writers try to reduce their shame by disparaging a more prolific colleague. They may devote themselves to deploring the shortcomings of their students, departments, field, and university. They may claim they are more responsive to their students — and doing more valuable service — than their too-busy-with-writing colleagues. Alternatively, some writing-stalled academics may avoid both teaching and service by proclaiming their need to focus on research — which somehow never gets written.

Colleges now are not education centers, but mating and entertainment centers. Then there are the useless degrees, pure toilet paper, many kids are being fooled into achieving, packed with class work that is utterly meaningless to life or business. Classes such as black heritage, minority studies, and gay studies, these pseudo-degrees aren’t worth the sheepskins upon which they are printed. With these troubles on the horizon, employers are fast dropping requirements for degrees for all positions.

More than half of all recent college graduates are working in jobs that do not even require a college degree. Most Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed. Most college graduates have not been able to find a job in their chosen field. In the United States today, approximately half million cashiers, half million waiters, and more than 200,000 janitors have college degrees. Only half of all law school graduates are able to find a full-time job that requires a law degree.

Parents, taxpayers, and donors have little idea of the levels of lunacy, evil and lawlessness that have become features of many of today’s institutions of higher learning. Parents, taxpayers and donors who ignore or are too lazy to find out what goes on in the name of higher education are nearly as complicit as the professors and administrators who promote or sanction the lunacy, evil, and lawlessness.

Colleges are echo chambers of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos. Today’s academic climate might be described as a mixture of infantilism, kindergarten, and totalitarianism. The radicals, draft dodgers and hippies of the 1960s who are now college administrators and professors are responsible for today’s academic climate. The infantilism should not be tolerated, but more important for the future of any nation are the totalitarianism and the nonsense being taught at many colleges.

Citizens should rise up against this totalitarian trend on college campuses. The most effective way to do so is to hit these campus tyrants where it hurts the most — in the pocketbook. Lawmakers should slash budgets, and donors should keep their money in their pockets.

There was a time when campus life meant dorm parties, Frisbees on the lawn and entering a world of ideas. Today’s campus, however, is a joyless, politically correct gulag where students are taught to confess their crimes of privilege and inform on fellow students.

Free speech died first on campus when the great works of literature were censored because they could be offensive, when comedians began to fear to visit because they might offend someone and when students became afraid to discuss ideas, dress up for a party or even tell a joke. Now, today’s students know that Bias Response Teams on hundreds of campuses are encouraging students to inform on each other. That a casual remark or humorous tweet could cost them their future.

Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut is another fine illustration of the contemporary state of Higher Education. Johnny Eric Williams, a professor in its sociology department, calls for letting whites die! Another exhibit of academic rot! Removing him would be like removing one cockroach from an infestation and thinking that the problem is solved. The pressure that is now being brought upon Williams must be brought by the public upon the whole Academic Industrial Complex, for Williams’ view is but a variant of the intellectually vapid and morally toxic ideology that dominates academia today.

Honorable universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Stanford University, and Rice University, do not award honorary degrees as a matter of policy. The University of Virginia (founded in 1819) was the first US university to explicitly have a policy of not awarding honorary degrees at the behest of its founder, Thomas Jefferson. In 1845, dean of faculty William Barton Rogers vigorously defended this policy; in 1861, he founded MIT in Boston and continued this practice.

Colleges grant honorary degrees in exchange for large donations, influence, or publicity. It’s a form of prostitution, pure and simple! They are selling their souls in a ridiculous manner. Even Harvard, the richest university on Earth, kowtows to Islam for more petrodollars! Honorary degree recipients, particularly those who have no prior academic qualifications, have sometimes been criticized if they insist on being called Doctor as a result of their award, as the honorific may mislead the general public about their qualifications. It can be similarly misleading when respected individuals are referred to as Professor, especially in a university or government context.

The awarding of an honorary degree to political figures can prompt protests from faculty or students. In 2001, George W. Bush received an honorary degree from Yale University where he had earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1968. Some students and faculty chose to boycott the university’s 300th commencement. Andrew Card, who served as Bush’s Chief of Staff from 2001–2006, ultimately chose not to speak when the University of Massachusetts-Amherst awarded him an honorary degree in 2007, in response to protests from students and faculty at the commencement ceremonies.

In 1985, as a deliberate snub, the University of Oxford voted to refuse Margaret Thatcher an honorary degree in protest against her cuts in funding for higher education. This award had previously been given to all prime ministers who had been educated at Oxford.

In 2005 at the University of Western Ontario, Henry Morgentaler, a gynecologist involved in a legal case decriminalizing abortion in Canada (R. v. Morgentaler), was made an honorary Doctor of Laws. Over 12,000 signatures were acquired asking the UWO to reverse its decision to honor Dr. Morgentaler. Several protest rallies were held, including one on the day the honorary degree was bestowed (a counter petition to support Morgentaler’s degree gained 10,000 signatures).

Few people object when an honorary degree is awarded in a field that the awardee is noted for. McGill University’s decision to grant musician Joni Mitchell an honorary Doctor of Music in 2004 was unopposed, although it was timed to coincide with a symposium about Mitchell’s career.

In 1996, Southampton College at Long Island University (now a campus of SUNY Stony Brook) awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Amphibious Letters to Muppet Kermit the Frog. Although some students objected to awarding a degree to a Muppet, Kermit delivered an enjoyable commencement address and the small college received considerable press coverage. The degree was conferred in recognition of efforts in the area of environmentalism. Said the university: “His theme song, ‘It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green,’ has become a rallying cry of the environmental movement. Kermit has used his celebrity to spread positive messages in public service announcements for the National Wildlife Federation, National Park Service, the Better World Society, and others.”

The Philosophy Faculty at Cambridge courted controversy amongst the academic community in March 1992, when three of its members posed a temporary veto against the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Jacques Derrida; they and other non-Cambridge proponents of analytic philosophy protested against the granting on the grounds that Derrida’s work did not conform with accepted measures of academic rigor. Although the University eventually passed the motion, the episode did more to draw attention to the continuing antipathy between the analytic (of which Cambridge’s faculty is a leading exponent) and the post-Hegelian continental philosophical traditions (with which Derrida’s work is more closely associated).

In 2007, protesters demanded that the University of Edinburgh revoke an honorary degree awarded to Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe in 1984. The University subsequently revealed plans to review its honorary degree policy and strip certain figures of their honorary degrees who did not deserve them. When considering revoking the honorary degree of a political figure, such reasons as human rights abuse or political corruption would be considered. As a result, it was announced that Mugabe had been stripped of his honorary degree. The University also planned to have a more rigorous selection procedure regarding potential recipients of honorary degrees, in an attempt to rectify the trend of awarding degrees to celebrities. Students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst also asked the university to revoke the honorary degree that was awarded to Mugabe over twenty years ago, and on June 12, 2008 the trustees unanimously rescinded Robert Mugabe’s honorary degree. Michigan State University has also rescinded its honorary degree.

In April 2009, Arizona State University’s President Michael M. Crow refused to give an honorary degree to US President Barack Obama for his lack of adequate qualifying achievements thus far. Also, controversy was ignited about Notre Dame awarding Obama an honorary degree, as the institution is Roman Catholic and Obama holds pro-choice views on abortion and supports embryonic stem cell research.

In February 2012, Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak was controversially awarded an honorary doctorate by the Curtin University for services to childhood education. The university honored Rosmah for founding and driving the Permata early childhood centrers in Malaysia although some alumni and students contended that the government-funded centers are an abuse of taxpayers’ money.

Between 1985 and 2014, dozens of colleges and universities awarded honorary degrees to Bill Cosby, who became widely accused of serial rape in 2014 and 2015. Because of the sheer number of allegations; an unsealed 2005 court deposition in which Cosby admitted to giving drugs to women he wanted to have sex with; and an increasing movement for universities to send strong no-tolerance messages about sexual violence, nearly 20 colleges and universities have rescinded his honorary degrees, many of which had never previously enacted such a measure.

When new students arrive, all fresh-faced and excited, at universities around the globe, they are thrilled at the prospect of escaping the wagging finger of mum and dad, eager to absorb new ideas. But they are in for a rude awakening. They soon find themselves enveloped in a world that’s more censorious than stimulating and taught not to question ideas but to learn by heart the progressive creed. It will take a brave and resilient youngster to survive university with their intellectual curiosity intact.

Every aspect of campus life, from what you can say to how you should party, is minutely policed by the Stepford Students. ‘No Platform’ policies strictly govern who can speak on campus. Anybody, no matter what their political background or supposedly liberal credentials, can find themselves shunted off campus for having the wrong opinion in the eyes of the Stasi of student politics.

Safe Spaces, controversy-free zones where students who find the real world brutalizing can weep and hug emotional support animals, are almost compulsory. Libertarian publications are blacklisted. Thanks to the youthful jackboots of the National Union of Students, and the lily-livered vice-chancellors who bow down to them, the list of the undoable, unsayable and unthinkable grows longer every year. The adults have gone AWOL.

Any student society whose worldview isn’t a carbon copy of that of the NUS lives under permanent threat of censorship. Israel Society events are shouted down, pro-life groups are denied space at freshers’ fairs. At University College London, a Nietzsche Society was banned for fear it might stoke far-right thinking. Thus Spake the Censor.

The message from student officialdom is relentless: think like us, or else. The result is that university becomes less and less like university. They now resemble factories of conformism, training their student body not to think freely but to fear the eccentric, hide from the provocative, and prize their self-esteem more highly than their intellectual development.

Campus craziness has intensified. Worse, it has Americanized. Not content with subjecting our dreaming spires to No Platforming and middle-class prejudices about tabloid newspapers and lad culture, these young clones are gaily importing the worst excesses of America’s hysterical campus culture. This is very bad news, because if you look at what is happening on America’s campuses, you get a terrifying insight into the baleful influence that identity politics can have on everyday life and liberty. The trouble is that the safe-space mentality doesn’t stay contained on campus. Year after graduating year, students who have been trained to see safety as preferable to liberty and difficult questions as wounding to their self-esteem head out into the world, taking their ‘safe space’ mentality with them. Like B-movie blobs, safe spaces are breaking free and now threaten to swallow up public life.

America’s student radicals regularly punish speakers they disagree with. Student agitators at Brandeis University managed to cancel an honorary degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the basis that she’s Islamophobic. Students at Middlebury College in Vermont physically assaulted an academic who was trying to protect Charles Murray, an invited speaker they considered racist. Antifa activists and students at Berkeley started fires to prevent the alt-right Brit provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking. Berkeley was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s, when students demanded more debate, not less. The anti-Milo protesters even burnt a replica of the simple banner reading Free Speech.

Our own student leaders assume their peers are morally feeble and must be protected from sore words or controversy. But in the US, they’ve gone deeper. Campus authoritarianism is darker, more driven by race. It governs not only ideology and opinion, but everyday conversation, and even dress. In the US, the student Stasi furiously condemn cultural appropriation, which is when a member of one racial group borrows the culture of another. They minutely police interaction between blacks and whites. Watch last year’s video of a black student at San Francisco State University physically confronting a white student with dreadlocks, and threatening to cut off his dreads because ‘that is my culture’, and you’ll see how terrifying this racial myopia can be. Watch the film of Yale students screaming hysterically in the face of a lecturer who had said that people should be able to wear whatever they wanted at Halloween and not worry about cultural insensitivity, and you will see the sheer intolerance that the cult of student sensitivity has unleashed.

Or observe what happened at Evergreen State College in Washington in May. When the biology professor Bret Weinstein refused to take part in a proposed day of racial segregation — a Day of Absence, students called it, when whites would agree not to turn up to college — all hell broke loose. Student mobs invaded lectures, they demanded Weinstein’s resignation, and they effectively imprisoned university bosses in their offices and refused to let them leave until they agreed to the students’ foul, divisive agenda. This was a step on from Stepford Students — this was Lord of the Flies-style student authoritarianism: menacing youths using mob tactics to enforce their reactionary program.

Whether we like to admit it or not, in Occident we tend to ape American culture, especially youth culture. And now our students, always on the lookout for new ways to assert their tinpot authority, are beginning to imitate what’s happening across the Atlantic.

This year, Oxford’s equality and diversity unit warned staff that failing to make eye contact with certain students could be construed as racist, and that asking a student about his or her origins is a micro-aggression liable to worsen mental ill health. Oxford then rowed back on this advice on the grounds that it might be seen as discriminatory against people with autism who can’t look others in the eye. The NUS has declared war on racial micro-aggressions, which it describes as covert subtle forms of racism. It means everyday banter and blips in conversation that have no racist intent whatsoever but which the union feels must be policed anyhow.

Just as American colleges are under pressure to remove statues of old problematic white men, so the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London this year announced it would remove all the portraits and statues of its founders because… well, they’re all white. This historical cleansing of KCL to pre-empt and halt the racial fury of student radicals will of course only intensify student demands for racial correctness. Students want a Cecil Rhodes bust at Oriel College, Oxford, removed, for curricula across the country to be de-colonized, and for black students not to be expected to read so much white philosophy. That was in a demand by students at SOAS this year that ‘white philosophers’, including Enlightenment thinkers like Kant, be dropped from the syllabus in order to make black students feel less isolated.

The nasty, paternalistic American politics of racial thinking is imposed wholesale on British campus life — even though Britain’s social history is considerably less blighted by racism than America’s. In the past academic year, Cambridge was slammed by students for serving culturally insensitive food (exotic dishes that didn’t properly reflect the countries they claimed to be from); the musical Aida was cancelled at Bristol University following a student revolt over white students portraying Egyptian slaves; and Edinburgh University’s self-styled fancy-dress police insisted students mustn’t ever dress up as Pocahontas.

If our censorious students are going to import America’s campus insanity, they need to know that means they will also import its consequences. And those consequences are dire. No one can imagine that it’s a good thing to create a generation unable to stomach things it dislikes or disagrees with. How are they to survive in a pluralistic democracy? It’s vital to be able to hear people out, to have civilized disagreement, to engage in debate, to change your mind.

The safe space, by guarding students from the disagreeable, is churning out an army of hypersensitive dogmatists. We can see this in the US with the outburst of statue-smashing. And we can see it in Europe with the alarming revelation that fewer and fewer young people believe in freedom of speech and democracy.

This is what happens when we socialize youths to think censorship is good and other people’s opinions are bad, to believe mental safety is better than zany liberty: they lose faith in freedom and democracy. They will leave uni and populate public life with these views. This is how liberty dies.

We have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of higher education that we are not sure how much longer we can wade through it and retain our sanity and integrity.

Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to disastrous political conditions and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization.

BS is the university’s loss of capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity.

BS is the farce of what are actually fragmentversities claiming to be universities, of hyperspecialization and academic disciplines unable to talk with each other about obvious shared concerns.

BS is the expectation that a good education can be provided by institutions modeled organizationally on factories, state bureaucracies, and shopping malls — that is, by enormous universities processing hordes of students as if they were livestock, numbers waiting in line, and shopping consumers.

BS is universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige, including chasing rankings that they know are deeply flawed, at the expense of genuine educational excellence, to be distinguished from the vacuous “excellence” peddled by recruitment and “advancement” offices in every run-of-the-mill university.

BS is the ideologically infused jargon deployed by various fields to stake out in-group self-importance and insulate them from accountability to those not fluent in such solipsistic language games.

BS is a tenure system that provides guaranteed lifetime employment to faculty who are lousy teachers and inactive scholars, not because they espouse unpopular viewpoints that need the protection of academic freedom, but only because years ago they somehow were granted tenure.

BS is the shifting of the burden of teaching undergraduate courses from traditional tenure-track faculty to miscellaneous, often-underpaid adjunct faculty and graduate students.

BS is states pounding their chests over their great public universities even while their legislatures cut higher-education budgets year after year after year.

BS is the institutional reward system that coerces graduate students and faculty to get published as soon and as much as possible, rather than to take the time to mature intellectually and produce scholarship of real importance — leading to a raft of books and articles that contribute little to our knowledge about human concerns that matter.

BS is third-tier universities offering mediocre graduate programs to train second-rate Ph.D. students for jobs that do not exist, whose real function is to provide faculty with graduate RAs and to justify the title of university.

BS is undergraduate core curricula that are actually not core course systems but loose sets of distribution requirements, representing uneasy truces between turf-protecting divisions and departments intent on keeping their classes full, which students typically then come to view as impositions to get out of the way.

BS is the grossly lopsided political ideology of the faculty of many disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences, creating a homogeneity of worldview to which those faculties are themselves oblivious, despite claiming to champion difference, diversity, and tolerance.

BS is hypercommercialized college athletics and administrations sucking the teats of big money, often in the process exploiting and discarding rather than educating student athletes, and recurrently corrupting recruitment programs, tutoring services, and grading systems.

BS is the ascendant culture of offense that shuts down the open exchange of ideas and mutual accountability to reason and argument. It is university leaders’ confused and fearful capitulation to that secular neo-fundamentalist speech-policing.

BS is the invisible self-censorship that results among some students and faculty, and the subtle corrective training aimed at those who occasionally do not self-censor.

BS is the only semi-intelligible outbursts of antagonism from enraged outsiders incited by academe’s suppressions of open argument, which primarily work to validate and reinforce the self-assured superiority of the suppressors, and sometimes to silence other legitimate voices.

BS is the anxiety that haunts some faculty at public universities about expressing their well-considered but unorthodox beliefs, for fear of being hounded by closed-minded students and parents or targeted by grandstanding politicians.

BS is the standard undergraduate student mentality, fostered by our entire culture, that sees college as essentially about credentials and careers (money), on the one hand, and partying oneself into stupefaction on the other.

All of this BS in the academy is mortally corrosive of our larger culture and politics. Ideas and their accompanying practices have consequences. What is formed in colleges and universities over decades shows up for better or worse in the character and quality of our public servants, political campaigns, public-policy debates, citizen participation, social capital, media programming, lower school education, consumer preferences, business ethics, entertainments, and much more. And the long-term corrosive effects on politics and culture can also be repaired only over the long term, if ever. There are no quick fixes here.

Many thoughtful people in higher education today are well aware of different piles of BS around them. Fewer seem to recognize the magnitude of the mounds of it that have accumulated and how badly they defile us. Most people involved also feel helpless to fight it, don’t want to risk careers that benefit from the status quo, or are professional boosters of the existing system and so are obliged to yammer on about how great everything is.

JAILED JOURNALISTS IN TURKEY

By Abdullah Bozkurt

Although there are varying figures on the number of jailed journalists and media workers in Turkey from different advocacy groups, one thing that is certain is that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. In fact, Turkey has broken the world record with a number that exceeds all the other notorious performers on freedom of the press, earning the title of predator for the country’s repressive leader.

The consensus is that there has been a systematic, deliberate and thorough campaign to silence critical voices and a crackdown on freedom of expression in the NATO member and EU-candidate country. When it comes to actual figures on the number of journalists jailed in Turkey, however, the numbers vary greatly to the point that it would be difficult, though not impossible, to explain the differences in methodology and in the definition of media practitioners. Considering that even one jailed journalist is one too many, why would different organizations that boast of defending freedom of the press ignore some while compiling their lists?

For the journalist organizations in Turkey, the answer is easy and straightforward. The historically deep-rooted institutional bias and ideological slant in some, coupled with polarization in the Turkish media landscape, continue to cloud judgment of who would be classified as a journalist when compiling the lists. The acute problem of divisions in Turkey among journalists and journalist associations that have been exacerbated with the growing pressure on the media in recent years may partially explain differences in the figures coming out of Turkey. The Erdoğan regime has craftily exploited this polarization and division and perpetuated the constant fear of a government clampdown on journalists. Today, the regime directly or indirectly controls nearly all media outlets in Turkey, letting only a few with limited reach and small circulation survive.

Beyond Turkey, however, the downplaying of the number of jailed journalists by reputable organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is a completely different issue and certainly begs further explanation. When the CPJ made the same mistake in 2016 in a list of jailed journalists in Turkey and identified only 81, it was missing dozens of names, some of them prominent journalists. When asked, the CPJ said this omission was attributed to a failure to link them to professional journalistic activity. It was frustrating and disheartening to see that an organization such as the CPJ simply overlooked so many people because it thought the retribution had nothing to do with critical journalism.

My exiled journalist colleagues and I in Sweden had decided to closely examine jailed journalists in Turkey and compile our own list to recognize their names, their work and accomplishments in the field of journalism. Saying that they will not be forgotten is the least we can do for our colleagues who were not lucky enough to escape the brutal regime of President Erdoğan. We have worked on the list for months, with many challenges in verifying the information through friends, family members and lawyers who were afraid to speak up and even share basic information such as in which prison jailed journalists were being held and when the arrests took place. But we had managed to identify 191 names as of January 2017.

To our dismay, we were unable to recognize 27 people who worked for state broadcaster the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT). The arrest of 29 TRT employees was reported in the Turkish media without one of them bothering to mention their names. We were able to find out about only two of them by the time we published the report. When we eventually discovered the names of the rest of the TRT reporters, we kept the updated list of jailed and wanted journalists lists on the website of the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), an advocacy group that was set up by exiled Turkish journalists like myself. The SCF numbers have been shared across the globe by many media outlets, and we’re happy to see that our friends who are languishing behind bars are being recognized.

On Dec. 13, 2017 the CPJ put out a new census report listing 73 journalists as being bars for their journalistic work in Turkey, less than what it reported a year earlier. When compared to the list maintained and regularly updated by SCF, the New-York based CPJ was missing 182 names. Frankly, that is a huge difference that cannot be justified by anything that makes sense, even when factoring in the different definition of media practitioner and the claim of failure to verify their imprisonment as being a result of their professional journalistic activity. It is sad, actually, because the Turkish government often puts forward a similar argument when confronted with questions on jailed journalists. They are not jailed because of their profession but due to ‘terrorism,” “coup-plotting,” “espionage,” “defamation” and other trumped-up charges.

As expected, most of the missing names are those of people who worked for state broadcaster TRT and state news agency Anadolu. More precisely, 74 journalists and media workers at TRT and nine at Anadolu were not on the CPJ list. Since most of these names were not reported publicly except in the total figures, it may be difficult for the CPJ to access them. For SCF, it took months to verify the names by reaching out to several people who managed to flee Turkey. The only person the CPJ put on its list from TRT is Seyit Kılıç, whose name was included in one of the major press freedom cases in which 29 journalists and media workers including prominent reporters were tried on fabricated terrorism and coup plotting charges. However, SCF put these names out for the public record long before the CPJ compiled the 2017 list, and it could have very well examined them and run its own investigation. But it apparently did not. With these standards, is the CPJ effectively saying that if you are working for, say, BBC or PBS, you may not qualify as a journalist? Perhaps.

The most notable exclusion from the TRT list is prominent journalist Ahmet Böken, who has been jailed since Aug. 11, 2016. If this man is not a journalist, then I don’t know who is. He helped transform public broadcaster TRT into a popular network and won an award for an impressive job in Venice after competing against 120 channels from 19 countries. He served as a juror for the Emmy Awards sponsored by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Since he graduated from Ankara University’s faculty of communications in 1994, Böken had worked as a reporter, editor, news presenter and news director for the private Samanyolu network. He also wrote columns for the network’s news website. When the network launched a 24-hour news broadcast network in 2007, he became its chief editor. The government tapped his talent in 2010 when he was offered the opportunity to run the TRT Haber news channel. He gave lectures on broadcasting at university communications faculties. There is nothing that can justify the CPJ’s leaving his name off its list of jailed journalists.

The problematic approach in the CPJ list is seen with respect to journalists who worked for privately run media outlets as well. For example, Ahmet Sağır, who worked for the pro-government Türkiye daily, was listed by the CPJ after he was dismissed from the newspaper and arrested a week later on charges of membership in the Gülen movement and alleged use of popular messaging application ByLock. However, Nur Ener, a reporter whose name appeared on headline stories in the critical national Yeni Asya daily did not make the list when she was charged and arrested on similar charges. She had been jailed since March 6, 2017 and was accused of using the ByLock app and of links to a terrorist group. She was released pending trial on Feb. 20, 2018. Likewise, Aslıhan Aydın, who I had the pleasure of working with in the Zaman daily’s Ankara office, was ignored by the CPJ as well. Aydın is a well-known female journalist in the Ankara media community who was bylined on many lead stories for Turkey’s one-time largest daily and who interviewed prominent figures for the paper. She is also accused of using ByLock and membership in a terrorist organization and has been in jail since June 28, 2017.

Let’s continue to examine the CPJ list and try to make sense of what methodology, if any, they use for jailed journalists to qualify for inclusion on the list. The CPJ lists Mustafa Ünal and Vahit Yazgan, bureau chiefs for Ankara and İzmir, respectively, as journalists behind bars. But it overlooks jailed Zaman bureau chief in Diyarbakır Aziz İstegün (he was convicted but released pending appeal), Konya Bureau Chief Şirin Kabakçı, Bursa Bureau Chief Enis Öznük and Erzurum Bureau Chief Ersin Demirci. The names of all these senior journalists appeared in the bylines of major headline stories in the Zaman daily and were well-known figures in the regions in which they served. The indictments the prosecutors filed against all of them cite the same anti-terror and coup plotting charges, and the so-called evidence is nothing but their published articles, tweets and comments. Why the CPJ would list some bureau chiefs and ignore others who worked for the same national daily begs further questions.

Another missing name from the CPJ list is that of 55-year-old Hidayet Karaca, an accomplished journalist who had managed the critical Samanyolu TV network for years and was jailed on Dec. 14, 2014 when police raided the station. He had spent four years in pretrial detention before he was sentenced to 31 years’ imprisonment in one case. There are other cases pending against him as well. Karaca served for years as chairman of the boards of directors of a number of media associations such as the Television Broadcasters Association and Television Audience Measurement (TİAK).

He actually comes from print journalism where he worked as bureau chief for the Zaman daily in both Ankara and Izmir provinces. He moved to broadcast journalism in 1999. During his trial hearings, Karaca explained that the fabricated charges against him were nothing but the result of the network’s coverage of corruption investigations that came to public notice during the Dec. 17-25, 2013 period and which implicated President Erdoğan himself, his family members and several of his cabinet ministers. In the second indictment, which was accepted by a court on July 22, 2016, just a week after a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, Karaca was accused of attempting to overthrow the government, although he had been in jail since December 2014.

Mehmet Kuru, a reporter who worked for Zaman in Eskisehir province, was listed on the CPJ list in 2017 but was removed the next year. Although he was released pending trial, Kuru was rearrested during the final hearing of the trial, on Oct. 18, 2017, when he was convicted and sentenced to serve six years, three months on completely fabricated charges. It appears the CPJ did not follow up on his case and did not update his current status, despite the fact that there has been ample time to do so since October 2017.

Another example that shows sloppy work on the part of the CPJ is the exclusion of jailed reporter Fahrettin Kılıç, who worked for pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) magazine Özgür Toplum, while including Aslı Ceren Aslan, who worked for the Özgür Gelecek magazine, also a pro-PKK publication. Kılıç has been jailed since March 31, 2017. The selective listing simply does not make any sense. Likewise, the CPJ listed Ayhan Demir, the owner of local news website Çaldıran Haber Ajansı, as among jailed journalists while excluding Burçin Dokgöz, the owner of another news website, Çorum Vizyon, who has been jailed since Aug. 21, 2016. Both are charged under abusive anti-terrorism laws.

For some reason, some journalists and media workers who were employed by the Cihan News Agency, once the largest privately funded news service and owned by Feza Gazetecilik, were selected for inclusion on the list, while many others were left out. The CPJ did not put eight Cihan journalists — Abdurrahim Ersöz, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Beytullah Özdemir, Fahri Öztoprak, Kazım Canlan, Murat Avcıoğlu, Ömer Oruç and Şinasi Gözüm – on the list.

One would think the CPJ perhaps made a decision to exclude the names of people who worked in administrative or support departments in line with their methodology. When going through the list, that rule, if it exists, does not seem to be applied, or was selectively used. For example, Akın Atalay, chairman of the board of directors of the leftist Cumhuriyet daily, is included on the list. Again, Cumhuriyet attorney Bülent Utku also made the CPJ’s list before. Sadık Demir, the owner of local radio station Radyo Karacadağ, also qualified. None of these people have anything to do with journalistic work except that they are associated with a daily and a radio station in different capacities. On the other hand, the Zaman daily’s senior managers Yakup Şimşek, Metin Sekizkardeş and Alaattin Güner and its attorney Ali Odabaşı were excluded from the CPJ list. While the owner of Karacadağ was approved by the CPJ, the radio’s jailed employees Mizgin Çay and Salih Erbekler were not.

When it comes to columnists for dailies, the CPJ also uses a selective methodology that is difficult to comprehend. For example, singer Atilla Taş made the CPJ’s list last year for writing a column for the critical Meydan daily, which was shut down by the government in 2016. He was not on this year’s list because he was released pending trial. If writing a column for a newspaper is an adequate criterion for inclusion on the CPJ list, then why we do not see the names of other jailed columnists such as economist Abdülkadir Civan, who wrote for Today’s Zaman, or academic Sedat Laçiner, who wrote for the shuttered Haberdar news website. Veteran journalists and columnists Nuh Gönültaş and Mehmet Gündem are also missing from the CPJ list. The former had regularly been writing for the closed down Bugün daily, while the latter wrote for the Milliyet newspaper.

Let me continue with Havva Çuştan, who was jailed on Oct. 19, 2017 while working for the ETHA news agency, reportedly close to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). She was listed by the CPJ, while Turkish-German journalist Meşela Tolu, who also worked for ETHA as a volunteer reporter and translator, was not. Assuming that the CPJ made a distinction between a journalist and media worker in its methodology for ETHA’s jailed employees, why would the same criterion not be applied to others on the CPJ list? Tolu was luckily released from jail after the CPJ published its list.

Another puzzle in the CPJ list is that some of the jailed journalists who stood trial in the same case were not included. For example, in one of the largest press freedom cases in Turkey in which 29 journalists and media workers were tried and many were later sentenced to lengthy prison terms, the CPJ excluded prominent journalists from the list. For example, Oğuz Usluer, a former news coordinator at HaberTürk TV, who has been behind bars since Dec. 28, 2016, and National Party (UP) leader and Türk Solu weekly columnist Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, who was arrested on Aug. 2, 2016, were not included, while most of the defendants in the same case were listed by the CPJ. Again most of the journalists in a press freedom case in Turkey’s southeastern province of Antalya were listed by the CPJ, while Serhat Şeftali of the Zaman daily was excluded.

Last but not least in the long list of omissions by the CPJ is award-winning radio programmer and journalist Serkan Sedat Güray, who has been incarcerated in Turkey’s notorious Silivri Prison since March 7, 2017 on fabricated charges of terrorism. Güray, a 42-year-old journalist, was detained on March 3, 2016 for allegedly insulting President Erdoğan but was released on his own recognizance. He was detained by the police once again on Feb. 22, 2017 and spent 17 days in detention before he was formally arrested on March 7, 2017 under abusive anti-terror laws. A graduate of Turkey’s prestigious Bilkent University’s Department of American Culture and Literature, Güray started his media career at Burç FM in 1993 as a newsreader. Later, he worked for popular radio networks such as Radio Blue, Radyo Bilkent, Dünya Radyo, Power FM, Capital Broadcasting Network and Samanyolu News Radio. In 2007 he was recognized as the best program producer in Europe by the GTN European Radio Awards Committee. The following year he received the best radio theatre producer award from the Association of National Radio Broadcasters in Turkey. He was unable to make the CPJ’s jailed journalists list.

More examples can be cited to illustrate discrepancies in the CPJ’s coverage of jailed journalists in Turkey, but the ones I have mentioned thus far should be more than enough to shed light on the sloppy work done by the CPJ. I understand well that it is quite challenging to collect reliable information on the ground in Turkey because of the massive crackdown and unprecedented attack on freedom of the press in the country. The government does not share data on jailed journalists and publicly claims there are no journalists behind bars in Turkey, at least not for their professional work. Let’s not forget that these people all have reputations, faces, friends and families. They have spent years in the field of journalism in various positions. The least we can do is to remember their names and send a message to the Turkish government that we won’t forget them no matter what absurd explanations the government puts forward and what charges it levels against these great people who have lost their freedom.

Of course, the CPJ has been compiling such lists for years in many countries. It brings a broad range of experience to the field and certainly deserves huge credit for highlighting press freedom cases and raising awareness of the plight of journalists around the world. In this business, credibility is of utmost importance, and the CPJ and other journalist advocacy groups must tread carefully so as to not expose themselves to exploitation by governments that will try to undermine their work. They must be as cautious as possible to make sure their work is solid. However, when looking at the Turkish case, one cannot help but wonder what safeguards the CPJ has in place to make sure that its list is thorough and free of mistakes and omissions. If it made so many errors in the Turkey file, then is it not fair to ask the question of whether it might have made similar mistakes while covering other countries as well.

I know this is not an exact science and that there are differing methodologies in this kind of advocacy work. The available resources, organizational capacity, qualified researchers, reliable networks, trusted sources and other issues pose challenges all the time. The repression, threats and climate of fear fostered by the Erdoğan government further complicate the work done by journalist organizations. Nevertheless, the huge difference between the CPJ numbers and those of SCF cannot be fully explained by any of this. Granted, SCF adopts the more liberal approach of listing all media workers and journalists because of the full-frontal attack by the Turkish government on critical media outlets and their employees. The arrest of support personal and other media practitioners in the Turkish case is directly related to the crackdown on freedom of the press and serves as an intimidation tactic by the government. SCF is not free from mistakes and omissions, either. In fact, when the CPJ list for the year 2017 was examined, it turned out that SCF had missed the names of three local journalists and updated its list to include them as well. Since it started publishing the data on its website, SCF has received about a dozen inquiries that led to adding new names to the list.

Let’s be frank. Turkey, the worst jailer of journalists in the world, represents a unique case with the intensity and depth of the crackdown and the number of those jailed. The professional and academic discussion on the definition of the media profession has almost lost its meaning in the Turkish context. Whether one works on the corporate side of a critical newspaper or in its distribution network, the Turkish government targets him or her because of the content and editorial policy of the paper for which he or she works. As of March 26, 2018, SCF had documented 245 journalists and media workers as behind bars, with 56 of them already convicted on dubious charges. The Erdogan regime seeks to arrest an additional 140 journalists who are either at large in Turkey or in self-exile abroad. Let’s not buy into the Erdoğan government narrative, but rather recognize all these journalists for the work they contributed to the public discussion in whatever capacity they served. Cherry-picking will only benefit the predators of press freedom.

POVERTY PIMPS

 

By Daniel Greenfield

Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore and Elizabeth Warren, three lefty millionaires, got together to solve “income inequality” in a town hall broadcast live from the Capitol visitors center.

Washington D.C., where two out of the three parasites do business, has the worst income inequality in the country. The bottom fifth of Washington D.C. account for just 2% of the city’s income. It has one of the highest poverty rates in the country and the highest food stamp use. And under Obama, the Imperial City of the politicians and the poor was surrounded by some of the wealthiest districts in the country.

“Income Inequality in America: The Rise of Oligarchy and Collapse of the Middle Class,” the Sanders, Warren and Moore town hall, comes to progs from the most unequal and oligarchic city in America

If Bernie, Liz and Michael really want to see income inequality, they can take a walk away from the marble and glass edifices of big government to see what big government had wrought. It isn’t any of their usual villains, the corporations and banks, who made Washington D.C. so miserable.

It’s the triumph of socialism.

Washington D.C. and its bedroom communities are what the entire country would look like if the left got its way. A socialist apartheid state divided between the business of government and the poor.

But the three socialist stooges aren’t just in the business of politics. They’re millionaire poverty pimps.

Bernie Sanders made over $1 million pushing conspiracy theories about income inequality. Denouncing big business let him rent a private Delta 767 with a menu of herb crusted lamb loin, chocolate ganache and fine cheeses. The Sanders clan is up to 3 homes now and Bernie is using his clout to get two of his kids elected to political offices. Who better to lecture us on the “Rise of Oligarchy” than an oligarch?

Bernie made it from living on unemployment to the 1 percent using the government. But there’s only room for so many senators who can run for president in Washington D.C. That’s one government program you can’t replicate for everyone living in D.C. slums on government money.

Elizabeth Warren is there to show Bernie what a truly ambitious socialist poverty pimp can do.

Lizzie owns a $740K condo in D.C. a far more expensive Victorian home in Cambridge and has a net worth of over $15 million. She picked up a $625K advance for A Fighting Chance, a book attacking corporations, paid to her by a corporation. Her follow-up, This Fight is Out Right, earned her only a $200K advance last year.

Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color” also made $350,000 for teaching one class.

But there’s only so much room for a fake Cherokee asbestos lawyer slash consumer advocate who likes to tell other people they didn’t accomplish anything before going back to one of her luxurious homes.

Like Bernie, Lizzie is just fighting for the “little guy”. Here’s what that looks like.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, her own government agency, operates from a luxurious building that cost more per square foot than the Trump World Tower or the Bellagio in Vegas.

If only there were some sort of agency to protect taxpayers from the CFPB and Elizabeth Warren.

And then there’s Michael Moore.

Moore has his own fake working class story and he rode his fake anti-capitalist documentaries to a fortune in cash, much of it through alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein. At one point, Moore owned 9 homes. That’s more homes than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren combined. The pudgy leftist got famous pushing gun control, but has been known to go places with nine bodyguards.

The town hall paid tribute to unions. Michael Moore busted them.

Two of his writers were warned that if they operated under union rules, one of them would be fired. And so they had to keep working without health benefits instead.

Michael Moore and Bernie Sanders inveigh against employers. But they were terrible bosses.

Bernie, the friend of the working man, was known to his staff as “abusive”, a “screamer and a table-banger.” His campaign had its own #MeToo chapter with an accused sexual harasser being covered for by the Bernie campaign. “I remember feeling physically unsafe,” his California outreach director said.

It’s hard to think of three worse choices to discuss income inequality and oligarchy than three millionaires with more than a dozen homes between them who treat their employees like garbage.

But Sanders, Warren and Moore aren’t just random rich people. They’re poverty pimps who got rich by pretending that they had something to say about the plight of working class people in America.

Washington D.C. is full of poverty pimps. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. But the one thing that they have in common is that they get rich by keeping the poor where they are. Their only solution is to turn the working class into the welfare class where they can be milked for book deals and documentaries. And office buildings that cost more per square foot than a luxurious Vegas casino.

Much like Washington D.C., Sanders, Warren and Moore have something to tell us about income inequality and whose fault it really is.

“How do we create an economy that works for everybody?” Bernie asked.

Bernie’s answer is to turn the rest of the country into Washington D.C. with lots of government money for those on top and government subsidies for those on the bottom. There’s not much of a middle class in Washington D.C. and the Imperial City had one of the biggest middle class declines in the country.

It’s odd that Bernie and Lizzie don’t have much to say about that. But what can they say?

Take away everything except the government and its satellite industries, contractors, lobbyists, experts, non-profits and academics, and you end up with the apartheid urban template that is Washington D.C.

Moore, Warren and Sanders talk about a middle class because they know that’s where much of their audience comes from. But they ideologically loathe it. In their ideal world, there’s no middle class. None of the consumers who, as Bernie famously decried, want a “choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants.” And none of the small businessmen who, as Warren even more famously complained, think they built it.

The middle class is naturally conservative. It’s aspirational. It seeks security, not revolution. And what leftists are really peddling is a revolution that will leave them even more on top than they already are.

If you want to see income inequality in America, don’t tune in to watch three leftist millionaires put on their outrage show, look at their homes, and look at where that power and money comes from.

It doesn’t come from hard work.

It’s hard to point to anything that Bernie ever accomplished. Like Moore and Warren, he got very rich because of his politics. Income inequality made these three poverty pimps into millionaires.

They’re very rich because they’re members of the right party with the right views.

Washington D.C. and the big blue cities where income inequality is at its worst are full of those like them. Venezuela, the Soviet Union and North Korea don’t always happen overnight. The middle class is slowly hollowed out by a growing nomenklatura whose only expertise is in wealth redistribution.

And that’s how you end up with millionaire poverty pimps and no middle class.

TRUMPED-UP ECONOMICS

Richard A. Epstein

By Richard A. Epstein

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump tweeted: “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

A few weeks later, on March 21, the Dow responded to Trump’s initiation of a trade war with China by falling 724.42 points—or 2.93 percent of its value—followed on Friday by a loss of another 424.69 points. With victories like this, spare us any defeats. Then on Monday, the Dow surged back 669.40 points, on the hopes that the President would back off on a trade war with China.

Something is deeply amiss with the President’s reasoning on trade. Let’s start with the basics to explain why the free trade principle, subject to certain exceptions, has enjoyed worldwide dominance in the post–World War II era. A simple analogy from the private market is instructive. The first principle of ordinary voluntary exchanges in goods and services is that they occur in large numbers because they produce gains to both parties, each of whom surrenders what he values less in exchange for what that he values more. The principle can be just as easily expanded into business, labor, insurance, financial, and consumer markets. Whenever some legal barrier to exchange blocks fruitful trades in the absence of negative externalities, both sides lose, because each must now shift to some second-best alternative.

These same bilateral gains drive the whole system of international trade. But all cross-border transactions are subject to disruption by taxation or regulation by at least two interested sovereigns. Only multilateral cooperation can prevent trade barriers from springing up around the world whenever local groups with political clout are threatened by foreign competition.

Trump’s overconfident tweet makes it clear that he does not understand these international dynamics. His initial blunder is saying that a deficit of $100 billion makes it easy to cut off trade. Why should the United States, he asks, play the role of global patsy? But Trump foolishly treats the world-wide network of trade and investment as if it were the single purchase of an enormous good. After all, if you lose money on a given sale, it is a credible threat to refuse to deal again on the same terms with a trading partner who makes a bundle on each exchange. That person will surrender some portion of his gain to preserve the rest, making this quasi-trade war easy to win.

Unfortunately, Trump’s view is the pure embodiment of the fallacy of composition —insisting that a proposition that holds for the part is necessarily true for the larger whole. More concretely, international trade between two (or more) nations is a succession of countless independent deals between parties across national borders. Now, that whole mass has to be broken up into three portions. The first deals with all outbound transactions, i.e., those in which U.S. firms sell overseas. Each of these trades produces gains for both U.S. and foreign firms. second one concerns the inbound trades where U.S. firms purchase goods and services from abroad. These also yield mutual gains. The third element is the net surplus from any trade imbalance. Hence, the greater the volume of transactions in all directions, the greater the gains for all parties.

Note in this formulation, the aggregate gains are fully preserved, no matter what the ratio between inbound and outbound transactions. Since these transactions are all independent, there is no need for them to balance out by market value. Deficits therefore of no consequence as the surplus to one trading partner does not disappear. Any company that has an excess of sales over purchases may well invest that surplus in the United States. Those transactions also satisfy the mutual gain condition. When Trump truncates this multitude into one humongous transaction, he achieves the rare mathematical feat of turning the sum of three positive numbers into one negative number. His trade war folly creates a world of diminished business activities from which no firm or industry sector is immune. That 4 percent decline in the Dow is a tribute to an inexcusable combination of presidential ignorance and hubris.

This analysis does not imply that free trade is an absolute good. Like the principle of freedom of contract in domestic markets, free trade may be limited when the mutual gain condition is outweighed by other considerations. Three types of situations raise the challenge of whether some negative external factor exceeds the mutual gains between the parties: foreign subsidies, illegal foreign interference, and national security. The broad consensus in favor of free trade does not translate into any academic agreement on these issues.

The national production subsidies for the export trade leads, like all subsidies, to distorted global markets. Subsidized goods are produced in excessive quantities, driving out superior non-subsidized competitors, and imposing domestic deadweight losses by taxing other productive transactions. Economically, our trading partners lose on net from providing subsidies. But it hardly follows that the U.S. should protect our local firms, even from unfair below-cost competition.

The antidumping laws, and the countervailing duties they impose, are a staple of international trade law, routinely backed by competitive firms that do have a legitimate grievance. But this supposed cure is frequently worse than the disease. Domestic firms can claim their foreign competitors are receiving unfair subsidies even when there are none. Proving these claims is frightfully expensive. Even successful claims invite risks of further retaliation that can lead to full-scale trade wars. My own preference is for massive legal simplification by unilateral surrender through the repeal of the capricious antidumping laws, leaving any aggrieved firms to shift their market strategies in response to the peril. But in a second-best world, concentrated industries with claims of economic importance often have political clout to get more favorable treatment.

The claims for relief are much more powerful when foreign nations, like China, interfere with illegal tactics that would never be tolerated in domestic markets: theft of patents and trade secrets, as well as the discriminatory application of the antitrust or labor laws to foil foreign competition. These covert methods are not subject to direct legal suit under international trade law, and can only be remedied by asking the World Trade Organization to impose sanctions, which may come too late to do any good. That said, even though it is devilishly difficult, it is nonetheless necessary—as Phil Gramm and Mike Solon argue—to develop a set of sanctions against this behavior that work. That still might happen.

Retaliatory tariffs on unrelated goods hurt American manufacturers and customers as much as they do the foreign providers, not to mention the hostile responses they tend to trigger from abroad. Efforts to attack the illicit activities of offending firms may work in some cases, but as a general rule, these too are hard to trace and enforce. The problem creates an open wound, as parties joust to find a limited remedy, when the only sensible response may be for American firms to refrain from doing business in China so as to avoid being ripped off. For some companies, like those engaged in manufacturing or mining, that might work. But for large firms seeking to penetrate consumer markets, there are no close substitutes for 1.4 billion Chinese customers, which is why companies like Apple and Facebook too often succumb to self-censorship.

The final set of issues involves multiple restrictions on international trade in the name of national security. It is thus commonplace for the United States to scrutinize the sale overseas of everything from military equipment to advanced software to be sure that it is not sold to nations who could use it against us. In this instance, effective control is possible, so that elaborate deals are often made as to what kind of equipment can be sold to what parties on what terms involving such critical issues as monitoring, cooperation, resale, and more. This process is expensive but necessary, but when necessary, executive action can move quickly as when Trump recently barred the proposed takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom on credible national security grounds.

But by the same token, it was a descent into the theater of the absurd to justify the tariffs on the imports of steel and aluminum from friendly nations on national security grounds, when these transactions involve no release of American technology or weaponry, and only serve to inflame our allies, who were then added to the list of ad hoc exemptions when the political heat got too hot.

It is not possible to ignore these necessary exceptions to the general rule of free trade. But with respect to subsidies and unfair trade practices, the most important lesson—don’t overreact—is perhaps the hardest for our man Trump to learn.

LIFE-SAVING BREAKTHROUGHS


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The 50 Most Important Life-Saving Breakthroughs in History

For most of civilized history, life expectancy fluctuated in the 30 to 40 year range.

Child mortality was all too common, and even for those that made it to adulthood, a long and healthy life was anything but guaranteed. Sanitation was poor, disease was rampant, and many medical practices were based primarily on superstition or guesswork.

By the 20th century, an explosion in new technologies, treatments, and other science-backed practices helped to increase global life expectancy at an unprecedented rate.

From 1900 to 2015, global life expectancy more than doubled, shooting well past the 70 year mark.

Important Breakthroughs

What were the major innovations that made the last century so very fruitful in saving lives?

We highlight the top 50 breakthroughs, ranging from pasteurization to the bifurcated needle, that have helped propel global life expectancy upwards.

Interestingly, while many of these innovations have some linkage to the medical realm, there are also breakthroughs in sectors like energy, sanitation, and agriculture that have helped us lead longer and healthier lives.

To see innovations on an individual basis, AperionCare breaks them down further as follows:

Timeline of innovations affecting life expectancy

The breakthroughs that are credited with saving the most lives?

Toilets, synthetic fertilizers, blood transfusions, the green revolution (also known as the “Third Agricultural Revolution”), and vaccines are each credited with saving 1 billion lives. Meanwhile, pasteurization, water chlorination, antibiotics, antimalarial drugs, and the bifurcated needle have saved hundreds of millions of lives each.

There are also some unusual entries to the list.

It turns out that satellites have actually saved 250,000 lives, thanks to the ability to better forecast natural disasters. Nuclear power also gets a shout out – and it may surprise some people that nuclear energy is the least deadly form of energy per kilowatt generated.

Progress in Life Expectancy

For a graphical look at how this all has impacted life expectancy, the following chart makes a very clear case:

Life Expectancy graph

The impact from these new technologies was first experienced in Europe at the end of the 1800s – and other continents quickly saw the benefits thereafter.

Impressively, Africa has now passed the 60 year mark in life expectancy, with numbers still rising.

Healthcare is claiming an ever-increasing share of national wealth. In recent years, healthcare expenditure in Organization for European Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries has been rising at a rate one to two percentage points faster than GDP. If this trend were to continue, healthcare would represent more than 25 percent of France’s GDP—and more than 35 percent of the US’s—by 2050. Clearly, action is needed to bring costs under control.

Moreover, medical errors and other safety lapses persist even in the strongest health systems and are often caused by inconsistencies in care and lack of adherence to good practices. Outcomes vary enormously across healthcare systems and among the care providers within them. For instance, maternal mortality is four per 100,000 births in Italy, but more than three times higher in the US, at 14. Postoperative pulmonary embolisms and thrombosis affect 865 of every 100,000 patients leaving a hospital in France, but just 107 in Belgium, a difference of 706 percent. Regular albumin screening to prevent complications is provided annually for 88 percent of diabetics in the Netherlands, but for fewer than 30 percent of those in France.

Medical errors are the third-most-common cause of death in the US after cancer and heart disease, accounting for more than 250,000 deaths every year. Addressing these issues and the variations in care practices and quality that cause them is another priority for all countries.

As payment and care delivery models shift from episodic, fee-for-service care toward population health and value-based reimbursement, health care leaders are focused more than ever on patient engagement as a key to driving down costs and improving outcomes. And yet, as so many of us know who have attempted to manage our own care or tend to sick family members, the health care system rarely feels like it’s been set up to help us succeed.

What’s needed is a fundamental redesign of the patient’s role — from that of a passive recipient of care to an active participant charged with defined responsibilities, equipped to dispatch them, and accountable for the results. In other words, we need to view the patient’s role as a job and then design that job in such a way as to drive the best health outcomes possible.

The most profound reforms of a public health service may come from initiatives that operate in the shadows with little financial resources because they attract less attention from vested interests. Reform projects that operate away from scrutiny can develop resourcing space that allows for rapid change with little negotiations and minimal coordination cost.

Public health reform initiatives which attract little attention can achieve bigger results because they are relatively shielded from too much interference. Change can come despite, and perhaps even because of, a lack of resources. Usually, organizational change entails a shift in resource control, and this prompts resistance by people who feel this can undermine their resource-derived authority.

Patient advocates and others who have studied the U.S. health care system have catalogued the degree of unpaid, and unsupported, work patients take on in service of their own care. The average, low-risk patient must follow up on referrals to specialists, fill and manage medications, and comply with physical therapy and other regimes. With legacy, pre-internet software systems still the norm in most hospital environments, patients also become unpaid couriers, shuttling critical health data from one provider to the next.

Nearly 30% of patients physically carry x-rays, test results, and other critical health data from one provider’s office to the next. And 55% say their medical history is missing or incomplete when they visit their doctor.

For patients who suffer from chronic or complex conditions, the burden of treatment must be shouldered alongside the burden of illness. The self-management of a chronic illness demands, on average, two hours of patient work each day — work that is often poorly supported, stressful, and frustrating in nature. Rather than having patients as passive recipients of care, they must be active producers of their care, in partnership and coordination with physicians and clinical staff.

We need to acknowledge and account for all the patient work that now goes unrecognized and unsupported. This means grappling with the complexity of tasks patients take on as they seek care across an ever-expanding number of settings — work that varies widely depending on acuity level, disease state, demographics, insurance type, socioeconomic conditions, and so on.

For years, hospitals and medical groups, looking to move the needle on patient satisfaction, have focused largely on managing and optimizing isolated episodes of care. Surveys focus on patient satisfaction with individual encounters within a single institution. But the way we access and experience care has changed. Where we used to have a lifelong relationship with a family doctor, we now switch doctors frequently due to scheduling issues, changes in insurance coverage, and other factors. We’re also more likely to seek care outside the walls of health systems or the boundaries of specific networks — whether it be through urgent care visits, virtual consults, or alternative therapies. And we know that much of what affects our health, for better or worse, happens between visits.

As we shift toward population health, with provider reimbursements tied directly to improved outcomes, we need to move from managing episodes of care to managing the entire patient journey across the full ecosystem of care. The patient journey becomes the operational backdrop against which patients, physicians, and other staff and caregivers must play their respective parts.

If the patient is to have a job in the care-delivery process, we must apply the same principles of intentional work design to their jobs as we do to those of physicians and clinical staff. Only 20% of doctors report high levels of engagement in their jobs. Those who are highly engaged, however, point to a few key drivers: trust in leadership and the system, open communication and feedback, and an operationally effective work environment that allows them to deliver high-quality patient care. It’s not a stretch to suggest that patients would be engaged and motivated by the same drivers.

The roles and responsibilities of patients currently are almost never clearly defined or fully supported. Patients routinely take on frustrating tasks, such as the transfer of vital information from one provider to another, that technology should be designed to handle. They struggle to get access to the information they need to tend to their own care, and get little feedback or satisfaction from seeing their actions move the needle on results. For patients to be satisfied with care, motivated to play their part, attentive to required screenings, and compliant with care, they need the support of a system designed to help them do their jobs effectively.

Saying that the patient has a job to do does not in any way suggest that patients must shoulder the burden of their responsibilities unsupported. Technology is the key enabler of patients’ success, providing the information, visibility, and feedback they need to do their jobs.

The goal should be to understand all the key points of engagement that are needed in order to support the patient before, during, and between visits. Naturally, the patient journey and points of engagement look very different for a healthy 28-year-old than they do for a 55-year-old smoker with diabetes and hypertension. But both have jobs to do that can only be done effectively with the support of surrounding technology.

For example, data aggregated from a multitude of sources — from electronic health records to insurance data — can be used to paint a complete picture of the patient. Smart scheduling systems and patient portals help patients access care on demand. Reminders via text and other modes help the patient arrive on time and prepared. Open data exchange allows personal health information to travel from one provider or encounter to the next so the patient isn’t playing courier.

For high-risk patients, wearable devices and care management apps help them stay compliant and connected to care teams 24/7. Technology can’t do patients’ job for them. They still need to embrace behavior change and take accountability for their own care. But it can make their job easier to do, more likely to be effective, and more satisfying and rewarding.

It’s widely accepted that we will never realize the goals of health care’s Triple Aim — reducing costs, improving the health of populations, and improving the patient experience — without putting patients at the center of their care. To do this effectively, however, health care leaders must do more than retool old mission statements or retrain physicians and frontline staff. They will need to reorient their thinking to acknowledge the critical job of the patient, design it thoughtfully into new operational frameworks, and invest in the networked technology required to support it all. Only when patients, physicians, and staff are all working together, fully engaged and enabled to do what each does best, will we achieve the clinical and financial outcomes we are all aiming for.

 

Harnessing the full potential of digital innovations in healthcare could have a profound impact on the quality and financial sustainability of health systems. It would also involve profound changes for care providers and healthcare professionals. To shift mind-sets, healthcare authorities will require a clear and compelling vision and ambitious action. But the benefits for both quality and economics will be well worth it.

Right now, the majority of health care is paid for by fee for service. Doctors are paid each time they order a service, such as medical tests, surgery, or medications. The danger is that this can lead to too many tests, too many procedures, too many medications. And since everything in medicine has risks and benefits, we know that doing too much can actually harm patients. Too many prescriptions can lead to harmful side effects or unanticipated interactions among drugs. Doing unnecessary screening tests lead to false positives, images or lab results that indicate there might be a problem, when there really isn’t a problem. This then leads to more and often invasive tests, which carry their own risks. The current system rewards doctors for providing more care and more services, with little regard for whether those services provide any value.

Most physicians are very concerned about antibiotic prescribing and think it’s a bad thing, but when you look at their electronic records, you see they’re doing it fairly often!

Antibiotic resistant illnesses, sometimes called superbugs, are on the rise — affecting 2 million Americans, with as many as 23,000 dying from them each year. And nearly half of the antibiotics prescribed outside the hospital aren’t appropriate or medically necessary.

A lot of people just go to their doctor and say I can’t miss work, I can’t miss school — may I have an antibiotic? Not realizing antibiotics aren’t risk free. They hand them out like M&Ms in a candy jar. We just want doctors to be really mindful when they prescribe.

Many of the problems we face in medicine are doctors’ doing. Physicians are people, too. Not all their decisions are driven by their understanding of disease — they also respond to social cues and the behavior of their peers in making decisions.

Many patients are harmed. Colonoscopies, which are used to detect colon cancer, are one example. They can be effective as a screening tool for people in their 50s and 60s. But as you get older, the lining of the colon thins. So the benefits begin to be outweighed by the risks that the colonoscopy could damage your intestines. A perforated colon requires surgery, and can result in sepsis or even death, while a small cancerous polyp might never kill an elderly person.

Mammograms can also be effective in catching breast cancer early. But they can result in false positives, biopsies, even surgery that does more harm than good. Another example is total hip or knee replacements. For the right patients, replacements can make people active again, which is terrific. But for some people, the risks of infection and other complications may outweigh any benefits. The problem is that the current fee-for-service model encourages even well-intentioned doctors to do procedures that may do more harm than good.

The profession is beginning to recognize this. For example, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) has developed an initiative called Choosing Wisely with a list of procedures and tests that are over-utilized given lack of evidence that they benefit patients. Examples include routine imaging for low back pain and use of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections.

Now there is a new approach called Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs. The idea is simple. Instead of rewarding doctors and hospitals for the volume of services they provide, the system rewards them for keeping patients healthy—keeping them out of the hospital, for example, and for preventing illnesses and complications. ACOs are accountable both for the cost and quality of care for patients.

Hospitals or doctor groups that decide to become ACOs must agree to meet quality measurements. With all patients, the strategy is to engage them, to give them the most complete information, to support them in their treatment plan, and to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations or readmissions. It is called shared decision-making. In the case of cancer, patients should be given information about all the treatment options—chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or watchful waiting—and then decide, in collaboration with their doctors, what’s best for them.

How do you fit that long-delayed appointment with your doctor into your jam-packed schedule? Telemedicine is your answer. Telemedicine technologies can connect you and your doctor in cyberspace. Telemedicine redefines modern health care. With the aid of wearable health monitors, computers, and video, doctors are able to evaluate, diagnose, and treat you—all without your physical presence in their office.

These technologies offer convenience and huge potential cost savings, but they are not without controversy. Some doctors are concerned about the safety of prescribing drugs without examining the patient in person. Can they really assess what the patient needs over a video link? They also worry that telemedicine could depersonalize your health care. In addition, some medical problems will always demand a physical exam.

Still, some aspects of telemedicine are likely in your future, if they aren’t already. Here’s what you need to know about this form of health care, and how to use it for your advantage.

Telemedicine provides opportunities to keep people healthy and outside of hospitals. For example, in certain regions and medical practices in the US:

You can send a digital image of a suspicious rash, along with your medical history, to a dermatologist, who will review it, diagnose, and prescribe medication to treat it.
You can check-in with your doctor after surgery for follow-up care in your own home.


If you have diabetes, you can monitor your blood sugar levels at home and upload the readings to your doctor’s computer, saving yourself a time-consuming visit. Irregular blood sugar levels would generate an alert to the doctor’s staff to call you in for immediate intervention to prevent complications. If you have hypertension, you can wear a monitor that tracks your blood pressure daily and transmits your results to your medical record, allowing your doctor to track your progress.

United Healthcare, announced that it has established a partnership with Doctor On Demand, along with two other telemedicine companies. United Healthcare says that 20 million of its insured patients are able to use their smartphones to consult with doctors.

Here are some of the key pros and cons to help you decide. Among the pros:

  1. Convenience. Need a quick consultation with your doctor? Telemedicine can save you travel time and the hassle of sitting in a waiting room with other sick people.
  2. Increased rural access. There’s a shortage of doctors in many rural areas of the US. Telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase medical service to rural patients.
  3. Cost and efficiency. Doctors often charge less for a telemedicine consultation than they do for an in-person visit. A telemedicine consult might cost $40 to $70, compared for $130 to $180 for an office visit. In addition, telemedicine allows doctors to efficiently and closely monitor patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
  4. Second opinions. Telemedicine allows a far-away specialist to evaluate your MRI, X-ray, or other scans and tests. This will help patients who want a second opinion, as well as doctors who want to consult with experts on complicated cases.

Despite this wide range of potential benefits, telemedicine still has its share of downsides:

  1. Inadequate assessment. When consulting your doctor online you don’t get a physical examination. Certain non-verbal cues might still slip through the cracks. Your doctor must rely on your own descriptive abilities instead of his or her own expert touch. At worst, this could lead to an improper diagnosis.
  2. A depersonalized experience. Telemedicine may be more impersonal than a face-to-face visit with your doctor. A good doctor-patient relationship is characterized by trust and intimacy. Patients often bring up issues during a doctor’s visit that go beyond their immediate health problem.
  3. Electronic defaults. Technology is only as reliable as the electrical current that keeps it running. If your Internet connection is disrupted, your session will stop instantly. Technical problems could complicate your online consultation or remote monitoring.

Healthcare companies are developing new digital technologies to give consumers more control over the care they receive. That could upend the industry’s move toward greater consolidation and scale.

In the not-distant future, financially accountable, tech-enabled consumers may avail themselves of a range of discrete digital health services from a variety of providers. As a result, they would be able to create their own health-management ecosystems, acting as stewards of their care and controlling not just where they access it but also how and from whom, as well as the price they pay. The impact of these changes—the friction created between large, fully integrated healthcare systems that prioritize efficiency and scale, and newer, more distributed digital upstarts emphasizing speed and the consumer experience—could put up for grabs $270 billion of the incumbents’ current revenues and an additional $13 billion to $24 billion in new ones.

Admittedly, several significant barriers must be overcome before that shift in the sector’s dynamics can fully take root. At present, the effectiveness of many digital and mobile technologies remains to be proved. In fact, the IT platforms needed to aggregate data and to integrate the consumer experience across care venues and new modalities (e-visits, for example) remain to be built. Other hurdles include concerns about information security and about who should underwrite the cost of adopting these solutions at scale, as well as the potential need for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of some devices. But even the modest adoption of the new technologies could have enormous implications for providers and health insurers alike.

Technologies that make it possible to deliver primary care less expensively could save $175 billion to $220 billion a year if they came into widespread use. Although consumers are likely to be the primary beneficiaries of the savings, incumbents will probably capture some of the money. Increased automation and self-service could lower their overall administrative costs by an additional $24 billion to $48 billion annually through productivity gains.

Although some of the new technologies will replace more expensive services, others (personal diagnostic devices, for example) will create new classes of offerings. Furthermore, healthcare-utilization levels may rise once primary care becomes cheaper and more accessible. Combined, these factors could generate $13 billion to $24 billion in new revenues for incumbents and technology companies.

To better understand the path to this reordered landscape and its implications for participants in the sector, we interviewed technology innovators, investors, healthcare providers, and insurers. We also surveyed thousands of US consumers. Our research revealed five key findings, three of which we outline here:

Consumers are starting to replace traditional healthcare services with digital ones. Although utilization trails awareness, inroads are being made, particularly among younger Americans. Millennials, for example, are twice as likely as Baby Boomers (and three times as likely as people born before 1945) to use email or text messages to communicate with physicians.

Investment in digital and mobile health and in related technologies is robust and growing. The strongest growth has occurred among direct-to-consumer technologies that require little or no involvement by physicians (for example, wearable fitness trackers and scheduling applications) and among intermediated technologies (more complex ones, such as remote diagnostic equipment, that require a doctor’s prescription). Investors appear equally interested in both, but for different reasons: direct-to-consumer technologies for their ability to achieve scale quickly and intermediated ones for their greater cost-reduction potential.

New technologies address consumer dissatisfaction with the current healthcare system. These technologies fall into six categories, all of which could alter the economics of the healthcare system:

  • self-service tools that make it easier to schedule appointments, renew prescriptions, and pay bills
  • “quantified self” and wellness tools that assess a patient’s health status, monitor adherence to treatment, or enable coaching, as well as devices that can be worn, ingested, or embedded in the human body
  • clinical-transparency tools that help patients use healthcare services more appropriatelyby enabling them to make more informed decisions
  • financial-transparency tools that help consumers to compare prices and benefits from different health plans and providers
  • virtual-access tools that enable consumers to consult with doctors online, to be monitored remotely, or to receive certain types of care at home
  • IT platforms that aggregate data from different tools and enable them to work together, as well as technologies that help consumers receive information through multiple channels

While it remains unclear who will pay for the new technologies, most of the stakeholders we interviewed believe that employers, providers, and insurers will assume this responsibility.

The more engaged consumers enabled by new digital health technologies could shift the sector’s dynamics in three ways:

  • The basis for competitive advantage changes. The geographic scope of competition, historically concentrated in metropolitan areas, could broaden, especially once digital access points, such as self-service tools, become more prevalent and price- and quality-transparency tools alert consumers to higher-value alternatives.
  • Consumers become clinical-data integrators. Increasingly, consumers could own and manage their clinical data, which would allow them to decide for themselves who should gain access to that information (and when) in clinical, transactional, and administrative settings.
  • The roles of providers and insurers evolve. Providers, especially physicians, could find themselves spending less time gathering information about their patients and more time helping them make sense of the information already gathered. Insurers may become trusted advisers, helping consumers to understand how best to manage their financial accountability and risk preferences. They’ll have competition for this role, though. Retirement and wealth advisers, for example, could include health-risk assessments and estimates of health costs in the advice they give clients.

Notwithstanding the barriers, incumbents should be prepared to make bold changes to their business and operational models to compete in a digital healthcare landscape. Their approach to the coming transformation should be comprehensive and integrated, not a series of random, disconnected initiatives. The transformation process will require frequent trade-offs between physical and digital assets, and all bets on new technologies will probably have to be reviewed every three to six months.

Incumbents shouldn’t rely on price as the sole point of competitive difference. Those that prevail will be defined by how well they know their customers—and by how customers behave in a given scenario. Physically active consumers, for example, may be price seekers when they shop for primary-care services but completely indifferent to price when they look for orthopedic surgeons.

The full impact of engaged, tech-enabled healthcare consumers may not be felt for five to ten years, but now is the time for providers and insurers to start preparing for the new reality. If they don’t, they might find it too late to remain in the game. In other sectors, many companies that didn’t prepare for the impact of digital and mobile technologies eventually lost out to more nimble new entrants.

 

Having an optimistic outlook on life, a general expectation that good things will happen, helps people live longer. People who are optimistic have a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death — including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection.

While most medical and public health efforts today focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience may also make a difference. We should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.

Optimism can be altered with relatively uncomplicated and low-cost interventions — even something as simple as having people write down and think about the best possible outcomes for various areas of their lives, such as careers or friendships. Encouraging use of these interventions could be an innovative way to enhance health in the future.

CONSPIRACY OF KLEPTOCRATS AND DIGITAL TYCOONS









 

 

Steve Bannon has described three converging forces shaping world politics: populist nationalism, the emergence of blockchain and cryptocurrency, and the movement for digital sovereignty in the face of overmighty tech firms.

Bannon told us: You have three converging forces, I believe, in the world,  Number one is this center-right, populist-nationalist movement that is politically driven, and it’s driven a lot by social media. On the second, you have this cryptocurrency, or blockchain. And the third, you have this concept of digital sovereignty — the taking of your intellectual property assets. And they’re all converging, I think, to empower this movement,. Right now, you’re serfs. You’re well-paid serfs, but you’re serfs. They’ve debased your currency, and so you’re continuing to underwrite debt for sovereign governments at zero interest rates, so you’re always on the spinning wheel like a little hamster, trying to get ahead. Because they’ve destroyed the ability of thrift, of you to save, to get ahead. It’s the same thing on your digital assets, your intellectual property.  They take it all for free. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s entire business model is based on these activities, taking your data for free and monetizing it, and then writing algorithms behind a wall that treat you like hamsters on a wheel.

Bannon at a  recent speech at a conference of France’s Front National — now reconstituted as ‘National Rally’ — said “Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honour.”

“This is the great thing about the propaganda media,” answered Bannon.

“If you look at that speech, I built up [to that statement] … I talked about, ‘What is economic nationalism, that Donald Trump won on?’

“[Economic nationalism] doesn’t care about your race, doesn’t care about your colour, doesn’t care about your ethnicity, doesn’t care about your gender, doesn’t care about your religion, doesn’t care about your sexual preference.

“It cares about one thing: that you’re a citizen of the United States of America,” he said, citing low turnout for Hilary Clinton among working-class black and Hispanic voters before the election and rising prospects for those groups after the election to show how the concept works.

“That’s why I told these people, listen, the identity politics that Hilary Clinton came out with … racism, white supremacy — I sat there, and I told [the team] right there, ‘If she’s gonna run on identity politics and we run on economic nationalism — this was August 19th, and we’re down by 12 points — we are going to beat her. And we did.

“If they call you a racist they have nothing else to argue,” he concluded.

On Marine Le Pen and the Front National more particularly, Bannon was candid.

“Was I up there to say, ‘Those people are perfect’? They’re not perfect. The Deplorables are not perfect. I’m not perfect.

“I believe in the tenet of the Judeo-Christian West that man is fallen — we’re not perfect.

“But those are working-class people in France … I went there for one reason, to tell them they’re not alone.

“That this anti-establishment, populist-nationalist movement, as personified in Italy a couple days before, where two-thirds of the people voted anti-establishment, is on the rise, it’s on the move, and it’s only going to get stronger, it’s only going to get more powerful.

“And the reason is the party of Davos is destroying your citizenship, they’re debasing your currency, and they’re taking your data sovereignty — and as long as they continue to do that, people are going to rise up against it.”

Facebook, Twitter, and Google kowtow to the Islamic diktats of EU and Germany.  This is slow death, pure and simple.  These social media chose kleptocrats over the people.  This stupidity cannot last forever, leading to their decline and fall.

Germany fines social networks up to 50 million euros if they fail to remove hateful postings quickly! Germany has some of the world’s toughest laws covering defamation, public incitement to commit crimes and threats of violence, with prison sentences for Holocaust denial or inciting hatred against minorities. The measure requires social media platforms to remove obviously illegal hate speech and other postings within 24 hours after receiving a notification or complaint, and to block other offensive content within seven days.

It’s amazing how the establishment controls hoi polloi by censorship.  Every blog that dares tell the truth about the established institutions of politics, religion, education, and society is suspended by most blogging platforms for violating the terms of service.  Governments, big investors, and big donors are part of this scheme to gag dissenting voices.

Never forget that hate speech is also a part of free speech.  It’s amazing how frequently politicians accuse their competitors of hate speech or fake news. Instead of arguments based on facts and reason, we read nonsense based on false accusations and superstition.   

Schools and religions are major tools in brainwashing and controlling hoi polloi. It’s inhumane and ridiculous to imprison kids in schools for many years in order to indoctrinate them to the status quo and keep teachers busy.  Even though all religions are wrong and mumbo-jumbo escape from reality, governments support them in order to hoodwink the masses about the divinity of suffering.

This law sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content. Statements that are deemed illegal under German law are now being conflated with statements that are merely deemed, subjectively and on the basis of entirely random complaints from social media users, who are free to abuse the code of conduct to their heart’s content, to be hate speech. Hate speech includes critiques of migration policies. To be in disagreement with the government’s policies is now criminal. Social media companies, such as Facebook, are supposed to be the government’s informers and enforcers, working at the speed of light to comply with the 24-hour rule. Rule of law, clearly, as in North Korea, Iran, Russia or any banana-republic, has no place in this system.

Social media platforms with more than two million users are obliged to delete or block any libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. The networks receive seven days for more complicated cases. Government could fine a social media company up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law; it could fine a company’s chief representative up to 5 million euros.

If Facebook insists on operating under rules of censorship, it should at the very least aim to administer those rules in a fair manner. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness. Instead, Facebook’s practice of its so-called Community Standards, the standards to which Facebook refers when deleting or allowing content on its platform in response to user complaints, shows evidence of entrenched bias. Posts critical of migrant policies, for example, can get categorized as Islamophobia, and are often found to violate Community Standards, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s Community Standards!

Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews, despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and the murder of Jews.

EU is now imposing censorship on email providers and ordering postal authorities to screen letters, magazines, and brochures in the event that citizens spread xenophobia and fake news. During the Cold War, people living behind the Iron Curtain had their private letters opened by the communist authorities. Those passages deemed to be out of line with the communist orthodoxy, were simply blacked out. So many years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), EU is reinventing itself in the image of the Soviet Union!

Don’t like millionaire black nationalists in the NFL refusing to stand for the anthem?

Too bad! It’s freedom of speech.

The same left that decided James Damore didn’t have freedom of speech at Google now insists that football players have it at the NFL. Never mind that the Google engineer was unknown until his firing while NFL players are celebrities whose behavior is televised nationwide to audiences of millions.

The left’s recent reunion with free speech came after vocally insisting that free speech was harmful, hurtful and racist. And the reunion didn’t last long. Right after insisting that the right of NFL black nationalists not to stand for the anthem was free speech, the left pivoted to accusing those players still standing for the anthem of “white supremacy”.

It’s only free speech if the left agrees.

The First Amendment protects unpopular speech as much as it protects popular speech. But popular speech doesn’t need much protecting. It’s unpopular speech that has to be defended.

And the nature of unpopular speech has changed. The anthem protests are a sign of how much.

When standing for the anthem becomes unpopular speech while demeaning it is popular speech, then the old measures of what kind of free speech needs defending no longer look anything like they used to.

Standing for the anthem has become the new counterculture. The question is, how do we protect it?

The biggest threat to free speech isn’t really government action. At least not right now. The Obama era saw ugly crimes against free speech that ranged from the arrest of a filmmaker for a YouTube video offending Muslims to eavesdropping on reporters to using the DOJ to investigate jokes about Obama.

But the real free speech threat was a crowdsourced culture war which manufactured its own social sanctions. The culture war is the collision between a secular leftist value system that its followers seek to forcefully impose on the entire country and the existing system of American values. When these two sets of opposing values collide, as they do when conservative speakers come to campus, Christian photographers refuse to participate in gay weddings or a tech company employee questions diversity, the most obvious victim is free speech. But free speech is always the first casualty of the culture war.

Speech is the lifeblood of culture. To win a culture war, you have to shut the other side up.

In the first phase of the culture war, the left seized the commanding heights of the media. Movies, television, music, newspapers and radio were consolidated into a network echoing the same ideas. This was largely done without any compulsion though victims of the old Fairness Doctrine might disagree. Outliers like conservative talk radio remained, but much like FOX News, they highlighted the homogeneity of the rest of the media. Everyone was getting the same set of political ideas all the time.

And, most impressively, a massive propaganda machine had been built without any of the brutality of the old USSR. Instead the machinery of capitalism had created a monopoly constantly spewing socialism.

But the old infrastructure model was quickly disrupted by the arrival of the internet.

The media coup had monopolized speech by monopolizing infrastructure. If you had enough licenses, printing presses and broadcasting facilities, you didn’t have to forcibly silence anyone. They just couldn’t be heard over the roar of your media machine.

The internet broke that model. Anyone could speak to millions with a site, a blog and a tweet.

Control was quickly reasserted. The media’s old stable brands were diversified with millennial internet brands. BuzzFeed and CNN might be wildly different in style, but they were vehicles for the same political message. The left still had the advertising industry connections and the networks to dominate messaging. Its entertainment side was expert at commodifying cool.

But the internet in general, and social media specifically, had altered the power relationship.

CNN and the New York Times didn’t care if you disagreed with them. You could try writing letters to the editor. You might even summon a small protest outside their headquarters. And it wouldn’t shake their monopoly over speech in any way. But speech on the internet is crowdsourced. The algorithms can be rigged, and occasionally are, but individuals still have too much choice and too much voice.

You couldn’t talk back to your TV. But you can talk back to CNN. And people can hear you.

The second phase of the culture war can only be won by controlling everyone’s free speech. The media has been trying to rig the game at the big tech company level. It’s gotten Facebook and Google to agree to political censorship under the guise of fighting “fake news” with “fact checking”. But even the term “fake news”, once the banner headline of the media’s censorship crusade, was hijacked by Trump.

Once upon a time, derailing a media narrative in such a short time would have been nearly impossible.

And that’s why the second phase of the culture war is underway. The internet has made it impossible to proceed with the culture war without destroying free speech. It’s why the New York Times is running serial anti-free speech pieces (even while condemning President Trump for threatening free speech).

The only way for the left to win the second phase is to either fundamentally change the structure of the internet so that it more closely resembles its old media model or to silence everyone who opposes it.

Changing the internet is an ambition that the American left now shares with leftist regimes like the People’s Republic of China. But even with the consolidation of the internet in the hands of a handful of big companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc, it remains an improbable project. The hysteria over election tampering doesn’t just serve the purposes of the Dem coup plot against Trump. It also creates a casus belli for political “fake news” censorship and deeper changes to individual agency on the internet.

If China and (ironically) Russia ever get their dream of a completely censorable internet, it will be the left that built it for them as part of a plot against free speech disguised as a xenophobic political panic.

But the easier course is still crowdsourced censorship under the guidance of the media network.

Surveys show that the generation that came of age in the wild and open spaces of the internet is also the most illiberal when it comes to free speech. Growing up screaming at each other in YouTube comments sections and Xbox Live tournaments has made for touchiness, not tolerance.

The culture war of identity politics is a natural fit for the most diverse and narcissistic generation whose greatest skill is still being nasty to other people on the internet while playing the heroic victim.

If you’re going to crowdsource censorship, it helps to keep your censors personally invested. And that’s what identity politics does. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the worst violations of the Constitution in the last several generations were enacted in the name of fighting bigotry. If you are going to end free speech, the best flag to fly is still anti-racism. And if you’re going to demean the anthem, do it by claiming to be the victim of racism even when you’re a privileged black nationalist celebrity who sees more money in one year than most working people of any race will ever see in an entire lifetime.

The quiet reshaping of the national culture is no longer an option. The culture war uses harassment, shaming and even violence to silence speech by those it opposes and to impose its speech instead.

And that is the overlooked element in the free speech debate.

It’s not just about silencing those you don’t like. It’s about creating a safe space in which your views are the only ones that can be heard. Professional victimhood is the pose of professional victimizers. And the best evidence of that is how easily they turn to violence when they don’t get their own way. Social justice crybullies go from shouting, “I can’t breathe” to wrapping their hands around their victim’s necks.

The culture war is a conflict between two sets of values. These values are meaningful and personal. Like the anthem, they stir our hearts, command our respect and embody the best of us.

And the left wages its culture war by attacking American values while demanding respect for its own.

The anthem must be disrespected, but Black Lives Matter can’t be criticized. Piss Christ must be displayed in museums, but don’t you dare wear a sombrero for Halloween. Speakers who praise Hamas and call for the murder of Jews are welcome on campus. But there’s no room for thinkers who praise free enterprise.

This is what a culture war looks like. And its first casualty is free speech.

The left doesn’t reject free speech because it’s a bunch of easily triggered “snowflakes”. It rejects free speech because it wants absolute power. And the first step is killing a free and open society.