2017年1月20日 星期五

Seth's Blog : Economics is messy

Economics is messy

We still teach a lot of myths in the intro to economics course, myths that spill over to conventional wisdom. 
Human beings make rational decisions in our considered long-term best interest.
Actually, behavioral economics shows us that people almost never do this. Our decision-making systems are unpredictable, buggy and often wrong. We are easily distracted, and even more easily conned.
Every time we assume that people are profit-seeking, independent, rational actors, we've made a mistake.
The free market is free.
The free market only works because it has boundaries, rules and methods of enforcement. Value is created by increasing information flow and working to have as many contributing citizens as possible. 
Profit is a good way to demonstrate the creation of value.
In fact, it's a pretty lousy method. The local water company clearly creates more value (in the sense that we can't live without it) than the handbag store down the street, and yet the handbag store has a much higher profit margin. That's not because of value, but because of mismatches in supply and demand, or less relevant inputs like brand, market power and corporate structure.
Profit is often a measure of short-term imbalances or pricing power, not value.
I hope we can agree that a caring nurse in the pediatric oncology ward adds more value than a well-paid cosmetic plastic surgeon doing augmentations. People with more money might pay more, but that doesn't equate to value.
The best way to measure value created is to measure value, not profit.
The purpose of society is to maximize profit
Well, since profit isn't a good measure of value created, this isn't at all consistent. More important, things like a living wage, sustainability, fairness and the creation of meaning matter even more. When we consider how to advance our culture, "will it hurt profits?" ought not to be the first (or even the fifth) question we ask.
The price of a stock represents the value of the company.
It turns out that the price of a stock merely reflects what a few people decided to trade it for today. Tomorrow, it will certainly be different, even if nothing about the company itself changes.
There's very little correlation with how the traders come to value a company in the market and how much value a company actually creates.
The only purpose of a company is to maximize long-term shareholder value.
Says who? Is the only purpose of your career to maximize lifetime income? If a company is the collective work of humans, we ought to measure the value that those humans seek to create.
Just because there's a number (a number that's easy to read, easy to game, easy to keep track of) doesn't mean it's relevant.

Seth's Blog : How long is now?

How long is now?

Yes, that dog is moving, but not that tree. Plants don't move.
Well, yes, they actually do. Trees grow and then they decay. It's just that we can't see it happening now. It happens over a longer span. Which means it is happening now, just not in a way that matches our frame.
Getting our time scale right is essential. It affects how we perceive the growth of our organization, or the changes in our planet. It changes the way we invest in education and how we react or respond to the news media.
Do we need a sweep second hand on our wrist watch or merely a page-a-day calendar to mark the passage of time?
Alan Burdick's new book goes into the history of how we think about now (as compared to before and after) and one particular example stuck with me: What would happen if we were creatures that lived for only 28 days? Or for 300,000 days? And if our attention span compressed or expanded along with that outcome?
Often, people who are happier or more effective than we are are merely seeing things in a different (and more appropriate) time window.
And one last example, I'll call it Dash's Twitch: It turns out that the insanely stressful ticker that the New York Times had on their home page on election night, the one that kept flicking back and forth, taunting everyone who saw it, was actually using "real-time" data that only updated a few times a minute. 
Which means that the twitch was faked. Yes, the data was moving over time, but it wasn't moving now.
If our now gets short enough, everything is a twitch.
And twitches, while engaging, aren't particularly useful or productive.

Seth's Blog : Rights (and responsibilities)

Rights (and responsibilities)

Human rights might be our species' greatest invention.
More than phones or trains or Milky Way bars, our incremental progress toward dignity, opportunity and equality is a miracle.
Rights aren't a decision we make when we're in the mood or it's easy. They're the bedrock of our culture, our economy and our way of life.
Of course, they're inconvenient sometimes. That's precisely why we have to work so hard to defend them.
Deep down, I think each of us understands how much a culture based on dignity is worth. But sometimes, we need to remind each other to stay vigilant, and to keep what our mothers and grandfathers worked so hard for.

Seth's Blog : Everyone is better than you are...

Everyone is better than you are...

(at something). Which makes it imperative that you connect and ask for help.
At the same time that we encounter this humbling idea, we also need to acknowledge that you are better at something than anyone you meet.
Everyone you meet needs something you can do better than they can.

Seth's Blog : How to be heard

How to be heard

Do your homework.
Show up with contributions and connections long before you bring your opinion.
Save the snark for later.
Pay your dues.
Speak up about shared truths, shared principles and shared goals.
Don't blame the ref only when the call is against you.
Reflect back what you believe the other person is trying to say before you disagree with it.
If you want to persuade on the merits, avoid joining the threatening mob.
Convert six people before you try to convert sixty.
Tell true stories.

2017年1月16日 星期一

eth's Blog : Maps and globes

Maps and globes

If someone needs directions, don't give them a globe. It'll merely waste their time.
But if someone needs to understand the way things are, don't give them a map. They don't need directions, they need to see the big picture.

       

Seth's Blog : More and less

More and less

More creating
    Less consuming
More leading
    Less following
More contributing
    Less taking
More patience
    Less intolerance
More connecting
    Less isolating
More writing
    Less watching
More optimism
    Less false realism