Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Speed of Trust

I've been reading Stephen M R Covey's book The Speed of Trust recently, and the one thing you need to know from it is that if you operate your business or your life without trust, you're paying a lot more than if you had trust.  Obviously, it's about 300 pages more than that, but that's the really, really small capsule.
When thinking about the astronomical costs in 2 key areas, this becomes plainly obvious.  First and worst is government.  We've heard of the expensive hammers and everything else, but if there's one area where we could really use trust, it's in the government.  Let's face it, every single regulation and law comes back to somebody not trusting somebody else.  We spend trillions of dollars in every area of government because of it, and it's only gotten worse over time.  For example, the B-29 bomber cost $7.3 million per unit in today's dollars ($600K in 1944), whereas the F-22 fighter costs $143 million per aircraft today.  I realize that there's a lot more technology that goes into the F-22 than went into the B-29, but the relative technological innovation in each is not nearly as much.  As a result, you could argue that we could be paying $100 million in trust penalty.  This takes the form of all the regulations that Lockheed had to follow on the project, combined with the constantly changing project requirements, number of aircraft ordered, and so on.  If all of that was stripped away and a) the government trusted Lockheed to deliver a product at a reasonable cost that would do everything they wanted and b) Lockheed trusted the government to not try and change the terms once they started business (and thus pad things up front to ensure they don't lose their shirts), think of what that would do in just that one area.  We're ordering 240 or so F-22s, so that's $2 billion in actual savings there.  If that went across the entire government, I'd guess that the $1 trillion deficit we're facing could be replaced with an actual balanced budget.
Another area where this is obvious is in healthcare.  The entire system is set up without trust - malpractice insurance, extra tests, denial staff, and so on.  Meanwhile, our healthcare costs are exploding and it seems like there's nothing we can do to stop it.  If we started by extending just a little trust that the doctors and medical professionals actually care about how they are doing and aren't just out to get us and our money, perhaps we could start changing the tone.  While cutting off the wrong limb is really, really a bad mistake, I tend to think that the doctor didn't try to do it - not that it makes things any better, and some compensation would be in order, but certainly not something that punishes them so severely that their malpractice insurance skyrockets and runs him out of business or causes everyone else to pay more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Department of Obvious

I got this bag of peanuts on a recent flight and my wife pointed out the list of ingredients and the allergy notice.  You can see that there are peanuts and salt in this bag, but what I'll bet you couldn't see from the fact that this bag is a bag of peanuts...they are "produced in a facility that processes peanuts..."  Wow, that's incredibly helpful there.

Brush with Greatness

While I wasn't namechecked by Bill Simmons, I got mentioned in yesterday's BS Report with a question on Twitter to Simmons' friend Jack-O.  It was at the 46:52 mark in the podcast about Joba Chamberlain looking like Chien Ming-Wang.  I don't know quite what to think, other than that's the first time I've had a question answered in such a large forum.  On one hand, it's not a big deal because it's kind of like meeting a Senator or something.  Ultimately, Simmons is just a regular guy who is very talented at writing and is, dare I say, this generation's Peter Gammons or Rick Reilly.  Nevertheless, it's kind of cool to have your comment be noticed among the many, many comments that they get.  Take a listen, see what they think, and add your thoughts, if you're so inclined!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Jazz, Millsap, and You

I've been following the ongoing Utah Jazz salary cap dilemma for a while now, and it's a wild and crazy soap opera.  Here we have Boozer, Memo, Harpring & Korver with expiring contracts, Millsap looking for a boatload of money, and AK with a near-untradeable contract.  What's an owner to do?  First, let's look at the facts:
Fact: Boozer is a better player than Millsap.  That's not to say that he puts as much effort into his game, especially on the defensive end, but the point remains that he is an all star. 
Fact: AK's contract was an act of sheer stupidity that didn't seem like it at the time.  AK seemed to be the future of the franchise, and locking him up made sense.  At the same time, once we signed Boozer and Okur, we should have looked at trading AK.  Now it's impossible because he's not nearly as valuable as he was, but Boozer came in to essentially take AK's position. 
Fact: Millsap wants too much money.  While Anderson Varejao just got way too much tossed at him by Cleveland yesterday, I can't imagine paying that to Millsap.  Yes, he's a hard worker.  Yes, he's a fan favorite.  At the same time, will he ever be a perennial all star?  I don't know that he will.  He's a good piece for a contending team, but he's never going to be the go-to guy a la Karl Malone.
Fact: Harpring's contract is an albatross.  I like Harpring.  He's tough, he's another workmanlike player, but at $6 million this year for the condition he's in, he's not worth it.  His expiring deal might be a valuable chip in a trade though.
Faced with these facts, I think we ought to do a couple of things.  One, if Millsap does head for Portland for the rumored price (5 years/$50 million or so), we let him go.  He's just not worth that amount of money, especially when he'd still be a bench player behind LaMarcus Alldridge in Portland.  If he's got a reasonable salary (around 5 years/$35 million), we match.  Then we work a trade like what Bill Simmons proposed on twitter...a 4-way with Utah, Detroit, LA Clippers, and Dallas where we get Josh Howard for Boozer and parts.  If we could send AK out for an expiring contract, maybe we do that too.  If we could trade Harpring's $6 million into an MLE style player as well, I would love to see that.  I think a little of this, a little of that, and we could end up with a very good team next year.  Again though, the last thing I would do is bring back Millsap as a bench guy.  Ultimately, that's not what he wants, his protestations to the contrary.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Spoilers Gone Wild XX

Zuke at Stolen Droids came across this the other day but wasn't able to get a picture.  He did send me a link to a stock photo of it though, so I'm putting it up.  I think this is the most extraneous and useless spoiler yet.  While the others didn't do much of anything, at least they didn't help to cripple the functionality of your vehicle.  This, on the other hand, helps make your truck bed be at least 50% more annoying to get something in to, if not 50% less useful overall.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Bailout for Construction

If the interpretation that Adam over at Time To Keep Score has of the cap and trade bill is accurate (and to be honest, I can totally see that happening), the market for secondary homes could well dry up.  In order to sell a home, especially older homes, you might have to get it up to a certain level or pay huge fines for being such an eco-unfriendly consumer.  Imagine what a boon this is to the HVAC industry as they would suddenly have a whole host of people trying to trade out their heating and air conditioning for models that are officially "good for the environment."  Add the additional taxes (either via an outright tax or through increased costs of goods to cover companies' costs) we'd certainly have to pay in order to cover the bill that the government would send out for this, and we can expect to have less money a year from this bill's passage than we do now. 
While I think about that, why do we have to buy these credits from the government?  Since when did they take over ownership of our lungs, or the air over the US, or whatever this is supposed to protect?