Our geopolitical experts will destroy America, if we let them

A new post by our most perceptive geopolitical expert, Fabius Maximus.

He reviews the 14 “Plan Bs” suggested by pundits assembled by Foreign Policy magazine.  Essentially, their recommendations amount to doing more of the same, but expecting different results.  Here’s his paraphrase of #13:

(#13)  Invade another god-forsaken land where we have no national interest while there’s still a few $ on the national VISA card

So what would be wrong with arresting Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has conducted a campaign of brutal terror in northern Uganda and adjacent areas of Africa for years?

Nothing — if it were done by the governments of Uganda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Sudan.  The problem is that those entities are states only in the sense that they have seats at the UN, and they are among the most corrupt in the world.  Sending in special operators to take out Kony will change that about as much as killing another narcotrafficking boss will return the rule of law to northern Mexico.

Congratulations, Ford!!

As you all know by now, Ford has posted its best 3rd quarter net income in 20 years and gained 1.3 percentage points of North American market share, putting it ahead of Toyota for the year.

A couple of observations:

  • The investment rating services — those folks you told you that mortgage-backed securities were AAA, recall? — still penalize Ford for not declaring bankruptcy and stiffing its creditors, shareholders and employees
  • “Restructuring” still gets the credit.  Look at this from CNN: That success is due in large part to Mulally’s restructuring of the company that resulted in strong sales and reduced costs in North America.

“Restructuring” does not “result in strong sales.”  It may lower costs, but it does not produce products that customers want to buy.  If all you want to do is lower costs, eliminate R&D while you file for Chapter 11.

It may be a while before we understand the bases for Ford’s success, assuming that it is real success, that Ford continues to make money and gain market share.  But my preliminary assessment is that Alan Mullaly and the folks at Ford understand the Toyota Way better than the current crowd at Toyota.

For example, consider this from the Wall St. J.:

Ford’s mid-size, front-wheel-drive Fusion sedan is now the top-ranked model in Consumer Reports’ “family cars” segment—better than the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, the Nissan Altima and the Hyundai Sonata. Overall, Ford is now No. 1 among the Detroit brands.

Improving quality; containing costs — starting to sound like the Toyota Way to me.

Which raises an interesting question:  Look at the 14 elements of the Toyota Way, as revealed by Jeffrey Liker and think about Toyota’s current dilemma — has Mulally found something missing?

Air Bus?

Suppose that instead of leaving home a couple of hours before takeoff to account for driving to the airport, finding a place to park, making your way to the terminal, checking baggage, allowing for potential delays in security, and arriving at the gate 30 minutes before flight time, suppose that instead of all this, you could hop on a bus with the equivalent of at least business class (reserved) seats and  free wifi, and reach your destination just as quickly.  Suppose furthermore that you could do this from, say, DC to downtown Manhattan for $15.00

Think that would be a threat to the airlines?

Check out the new Greyhound site.

Yeah, I know that busses have bad reputations for cleanliness and stations are often located in parts of town you’d rather not find yourself in, but given only slight fare increases — still well below airlines’ — those problems can be fixed.  And long-distance service, such as the newly announced route between Chicago and New Orleans, will probably only appeal to those who cannot afford to fly.

Europe has invested heavily in high-speed trains, but given the cost of building new rail lines, this option remains impractical for the United States.  Busses, however, just show up and go.

I couldn’t tell from the site whether $15 will get you one of the new busses, but even at, say, three time that price, is it still a threat to airlines, most of which will charge you that just to check bags?

Point is that dysfunctionality in our air transportation system has led not to new airlines but to alternative ways of getting from point A to point B. There will be more to come.

Problems at Facebook?

I tried a post and got the following message:

“This message contains blocked content that has previously been flagged as abusive or spammy. Let us know if you think this is an error.”

Here’s the abusive content I was trying to post:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

RIP Mary Boyd

John Boyd’s widow, Mary Ethelann Boyd, passed away on October 5 at the age of 81.

Her obituary is available here.

John’s daughter and executor of his estate, Mary Ellen Boyd has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the American Heart Association at the following link:

https://donate.americanheart.org/ecommerce/donation/acknowledgement_info.jsp?campaignId=175&site=Heart&itemId=prod20007

Please use the following address for acknowledgements (the donation form will require it):

Mary Ellen Boyd
41784 Inspiration Terrace
Aldie, VA 20105

Goodbye, Mary.