THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- JANUARY 27, 2018
As I peruse the news, I learn something new every day. I look forward to this because keeping one's mind in shape is a worthy exercise. This week I learned a lot of things.
I learned that there is a major drought going on in South Africa. It's so serious that the city of Cape Town “has less than 90 days’ worth of water in its reservoirs” and it could be “the first major city in the world that could run out of water.” Right now, Cape Town residents and visitors can only use 13 gallons of water per day. Comparing that to your daily life: “The average American uses 88 gallons of water per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.” In personal terms, imagine if you had to use 85 percent less water today than you used yesterday. We'd all become very odoriferous in a short time. Pretty grim thought, eh? (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/01/19/cape-town-could-first-major-city-run-out-water/1047237001/)
The flu is bad this year, so I was concerned to learn: “As hospitals across the country cope with a bad flu season, they also must figure out how to deliver some medicines without an important tool of the trade, the intravenous fluid bag.” This is due to the weather disasters that happened in Peurto Rico which disrupted manufacturing. “Plants in Puerto Rico produce 44 percent of the IV bags used in U.S. hospitals.” Luckily, most hospitals have a large inventory already on hand.
On the business front, the opening of the Amazon Go store in Seattle has been all over the news. Reading a description on the Amazon website I learned: “Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout.” (https://www.amazon.com/b?node=16008589011)
This model fits into my father's theory: “Big Don's First Rule of Business.” Simply stated for any enterprise: “Make it easy for people to give you their money.”
But there's another aspect to this “cool technology.” According to the NY Times, there are about 3.5 million cashiers in the United States. CNBC observes that 900,000 of those jobs are in grocery stores. What happens to these folks when those jobs disappear?
While cashiers may be a thing of the past sooner than we think, I learned that another old-time job is making a comeback – milkman. The AARP Bulletin reports: “The milkman is the stuff of legend. There is evidence that this legend is vigorously alive.” Milk delivery people say that when milk is dropped off at homes residents act like it's “Christmas Day on their doorstep.”
What is the reason for this resurgence? “The farm-to-table movement, plus a growing passion for subscription products, has milkmen active just about anywhere there are cows. Can the milk drone be far behind?” (https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2017/milk-delivery-service.html)
I don't know how many milkman jobs will be created by this trend, but I learned some interesting things about wealth this week. “A new billionaire is created every other day. The three richest Americans have the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the U.S. population. Eighty-two percent of the global wealth generated last year went to just 1 percent of the world's population.”
Being one of the world's 2,043 billionaires is a good gig. “Collectively, their fortunes grew by $762 billion in 2017, while the poorest half of humanity saw no increase in their wealth at all. Forty-two people in 2017 had wealth equivalent to the world’s poorest 3.7 billion people. Over the next 20 years, 500 of the world’s richest people will give $2.4 trillion to their heirs — a sum larger than the GDP of India, which has 1.3 billion people.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/01/22/vast-majority-new-wealth-last-year-went-top-1/1051947001/)
The rest of us can't fathom this kind of wealth, but a new technology could save us (collectively) billions of health care dollars. This is due to a technological development named “Watsi.” They say: “We’re a small team building technology to make universal health coverage possible. (We)use technology to help create a world where everyone has access to care — whether that’s a life-changing surgery or a check-up.” Their vision is for 193 of the world's governments to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. (https://watsi.org)
According to a Rolling Stone article: “Four hundred million people worldwide cannot access basic health care...a chief obstacle is not lack of political will or even funding – it's the crippling inefficiency of no-tech record-keeping that can eat up as much as 40 percent of a health care budget.” Watsi aims to “modernize the monstrous bureaucracy of health care around the world.”
To that end: “Watsi has pioneered a system for smartphone-powered health care. The Watsi app would connect to a national database of medical and insurance records, so that when a patient visits any hospital, they have all your information.” You fill out one form and never have to do it again. (https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/pictures/25-people-shaping-future-in-tech-science-medicine-activism-w511978/chase-adam-a-true-universal-health-care-plan-w512013 and http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/health/watsi-builds-technology-for-universal-health-coverage/article/501705#ixzz557Ymvdl6)
Watsi could be awesome if it comes to fruition. It certainly would make life easier for millions of people. Which brings me to what I learned about happiness this week. The lesson came from none other than Albert Einstein, a fairly intelligent dude.
As the story goes, in 1922 Einstein was in a hotel and did not have money to tip a bellboy, so he wrote a bit of wisdom on a piece of hotel stationery and gave it to the lad. The nephew of that bellboy inherited the note and recently sold it at auction for $1.56 million. (http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/einsteins-theory-of-happiness-teaches-a-profound-truth)
The note is known as “Einstein's Theory of Happiness.” Written in German but translated into English, this is what it says: "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.“
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns at Cadillac News.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.