Trump is Weakened, Trumpism is Not

The last week produced some rather amazing news. Among the top stories was the disaster called Trumpcare. It was supposed to be the easy first win of the new administration. But it never got out of the republican controlled House.

There is a lot of spin out there about what happened. Much of that spin is about how Trump and Ryan failed as leaders, and how Trump was exposed as a poor negotiator (strong arm tactics don’t work very well when you have very low poll ratings). Even more embarrassing are the stories about how Trump apparently did not even understand the legislation that he was pushing. So true enough, the Trump presidency is wounded.

The inability to pass the AHCA is only one legislative misstep. But it indicates that Trump’s desire to pass sweeping overhauls of taxes, immigration, and trade deals — even must-pass legislation like a debt-ceiling increase — is newly in doubt.

Meanwhile, one still should wonder how in the world did we get to this point? After all, if we dare to celebrate now, it is not because anything remotely connected to “policy” is being discussed in Washington. The discussion instead, is about which would be worse — enacting moronic laws or no laws at all. We are still at the public administration pre-school level.

In other words, “Trumpism” — an ideology that is based on the notion that one can win in politics with no knowledge of policy and no accountability for the results of policy choices —  is not yet dead.  Can we kill it? That remains to be seen.

Trend: Direct to Customer

I am the first to admit it  I love certain brands. Not just for the products they offer, but for the knowledge and inspiration that go into making them. So why can’t I get more of that kind of experience with the things that I buy?

As it turns out, there is no reason why not. If a customer feels a “pain point” – meaning that a product or service disappoints, it should be possible to create a new brand that fixes that pain point. That is the message that Jeff Raider offers. He should know, he has done it two times – first with glasses (Warby Parker) and second with razors (Harry’s).

One of the keys to making this work is for brands to go directly to customers. That might mean bypassing wholesalers and retailers altogether or selectively using them. Most important, the brand dominates the customer relationship in order to make it better.

I agree with Jeff – this is a significant trend. BTW, Jeff also thinks that over time folks will be buying up to 50% of their purchases online. A lot of these will be by subscription. If so, a company like MeUndies is may be remembered as one of the early adopters of this business model.

Let’s see how this plays out.

America Goes Organic

This surprised me

…  sales of organic food ha(ve) more than tripled from 2005 to 2015, from $13.8 billion to $43.3 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association

It was not too long ago that the media was full of stories that the “organic” label is “bullshit”. Whether it is or not, the idea is resonating with consumers. They want healthier food and are willing to pay more to get it.

The Odd Market for Dead Presidents

Dead presidents can no longer give speeches. But it turns out that the location of their burial sites has other significance

The relocation of a president’s body after death is not unheard-of. In 1858, the remains of James Monroe, the fifth president, were moved from New York to his native Virginia, at a time of rising sectional tension. And the coffin of President Abraham Lincoln has been moved around his burial spot in Springfield, Ill., at least 17 times, by one count, including a bizarre thwarted effort in 1876 to steal his body and hold it for ransom.

Errr … someone tried to ransom Lincon’s dead body? Yikes! Don’t people have better things to do?

The latest controversy concerns the corpse of the 11th president, Mr. Polk. Polk was not a bad looking fellow

Image result for James K. Polk

But would that justify digging up and moving his corpse to attract tourists?  Somehow, I think not.

When did the Rust Belt Start Rusting?

I thought it was a long time ago. And there is some truth to that. The American automobile industry peaked back in the 1960’s. But that did not mean that employment overall peaked as well. Consider this

… (T)he Asian financial crisis of 1997 … caused the value of the dollar to rise. Exports from the United States (see: cars) suffered abroad while imports became more attractive to consumers. From 1998 to 2010 Michigan lost 45 percent of its manufacturing jobs—912,000 to 499,000—while Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana lost over 30 percent. “Manufacturing jobs just went into a freefall,” says Pendall. “They dropped by about 35 percent in just a decade—that was huge.”

that was not that long ago. In the last few years, things have actually started to improve. The problem is not so much a lack of jobs, but a lack of people to fill them. The great lakes region needs an infusion of young people.