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No Mercy No Malice

Time Machines & Species Failure

November 15, 2019

5-min read

Survival — the pursuit of more time — is the most basic instinct. Procreation is a distant number 2. But 1a, making the most of your time, is survival instinct coupled with capitalism. Communism was intended as a more noble system — economic parity that avoids the inequality bound to arise from capitalism. Only the reds failed to recognize we won’t wait in line for fish for the benefit of our comrades. A cocktail of self-interest, cooperation, the assembly line, brand, and the processor has yielded more stakeholder value, as measured by GDP, in the last 50 years than in the previous 2,000.

Religion created a lot of value — it made people feel immortal. Time post death is an asset you’d trade shame for. But the ranks of the faithful are thinning. The opium of the masses no longer provides the same high. Wealthier, more educated societies have turned their focus to time on earth. 

Any company that creates more than $10 billion in shareholder value does one of two things: extend time (more time, saving time) or enhance time. 

Every firm that has aspirations of creating billions in shareholder value must construct a time machine and be clear on the type of benefit — savings or enhancement. The first trillionaire will build a time machine for the healthcare industry. The T-Man, or woman, won’t reduce costs (this is where the analysts get it wrong), but give us millions of years back, in the pursuit of health, at the same or lesser cost. What’s the point of enacting medical care that extends your life a year if it costs 3 years to procure, navigate, and administrate? 

I’ve had a cough for the last month. My dad and sister freaked out, as I don’t get sick. They imagined the worst and demanded I get a chest x-ray. The doctor’s visit, two trips to Diagnostic Centers of America, and a consultation cost me 8 hours. An intelligent camera, Prime Health (whenever that arrives), and AI will give me 7 hours back. The best strategy for bringing healthcare costs down is to give time back. The real innovation in healthcare will do more than save money. It will save time. 

Time Machines 

The economic titans of the 20th century got you places faster (Ford, Boeing) or made your life more enjoyable (P&G, Prada). We’ve now gone gangster. Microsoft saves you years in efficiency (extend). LVMH allows you to enjoy the finest in life and increases your selection set of mates (enhance). Apple skimmed the foam off the top of the Microsoft beer, moving from tech to the luxury sector. Apple offered both faster transactions and an enhanced experience (for a 100% premium). iProducts just worked, made you feel better about yourself, and the global affluent willingly paid. 

The sector that has created more value than any other over the last 10 years is the disruptors in media (Google, Facebook, and Netflix). These firms pulled a Robin Hood on the greatest thieves of time in post-WWII America — ad-supported media. Modern Family / ABC values your time at $4.67/hr. They get .70c for reminding you that you suffer from diabetes (9 min of ads). CBS gets a buck a month per viewer for urging us to buy awful beer or cars manufactured in South Korea.

Advertising is a tax the poor and technologically illiterate pay. 

Ways to extend life:

Clear: I fly 2.5x/wk. I’ll pay Clear $5,370 over 30 years to not stand in line for 46 days.

Walmart Delivery Unlimited: At $98/year, that’s $2,940 over 30 years to get 120 days of your life back.

Netflix: At $156/yr, I’ll pay Netflix $4,680 over the next 30 years to avoid over a year’s worth of ads. If you could pay $4,680 to extend your life by a year, would you?

2013 Bombardier Challenger 300: Total costs over 10 years — depreciation, operating, and financing costs minus tax benefits = $10 million. (Not that I’ve dreamt of this … every day.) A two-bedroom that can skim the surface of the atmosphere at .83 the speed of sound would give me another 13 days a year at home with my family. So, if you had the money, would you, at the end of life, rather have $10 million or 4 more months with family? Keep in mind, that’s 2.5 dawg years. What Apple is to Android, the Challenger is to JetBlue, times a thousand. People who own jets all describe their bird the same way: Time Machine.

Movies and HBO saved some time, but were relatively expensive. And then came Google, Facebook, and Netflix. I’ll get a year back (time spent not watching ads) in exchange for $4,680 spent on Netflix. How to even think of doing research without Google? Would I have to go to a library and log on to Lexis/Nexis? It’s hard to imagine how much time and life Google has created. 

The search firm has violated our privacy, divided us, and hamstrung the economy via monopoly abuse. Yet it’s still likely worth it. This doesn’t mean we should shrug our shoulders and not break up big tech. The combustion engine and fossil fuels have created enormous economic growth across the world, but we should still correct the subsequent global warming. 

The biggest unlock in shareholder value in the last 5 years is Walmart’s click & collect and delivery. Walmart gave us 4 days a year back — grocery shopping takes an average of 69 min a week; you grocery shop 1.6 times per week, and the average commute for grocery shopping is 12.5 min each way. That makes the largest dollar-volume category (grocery, 750 billion) less time expensive. Since the introduction of click & collect and grocery delivery, Walmart has added over $100 billion in shareholder value.

RedBook

Facebook is now squarely in the red and a net negative for society. The social network held the promise of enhancing our time here, via connection, and has delivered on much of that. However, most time enhancement has been negated, as the social network is depressing our teens and endangering our most precious asset, girls. Teen suicide has skyrocketed — up 77% for older teen girls and up 151% for younger teens (research by colleague Jonathan Haidt). 

There are many factors, but ground zero is the nuclear weapons we’ve put in girls’ hands to objectify them, perpetually undercut their self-esteem, and enable them to bully each other relationally, 24/7. Hospital admissions due to self-harm are up 50% for 15-19-year-old girls and up 200% for 10-14-year-old girls. At Facebook, a sociopath is wallpapered over by a 700-person corporate communications department and a $2 billion beard (Sheryl Sandberg).

The Dow, GDP, the Iowa polls. We are studying to the wrong tests. There is nothing more important for the future of the country, our society, and the planet than the health and wellbeing of girls. Think about this. The S&P is up 23% YTD, and the number of girls that decide to take their own life is up 151%. Three times more of them self-harm. The pursuit of money at the expense of girls’ wellbeing is the ultimate perversion of our society. We ignore injury to our daughters in exchange for the promise of economic growth. 

Facebook is the incorporation of Jeffrey Epstein and Larry Nassar. Ok, that’s not fair. The social network is Jeffrey Epstein and Larry Nassar … times a million.

Facebook, Inc. is species failure.

Life is so rich, 

P.S. Experimenting with new formats. Something new for you on our YouTube channel — let us know thoughts in the comments. #podcast

29 comments

  1. Adam Wright says:

    I had sons, so they’re not as valuable?

  2. Marinus of Tyre says:

    You were doing great til you took the #MeToo self-aggrandizing tack at the end. Rewrite it without the political correctness. Thanks!

  3. John DeHope says:

    This post is at a JBP level of depth and insight. I didn’t know you hang with Haidt. You guys should collaborate more. Amazing stuff. I am going to share this post with both my boss (we’re in the healthcare industry) and my wife (we’re in the enhancing each others’ lives industry). How many tech/biz journalists’ blog posts can you say that about?

  4. Vlad the Impaler says:

    The problem with the reds were that they didn’t read Marx attentively enough and jumped the gun. Dictatorial socialism is the perfect medium for AI-governed economy. In the simplified conditions of WWII it already demonstrated its mettle, without much AI. In more noisy peacetime society it failed to provide for placating the huddled masses. But now with AI taking on banking, government funding, etc it won’t be long before the dictatura comes back. Probably without the red flags tho.

  5. Rob says:

    Yup, only girls are precious, boys are worthless, who needs them anyway.

  6. Rich says:

    Dude, keep writing.

  7. Michael says:

    Been living in your upper class bubble for too long. If you really want to spend more time with your family, then just do it, bro.

  8. Dan Wallace says:

    Beautiful writing and thinking Scott. I’ve been pondering these areas too, trying to describe the concept of value to marketing students. Curiously, economists talk about value, but disagree about what value is. I like your concept of extending time and enhancing time. The concept of value I’ve been playing with — value saves money, saves time, and improves the quality of time. Similar ideas, with the addition of money because money can be used to buy time or enhance the enjoyment of time. The book I co-authored, “The Physics of Brand,” has a thesis that brand value is the result of human interaction with the brand across space and time. Thanks for your thoughtful work here.

  9. Juan says:

    The fact that I pay, but can’t pay to avoid listening too the awful commercials on Sirius XM makes me feel poor!

  10. Rebecca Herrington says:

    One of the best articles I have read in 2019

  11. Jenn says:

    #word

  12. Heidi says:

    The pursuit of money at the expense of girls’ wellbeing is the ultimate perversion of our society. We ignore injury to our daughters in exchange for the promise of economic growth. — well said, Scott.

  13. Youry says:

    Greatt content

  14. chris johnston says:

    Epic read

  15. Brian johnsrude says:

    Another glittering gem Scott

  16. sue says:

    a distressing and brilliant observational post as usual…thanks for all you do

  17. Allan Barker says:

    Always on the money Big Dawg, wish that you weren’t such a lone voice. Thanks for being a superhero.

  18. John Azevedo says:

    Medicare for All is the most important political element of good health and the USA is the only major country to not supply it to its citizens. So, in that respect, Iowa IS where we should be looking. The “guy who wrote the bill” Bernie Sanders is doing well in Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico and nationally. Anyone who cares about their good health and the good health of the nation should act accordingly.

    • Randy Cook says:

      MFA is the biggest money grab in history. Bucks all will flow through DC, and the skimming will enrichen a whole new generation of completely useless Ivy-derived leaches. No one gets better health, but lawyer get nicer cars.

  19. Joseph says:

    Hey Scott, I saw that Convoy raised a pretty big Series D. I don’t see much helpful analysis of this company or the space. Care to comment?

  20. Robert Nadler says:

    To bring down the cost of healthcare, reduce time spent with myriad unnecessary test, get to grips with the crazy litigation lawyers, and crazy settlements. Obama never tried as they were part of his power base.

  21. Eric Forward says:

    I’d pop your podcast up on iOS & Android ASAP as YouTube is just a horrible experience for audio (excepting music for kids). It’s just so suboptimal and I don’t you or listeners will get the chance to assess it fairly there.

  22. Lutz Braum says:

    Watching 8 hours of TV a week, and assuming 15 min of ads per your (let’s face it, the other 8 min are used for bathroom breaks and getting a beer from the fridge – which I count as time well-spent) gets you 130 days of time savings. So Scott must watch about 24 hours a week, which seems a lot for a guy who writes and teaches and travels. What am I missing?

  23. Akash Vaswani says:

    Per your first statement, reproduction is a distant number 2 – and that is what the health of young women stands as a proxy for. Facebook’s value of time enhancement isn’t negated – even looking at the myopic view of a troubling rise in self-harm – it’s more effectively categorized as a tradeoff. One that’s still in the green based on your own assertion.

  24. Jerome Morley Larson Sr says:

    Not to mention all the time you wasted doing these wonderfully useless calculations. I ride my bicycle to pick up our two boxes of wine that fit nicely into its saddlebags — I enjoy being out in the fresh air dodging cars and pedestrians and other conveyances and get a little exercise to boot — Occasionally, I’ll stop and chat with someone — so how do I demon…er…tize that? MeToo has killed civilization and the daughters are responding by getting out — when i was young a million years ago women were on a pedestal; we opened doors for them and stood when they entered a room or arrived at the table; we doffed our hats; we adored them and fantasized sleeping with every single one — in return they let us think we were in charge — if they wanted the money, all they had to do was wait until there was a lot and divorce us, picking up their well deserved half or more — they would not let us sleep with them until we married so to pay for the children — the system worked rather nicely for most — for those that it did not there was prostitution or the nunnery or the library etc, Why they wanted to be equal is beyond me; being male is not all it’s …um… cracked up to be; I understand the equal pay thing but this current system is nuts; no wonder the young girls are bailing.

  25. Paul Kaye says:

    Brilliant as always, Scott. We can save as much time as we like but we will always have the same problem to confront – how to live right now.