Tag Archives: global

Burning Toast: American Health System Style

Democrats and Republicans have created a health care system in the USA over the last 40 years that “burns toast” at an alarming rate. As the symptoms of their health care system are displayed they call in people to blame for burning toast.

Their participation in the “you burn, I’ll scrape” system is even worse than the normal burning then scraping process. They create a bad system over decades and ignore the burnt toast just telling people to put up with it. And when some burnt toast can’t be ignored any longer they then blame individuals for each piece of burnt toast.

They demand that those they bring before them to blame, scrape off the burnt toast. And they act shocked that the toaster burns toast. That is the same toaster they designed and maintain at the behest of those benefiting from burnt toast continues to burn toast.

We need to fix the decades old broken toaster that the Democrats and Republicans built and have maintained. Dr. Deming called excessive healthcare costs a deadly disease decades ago yet Democrats and Republicans allowed it to continue harming us year after year and decade after decade.

We don’t need distractions blaming a few individual for what the two parties have created and maintained for decades. We need leaders to address the real issues and stop the distraction that those benefiting from the current system want to continue to see from those in Washington.

You don’t fix the system if all you do is blame individuals for each piece of burnt toast. Fixing blame on each piece of burnt toast is exactly what those that have continued to make sure the system is designed to continually burn toast love to see. It is a good way to make sure the fixes needed to the design of the toaster are not addressed. Both political parties have done well by those they receive payments from to ensure that the current toaster isn’t changed.

For decades the data shows the USA health care system costs are nearly double that of other rich countries with no better results. And we are not comparing to some perfect ideal, those efforts we compare to need much improvement themselves. So how bad much the USA health care system be to cost nearly twice as much as those systems that have plenty of room for improvement themselves?

Related: EpiPen Maker Also Hiked Prices on a Slew of Other MedicationsUSA Health-Care System Ranks 50th out of 55 CountriesDrug Prices in the USA, a system continually burning toast (2005)USA Heath Care System Needs Reform (2009)2015 Health Care Price Report – Costs in the USA and Elsewhere

Improving Management Globally

In the most recent ASQ Influential Voices post, Bill Troy, ASQ CEO, asks: Why Should Quality Go Global?

ASQ’s mission statement talks about increasing the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world. Are we doing enough, throughout the world, to accomplish that mission?

I have discussed a serious shortfall in this effort numerous times including in a reply to the ASQ blog before I was an ASQ Influential Voice – ASQ has a long way to go in promoting quality. ASQ is not doing enough. If “increasing the use and impact of quality” is indeed the mission then ASQ should make all quality articles they have published open access. If ASQ is mainly an organization focused on maximizing its revenue then selling articles that were written by authors (not paid by ASQ) and published by ASQ years and decades ago may be sensible.

ASQ has made a very small percentage of such articles available, as far as I can tell.

Not making articles open access is bad enough when all your users are in the USA. It is much worse when you aim to influence a global audience.

On the matter of the importance of promoting better management practices worldwide I agree there is a huge amount of work to be done. And there is a huge vacuum of resources for managers looking for information on how to do better.

ASQ can help fill that need. They are doing some things, including their blog and the ASQ Influential Voices program, but need to do much more to make much of a difference, it seems to me. I think they need to make the articles open access as the most important sign ASQ is changing to put the mission first; to have the organization designed to support that mission instead of the support of the organization itself as the primary focus.

Continue reading

Easiest Countries for Doing Business 2008

Singapore is again ranked first for Ease of Doing Business by the World Bank. For some reason they call the report issued in any given year as the report for the next year (which makes no sense to me). The data shown below is for the year they released the report.

Country 2008 2007 2006 2005
Singapore 1 1 1 2
New Zealand 2 2 2 1
United States 3 3 3 3
Hong Kong 4 4 5 6
Denmark 5 5 7 7
United Kingdom 6 6 6 5
other countries of interest
Canada 8 7 4 4
Japan 12 12 11 12
Germany 25 20 21 21

The rankings include ranking of various aspects of running a business. Some rankings for 2008: Dealing with Construction Permits (Singapore and New Zealand 2nd, USA 26th, China 176th), Employing Workers (Singapore and the USA 1st, Germany 142nd), protecting investors (New Zealand 1st, Singapore 2nd, Hong Kong 3rd, Malaysia 4th, USA 5th), enforcing contracts (Singapore 1st, Hong Kong 2nd, USA 6th, China 18th), getting credit (Malaysia 1st; UK and Hong Kong 2nd; Singapore, New Zealand and USA 5th), paying taxes (Hong Kong 3rd, USA 46th, Japan 112th, China 132nd).

These rankings are not the final word on exactly where each country truly ranks but they do provide a interesting view. With this type of data there is plenty of room for judgment and issues with the data. Several of my posts, from my other blogs, that I recommend on this topic: The Future is Engineering, Science and Engineering in Global Economics and Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation.

Related: Easiest Countries from Which to Operate Businesses 2007Countries Which are Easiest for Doing Business 2006New Look American ManufacturingTop Manufacturing Countries (2007)Oil Consumption by CountryInternational Health Care System PerformanceEconomics, America and China

Kiva Fellows Blog: Nepalese Entrepreneur Success

photo of Rita Bashnet

Kiva is a great charity and example of how to use the web effectively. Kiva has added a fellows blog – which is a great idea. The fellows are funded by Kiva (fellows are unpaid) to go to spend time in the countries Kiva facilitates loans for working with the local partners. This post is about Rita Bashnet (in photo) an entrepreneur from Nepal:

Field visits are by far the best part about being a Kiva Fellow. You’re given the opportunity to hop on a motorbike, hike up a village trail, and actually see the impact of a Kiva loan firsthand.

Five years ago, Ms. Rita took her first loan of NRs. 10,000 (USD $150) and purchased some extra seed and fertilizer in the hopes of expanding her small vegetable patch. With the profits from this initial investment and a second loan from Patan Business and Professional Women (they offer a graduated loan program), she then purchased her first dairy cow.

After hearing about a program that subsidized the installation of methane gas storage tanks, Ms. Rita took another loan and applied for the program. With this new system, she is now able to capture the valuable gas released from her cow’s waste in a simple controlled-release storage tank. Today she no longer purchases gas from the city and can even sell some during times of shortage.

Ms. Rita exemplifies the potential of microfinance. A combination of access to capital and strategic investment has allowed her and her family to drastically improve their economic situation in a short five years.

Great story, and exactly my hope for using capitalism to improve the standard of living for people around the globe.

I notice a few days ago, for the first time, some of those seeking loans are about to have their listings expire unfunded. Kiva gives listings 30 days to be funded. Yesterday Kiva announced they were providing funds to lenders as soon as the entrepreneur has made a payment (it used to provide the funds to lenders only once the loan was closed out). My guess is they were smart to create a backlog of available loan options before flooding the Kiva market with lots of extra capital (I, for example, now have over $500 available to lend. If they didn’t have a backlog when this change took place they would have created a situation whee lenders could log in to lend money and can’t find anyone to lend to.

I have no problem if some loans are not funded (I want to help entrepreneurs by providing funding to build a business – some loans are for things like adding a room onto their house, which is fine but not what I want to support with interest free loans from me). A significant number of the unfunded loans where for pubs (I think Kiva lenders might not have the same criteria as banks :-).

If you haven’t loaned money through Kiva, please consider it now. If you do, send me your Kiva lender link and I will add it to Curious Cat Kivans. We have a couple readers that have provided links (including fellow bloggers Kevin Meyer and Tom Southworth) but I really would like to see more.

Related: Using Capitalism to Make the World BetterMillennium Development GoalsAppropriate TechnologyProvide a Helping Hand with Kiva

Car Powered Using Compressed Air

car powered using compressed air

Jules Verne predicted cars would run on air. The Air Car is making that a reality. The car would be powered by compressed air. Certainly seem like an interesting idea. Air car ready for production:

Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn’t have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.

The car is said to have a driving range of 125 miles so by my calculation it would cost about 1.6 cents per mile. A car that gets 31 mpg would use 4 gallons to go 124 miles. At $3 a gallon for gas, the cost is $12 for fuel or about 9.7 cents per mile. I didn’t notice anything about maintenance costs. I don’t see any reason why the Air Car would cost more to maintain than a normal car. Five-seat concept car runs on air

An engineer has promised that within a year he will start selling a car that runs on compressed air, producing no emissions at all in town.

Tata is the only big firm he’ll license to sell the car – and they are limited to India. For the rest of the world he hopes to persuade hundreds of investors to set up their own factories, making the car from 80% locally-sourced materials.

“Imagine we will be able to save all those components traveling the world and all those transporters.” He wants each local factory to sell its own cars to cut out the middle man and he aims for 1% of global sales – about 680,000 per year. Terry Spall from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says: “I really hope he succeeds. It is a really brave experiment in producing a sustainable car.”

Now does that sound like the Toyota Production System to you? It should. If I were an executive at Toyota I would sure examine this to see if it really is as promising as it looks. And if it is Toyota sure has plenty of cash and the management practice to make a very compelling case for allowing Toyota to produce this globally. The engineers desires closely match what Toyota has learned. Both seek to eliminate the waste of transportation (friction).

Related: Click Fraud = Friction for GoogleManufacturing Takes off in IndiaElectric Automobiles

Toyota Presses On

At Toyota, a Global Giant Reaches for Agility

With plants in 27 countries, more new factories under construction and workers speaking languages that include Russian and Turkish, Toyota’s top executives are trying a difficult balancing act – replicating the company’s success and operating principles in other countries while ceding more control to these new outposts at the same time.

Next year, it expects to sell more than 10.4 million cars worldwide, double what it sold in 2000.

At Motomachi, more than 3,000 tasks on the assembly line have been translated into video manuals that are displayed on laptop computers above 30 simulated workstations, situated where their functions would be carried out inside the factory.

The videos show everything from the correct way to hold a screw to the best way to hold an air gun so that a worker’s hand will not tire in a few hours. This month, workers from Toyota’s plant in Thailand took part in training required for jobs in their plant’s paint shop. Listening as an interpreter translated from Japanese into Thai, the workers were shown how to bend their knees and spray a water gun across a clear panel of Plexiglas.

Yet another article on the management of Toyota. And here is another: Toyota heir slowly following in family footsteps. And another: Toyota explores more efficient methods to build cars.

Related: 12 Stocks for 10 Years Feb 2008 UpdateNo Excessive Senior Executive Pay at ToyotaNew Articles on Toyota ManagementToyota’s Effort to Stay ToyotaMore Positive Press for Toyota ManagementToyota in the US Economy

Economics – America and China

Business Week has several good articles on the topic of China’s Economic impact including: Shaking up Trade Theory and The China Price.

In Shaking up Trade Theory Aaron Bernstein explores: “The fact that programming, engineering, and other high-skilled jobs are jumping to places such as China and India seems to conflict head-on with the 200-year-old doctrine of comparative advantage.” Over the last few years the white collar job losses in tech US have seemed to cause quite a bit more concern than the manufacturing and other job losses of the 1980s and 1990s. His article does a good job of exploring this issue within the limits of a short magazine article.

He captures the surprise economist (in the US) see because “Conversely, India, where just a fraction of its 400 million-plus workers have gone to college, should grab the low-skilled work and leave higher-end products to the U.S.” That conflicts with the data that many high skilled jobs are going to India (and elsewhere). The US Economists don’t seem to realize India is producing as many college educated engineers as the US. So India also has hundreds of millions of low skill workers that doesn’t mean they don’t also have plenty of high skilled worked (that speak English, which is, of course a huge benefit that is less true of Chinese high skilled workers).

Ok, I need to do better research but here is one source: “I know that US production of engineers declined from about 80K (in ’85) to about 65K – but is back up to about 75K in the latest data. For context, however, the production of engineers is over 200,000/yr in each of China and India.” Wm. A. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering (United States) in talk entitled: Out-sourcing/Off-shoring of Engineering Jobs.Update: see USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates
Continue reading