Swiss versus American CEO

From an interview with the Markus Bucher, the CEO of Pilatus (in Switzerland)….

For the first time we produced and delivered over 140 aircraft to our customers in one year, taking us virtually to the limit of our current production capacity. The enormous demand for our General Aviation aircraft, the PC-12 and PC-24, exceeds all our expectations!

The interviewer, from an in-house magazine, asks “Were our ambitious corporate goals achieved in 2021?”

2021 was a mixed year… I’m not entirely happy! Demand is incredibly positive and our finances are very health. But we work inefficiently and we remain under a lot of pressure because of the need to bypass many standardized production processes due to faulty materials and insufficient quality from our suppliers.

Readers: let me know if you can find anything similarly candid from a U.S. CEO (other than Elon Musk)!

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Should Disney sell a planned itinerary?

Disney supposedly has cut its maximum capacity, but the new maximum still results in multi-hour waits for rides, up to a one-hour wait to get through security before even reaching the ticket booths, no way to get food without waiting in an epic line, etc.

We stayed at a hotel near Disney Springs in mid-March and would not have been able to go to Disney if we’d wanted to because all of the reservation slots had been taken. The guests who had planned months in advance and who did go to the hotel reported having a mediocre or bad experience. They paid extra for the Genie+ system that is supposed to enable getting on rides without waiting in line, but using the app was a huge hassle. We heard about some folks paying an out-of-park planner $1800 to manage their Disney app interactions and then text them with instructions for where to go.

Disney obviously has captured 100 percent of the market for people who want to plan their vacations three months in advance, including which rides they’ll do and where they’ll eat, etc. They also have an offering for people who have an extra $850 per hour to spend on a VIP guide. The guide can’t get guests into restaurants, however, as explained in my 2019 review of this experience. In that review, I posted the following idea:

Plainly the mobs are buying a lot of hotel rooms, food, and souvenirs. But I wonder why Disney doesn’t have “Crowd-hater Days” in each park to capture the market of people who would be willing to pay a lot more to have the 1990s experience. There are four core parks within Disney World. Why not say that every Monday through Thursday one of these parks will be designated “Crowd-hater” and tickets will be sold at whatever price it takes to keep max line length down to 15 minutes? If ticket prices were doubled, for example, I think Disney would actually make more money in ticket revenue since demand should not be cut by more than 50 percent. By using a high price to limit admission to only one park at a time they should still be able to keep all of their hotels filled (tourists who don’t value the less-crowded experience will still go to the other core parks and/or the water parks).

Apparently, Disney is never going to do this. So I have a new idea… a pre-planned itinerary that includes reserved meal stops. It will be like Genie+ except that the guest doesn’t have to plan, think, or do anything other than show up at the pre-planned times and pay for whatever is ordered at the meals. The Disney in-house expert figures out in which order all of the rides should be done so as to minimize walking time. I think that this could easily be sold for 2X the price of a regular park ticket plus Genie+ and the cost to Disney and impact on the park should be the same as if someone diligently used Genie+ as designed. Perhaps there is a risk of cannibalizing the VIP guide sales, in which case the price would have to be higher.

How crowded is Walt Disney World now that Americans don’t need to go to work? Disney Springs, which is essentially just an outdoor shopping mall, had 45-90-minute waits for tables at the various restaurants on a Wednesday night in mid-March. Then people would wait in line for another 45 minutes to get a generic ice cream from Ghirardelli. Here are the lines to check out of the Disney trinket shop with $40 T-shirts, to get some BBQ, and to go into a LEGO store that sells the same sets as the LEGO store in your local shopping mall:

The Road to Serfdom is dedicated to “socialists of all parties,” reflecting Hayek’s view that love of central planning is near-universal. Why not a centrally planned no-line Disney vacation?

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COVID-safe restaurant chain idea

Even as thousands of Americans continue to be felled by SARS-CoV-2, state governors are lifting COVID-related protections. Soon it might be possible for a 5-year-old, for example, to go to a restaurant without anyone checking to see if the 5-year-old has been injected with an experimental use-authorized vaccine against a disease that kills 80-year-olds. Mask requirements are being dropped as well. People will be unmasked as they walk into the restaurant, not just when they’re sitting at tables.

Let’s assume that at least 20 percent of Americans Follow the Science and are extremely concerned about COVID-19, albeit not concerned enough to stay home. That’s a potential market of 67 million people (source for total population) who want a restaurant where they are fully protected against COVID-19 by cloth masks and vaccines that cut risk by a further 97X.

Even in the Florida Free State, there is no law against a restaurant checking vaccine papers (as mine were checked at Art Basel) and requiring masks. The legislature has blocked government agencies from engaging in this kind of behavior, but private companies can do whatever they want (e.g., hassle unvaccinated employees with periodic testing demands).

How about a restaurant chain that voluntarily imposes all of the restrictions that mayors in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Boston, et al. imposed by force of law? You will need to show a photo ID and vaccine papers to get in. You will need to wear a mask, preferably cloth but N95 is also okay, as you walk from the door to the table. The restaurants will close at 10 pm in honor of the curfews that many European nations imposed to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from spreading during the night hours.

Because obesity is not a significant or newsworthy cause of death compared to COVID-19, the menu will be 100 percent items that people love. Fettuccine Alfredo, potatoes au gratin, crème brûlée, etc. Because cancer is also insignificant next to COVID-19, smoking and vaping will be allowed.

What will the new chain be called? Karen’s.

Before everyone heaps ridicule on the above idea, remember that the U.S. government thought that there would be a significant number of people who would remain concerned about COVID-19 prevention immediately after a nuclear weapon had destroyed one or more cities. From https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-explosion (retrieved 2/28/2022; it was still all about the hand sanitizer!):

When you have reached a safe place, try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household. If possible, wear a mask if you’re sheltering with people who are not a part of your household. Children under two years old, people who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove masks on their own should not wear them. … If you are told by authorities to evacuate to a public shelter, try to bring items that can help protect yourself and your family from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, cleaning materials, and two masks per person.

The authors of the web page assume that the nuclear weapon(s) did not take out the 9-1-1 and health care systems:

If you are sick or injured, listen for instructions on how and where to get medical attention when authorities tell you it is safe to exit. If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for instructions. If you are at a public shelter, immediately notify the staff at that facility so they can call a local hospital or clinic. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know if you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If you can, put on a mask before help arrives. … Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The threat of a nuclear explosion can add additional stress. Follow CDC guidance for managing stress during a traumatic event and managing stress during COVID-19.

There is a helpful photo:

Anyway, if there are people who want to wear an anti-COVID mask in the fallout shelter after a successful nuclear attack on the U.S., my theory is there are people who will want to have dinner in a fully masked environment (except for all of the customers who are unmasked because it is a restaurant and they’re eating).

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Levi Strauss casts out its coronapanic heretic

An interesting article by a gymnastics champion-turned-Levi-Strauss executive:

My tenure at Levi’s began as an assistant marketing manager in 1999, a few months after my thirtieth birthday. As the years passed, I saw the company through every trend. I was the marketing director for the U.S. by the time skinny jeans had become the rage. I was the chief marketing officer when high-waists came into vogue. I eventually became the global brand president in 2020—the first woman to hold this post. (And somehow low-rise is back.)

Over my two decades at Levi’s, I got married. I had two kids. I got divorced. I had two more kids. I got married again.

We’re told that it is impossible to have children and work at the same time (but ladling out more taxpayer cash will help, especially if extracted from the childless) and yet Jennifer Sey had four children while climbing the Levi’s corporate ladder! (She also had time, presumably, to be a litigant in the California Family Court.)

I wrote op-eds, appeared on local news shows, attended meetings with the mayor’s office, organized rallies and pleaded on social media to get the schools open. I was condemned for speaking out. This time, I was called a racist—a strange accusation given that I have two black sons—a eugenicist, and a QAnon conspiracy theorist.

Example hate speech and Science-denial from the op-ed (February 2021):

I find myself stunned and enraged every day since March 13 that my kids, San Francisco public school students, and approximately 50% of students across the country have no in person instruction at all for what amounts to almost a full year. They are going without classroom education, socialization, and, for kids with few resources, necessary social services. Denying kids educational opportunity amounts to denying them a future and it is nothing short of child abuse.

The lack of effort to open schools by leaders, with few notable exceptions – Governor Ron DeSantis [!!!], Governor Gina Raimondo – is a tacit endorsement that closed schools are not only acceptable but preferred, despite the fact that study after study proves that schools can be safe.

Kids went to school in the Warsaw ghetto. Kids went to school in London during the Blitz. Kids went to school during the Spanish flu pandemic. Amidst chaos and destruction, the world signaled to kids how much they mattered, that our very future depended on them. We are doing the exact opposite now. They won’t forgive us.

Looking at the highlighted text above, I think we can begin to see the problem.

The paragraph below contains a date that may be useful to historians.

In the summer of 2020, I finally got the call. “You know when you speak, you speak on behalf of the company,” our head of corporate communications told me, urging me to pipe down. I responded: “My title is not in my Twitter bio. I’m speaking as a public school mom of four kids.”

But the calls kept coming. From legal. From HR. From a board member. And finally, from my boss, the CEO of the company. I explained why I felt so strongly about the issue, citing data on the safety of schools and the harms caused by virtual learning. While they didn’t try to muzzle me outright, I was told repeatedly to “think about what I was saying.”

Meantime, colleagues posted nonstop about the need to oust Trump in the November election. I also shared my support for Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primary and my great sadness about the racially instigated murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. No one at the company objected to any of that.

Let’s see what the divorce plaintiff-turned-senator had to say about lockdowns: “Warren: ‘We should be imposing mask mandates’ and vaccine requirements” (state-sponsored WGBH, December 23, 2021. The story includes a photo of the Native American icon protecting herself and others from Omicron with a cloth mask:

The top executives aren’t stupid:

Then, in October 2020, when it was clear public schools were not going to open that fall, I proposed to the company leadership that we weigh in on the topic of school closures in our city, San Francisco. We often take a stand on political issues that impact our employees; we’ve spoken out on gay rights, voting rights, gun safety, and more.

The response this time was different. “We don’t weigh in on hyper-local issues like this,” I was told. “There’s also a lot of potential negatives if we speak up strongly, starting with the numerous execs who have kids in private schools in the city.

I’m not sure that the Levi’s official position on “gun safety” is consistent with the way that the term is used by some of the gun enthusiasts who comment here… Also note that, as in Boston, the best way for white elites to show support for Black Lives Matter was to advocate for the closure of schools for Black children while the private schools attended by their own kids were open.

I met with the mayor’s office, and eventually uprooted my entire life in California—I’d lived there for over 30 years—and moved my family to Denver so that my kindergartner could finally experience real school

Jennifer Sey was ahead of Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children (April 6, 2021)!

National media picked up on our story, and I was asked to go on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News. That appearance was the last straw. The comments from Levi’s employees picked up—about me being anti-science; about me being anti-fat (I’d retweeted a study showing a correlation between obesity and poor health outcomes); about me being anti-trans (I’d tweeted that we shouldn’t ditch Mother’s Day for Birthing People’s Day because it left out adoptive and step moms); and about me being racist, because San Francisco’s public school system was filled with black and brown kids, and, apparently, I didn’t care if they died. They also castigated me for my husband’s Covid views—as if I, as his wife, were responsible for the things he said on social media.

Levi’s agrees with Pol Pot that even the worst offenders can be reformed through re-education and confession:

Meantime, the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the company asked that I do an “apology tour.” I was told that the main complaint against me was that “I was not a friend of the Black community at Levi’s.” I was told to say that “I am an imperfect ally.” (I refused.)

The DEI executive seems to have been correct:

Anonymous trolls on Twitter, some with nearly half a million followers, said people should boycott Levi’s until I’d been fired. So did some of my old gymnastics fans. They called the company ethics hotline and sent emails.

Every day, a dossier of my tweets and all of my online interactions were sent to the CEO by the head of corporate communications. At one meeting of the executive leadership team, the CEO made an off-hand remark that I was “acting like Donald Trump.”

In the last month, the CEO told me that it was “untenable” for me to stay. I was offered a $1 million severance package, but I knew I’d have to sign a nondisclosure agreement about why I’d been pushed out.

Readers of Real World Divorce will be pleased to see that Jennifer Sey celebrates gold diggers:

I never set out to be a contrarian. I don’t like to fight. I love Levi’s and its place in the American heritage as a purveyor of sturdy pants for hardworking, daring people who moved West and dreamed of gold buried in the dirt.

Everyone at Levi’s supports Elizabeth Warren and AOC but they can’t agree on how best to follow these two saints?

But the corporation doesn’t believe in that now. It’s trapped trying to please the mob—and silencing any dissent within the organization. In this it is like so many other American companies: held hostage by intolerant ideologues who do not believe in genuine inclusion or diversity.

Being a Progressive is not a religion, yet people can argue over who has the pure and genuine inclusion and diversity?

At least most of the Progressives at Levi’s seem to be intelligent:

Not one [fellow Levi Strauss employee] publicly said they agreed with me, or even that they didn’t agree with me, but supported my right to say what I believe anyway.

A reader comment on Jennifer Sey’s piece:

As for Levi’s – that company doesn’t even manufacture ONE STITCH of clothing in the US anymore and hasn’t for years. Look for sweatshops in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Indonesia for mfg.

What about the husband whose hateful views on Covid also got the righteous Elizabeth Warren-supporter in trouble? It seems to be Daniel Kotzin, whose Twitter bio says “Stay-at-home dad. Human rights advocate. My freedom protects you; your freedom protects me.” Example hate:

And he’s a vaccine denier!

(For the record, I disagree with Mx. Kotzin regarding “vaccine remorse.” Although I recognize that a Marek’s disease-style vaccine-driven evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is possible, and nobody without a letter from God can say for sure what will be the effect of vaccinating 5-year-olds against a killer of 80-year-olds, I think it is more likely that the COVID-19 vaccines will end up with a similar status as the flu shot. Nobody regrets getting a flu shot, though plenty of people who get a flu shot subsequently get the flu…)

Here’s one where we learn that the family should have moved to Florida instead of Colorado:

(I think there is a lot to love about Colorado, but if you’re passionate about children being free to live without masks, Florida is the only state that I know where it is actually illegal for public schools to order kids to wear masks. (“illegal” meaning against a law passed by the Legislature))

In addition to being a good lesson in the range of speech that can be tolerated in a Progressive company, Jennifer Sey’s story is interesting because of the feeling of betrayal by politicians. She and her husband were presumably both aligned in their passion for Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren and they were repaid with the (abhorrent to them) imposition of school closures and mask orders for children.

Unlike the hate-suffused Trump-tainted “schools should be open” idea, a political cause that is sufficiently uncontroversial for Levi’s to support:

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CVS marked down COVID-19 tests before Joe Biden’s arrived in the mail

The 6-year-old and I found COVID-19 tests on sale today at CVS in Jupiter, Florida:

I placed my order for taxpayer-funded tests (“free”) on January 19, the advertised first day in “The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-⁠19 Tests to Americans for Free (whitehouse.gov) and haven’t gotten anything yet except an email from USPS promising an update “once your package ships.”

In other words, relief from the central planners will arrive some weeks after CVS was forced to mark COVID-19 tests down due to oversupply.

I remarked on the low price and ample quantity available, saying “Those would have been very valuable a month ago.” The 6-year-old immediately responded, “let’s buy some now and keep them at home and then sell them for $20.99 during the next wave.”

I’m not going to leave him alone with any Dr. Seuss books (re-sold for up to $1,700 on Amazon before being banned there)!

Readers: Did your tests from the central planners arrive? If so, when? It was supposed to be “seven to 12 days” from January 19.

Speaking of COVID-19, let me take this opportunity to give a shout-out to selfless front-line workers, such as the physician (see the license plate) who parked this Ferrari on the street near the above-mentioned CVS:

Who knows Ferraris well enough to say what model this is and estimate the value? My guess is a Portofino retractable hard top (worth about 250,000 in 2022 mini-dollars).

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CNN educates us regarding the glass ceiling

An immigrant friend’s comment on news from the CNN executive suite:

These are defenders of liberal morality and destroyers of glass ceilings

A Google search for

“glass ceiling” site:cnn.com

yields 2,520 results. “10 reasons single women should be mad” (2017) is typical:

Many voters are upset with the status quo this year, but single women have an especially long list of reasons to be mad. Simply being born female in the United States means you’ll probably earn less than your male peers and pay more for life’s basic necessities.

American women get less money than men. Females earn 84 cents for every dollar a male does, according to Pew Research. PayScale says the gender gap is even worse: women make only 77 cents for every dollar that men do.

(Companies aren’t smart enough to cut their payroll costs by hiring only women, who do the same quality of work for 20 percent less.)

Whether you call it a glass ceiling or a pink ghetto, the reality is there aren’t many American women who make it to the top. PayScale found that the wage gap gets worse the higher up the career ladder women go. No wonder there are fewer female millionaires and billionaires.

Only 24 CEOs at America’s 500 biggest publicly traded companies are female. And the pipeline behind them isn’t encouraging. At large corporations, only 16.5% of the top five positions are held by women, according to a CNNMoney analysis last year.

More recently we learn from these experts on gender equality about a path to an executive VP job at CNN for a person who identified as female. From “CNN’s worst-kept secret that even NYC doormen knew about: Staff at swanky apartment building where Zucker AND his staffer lover had apartments would try to stop his wife from ending up in same elevator as her” (Daily Mail):

Ousted CNN President Jeff Zucker’s relationship with his subordinate Allison Gollust was such an ‘open secret’ that even doormen at the building where they both had apartments tried to ensure that Zucker’s wife and Gollust were never in the elevator together.

Zucker resigned from his $6 million-a-year job at the network on Wednesday, following an internal investigation into his relationship with Gollust, who works as CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

‘Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,’ she wrote. ‘Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time.’

But media sources have said the affair was an ‘open secret’ for more than 10 years – and even the doormen at their Manhattan apartment building tried to keep Allison and Zucker’s wife, Caryn, from interacting.

Their affair reportedly stretches back to when they both worked at NBC in the late 1990s. Zucker worked at the network from 1986 to 2010, becoming executive producer of the Today show, then head of NBC Entertainment before becoming president and CEO of NBC Universal.

America’s #2 expert on COVID-19 was also tied into this story…

In 2012, Gollust was picked by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as his communications director, before Zucker brought her into work at CNN, where he became president in 2013.

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Verizon 5G: strong enough to disable aircraft radar altimeters, but not strong enough to download a web page

Here’s a better-than-usual Verizon mobile data situation in Jupiter, Florida:

Three bars of 5G yields 3/1 Mbps of data, which turns out to be not enough to browse the modern JavaScript and CSS-bloated web. (This was on Indiantown Road, which I hope will soon be renamed, a 6-lane main artery lined with busy strip malls.)

Meanwhile, the Garmin Pilot app (a flight planning tool) informs us that aircraft radar altimeters aren’t going to work because of 5G deployment:

So the 5G signals are strong enough to call aviation safety into question, but not strong enough to support denouncing Donald Trump, Joe Rogan, and Robert Malone on Facebook, the streaming of Neil Young tunes, or reading news regarding the January 6 insurrection.

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Skiing in a country where nobody wants to work and where nobody can afford to live

A friend lives in a $3 million starter home in the Vail valley. He reports having to carefully pick ski days this season due to crowding on the mountain and long lift lines. “They sold a ton of Epic passes in the spring at a discount,” he explained, “and now lifts and trails are closed because nobody wants to work. They can’t find people to drive the snowcats for grooming, so you find that a lot of trails are roped off and blocked by a big pile of snow.”

How did the labor supply change? “The cost of living, especially housing, is much higher than two years ago and the wages haven’t gone up as much,” he replied. “They’re offering a $2 per hour bonus for people who stay through March, but that’s not enough to enable someone to live where the rich people live.”

(I wonder if restrictions imposed with a COVID-19 justification are partly to blame. The last time I was at Beaver Creek I noticed that a high percentage of workers were foreigners, e.g., from Central and South America, on temporary visas. It seems that not too many Americans wanted to spend the winter in a glorious ski resort, at least not at the wages offered. Until November 2021, was it possible for foreigners to get to the U.S., except as asylum-seekers walking across the Rio Grande?)

From a February 2017 trip to Beaver Creek:

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Soviet management tips for the American executive

To celebrate having gotten through one month of winter, let’s turn our attention to things Russian (since they are the true masters of the cold).

Last year, I was invited to a family dinner in which the husband’s father is retired from managing a large Soviet enterprise (many bonuses and incentives for performance, so not actually all that different from running a bureaucratic U.S. company). The wife had recently been promoted to manage five divisions of a substantial U.S. company instead of just one. She described her frustration with workers who didn’t want to come back to the office. “Can you make it in every Wednesday?” was an unreasonable ask. Productivity was unimpressive and a lot of people had gotten comfortable with the previous manager, whose standards were low-to-mediocre.

We kicked around some ideas for motivating the workers and gradually acclimating them to the new higher standards. After 10 minutes of mostly unproductive suggestions, the father-in-law offered some advice…. “Old Russian saying: When whorehouse is losing money, you don’t change the beds. You change the whores.”

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Reminder that failure is an option

I stumbled on Closed for Storm in Amazon Prime (it is wedged into a corner of the app behind “Black voices” and “Hispanic & Latino voices” (no “Latinx voices” category?)). It covers Jazzland, which opened in 2000 and was converted into Six Flags New Orleans in 2003. Katrina hit in 2005.

I recommend this for anyone considering a business investment. It is a great reminder that failure is always an option.

Separately, it is unclear why the park couldn’t be reopened. The metro area population was about 1.34 million in 2000 and today is 1.27 million. Americans love theme parks. Why do they generate infinite money in Orlando, but are risky elsewhere?

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