Let’s Get Political
Forget abortions, forget gay marriage, and the legalization of marijuana. The nation's economy and its lack of perceived upswing will be at the heart of the political discussion this election year, as it should be. What Mr. Romney will have you believe is that he has a solution. I promise you that he does not. He's not an economist by trade, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time with Bain Capital. Even an economist doesn't have all the answers. They utilize incentives and observe trends and then quantify those patterns and illustrate the results graphically.
It's no secret that every party tries to seize the upper hand and claim that they have the solution to the other party's short-comings. The focus has been on the national debt, which is entirely too high. Let me point out that in the mid 90's the debt was well under control and then a certain cowboy, who shall remain nameless, galloped into the nation's capital with grand ideas, but only succeeded in getting us into not one, but two decade long wars that were an incredible drain on the economy.
So here's the political conundrum: There are over 500 congressmen on the national level; what are the odds that they would arrive at some kind of universally beneficial consensus instead of favoring the constituency that keeps them in political office and paying them a 6 figure salary? The President, regardless of who it may be, is going to be nothing more than a figure head, a powerless monarch until Congress does some housekeeping and decides they would like to make progress instead of collecting a paycheck under the guise of having the best interest of the people at heart. Let's not forget, Congress has A LOT of authority, and passing bills and new legislation into law is their responsibility.
As for the question of whether or not inflation and printing more money is killing the country's economy, the answer is not YET. Right now, the world bank accepts payment in the form of US dollars. This gives us some international pull because we can run up all of our debts, pay our creditors, issue bonds, and it's all kind of like xeroxing Monopoly money. If it never existed in the first place, how can you pay for something? However, this is the system that's used day in and day out, and for now it works. If they ever demanded payment in something other than dollars, we would be in a world of hurt, but for now, we can breathe easy.
I could go on and on about these issues and more (and probably will at a later time), but I'll stop for now in anticipation of all the feedback I'm bound to get. As always, thanks for reading.
Calling All Entrepreneurs
The thing that anyone from the US would notice immediately, is that because the servers are not heavily reliant upon tips, customer service at any location, is severely lacking. If someone could open a restaurant here, and simply pay the servers based on a tip system, customer service would be remarkably upgraded. As it stands, sitting down and eating anywhere here will take about 2 and a half hours because in Argentina, they typically converse during and after the meal. Due to this, restaurants fill up quickly and lines form outside the door. Last night, my group of 4 waited 90 minutes to sit down and eat and then spent an additional 90 minutes to 2 hours completing the dinner process.
At the ripe age of 29, I had the fortune to have a younger core group of friends while in Argentina. This means that I got to experience the dance clubs here. The lines are extensive and you may get the impression you're in South Beach. Once inside, you pay a small cover. The atmosphere reminded me of a very crowded house party. The bar has limited offerings, although, you can purchase entire bottles of your favorite libation much, much cheaper than you ever could in the states. There were probably 8,000 people in the place we went last night and it was so crowded you couldn't really have a good time. You had to hold your ground and make your body rigid to prevent interlopers from invading your dance space. At best, you could hope to slowly sway left to right, but expect to get bumped into from 10 different directions instead. If fire codes were to be enforced like in the states, it would be a much more enjoyable experience. There's also a rather inefficient manner in which one orders a drink at the club. You have to muscle your way to the cash register and order and pay. If you don't hold your ground, people will cut in front of you the whole night. After you pay, you receive a ticket that you give to the person who makes your drink on the ultra-crowded other side of the bar. Needless to say, if an alternate dance club format were adopted, you could make a killing.
I can see that I've already gone on long enough for now. Stay tuned for more fun and exciting tales of business opportunities in this South American wonderland.
A List of Fun Facts About Argentina Based on Empirics
I have not seen a single stray cat. There is, however, a large population of stray dogs who are so street savvy that they will wait for the crosswalk sign to change and walk within the boundaries of the crosswalk.
Services are cheaper here! A full massage cost the equivalent of 22 American dollars.
There is a large Italian influence in Argentina and for those spanish speakers out there, all “ll's” make a “sh” sound, so “calle” would sound like “cah-shay”.
Everywhere you go, you can find pizza, lots of it. We went to an alleged Mexican restaurant called Club Tijuana that also served pizza. Their trademark dish here is milanesa which is similar to country fried steak/chicken with your choice of sauces, and then the locals also dollop cheese fries on top. Scrumptious, but very indulgent.
Everybody walks everywhere.
The most expensive private university education costs the equivalent of 7000 dollars per annum.
If you make 25000 dollars/year, you're considered quite well-off.
When ordering water here, you must specify with or without “gas” (carbonation) and people drink it a lot and it tastes like club soda.
There is a traditional drink here called “mate” (pronounced mah-tay), and you add what looks like coarse herbs resembling cedar pulp to a hollow gourd and you sort of mash it and apply hot water and you drink it through a “bombilla” which is a metallic spoon/straw. This is an oft consumed beverage and you are meant to bond and converse while drinking it.
There are many breaks throughout the working day in Argentina. Businesses open at the usual time, but smaller shops take a break mid-day for several hours, as well as tea time which is in the evening, and those stores will not re-open until 9 pm or so which is when most people go out to eat, but not many Americans do for fear of eating and then going to bed soon after.
Much like my experience in Japan, clubs, or boliches, are open from about 2 am – 6 or 7 in the morning. I went one time and it left me very exhausted.
Oh, Soft Drinks, Thou Art Silly!
Let us further assume that your preference is Coke over Pepsi. Coca-Cola has not one, but TWO zero calorie cola beverages out there. Coke Zero is advertised as having REAL cola taste and ZERO calories. My question is, “If Coke Zero has zero calories, and Diet Coke has zero calories but apparently tastes LESS like REAL cola, WHY would you EVER drink Diet Coke in lieu of Coke Zero?”. Keep in mind, I didn't say that Diet Coke doesn't taste like cola. Diet Coke's OWN parent company made that implication when they branded their other product that way.
Pepsi is no better. There is Diet Pepsi. There is Pepsi Max. There have been several iterations of a clear or “Crystal Pepsi”. To be honest, at first I thought, “Hmmmm, ok, well they replaced aspartame with better tasting sucralose, or Splenda” but NO…they didn't! Both products use the sweetener, aspartame. Basically, you've gone through the trouble and expense of creating a new beverage that creates no new market, but only further divides an existing one while only incurring greater cost by diversifying your beverage line (ingredients, packaging, etc…).
I will only briefly touch on Dr. Pepper excluding half of the earth's population by blatantly saying Dr. Pepper's new 10 calorie beverage is JUST FOR MEN. Am I then to infer, that men don't like zero calorie diet beverages, and that those ten extra calories make it bold, and tasty, and maybe that the beverage doesn't go flat as quickly as would, say, Diet Dr. Pepper, which used to be branded as tasting “more like regular Dr. Pepper”?
Ladies and gentlemen of the business-blogging community, I ask you, “Do you not demand more of your beverage companies?”.
Tune in next week for my exciting rant on the microbrew industry.
Did you realize that ESPN commentary and on-air personalities are now incorporated in college football games? If you pick up a copy of NCAA College Basketball 2010, try playing a season with the Jacksonville University Dolphins, and you will notice that in Veterans Memorial Arena you can see the Nimnicht name and Billy Nimnicht’s signature right on the hardwood. On main menus, advertisements for upcoming games from the developer are common to see in every new game. The point is, advertising can be subtle and it can be INTERACTIVE and immersive. The experts at Mad Men Marketing can customize an advertising solution to suit your business needs. INTERACT, DON’T INTERRUPT!