Daily Archives: August 11, 2020

Why Garbagemen Should Earn More Than Bankers

How more and more people are making money without contributing anything of value.
By Rutger Bregman – Thick fog envelops City Hall Park at daybreak on February 2, 1968. Seven thousand New York City sanitation workers stand crowded together, their mood rebellious. Union spokesman John DeLury addresses the multitude from the roof of a truck. When he announces that the mayor has refused further concessions, the crowd’s anger threatens to boil over. As the first rotten eggs sail overhead, DeLury realizes the time for compromise is over. It’s time to take the illegal route, the path prohibited to sanitation workers for the simple reason that the job they do is too important.

It’s time to strike.

The next day, trash goes uncollected throughout the Big Apple. Nearly all the city’s garbage crews have stayed home. “We’ve never had prestige, and it never bothered me before,” one garbageman is quoted in a local newspaper. “But it does now. People treat us like dirt.”

When the mayor goes out to survey the situation two days later, the city is already knee-deep in refuse, with another 10,000 tons added every day. A rank stench begins to percolate through the city’s streets, and rats have been sighted in even the swankiest parts of town. In the space of just a few days, one of the world’s most iconic cities has started to look like a slum. And for the first time since the polio epidemic of 1931, city authorities declare a state of emergency.

Still the mayor refuses to budge. He has the local press on his side, which portrays the strikers as greedy narcissists. It takes a week before the realization begins to kick in: The garbagemen are actually going to win. “New York is helpless before them,” the editors of The New York Times despair. “This greatest of cities must surrender or see itself sink in filth.” Nine days into the strike, when the trash has piled up to 100,000 tons, the sanitation workers get their way. “The moral of the story,” Time Magazine later reported, “is that it pays to strike.”

Rich without Lifting a Finger

Perhaps, but not in every profession.

Imagine, for instance, that all of Washington’s 100,000 lobbyists were to go on strike tomorrow. Or that every tax accountant in Manhattan decided to stay home. It seems unlikely the mayor would announce a state of emergency. In fact, it’s unlikely that either of these scenarios would do much damage. A strike by, say, social media consultants, telemarketers, or high-frequency traders might never even make the news at all.

When it comes to garbage collectors, though, it’s different. Any way you look at it, they do a job we can’t do without. And the harsh truth is that an increasing number of people do jobs that we can do just fine without. Were they to suddenly stop working the world wouldn’t get any poorer, uglier, or in any way worse. Take the slick Wall Street traders who line their pockets at the expense of another retirement fund. Take the shrewd lawyers who can draw a corporate lawsuit out until the end of days. Or take the brilliant ad writer who pens the slogan of the year and puts the competition right out of business.

Instead of creating wealth, these jobs mostly just shift it around.

Of course, there’s no clear line between who creates wealth and who shifts it. Lots of jobs do both. There’s no denying that the financial sector can contribute to our wealth and grease the wheels of other sectors in the process. Banks can help to spread risks and back people with bright ideas. And yet, these days, banks have become so big that much of what they do is merely shuffle wealth around, or even destroy it. Instead of growing the pie, the explosive expansion of the banking sector has increased the share it serves itself.

Or take the legal profession. It goes without saying that the rule of law is necessary for a country to prosper. But now that the U.S. has 17 times the number of lawyers per capita as Japan, does that make American rule of law 17 times as effective? Or Americans 17 times as protected? Far from it. Some law firms even make a practice of buying up patents for products they have no intention of producing, purely to enable them to sue people for copyright infringement.

Bizarrely, it’s precisely the jobs that shift money around – creating next to nothing of tangible value – that net the best salaries. It’s a fascinating, paradoxical state of affairs. How is it possible that all those agents of prosperity – the teachers, the police officers, the nurses – are paid so poorly, while the unimportant, superfluous, and even destructive shifters do so well? more>

Updates from ITU

Build back better after COVID-19: Key learnings from 20 years of ICT regulatory reform
By Stephen Bereaux – As we look back at 20 years of telecommunication/information and communication technology regulation at this year’s milestone Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-20), there is no better time to understand how the responses and initiatives from the ICT sector during the COVID-19 pandemic can help ITU Members – and the world – to build back better.

Two decades have seen GSR become the pre-eminent global meeting for regulators and policymakers to tackle the many challenges emerging from the convergence of ICT services. From digital taxation frameworks to consumer trust, infrastructure sharing to network investment, the symposium also serves as a choice venue for regulators to interact and collaborate with the private sector to solve these and other critical challenges.

This year, as its own response to COVID-19 restrictions, GSR is going digital and will be held as a virtual meeting from 1-3 September 2020. As the world moves from response to recovery in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, look for the upcoming points to be covered in GSR’s online sessions as they reflect what ITU members and the wider ICT community will need to bear in mind as the so-called ‘new normal’ takes shape.

5 key approaches to the ‘new normal’

First, how might institutional frameworks be made fit for purpose in a post-COVID world? Key issues to be addressed are privacy and data protection – especially concerning health information. Does the advent of contact tracing and tracking apps require even closer collaboration between data protection agencies and telecoms? What is the role of telecoms in tackling the global issue of COVID-19-related misinformation and disinformation? What is clear is that new and existing institutional frameworks must be designed to support data privacy and help combat misinformation.

It is also important to understand the sector competition impacts of the post-pandemic era – particularly in terms of data sovereignty, and data ownership. Changes in market power between industry segments also come into play here. For example, operators may face long-term reduced demand or higher costs as the world recovers from the pandemic. At the same time, initial indications suggest that so-called “tech giants” may become significantly stronger under a range of potential future scenarios. Such a situation could arise not only because of the sizeable market power of these companies, but also because of their critical role as the gatekeepers for smartphone operating systems, which must be opened for contact tracing apps, tackling COVID-related disinformation, and more. This shifting balance of market power between these two segments of the communications and technology industries may, in turn, require new regulatory settings. more>

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Updates from Ciena

5G will require a new way to deliver IP connectivity
User demands are changing. The next generation of mobile networks requires far more than capacity upgrades. Ciena’s Vinicius Santos explains why the associated IP networks must evolve to become more streamlined, adaptive, and cost-effective to facilitate your unique 4G to 5G journey.
By Vinicius Santos – The creation and development of mobile communications dramatically changed our daily personal and professional lives. Initially, it gave us simple mobile voice communications, Short Message Service (SMS), and Multimedia Message Service (MMS). Then just over a decade ago smartphones were introduced and they quickly become an essential part of how we interact with each other and machines. Now sensors, automation, and artificial intelligence are driving a new wave of applications, resulting in a unique technological inflection point that requires mobile technology and networks to evolve.

As a fundamental building block of the mobile infrastructure, IP connectivity is responsible for providing data services and communication between wireless air interfaces and wireline mobile network elements, such as switches, routers, and optical transport gear. As mobile use cases and applications evolve, how standards-based IP connectivity is implemented must also evolve.

In the last couple of years, mobile applications have changed from being “nice to have” to an essential part of the way we do business, interact with each other, and make informed decisions. This has resulted in an ever-more demanding quality of experience. This is only going to become more challenging.

The next wave of applications will be stricter in terms of network performance requirements. Autonomous vehicles, cloud-based gaming, extended reality (XR), and telehealth, to name just a few, create amazing business opportunities. But in order for them to be successfully commercialized there are significant technological challenges in the communication infrastructure that need to be addressed.

This is especially true for mobile networks. 4G technology based on LTE, LTE Advanced, and LTE-Advanced Pro will be deployed alongside initial 5G Non-standalone (NSA) mode supporting enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) use cases. The next phase of the mobile network evolution starting in 2021, with 5G Stand-Alone (SA) mode, will allow MNOs to offer more sophisticated use cases related to ultra-reliable Low-Latency Communications (urLLC), massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC), as well as even higher performance eMBB services. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Do both brands benefit from co-branding?
By Andrew Clark -Some Dell laptops have an Intel processor inside, and some Betty Crocker brownie mixes use Hershey’s chocolate. The idea behind such co-branding is to generate synergies and marketing efficiencies. Does the strategy really work?

Yes, suggests research by Chicago Booth’s Sanjog Misra and Bradley Shapiro and Booth PhD candidate Yewon Kim—although it works better for some parties than others. And a difficult reality for managers and researchers is that predicting the magnitude of such a collaboration effect prospectively is nearly impossible.

The researchers studied brand collaboration in an unusual setting. Rather than analyze data involving commercial products, Kim, Misra, and Shapiro looked at three major museums all located in the same US city. While arts institutions aren’t typical commercial products, the fast-growing arts industry represented $704 billion in spending in 2013, compared with $619 billion for construction and $270 billion for utilities, write the researchers, citing data from the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The researchers don’t identify the museums involved, citing a nondisclosure agreement, but write that during the time period they studied, “one major museum with a highly recognized brand” closed for a three-year renovation. While the work was being done, this museum collaborated separately with two other museums and held exhibitions in their buildings, with both the primary museum’s and the partners’ branding. The participating institutions shared their collections as well as their curatorial staffs. Exhibitions were displayed cohesively, mixing collections from both the primary institution and its partners. Marketing campaigns emphasized the joint nature of the exhibitions, and the collaborating institutions used the same descriptions on their websites and in other promotional materials. They jointly hosted membership events.

To gauge the effects of co-branding, Kim, Misra, and Shapiro tapped SMU DataArts, a collection of information compiled by the National Center for Arts Research, for four years’ worth of the museums’ membership sales. They find that collaborating with the major museum led to an increase in memberships at both partner museums. During the collaboration year, people who hadn’t previously been members of the partner museums joined them. Meanwhile, demand dropped among people who had previously been members. more>

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