Monday, January 5, 2015

"The Bad News About Good News"

The good news about bad news is that bad news has the capacity of being funny.

The bad news about good news is that I am not entirely certain it does.

Bad News Generating Good Jokes (over the decades):

Henny Youngman:  “My wife said she wanted me to take her someplace she’s never been before.  So I took her to the kitchen.”

The Bad News:  “The Missus doesn’t cook.”

Janeane Garofalo:  (Re:  Slackers)  “Our parents worked hard so we wouldn’t have to.  And guess what?  We don’t.”

The Bad News:  “Our parents made us lazy.” 

Chris Rock:  “No white person would change places with any black person.  No white person would change places with me.  And I’m rich!”

The Bad News:  Self-explanatory.

On the other hand…

Good Good News Jokes?


Which explains my trepidations concerning this post.  The conundrum:

Good news.

Not funny.

Fear not that I may be tacking in a new positive direction; that is temperamentally impossible.  Consider this deviation from the norm a momentary blip in a virtually unblemished chronicle of hopelessness and despair.  That’s my meat and potatoes.  If I can’t complain, I have nothing to write about.   

My intention here is to cram my good news into a single post, so I can return to my habitual terrain, bewailing a world I can barely negotiate, with its preponderance of bad news which is simultaneously a comedic breeding ground.  Hand to God:  I’ll be negative tomorrow.  And pretty much from here on to the end of the line.

Besides, not everyone will consider the following examples good news, finding them discombobulating to the status quo.  Others will undoubtedly feel the opposite.  For precisely the same reason.

I discovered these four stories over a period of just two days, all of them reflecting the same – I do not believe it’s an exaggeration to say – revolution.

Common Denominator:  The People are taking control!

To some, the descriptive triggers an immediate “Pinko Alarm.”  But viewing it another way, this self-same phenomenon exemplifies the essence and vitality of capitalism – former monopolies, challenged by entrepreneurial innovation, fueling the very engine of capitalism – competition.

And with no further ado or extended setup, here they are:

1.  Uber  – A ride-offering transportation service that goes head-to-head with the taxi monopoly.  You call tell they’re succeeding.  The cab companies are smearing the heck out of ‘em!

2.  There’s a company that, for a reasonable fee, finds you the lowest price for the car you want to buy, liberating car buyers from the uncomfortable clutches of disreputable dealership personnel.

3.  An Investors’ Club arranges for fledgling entrepreneurs to obtain “seed money”, allowing these businesses to bypass conservative bankers and rapacious venture capitalists.

4.  You can now walk into a drugstore (instead of making a more expensive doctor’s appointment), have two drops of blood (instead of numerous test tubes full) drawn from your finger (rather than poking around feverishly for a vein), and you can have that blood automatedly tested (avoiding “Human Error”) for an extensive array of health issues and receive confidential delivery of the resultant information (which you can then decide independently what to do about, instead of doctors running the entire show, evaluating the “numbers” and prescribing ameliorating supplements you can conveniently purchase at the Front Desk.)

That’s four “game-changing” new business models.  And I bet there are more of them.  Barring the inevitable “snake-oil percentage”, these entrepreneurial breakthroughs provide consumers the opportunity of reduced cost and increased individual control.  (Plus a chance to stick it to the Big Boys.)

These innovative approaches will inevitably meet with resistance, because a lot of consumers are comfortable with things being the way they have always been, and because there are vast sums of money on the table, and the people who have traditionally been raking that money are less than enthusiastic about sharing it. 
It is, however, impossible to oppose this tsunami of progress.  Although throughout history, people futilely have tried.  (See:  “The Automobile – A Passing Fancy.”  And “Indoor Plumbing – Do we really want ‘that’ in our house?”)

If you can extend this list with other examples of democratizing new business models bringing traditional monoliths to their knees, feel free to pass them along.

And if you can do it comedically…

Extra credit. 

And a tip of the hat from a professional.   

Who was humblingly unable to pull it off.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Earl, other examples are all around you in what's happening to media: movies, newspapers, magazines, books, TV.

But aren't all those stories bad news if you turn the perspective around?

Actually, you should read up some more on Uber (try Municipal taxi licensing isn't *only* about creating artificial scarcity - it's also about protecting customers. Uber was the focus of some horrifying stories in 2014, and the present CEO seems utterly tone-deaf about all of it, from drivers accused of rape to employees violating customer privacy, to threatening journalists writing critical stories. There are other ride-sharing services, though.


P.G. said...

I can't get over these new tests that let you (well, maybe not you, exactly) know when you are pregnant right away! No visits to doctors, waiting for bunnies to die, etc. They even have 'at-home' tests to tell you (again, not necessarily you) when you are most fertile and likely to conceive.
Can you imagine how Henry viii could have found this useful? Or his wives? Just sayin'....