Enlightened Self-Interest and a Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

There’s an interesting story making the rounds about a bottle of wine called Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001 sold at Hawksmoor restaurant in Manchester, England. The Chateau le Pin Pomerol is a rare wine; a customer ordered a $300 bottle of a similar vintage but a mistake led to said customer being served the Chateau le Pin Pomerol which lists at $5,772.

That’s a significant loss for the restaurant although the price they charge is certainly less than that listed. In response, the restaurant put out a tweet expressing hope the customer enjoyed the finer vintage. They also explained the two bottles are quite similar and an employee made an honest mistake on a crowded evening.

I think this is a good chance to explain a subtle nuance in Libertarian philosophy; which many people mistakenly think is all about earning more money, even many Libertarians themselves. It’s not about the money even though money is used as a scorekeeper to some degree.

The owners of Hawksmoor had a choice when they found out about the mistake. They could have attempted to charge the customer the difference. They could have docked the wages of the employee for the mistake. Both of these actions would seem to fit in with the perceived Libertarian philosophy of making as much money as possible.

The reality is, naturally, quite different. What is in the enlightened self-interest of the Hawksmoor? Alienating a customer or losing presumably a good employee? Certainly, the media coverage they get for accepting the mistake and wishing all parties well is worth more than the loss garnered by putting out the Chateau Le Pin Pomerol. It seems quite obvious to me their actions will not only result in more revenue in the long run, but even this is really not enlightened self-interest.

The real beneficiaries of this acceptance of the mistake are not the employee and the customer but the owners who made the decision. I cannot say for certain why management decided to behave in such a way but I’d like to think it is because they respect themselves.

A mistake was made, it happens, I understand that I also make poor decisions, that my errors affect others in negative way both personally and financially. One of my loyal customers got an amazing treat and I’m happy for them even though it cost me some money. My employee probably feels terrible about what happened and piling on isn’t going to make her or him a better person. A pat on the back and an understanding smile makes the world a better place and me a better person.

It seems to me many people are eager to lay blame, to lash out loudly against the stupidity of those who disagree, to attempt to gain retribution against those who make mistakes, to emotionally punish and hurt anyone who dares disagree. All of these actions make you a worse person. They tear you down because you know, somewhere deep inside, how awful you are being.

Being a decent human being is enlightened self-interest and so was smiling at the mistaken bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001.

Tom Liberman

NPS or Net Promoter Score and What it Means

NPS

I just became aware of a tool used by many S&P 500 companies called NPS or Net Promoter Score. The basic idea is to find out how many of your customers are so-called Promoters. The thought being if your customers give a product a 9 or 10 rating on a ten-point scale, they are promoters. Those who give it a 7 or 8 are passives and those who give it a 0 through 6 are detractors. That is what I want to examine today, the idea of promoters, passives, and detractors.

The idea was created by a fellow named Fred Reichheld although he doesn’t approve of the way it is currently being used by management in many companies. There is a lot to said for the NPS system both for and against but that’s not going to be the gist of my blog today. I want to look at NPS from a different angle.

I used to work as an instructor and we often gave out those one to ten rating scales for students to evaluate their experience in the class. I’ve also filled out many of them for various products that I’ve purchased over the years. I’ve come to a completely different conclusion than Reichheld although the practical implications may be about the same.

The idea of promoters is, of itself quite interesting. There is an underrated movie called The Joneses which examines this idea in fairly great detail. I wrote a Libertarian review of the movie not long ago should you wish to read it. In any case, the idea is that promoters go out and tell other people how great is your product and influence them into purchasing it.

The NPS system lumps people who give a product a 9 or 10 rating as promoters. My experience is fairly different. People who habitually rate a product that high are almost always True Believers who either lack critical thinking skills or simply choose not to apply them. People who rate a good product as 7 or 8 generally are more inclined to be skeptical. My own thinking is that I would almost never rate anything a perfect ten as nothing is without flaws.

The bottom end of the scale is where I radically differ from ideology of the NPS. I think people who give a product a 0 through 2 rating are generally exactly the same as those who give it a 9 or 10. They are True Haters. They don’t like either the product or its manufacturer for some personal reason and no amount quality is going to change their mind. They are, in essence, exactly the same as the people who rate the product highly. It is my opinion it is these people who should be targeted by the manufacturer for they, if swayed through some small act of kindness, will become True Believers for life.

I would be interested in a study of NPS scores compared to religious and political beliefs to see if there is a correlation between individuals who give extreme scores and those who espouse extreme political ideas.

In summation, I actually agree with some of the principles of the NPS. The system might call them Promoters while I use the term True Believers. The system calls middle scorer givers Passives whereas I call them Skeptics. The end result is; however, valid. The True Believers will promote and purchase the product no matter the quality, whereas the Skeptics will purchase products from competitors if they are objectively better. It is only with the low scorers where my disagreement with the NPS conflicts with the actions of business leaders.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman

Tiger Woods and the Wrongful Death Suit

Tiger Woods Lawsuit

There’s a story in the news about Tiger Woods and his involvement in the death of Nicholas Immesberger I find interesting. Woods owns a restaurant in Jupiter, Florida called The Woods Jupiter, and Immesberger worked there. He was drinking during his shift and afterwards and died when his car overturned later that night. His blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit when he died.

At issue is the Florida statute which holds a person liable for damages if they knowingly serve someone who is habitually addicted to alcohol. Immesberger attended Alcoholic Anonymous meetings in the past and had crashed his car previously while drunk. The people who worked with Immesberger knew of this and thus are potentially liable for the harm caused.

Woods owns the establishment and his girlfriend, who is the general manager of the bar and restaurant, drank with Immesberger a few nights before the fatal accident. Therefore, the lawsuit seeks to hold them accountable for the death even though neither of them actually served drinks to Immesberger the night of his death.

Many states have laws fairly similar to Florida in that it is illegal to serve someone who is a known alcoholic or who is obviously quite intoxicated. I personally agree doing so is not a particularly kind thing. If a person is stumbling drunk, she or he probably shouldn’t be served any more alcohol. If a person is an alcoholic, it would be somewhat of a service to refuse to provide drinks to her or him. That being said, I don’t think either action should be a matter for the state to adjudicate.

There are many problems with the law but the first and foremost from this Libertarian’s perspective is that it largely absolves the drunkard from responsibility. If a person chooses to drink to the point of intoxication and then hurts or kills someone else, or themselves, in an accident; that is completely the responsibility of said person. The statute seeks to put accountability on the server.

Another enormous issue is the law, by its very nature, is going to be applied unevenly and can easily be used by the state to persecute perceived enemies. It is quite certain people habitually addicted to alcohol are served in such establishments every minute of every day. Oftentimes it is quite well known the person has a problem. Basically, prosecutors get to choose when and if they are going to use the law.

The purpose of the law is an attempt to get people to stop serving alcoholics. A noble resolve but a clear attempt at social engineering. Good intentions are often the precursors of bad laws. Immesberger is dead because he chose to drink and drive.

If you think the lawsuit is egregious and without merit then you necessarily think the law is such. The letter of the law indicates at least the bartenders are liable if not Woods and the general manager.

I certainly think the employees of The Woods Jupiter should not have served him so much alcohol over the course of the day and evening. They should not have stood by while he drove off. That’s a moral failing, not a legal one.

Tom Liberman

Alyssa Milano and Why a Sex Strike is Just Like Prohibition

Sex Strike

Actress Alyssa Milano is upset various states are creating prohibitions to abortion and wants her fellow women to deny men access to sex, a Sex Strike. This so-called solution is essentially the same logic people use for the war on the drugs, prohibition, and an attempt to ban Loot Boxes in video games. It’s punishing everyone for the sins of a few.

The state of Georgia, and several others, are passing what are called Heartbeat Laws in which an abortion is made illegal as soon as the fetus’s heartbeat is detected. Seeing as this detection can occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant it essentially makes abortion completely illegal. Milano is being called out for a number of problems with her Sex Strike but I’d like to focus on the one more associated with my own Libertarian beliefs.

I’ll let others spend time explaining to Milano that a Sex Strike is a negative for women who enjoy sex, which, my limited experience tells me, is damn near all of them. It suggests women should essentially extort men for legislative favors in exchange for sex. It simply ignores homosexual men, asexual men, and lesbians altogether because, I guess, they don’t count. In addition, a fairly healthy percentage of women voted for and support these laws, so I’m not sure how the plan is going to work in that regard.

My problem is simply that you are attempting to punish an entire category of people because some of them are doing something you don’t like. There are a great number of men who support a woman’s right to have an abortion. The plan to go on a Sex Strike punishes those men indiscriminately for nothing they have done or even support. Some of those men voted directly against the bans in various states and certainly, many of them support politicians who actively work against such laws.

This logic is the same as behind our failed and violently destructive War on Drugs. Some people abuse drugs and therefore we must restrict them for all. Some people abuse alcohol and therefore we need Prohibition. Some people misuse guns and therefore they must be restricted for all. This lack of critical thinking is faulty and exhibited on both the Democratic and Republican side of the political fence.

Basically, you are calling for a lot of people to lose their freedom because other people are doing something you don’t like. It’s a vicious way of thinking. I’ll pass a draconian law, Sex Strike, in the hopes people will cave to my demands in order to avoid the effects, lack of sex, of the legislation. I want to make a whole bunch of people suffer in order to get my way. That’s not cool.

How about you organize and get women and men elected who support your point of view? Or is that too much to ask?

Tom Liberman

Loot Boxes to be Outlawed by the Federal Government

Loot Boxes

Once again, an overreaching, big government loving politician is trying to intrude into the lives of citizens, this time by banning so-called loot boxes. The Senator in question happens to be Republican Josh Hawley from my beloved home state of Missouri. I have one thing to say but I can’t say it or the FCC will fine me. Poop on you, Senator Hawley and I’ll be happy to tell you why.

Loot Boxes are in game transactions where game players can purchase various things. Games like Fortnite, Candy Crush, and many others rely on these purchases for revenue. The games are otherwise free to download and play. People make the purchases for a variety of things like cosmetic skins to make their character look cool, extra items to help progress the game, and things of that nature.

Senator Hawley uses the fact that children are part of the market for such games as an excuse to foist his morality upon us. We must save the children he says; ignoring the fact that the majority of people who play the games and spend money on them are over 18. Ignoring the fact that children can’t make such purchases without a credit card on which their parents can easily place limits. No, good old big government Senator Hawley thinks he knows best how we should lead our lives and isn’t at all shy about forcing us to do it by his rules.

If Senator Hawley is successful then games like Fortnite, which have generated an enormous amount of revenue for not only the makers of the game but many ancillary companies and millions of hours of fun for willing gamers, will no longer be free to play. Double poop and a Libertarian pox upon thee!

If someone wants to pump money into a video game then it’s their right to do so. If a kid does so then it’s up to that child’s parents to control their spending. It is absolutely, positively, not the government’s job to protect us from spending money on video games.

You, Senator Hawley and all the rest like you, are not our guardians. You do not get to dictate how we lead our lives or how we spend our money. It’s this paternalistic gobbledygook that created the entire overreaching, nanny state in which we currently reside. There is a law against everything and every citizen is a criminal. The state simply gets to decide who to arrest and when.

If I don’t want to pay a microtransaction on loot boxes then I won’t do so. If I don’t want my non-existent child to do so then I’ll restrict her or his credit card. Get out of my personal life, Senator Hawley.

Tom Liberman

Steve Stricker and the Dmitrii Donskoi a Tale of Two Scams

Stricker

I recently read a pair of articles one involving Steve Stricker and the other a Russian ship named the Dmitrii Donskoi I think illustrate the difference between a fool and a victim. Both stories involve scam artists taking money from people but there is a fundamental difference in my opinion of those who fell for the tricks.

Stricker is a notable golfer who is captain of this year’s Ryder Cup team. A con-artists contacted a charity hosting a golf tournament and promised them that Stricker, his cousin, would be happy to attend and support the organization. The golf course and the charity accepted the story and promoted the event. People paid $7,500 to support the charity and spend time with Stricker. Unfortunately, Stricker knew nothing of the event and the con-artist skipped town with the money.

Back in 1905 a Russian fleet was sent to the Pacific in order to support Russian activity in the region and the Dmitrii Donskoi, an armored cruiser built in the 1880s, was part of that armada. She was sunk near an island in what is now South Korea. Back in 1999 a South Korean construction company in financial trouble claimed they had found the wreck and that it had on it 200 tons of gold coins. The share price of the company went up briefly but the claim was found to be false.

Recently another South Korean company, this a treasure hunting business, made the same claim about the Dmitrii Donskoi. They collected millions of dollars from investors and their stock price rose precipitously. As like the first claim, nothing came of it and investors were out large sums of money.

What do these two scam incidents have in common? Victims. People paid money to the charity in order to play with Stricker. People paid money for stocks and invested money in the hopes of recouping their cash and more. In both cases people lost their money.

Here is the difference. The charity event and the golf course promoting Stricker’s appearance made claims that were not unreasonable. I’m certain Stricker does attend such events over the course of the year. Fans expectation of seeing Stricker were reasonable. Certainly, the charity and the golf course should have done more diligence in ensuring Stricker was going to attend but the individuals who paid to see Stricker, and were scammed, behaved reasonable. I feel bad for them.

Meanwhile the Dmitrii Donskoi was never purported to have any gold on it and there was absolutely no reason to suspect it might. It was an older ship, slow and vulnerable, being sent into a war zone. The Russian government, if they needed to transfer gold, could have done it by rail with significantly greater ease. The amount of gold claimed to be aboard the Dmitrii Donskoi was equivalent to ten percent of all the gold mined in the history of the planet. The idea that there was, or is, gold aboard the wreck is patently ridiculous and anyone who spends ten minutes researching the project can learn this fact quite easily. I have no sympathy for any fool that fell for this scam.

The sad part is both scams will most certainly be used again. I suspect unwise, gold mad, morons will be pumping money into the pockets of con-artists mentioning the Dmitrii Donskoi. I also imagine that charities and their donators will be duped.

Not that it much matters, but idiots need not apply for my sympathy. For all others, I’m sorry some asshole used your good intentions to steal your money.

Tom Liberman