Category Archives: Torque

Islamophobia is bad but it is a good step

A national ban on an architectural element seems silly but the vote to stop the construction of minarets in Switzerland is a real accomplishment. The people of a mature country have peacefully expressed a strong collective feeling against what they perceive as a grave threat. The tragedy is that they identified the threat as the Islamic religion.

The real threat is more general, more widespread, and more dangerous than Islam. It took something as extreme as Islamic extremism to trigger a cultural awareness of it. Unfortunately, like the ringing of an alarm clock, the first thing to awaken consciousness is for a time the only piece of reality about which we are aware. Islamic extremism is the alarm clock.

The supporters of the minaret ban see the growth of the Muslim population as an aggressive cultural invasion. They don’t see an immigrant minority that deserves state protection. They see settlers from a destructive culture claiming their country. They feel vilified within their homeland by outsiders and they are afraid that their politicians will continue to insist on irrational “religious tolerance” despite the intolerant attitudes spread through Islam.

National Islamophobia is a phase whose time has come. It is extreme, prejudiced, and wrong, but it is the natural reaction against the wrong actions of extremists trying to universalize Islam. Two wrongs do make a right when everyone learns a lesson. The lesson here is that no protection for status, be it religion, race, sex, or what have you, is deserved when it is used for harm.

Religions have been invoked to excuse atrocious behavior since ages before the life of Muhammad. So have other statuses such as race, color, nationality, and sex. The world tends to absolve these harmful trends after a reform and some generations. And the human race eventually learns a lesson.

I see the minaret ban as a sign that the world is just beginning to reject religion as an excuse for bad behavior. Peaceful Muslims will work with non-Muslims to prevail over the radical perversion of Islam. This time will pass into history and be replaced by a time of rational discrimination and careful tolerance. I hope I’m right, the sooner the better.

To Time Warner Cable

What’s wrong with charging internet subscribers per gigabyte? When you pin your rates to an index that is guaranteed to rise faster than costs in order to increase profits, your risk remains pinned to customer retention. This business is sums, not rocket calculus.

The first thing you did wrong was to pick a margin so greedy as to be unjustifiable. Many consumers know or at least feel that half a dollar is too much to pay for a gigabyte of network traffic. Moderately savvy consumers would complain if rates were more than a few cents per gigabyte.

The second thing you did wrong was to try to profit most on the subscribers most likely to feel the inequity. The more bandwidth a person uses, the more likely they can understand their own usage habits in terms of gigabytes; the more likely they have a reality-based idea of the costs; the more likely they are to voice their righteous complaints publicly, educate other consumers, and threaten to subscribe elsewhere.

Many of them also know that they are good customers; they don’t consume your low-value, high-cost call center or web portal resources, they just want cheap, reliable bandwidth. These are the very people you should have favored when crafting your rate plans. Instead you underestimated and insulted them. Now they are clamoring to the competition, it is time to show them consideration. Whatever rate you settle on, it well be easier to swallow because it involves a concession. It was wise of you to test high rates on small markets.

The trump card that allows free consumers to demand a fair deal is the ability to decline the deal. Are consumers free if they believe your service is a necessity of life? Assuming people need your service, you can get away with outrageous rates if the competition colludes rather than competes. This would leave an opening in the market for low-rate providers if you hadn’t already locked it shut by lobbying for fixed-cost regulations that only established providers can afford. You’re pretty smart after all.