Episode 17
November 18, 2016

Impact of Isolationist Economic Policy

What will fears and the unknown do to either spur or stifle innovation?

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A Post World

  • Because of the technology around self-driving cars, America is becoming a leader in the auto manufacturing industry again.
  • The thing is that we don't actually know what's going to happen. And so all we can do is plan for what we know. 
  • Will the marijuana industry get a chance to increase revenue across the country during a Trump presidency?
  • The future of transportation in the United States is governed almost exclusively by it being service jobs and being a services economy. And transportation is run by human beings.
  • Even though we don’t know what the future holds, we do have faith that business owners will do what is best for their customers and continue building their brands and finding ways to move forward.
  • What role does social media play in consumer behavior, political behavior, etc?

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on Futurecommerce.com, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Brian: [00:00:23] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:29] And I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:00:30] Today we're going to going to do a short reactionary podcast.

Phillip: [00:00:38] The shortest reactionary election podcast that you'll listen to.

Brian: [00:00:44] Yes, that's true.

Phillip: [00:00:46] Post election podcast.

Brian: [00:00:47] Post election podcast.

Phillip: [00:00:48] I will say this. We're going to keep this to a tight twenty five is what we're going to do. All right. And that's to lessen the pain for all of us.

Brian: [00:00:56] We say that. We say that now, but that's it ends up at forty five. I mean...

Phillip: [00:01:01] I really think... So we debated this, right, Brian? We debated this a little bit.

Brian: [00:01:06] We did. We did debate.

Phillip: [00:01:08] Why we would ever even remotely want to touch the subject.

Brian: [00:01:11] We did. Yeah. Yeah. And that's why we ended up wanting to do a short show, because really we shouldn't talk about this for very long.

Phillip: [00:01:17] And most people... There's a lot better commentary out there from a lot of different people.

Brian: [00:01:22] Absolutely. I mean, well, you know. {laughter} I think right now a lot of people have no idea what to expect. And so I think the commentary is actually like at this point, almost anyone's commentary is valid. I don't mean that for real.

Phillip: [00:01:39] But that's probably true, though. That's probably actually. So let's do our little nag at the top.

Brian: [00:01:45] Ok, fine.

Phillip: [00:01:46] Hey, we want you to give us feedback about today's show. But you know what? I want you to suppress any of the political bend of criticism if you could possibly do it, because we all have way too much of it right now in our social media streams. But we want your feedback and so good or bad, give it to us and you can leave that feedback in the Disqus comment box on our site at FutureCommerce.fm You can also subscribe and listen to Future Commerce on iTunes and Google Play or right from your Amazon Echo with the phrase "Alexa, play Future Commerce podcast," and you need to subscribe because you don't want to miss our next episode. And I don't even know who it's going to be or what it's going to be about, but it's going to be awesome, I promise.

Brian: [00:02:27] Well, it depends. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:02:29] It depends on how they land. We don't know. The last one was probably awesome. The next one is going to be awesome. We're picking up a lot of steam and we're getting great feedback. Goodness. And very consistent audience listening. So I'm happy about that.

Brian: [00:02:43] Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:02:44] But let's get into it. So here's... I just want to get one thing out, which is this... I never in my life did I see us talking about what a... I'm dumbfounded. I can't even speak it.

Brian: [00:03:08] {laughter} I can't even speak it.

Phillip: [00:03:08] I never thought that we'd be talking about this this episode. I never thought what a Trump presidency would look like because I honestly never expected it. And so I really want to talk about what the economic and global impact is going to be and what the fears or the unknowns will do to to either spur or stifle innovation. So that's what I'm going to focus on. Yeah, well, your reaction to Brian, because we've not really talked about the stuff.

Brian: [00:03:42] Yeah. This is the first time we've actually even talked about this, aside from short little notes back forth. But yeah, I think you're right. I really want to talk about innovation and how this upcoming presidency will affect that. And really just business general. Merchants, like how are merchants supposed to think about this? What are they going to do? And I you know, I mean, a lot of my reaction is going to be, well, this is a big unknown. So I think a lot a lot of people are going to... They are going to hedge their bets, they're going to do a lot of risk bidding.

Phillip: [00:04:19] Don't you feel like we saw that to some degree? Like we could make some guesses right now. For instance, I didn't watch any other channel. I just watched MSNBC because for whatever reason, I'm a glutton for punishment. So watching I should have watched CNN because I watch CNN for everything else. And I love Van Johnson. That guy is awesome. But so I just have this feeling like maybe I got a different sort of a skew on the results. But they kept putting up this tag of the stock market based. I'm sorry, I said Van Johnson. I'm a Van Jones. And I just realized that. I'm so stupid. But so they kept putting up this thing about Dow futures crashing. Were they doing that on any other news channel?

Brian: [00:05:09] Yeah they were. But the interesting thing was by the morning, everything was kind of back.

Phillip: [00:05:15] And ok, this is Thursday. We're recording this right now on Thursday, November 10th. All time high on the Dow Jones. Broke records this week. Hopefully I end the week up like two and a half percent. Never saw that coming. This is interesting.

Brian: [00:05:38] It is interesting, I think it's especially interesting, given the reaction on Twitter. I think, you know, and that's where a lot of innovators hang out. No doubt.

Phillip: [00:05:50] Sure. Yeah.

Brian: [00:05:51] Granted, a lot of innovators live around San Francisco and California.

Phillip: [00:05:56] Yeah. Yeah.

Brian: [00:05:57] In Silicon Valley and et cetera, et cetera, which is a very liberal minded place, so it kind of makes sense.

Phillip: [00:06:07] With the exception of Peter Thiel. You know, there's one guy, one guy.

Brian: [00:06:13] {laughter} I guess Peter Thiel is just, you know, he knows who to back, I guess.

Phillip: [00:06:17] Oh, my gosh. That guy, if he's not the prognosticator of all prognosticators at this point.

Brian: [00:06:22] Yeah. I love how Silicon Valley sort of portrays his bizarro version of himself. I can't help but feel like while it's very satirical, there's a certain amount of truth that just it's there.

Phillip: [00:06:41] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, so the first thing that came to my mind, the very first thing that came to my mind... I'm watching Donald Trump being president elect Trump give his acceptance speech, and he's talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back, and I'm thinking to myself... The first thing that popped into my mind was self-driving cars are doomed, like they're doomed. Because there is no way in this economy that he's going to that I feel like we're going to want to build in the next four years, that we're going to go toward more automation and less human interaction and jobs. And so it's already going to be difficult to pass legislation. It's already going to be tough to to put driverless cars on the road in general.

Brian: [00:07:36] That's a lot of state by state stuff, though. And I would argue, I think I would argue that actually it could be a a bit of a boom for car manufacturers. And what I mean by that is, maybe it's a little bit inadvertent, but right now, the self-driving car technology is actually driving more jobs in Detroit and other places. I think if I recall correctly and someone feel free to speak out here if I'm going down the wrong path, but I actually think that now, because of the technology around self-driving cars, America is becoming a leader in the auto manufacturing industry again.

Phillip: [00:08:28] Well, we definitely saw that in 2015. And a lot of analysts were pointing to pent up demand. You know, the economy's coming back. You know, we finally like lowest jobless ratings in eight years. And but 2016, if you look at the graph, 2016 is down from auto sales in 2015.

Brian: [00:08:48] Is it down? Ok.

Phillip: [00:08:50] Year on year. That's what it's looking like.

Brian: [00:08:55] Granted we haven't hit real self-driving cars yet.

Phillip: [00:08:59] Well we did. So Auto just did... I don't know if you followed it at all. Auto just did its first self quite well. Uber acquired a company called Auto, which just hauled Budweiser one hundred and twenty miles...

Brian: [00:09:16] I did you see that.

Phillip: [00:09:17] It's the very first shipment by self-driving truck. Now that, you know, just like in the pilot programs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all of the self-driving cars like sort of have a copilot there to take the reins if something goes wrong. Auto also had a driver present in the vehicle. But this is, when you look at a state by state map of the number one held job in the United States of America, state by state, except for the coasts, the number one profession in the Midwest and in the center states and in the northern states and in the Carolinas. That whole middle of the country is truck drivers. So the notion that we're going to put our nation's infrastructure or our nation's supply chain out of business with the complete automation is something that I think we were kind of on the path to do. Elon Musk has been kind of pontificating about what a living wage would look like or what a universal wage would look like. But I don't think that like this in my mind, is the number one thing that was called into question. I don't know that that's actually what will happen. It's the first thing I thought of.

Brian: [00:10:37] Yeah. Interesting. It is a good question.

Phillip: [00:10:41] Now, I'm going to refute myself a little bit. I'm completely by the way, all of this is extemporaneous. I have nothing planned for this show at all. But the next thing that I thought about was, well, on the other side of that part of Trump's plan for health care is to open up intrastate commerce and sell health care and sell insurance across state lines, which is something that's not happening right now.

Brian: [00:11:08] Right.

Phillip: [00:11:08] So maybe intrastate commerce is much more promoted. And so maybe we will see greater innovation in those areas. But I just don't see... It's not like transportation is something that's hindered by interstate commerce right now. Insurance is. So I don't know. I'm just kind of thinking out loud.

Brian: [00:11:29] Yeah. And I think, you know, one of the things that we have yet to see is who he's actually going to appoint on his cabinet. And I think that could also sort of determine a lot of this. I don't know, I feel like there's still so much it's undetermined.

Phillip: [00:11:54] I'm going to actually, I will ask you. I'm just going to prod some questions here, because I'm thinking about this. Four more states just legalized recreational marijuana. Florida just legalized medicinal marijuana. So we can assume following the natural progression pretty soon, you know, and in the future, we would have it here, too. This is a massive area of commerce and potentially tax revenue for state and federal government potentially impacted by his choice of an attorney general. I don't see someone like Rudy Giuliani... Again, I'm not a political commentator and I'm parroting a lot of things I hear in my news consumption. But I don't see someone like Giuliani, who is famed and known for the stop and frisk and the cleanup Times Square and the getting the gangs out of New York. And that guy, the Law and Order guy, I don't see him as the kind of guy who lets states run willy nilly with legalized marijuana without challenging it legally first and putting some federal reins around it. Now, I'm not big in green commerce. I'm not, you know, I don't understand it. But maybe this is a thought you might have.

Brian: [00:13:14] Yeah. In Washington, we were one of the first states to legalize recreational use even. And I think California now and Massachusetts, I think went medicinal. It's pretty crazy, like how quickly this is moving. I'm considering, I remember when it was such a fringe campaign, you know, 10 years ago or so.

Phillip: [00:13:40] Right. Yeah.

Brian: [00:13:42] But in short, I think that Trump has actually already stated that he is pro medicinal use.

Phillip: [00:13:53] Mm hmm.

Brian: [00:13:54] And so I guess the attorney general pick might, you know, might make the moves. But I think that eventually under a Trump presidency, I don't see why he wouldn't go medicinal throughout the whole nation. In which case, you know, recreational, like you mentioned, is only a step behind that, so I don't see it being an issue. I think that actually will drive more commerce and tax and frankly, it would be kind of funny if in an ironic kind of way, if actually he did legalize it recreationally throughout the nation. If that alone helped the economy and sort of boosted numbers, tax revenue and so on beyond...

Phillip: [00:14:48] That right there could give the double digit GDP growth.

Brian: [00:14:50] Yeah, exactly, yeah. Yeah, exactly right. And what that what if he went even further than that and suddenly it went full on Gary Johnson and started...

Phillip: [00:15:00] Well, that's insane. Again, the people that are looking very likely to be part of a cabinet are people who have vowed on the record to basically oppose and uphold federal laws against marijuana. So to take it beyond marijuana would really be just I can't even imagine.

Brian: [00:15:23] Yeah but think about this, Trump follows, at least he claims to follow money.

Phillip: [00:15:28] Right.

Brian: [00:15:28] And so, you know, if he starts recognizing the "value" associated with doing this, there's no reason why I wouldn't see him flip flopping, because as soon as he sees something as a good idea, he can flip flop in the moment event.

Phillip: [00:15:46] Yes. I mean, and he can control his, ideally, we would we would hope that, you know, he could set some policy decisions and people would carry it out. From an attorney general point of view, I think a Trump presidency will be pretty distracted for the first year or two if they hold true on promises like trying to build a wall or...

Brian: [00:16:13] I just don't see that happening.

Phillip: [00:16:15] Well, I don't know. I don't know if that's going to happen either. And by the way, this is not... I don't want to go too deep on those things. But I the thing I'm trying to say is that the amount of work and effort to do things like that or repeal and replace Obamacare, which again, by the way, has massive commerce, has massive future and near-term commerce ramifications.

Brian: [00:16:38] Certainly. So does the wall. No doubt. You know, I think and actually I do want to just touch on this for a second because I kind of have to I mean. I kind of look back at and I know that a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this, but I look back on Guantanamo Bay and Obama's statements around that and then what actually happened and I can't help but feel we've got a situation here.

Phillip: [00:17:05] Yeah it feels the same. I mean, he did do it on day one. He did sign the executive order on day one.

Brian: [00:17:11] Yeah, but nothing happened.

Phillip: [00:17:13] Right.

Brian: [00:17:13] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:17:13] It's interesting the timing, though, because not a month ago, you know, Space X and their Hyperloop test track finally came up and running. And it makes me really think that, you know, as much work as we're all thinking about putting America back to work, all the stuff. To do these types of things and create infrastructure projects of that nature, the infrastructure of 2016 or 2017 is not the infrastructure that we're going to have in 2031. Fifteen years from now.

Brian: [00:17:48] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:17:50] Honestly.

Brian: [00:17:50] No, no, no, hold on. It's just funny because Washington just passed, I think it was the largest tax increase by any county in the history of America, to build a 54 billion dollar transit system out here. And the transit system is suffice to say, there are certain phases to this plan that don't happen for like 40 years. It's pretty crazy. In a very selfish way I kind of for it because I thought...

Phillip: [00:18:26] Sure. Well, you should be.

Brian: [00:18:27] Yeah, I know, because I have a commute. I take public transit to work and I love it and I want it. But I'm also looking ahead at the pace of innovation. And if self-driving cars sort of get off the ground and, you know, we do more ride sharing and there's actually probably going to be a much more cost effective way to do transit than what we're looking at right now. But the thing is that we don't actually know what's going to happen. And so all we can do is plan for what we know. So I don't know.

Phillip: [00:19:04] Right.

Brian: [00:19:04] It's interesting.

Phillip: [00:19:05] My very first professional job out of... I dropped out of Bible College and I was going to go to... I was in theological seminary. I had a whole different plan for my life. My very first professional job when I was still, you know, teching overnights at a studio, trying to be a rock musician, a Christian rock musician. Don't think I'm that good of anything. I was Christian rock. So, you know, it's kind of like, you know, whatever. But my very first job was working for a downtown redevelopment nonprofit in Tampa, Florida. And we were working back then, and we were 10 years in to working and helping lobby for a Florida high speed rail system that was called the Florida high speed rail corridor that was going to basically connect Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami. And this was in 1998 that had been running since '88, and as of today... Well, I'm sorry. As of January, it will finally have its first stop from Miami to West Palm Beach, which is a complete... Like it's the shortest run of the whole thing. It possibly, it's all of 80 miles, and it's not even really going to go that fast. It's top speed is going to be somewhere about 125 miles per hour, but that's only in phase for Miami to West Palm is 79 miles per hour. It's really not that fast.

Brian: [00:20:47] Shoot. You're doing better than we are.

Phillip: [00:20:49] This stuff takes time. Yeah.

Brian: [00:20:50] We're running light rail, which is running at like 35 miles per hour. {laughter} It's ridiculous. In fact, the light rail sort of like halfway between Tacoma and Seattle, it takes like forty five or fifty minutes to get to sort of the downtown area.

Phillip: [00:21:12] Right.

Brian: [00:21:13] It's just... I don't know. This will get into something that either I've already touched on in the previous podcast or I'm going to touch on in the next podcast.

Phillip: [00:21:24] On the next one. Yeah. My gut feeling was I think the thing that's most impacted is really it how the future of transportation in the United States is governed almost exclusively by it being service jobs and being, you know, us being a services economy. And transportation is run by human beings, everything from UPS trucks and so Amazon drones and automated Ubers, AI Ubers, and all those things. Hyperloop. Those things in my mind, have been back burnered for the next four years.

Brian: [00:22:06] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:22:07] And that was the point that I was going to want to get out is the future of how we travel in the United States, I think, is going to kind of sidestep for a while. We're going to keep working on it. Things are going to happen. We'll make incremental change and progress over the next four years. But we don't have anyone that's really going to champion that cause, because I think we really are going to be very focused on trying to get, you know, the middle income and middle America to actually have some growth in job growth. That's really, that'll be the focus.

Brian: [00:22:40] That's possible.

Phillip: [00:22:41] Anything that threatens that is going to be, you know.

Brian: [00:22:45] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:22:45] In my opinion, is taking a backseat.

Brian: [00:22:48] Potentially. It's interesting what Trump said in his acceptance speech. He talked about revitalizing urban communities and rebuilding infrastructure. And I have no idea what to expect for real.

Phillip: [00:23:05] I don't think anybody does.

Brian: [00:23:06] Yeah, but if he does, actually, let's just say he does follow up on this. Just let's just toss that idea out there. What does that actually mean? Maybe it does actually mean focusing on some stuff.

Phillip: [00:23:19] Yeah. potentially. Yeah. And I know Pence had had announced that he wanted to champion putting a human on Mars. And so that's comforting to some degree. Might send them to a gay camp before to clean them up, make sure he's not gay before going to Mars. Ok I'm sorry. I'll shut up.

Brian: [00:23:38] You know, if we make it to the moon, I will be happy with that. Make it back to the moon.

Phillip: [00:23:43] Right.

Brian: [00:23:44] Like, forget Mars for a second. Let's just get back to the moon.

Phillip: [00:23:47] There's so much that could be said. I really want to... We're kind of running thin on time. I want to make sure you have the final word. But I really want to invite a few panelists on for us to have a bigger discussion about this, because I think that there are areas of expertise that some of the people that we've had on the show already that they may see a bigger impact in things like retail. And again, a lot of it could just be based on trepidation and not knowing what we don't know yet.

Brian: [00:24:15] That's true. A couple more points here.

Phillip: [00:24:18] Yeah, you take the final word.

Brian: [00:24:20] I don't know about final, but we'll see if they're final or not. So, first of all, I think we've had presidents in office that, you know, either side doesn't like before. I understand that Trump is definitely very unique in a scary way because we don't really know what it's going to be like.

Phillip: [00:24:50] Right.

Brian: [00:24:51] But we've been through things before and our businesses have, you know, soldiered on through very difficult times. And so in reality, maybe we do have a little bit of slowing down, maybe we don't. Maybe it accelerates, I don't really know. But what I do know is I do trust the businesses of America to keep on fighting for innovation and for jobs and for a higher quality of life. I know many small business owners. I know many CEOs. And I think what I've seen the response be is, you know what? This is what it is. We're just going to keep doing that business and treating our customers right. And finding ways of solving problems and cards may fall where they where they land. We're going to keep doing this. We're going to do what we know how to do. And either that will be in like maybe it will be a really big boom cycle. Maybe we'll see more of what we've been seeing just in the past eight years and maybe it will be down. Maybe down further, but I don't necessarily have faith in humanity completely, but I do have faith that our business owners are going to fight for their businesses, and they're going to fight for their customers. So we've seen it before, and I think we'll see it again. And I think also... Just another note. One more note. One last thing I'll say is let's say that things go well or normally and Trump gets sworn it's just...

Phillip: [00:26:55] Are you expecting something abnormal before he gets sworn in? That's kind of an ominous thing to say.

Brian: [00:26:59] No, I'm not saying there might be something abnormal. I'm in Seattle and there were some huge protests here.

Phillip: [00:27:06] Oh, sure. Yeah.

Brian: [00:27:08] And I just can't help but think that in the future ahead, that there's going to be a lot of people that are going to try to oust him pretty quickly.

Phillip: [00:27:22] Right. And we know that the conservative and Republicans were ready to start impeachment proceedings on day one for Hillary. So it's not like it's, you know, we are going to face that no matter what.

Brian: [00:27:35] I think we were going to face that no matter what. Yeah, I think that's a good point. And so, in short, we could really see some weird times in the next year. And so I don't know how much that's going to affect things, but I do think this is unprecedented, and I guess we'll just kind of wait and see what happens.

Phillip: [00:27:56] Oh, so I was going to let you have the last word, but I forgot the one thing that I wanted to mention, which I should have mentioned at the top was a tweet that I found that I sent to you.

Brian: [00:28:06] Oh the Facebook one?

Phillip: [00:28:06] Yes. It was Twitter. Yeah. So here's the thing. I think that people were utterly shocked because social media have given us very curated looks into our interests now. And in an election season where we're being shown more of what our points of view are and creating sort of these filter bubbles, which is, I think, going to wind up being the Merriam Webster Dictionary word of of 2016. But we're creating these these filter bubbles of we're only seeing content that really appeals to us. And so you could have easily never seen an opposing point of view for the last 18 months. And I think the real way that Facebook and Twitter are affecting politics is that is that right there.

Brian: [00:28:59] Group think.

Phillip: [00:29:01] Right. And so here it is. Twitter is now in a very interesting position of having to defend that they can help drive purchase decisions, but not political decisions. Right, it's a weird place to be that you can say that you can influence you can influence a consumer behavior, but not electorate. And that's weird.

Brian: [00:29:29] That is weird.

Phillip: [00:29:33] There it is.

Brian: [00:29:34] Yeah. And they do influence consumer behavior.

Phillip: [00:29:39] They do.

Brian: [00:29:40] There's no doubt.

Phillip: [00:29:42] They do influence consumer behavior. I think their advertisers would probably suggest that it's not as much as they would let you think. I mean, a good example of that, another filter bubble example. And we're going to have to cut it off here because we absolutely have to. But there is so much hate and ire for the new Apple MacBook. The new MacBook Pro with the touch screen strip, you know, the scribble strip.

Brian: [00:30:12] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:30:14] There is so much hate in my feed for that thing. And not a week later, Tim Cook announces it's the fastest selling MacBook Pro of all time.

Brian: [00:30:22] I think that's just because they waited so long.

Phillip: [00:30:25] Well, I mean, it could be. It's what I called the the tantric method to product management. It's like is to just build up anticipation to the point of... Anyway. And on that note.

Brian: [00:30:41] On that note. Yeah. Let's close the show out. Well, one more note. I think we we did make a kind of a statement a few episodes back that we wanted to get someone on to talk about the negative side and the dark side of innovation and commerce, and I think now might be a good time, there might be a lot of people out there that might be able to relate to that even more than before.

Phillip: [00:31:10] I hope so. I think there are people. What I'm concerned about is the very near term of there's a lot of emotion right now. And I'm really hoping we can take a thoughtful and analytical approach to trying to think through how we as retailers, and people who advise retailers, how we approach technology in a different political climate.

Brian: [00:31:36] Yeah, I agree. My very, you know, gut reaction to that is, don't stop innovating. Please keep investing. Please keep pushing forward. This is our economy is very influenced by how much we innovate. And the truth is, I don't expect people to stop innovating. We've been even if it's a little bit in the shadows, you know, and underneath that, not necessarily out there in the open, I think that we innovated through the Great Recession. We can innovate through something else. So here we go. Let's do it.

Phillip: [00:32:18] Awesome. Well, thank you for listening. We really appreciate you hanging through yet another, you know, two white dudes pontificating about the election. So I'm so sorry that you had to endure that.

Brian: [00:32:31] Oh my gosh.

Phillip: [00:32:31] But we do want you to subscribe. We want you to hear all of the really good content that we have so you can check us out and FutureCommerce.fm. And as a reminder, you can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and you can listen on any Alexa device that you might have. But anyway, thank you for listening. And until next time, keep looking toward the future.

Brian: [00:32:51] Bye.

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