Business US

Online Banking

There was a brief mention on Marketplace today of the increasing numbers of folks using various online banking services. I frequently check my account balances and move funds between accounts. It is very handy.
There are some things I do not do. For instance, I do not use the online bill payer service. Sure, it is very easy to use. Certainly much easier then the telephone based bill paying service that I tried out 20 years ago and much easier than a version on online bill paying I tried 10 or so years ago.
The reason I do not use it is simple. It is not as reliable and timely at getting my payment posted to the account of my creditor as putting a check in the mail. That is to say that the banks, at least my bank, are not making use of the technology at hand to provide the service. It should be trivial to mail the check or, best, post to my creditor’s account within one day.
My bank offers approximately 4-5 day service which includes the possibility that they won’t even mail a check for 4-5 days. Until they fix this I’ll keep buying stamps.

It’s Already There!

I suspect that SK Bubba doesn’t really mean this post title: To Much Technology. Here’s the post:

I was just wondering where the heck a package was that was supposed to be delivered today. I called the company and got a tracking number and looked it up on the Internet. The carrier said it had been delivered to my door. I looked on the porch and sure enough, there it was. How pathetic is that?
I had a similar experience this morning. Vendor sends email that says the package they sent yesterday has been delivered. A couple minutes later the shipping clerk is carrying the package through my door.
What a wonderful example of a productivity improvement brought on by enough technology.
Not that many years ago when I purchased (business or personal) or shipped something (business) there was no such thing as a tracking number. Some of you will remember the numerous phone calls that would go back and forth between folks that went something like:
Buyer: My #$%$ package isn’t here yet!
Seller: But we shipped it yesterday….
Repeated many times.
Today tracking numbers are common. Business use is nearly universal and most online retailers include a tracking number in an email as part of their service process. And today’s conversation is most often with a computer database that tells one exactly where the package is…right now. It’s easier, less confrontational and I even have a sense that deliveries are on time more often as well.
There is a lot of people time that had been involved with tracking packages that has now been outsourced to technology and not to India or China.
Seems a good thing to me. And likely to get even better as the related technology becomes more pervasive.

End the Dole

I’m not a big fan of the WTO. Amongst other issues I have the WTO seems to operate behind a mask of secrecy that might even make the bush administration blush. However, there may be some positives:

When the US government gives away some $4 billion to American cotton farmers in return for a crop that’s valued at only $3 billion, something’s amiss.

And cotton subsidies are just a portion of the $19 billion that the federal government pays to boost US agriculture and its exports each year.
This week, the Geneva-based World Trade Organization made a preliminary ruling that the United States must end cotton subsidies because they distort global trade.
The WTO, which the US helped create as a way for consumers to benefit from open markets, has dealt a blow to the biggest stumbling block to expanded trade. Governments in rich nations need to use this ruling to persuade domestic farm lobbies that they can no longer delay the inevitable: no subsidies, only free competition.

It should not need WTO rulings to help persuade farm lobbies that the time for subsidies have ended. The people funding the subsidies should just say no!
Yep, that’s you and me paying these subsidies via taxes.
Update (4/29): Jane Galt has some good words about this ruling.