Today’s phrase is SUPPLY CHAIN. That’s the chain of all the companies involved in turning a raw material into a finished product you buy in the store. For instance, with a T-shirt, the chain starts with the cotton grower, then the next company in the chain is the factory that turns cotton into yarn, then another outfit that weaves the yarn into fabric, then a business that sews the fabric into shirts, and maybe still another joint where it’s silkscreened or colored, then finally to the store. Plus, you know, all the boats and trucks and forklifts and warehouses needed to make it all happen.
SUPPLY CHAIN. And for any given supply chain, there’s always one company that is making all the profits, and all the other companies are just barely getting by. But here’s the problem: the fat-cat, the exploiter, is at a different point in the chain in every industry. You can’t guess who it is.
We need a branch of Economics that looks at everyday products, and every point in the supply chain for those products. We need economic DETECTIVES to tell us WHICH business in any given supply chain is putting the squeeze on, and HOW they do it.
Because, absent such a corps of economic detectives, every business in the chain is going to claim, “WE know prices are too high, and our wages are too low, and the factory is about to burst into flames, but we have SUCH A SMALL MARGIN it is SO HARD, really the culprits are FURTHER UP THE SUPPLY CHAIN not us!!”
So if the science of economics was really about helping people and making society more efficient. . . .you’d think a top priority for economists would be to fucking weed through the bullshit and expose where in the supply chain the fucking squeeze and fat profits REALLY ARE. And expose HOW they do it – by monopoly? By government interference and over-regulation? By with-holding supply? By over-producing supply? By criminal conspiracy? There’s probably as many ways of bottlenecking a supply chain as there are supply chains.
And I mean do this for EVERYTHING. Cars, shoelaces, Frisbees, corn syrup, dildos, thumb drives, Viewmasters, Enya CDs, fucking EVERYTHING. For every product. That would keep economists busy for like 100 years, dude. Not only will it help consumers and laborers, but it would also keep the economists out of trouble. They’d have no time to gin up new fig leafs for the fucking oligarchy. No time to make modern-day social-darwinist theories of how rich people are awesome and got there fair and square. No time to research how to make Wall Street derivatives “safer” and “faster” and “more innovative”. No time to lobby congress or the Fed to deregulate more.
But I digress.
Plus I would be genuinely interested to see if, once you started getting comprehensive results from 1000 or so supply chains , from t-shirts to blenders to computer chips to asprin to stuffed animals to software. . . . I would be interested to see if there were any common points to where the squeeze is. Like any generalizations that could be made?
But that would require economics to actually be a science in pursuit of truth. Hey! I’ve just wasted my time AND yours!1 comment