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2021-02-23 | Virus | Collapse Optimism

We changed everything in the last 40 years or so with the idea of "just in time". We optimized our global supply chain, while at the same time we made it exponentially complex. We had to use computers to do this. Towards the end we even did this to labor. Between negative externalities (profit from ignoring damage in our accounting) and level of complexity (every branch in the tree a job), we made phenomenal wealth. This is a positive feedback loop, primarily fed by oil.

The reason labor is like inventory (not intuitively obvious), is that we have converted our workforce as far as attention and flexibility, to function as components (in the global supply chain where everything was under the "just in time" model... if you are unfamiliar, the components needed for manufacture arrive as close to possible before manufacture and distribution). The disparity in wealth comes from this.

Consider the driver that delivers groceries in their twenty thousand dollar car. If they do that job for a few years, they will burn through that value. This doesn't count what the negative externalities are from creating and using the car. This also represents the last mile, the last great effort of "just in time", which, originally, was just focused on manufacturing. But we have done similar things in other areas, software development and engineering, for instance.

Just assume for the sake of argument that we are at a level of complexity and at a point of resource constraints that we cannot sustain the global supply chain. This means that a successful business during our transition years would need to retain labor and inventory at every stage they can control. The more you can control end-to-end, the more success you will have as the global supply chain implodes (branches break, like supply of computer ships or even bleach-free wipe chemicals). It seems to me with my simple analysis here that this is good for the worker with skills and knowledge that was previously commoditized or outsourced. You end up with more inventory and operational roles too.

This also means that we are at an interesting point where those that benefit the most from the previous economy (the deepest, broadest supply chain is high tech... what is behind just a lowly transister up to a datacenter up to mars colonization ) will cling to what they know, the deep and wide supply chain, as though we can continue to make it deeper and wider, when, in fact, it is crumbling for many.

I know it is hard to see here, but this post is actually optimistic for our future. The transition will be very hard. I just don't think I've wrapped "just in time" ideas back around.

collapse civilization

Articles tagged with collapse on O.R.N.G.:

2018-12-08: Make Your Own Pink Beam
2018-12-03: The Cost of Computers
2018-10-28: Skittles Lens Cover
2018-10-27: Cultural Transmission
2018-10-15: The Old Mountain Climbing Metaphor
2018-10-13: Where Do We Stop?
2018-10-12: The Same Situation
2018-10-06: Cut-up Collapse
2018-07-23: Burger Run
2018-07-10: Rant about Blue Frontiers
2018-07-10: Plane Crash
2018-05-01: Waiting for the Fish
2018-04-21: The mud that caused thy fall still mirrors ME
2018-02-26: Transmission
2018-02-13: Unicorn Dreams
2018-01-16: Peak Oil, What to do?
2018-01-05: Metropolis II
2017-08-27: Imagination and Cripple
2017-08-11: elegance
2017-06-07: Instant Coffee
2017-04-09: First Poem

Articles tagged with collapse on Agatha Codrust's Blog:

2020-04-24: Middle Aged Men's Fluffers
2019-10-10: Dream Boat

Articles tagged with civilization on Mud Hut Club:

2021-01-16: Little House of Information Technology
2020-12-24: Letter to the Future
2020-07-25: Consume Outside 23
2020-07-03: Tech Won't Save Us

Articles tagged with civilization on Agatha Codrust's Blog:

2020-05-05: Where Does Stuff Come From?
2020-04-29: Victory Lap
2020-04-26: Matrix Batteries
2020-04-13: Is it Worth it?
2020-03-17: Nesting Doll Disappointment
2020-02-29: Homebrew Paperclips
2020-02-27: 1 over X
2019-10-03: Standing in the Way of Control