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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Miss Ginger's Economic Opinion

Now, Miss G is no trained economist. As a matter of fact, she dropped economics in college twice before she managed to pass it. Anyway, today on her way to buy one of her favorite board games, "Balderdash", at Tarjay, she passed a brand new Staples office supply store. (BTW, Target didn't have the game. Lost sale.)

"WTF?!" thought Miss Ginger! She has heard of Staples because they own the naming rights to some sports arena somewhere, plus everyone in the Atlanta offices has a red plastic button on their desk that says "That was easy" when you push it. But Miss G didn't think there would ever be Staples in Houston, because we already have so many Office Depot's and Office Max's. Miss G checked online, and there are 5 Office Depots and 5 Office Maxes- 10 office stores total- within 7 miles of Chez Ginger! But apparently the concept of market share is lost on the management of Staples, who built a brand new store in this saturated market, right in front of a Target! Have you ever seen the office supply section at Target? There's not a whole hell of a lot that you can buy at Staples that you can't buy at Target, probably for cheaper! How many paper clip store do we need, for God's sake?

It got Miss G to thinking about how the last Great Depression was caused by the industrial revolution. Once the cotton gin was invented, no one looked back, and the nation began producing products and expanding capacities with gleefull abandon. Eventually, all of that productivity overreached the demand, and factories, plants, and equipment sat idle as their former operators stood in line at soup kitchens, just hoping to get something to eat for the week. And even though FDR had a great vision, it really wasn't his New Deal that ended the depression. World War II created unprecedented needs for products and equipment, and as the factories were retrofitted and returned to capacity, the jobs that were created put the entire nation back to working overtime.

That very same war may have been the humble beginnings of what our problem is today. Huge technological advances were made in the field of electronics during WWII, and many of the research done way back then has led to many of our modern business productivity tools, like computers, cellular communication, and worldwide air transport.

In Miss G's humble opinion, we are crippled by the Digital Revolution. Computers have made it easier for automakers to design new cars and get them to market, rendering their older models obsolete. Retailers can build stores all over the world and track their sales remotely. One office worker with a PC can handle all of the typing and filing that an entire steno pool and a file room full of people used to accomplish.

No matter how smart Obama is, or what plan he comes up with, I can't imagine that it will be any more effective than FDR's New Deal. Unfortunately, I think it's going to take another extraordinary world-wide experience to soak up all the excess productivity and capacity and make it useful again. I hope it's not a war! I wonder what else would work?


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We do use Staples when we need computer related supplies, and such. Of course, our non-metropolis does not have any other office stores near by :o)

Not the most uplifting birthday entry, I expect cheer and pictures later :o)

frogponder said...

Mine mother says it is going to be an alien contact and/or invasion that is going to pull the world together.

mistress maddie said...

Miss G- I hear ya. Our divison of the "blooming" flower(code word) is going to be opening 3 new stores by 2010. I can't say I understand it since we just laid off 3,000 people in January. It is scary.

Frogponder- that is funny as hell. Could you even imagine?

miss alaineus said...

we have too many choices.

what's really sad is the convenience factors in play of having a cvs etc on every corner is what is killing the prospects and livelyhood of the diy guy who owns the little store on the corner.

and yet we call this progress and time marches forward.

itall gannects into huge $$profit$$ for the corporations and everyone else gets screwed and pays more for being closer to target.


Beth said...

Definitely something to ponder, and I have also read that WWII was as much a part of our economic recovery as the New Deal was. Like you, I hope we can figure out something besides a world war. :(

I really think we need to look at things in a different way. If the computer age has resulted in allowing one person to do the job of twelve, or whatever, we need to come up with alternative jobs and encourage education and research. (Since my field is science, I realize that I'm biased.)

Some heavy things to be thinking about on your birthday! I hope you manage to fit some fun in there, too!

Hugs, Beth

Sheria said...

A very interesting analysis, there are many who agree with your correlation between WWII and the end of the great depression. I suspect that what's needed is a totally different vision of the role of government in setting boundaries on our system of so-called free enterprise. If not, the huge mass of have-nots at the base of the capitalism pyramid will continue to support the weight of the few at the top that hold the economic wealth and control of the purwse strings.

BTW, I love Targets!

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