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?