30 January, 2009
After the recession
The promotional mug I am drinking my coffee out of was actually made in England. Good Lord! (Incidentally, what prompts a company to hand out mugs celebrating the roll-out of a single sign-on mechanism for all its internal systems? Somebody's got some unspent budget. Nice mug, though.)
Yesterday, in a public house in bootiful "Maritime" Greenwich, I found a child's wax crayon. Like everything these days it was sheathed in a paper label explaining such vital matters as the crayon's colour (!), the inadvisability of ingesting it, assorted kitemarks, and the dreaded words "Made in China".
The other week I had problems with my mobile phone data service. My service provider, which is, according to industry sources, busily outsourcing and offshoring stuff, had a bit of a software glitchette, due to which prepaid data transmission was being additionally and incorrectly charged on a per-packet basis, at a "roaming" rate which might just about be justifiable for interstellar traffic. (Didn't Vernor Vinge's novel A Fire upon the Deep feature something like galactic newsgroups?) Anyway, I spoke to a nice lady with an almost impenetrable Indian accent who assured me that everything was under control.
So, Herr Braun. We no longer manufacturer much of anything. Our service industries are increasingly offshored. Where activities cannot be offshored, we are importing labour to do the work for us here; labour which exports its profits in the form of remittances to the folk back home. The oh-so-crucial finance industry has been exposed as a scam. If it recovers, it will do so in a much subdued form. The glorified Ponzi scheme which was consumer credit has been busted. This is a little awkward, since finance scams and unsecured consumer credit have between them more or less driven the entire economy for the past 20 years.
So Herr Braun, when and if we recover from this wee downturn, what productive revenue-earning activities are going to repay all the money you are desperately borrowing to prop up our collapsing system?