The thing that still confused me is how reliable supply chains are, or seem to be. The world is unpredictable—you’ve got earthquakes, labor strikes, mudslides, every conceivable tragedy—and yet as a consumer I can pretty much count on getting what I want whenever I want it. How can it be possible to predict a package’s arrival down to the hour, yet know almost nothing about the conditions of its manufacture? […]
The picture that many of us have of supply chains involve state-of-the-art factories like those owned by Foxconn. In reality, the nodes of most modern supply chains look much less impressive: small, workshop-like outfits run out of garages and outbuildings. The proliferation and decentralization of these improvisational workshops help explain both why it’s hard for companies to understand their own supply chains, and why the supply chains themselves are so resilient.
Nel suo ultimo libro, The Complacent Class, Tyler Cowen — blogger ed economista — sostiene che la società americana abbia smesso di rischiare e si sia seduta — preferendo miglioramenti marginali a tecnologie pre-esistenti piuttosto che cambiamenti radicali, il che ha contribuito col portare l’economia a una situazione di stagnazione. A cambiamenti radicali nel modo di creare, consumare e organizzare l’informazione si sono affiancati cambiamenti marginali nel mondo fisico: treni, aerei, infrastruttura, ad esempio, non sono progrediti di pari passo con il mondo virtuale.
Secondo Tyler, questo ritmo di ‘non cambiamento’ non è sostenibile:
The Complacent Class argues that this cannot go on forever. We are postponing change, due to our near-sightedness and extreme desire for comfort, but ultimately this will make change, when it comes, harder. The forces unleashed by the Great Stagnation will eventually lead to a major fiscal and budgetary crisis: impossibly expensive rentals for our most attractive cities, worsening of residential segregation, and a decline in our work ethic. The only way to avoid this difficult future is for Americans to force themselves out of their comfortable slumber—to embrace their restless tradition again.