Don’t lose humankind’s master stroke
|Gideon Rachman’s FT article on 30Aug22 talks of how the sources of supply are changing from the cheapest (just in time) to the most prudent (just in case). It is very well worth reading if you have not already done so. No use having a wonderful deal for paper clips if you can’t get them. With supply chains in a state of chaos that threatens only to get worse, having essentials produced down the road makes sense. They may cost a bit more but it will still be less than the black market price when they are out of stock. We don’t want to have to write a modern version of the old WWII song “When can I have a banana again, tell me mother, do?”
It doesn’t say much for humankind’s ability to live with our neighbours, does it? On a short-term basis it seems sensible to have your supplies nearby, monitored by experts you trust, researched for improvements by competent scientists whose disciplines you understand. But there are issues other than you continuing in business. I call the most important one the ‘rats in a cage’ issue. Put a small number of rats in a cage and they will live peacefully together. Double the number and they will start to fight. Double it again and they will eat each other. It doesn’t matter if the issue is territoriality or fear or hunger. In fact, it is likely to be a series of issues, different ones for different rats. Each will have his or her own threat.
Humans are not rats and we are not in a cage. But as the world gets more crowded the planet starts to take on the implications of a cell. Humans have better intellects than rats. They understand the importance of living together in harmony, of sorting out disagreements logically, of accepting different points of view, of recognising that we cannot all believe the same thing at the same time and that diversity is the master stroke of humanity, not its downfall. The lessons are all there in theory. We simply don’t practice them.
As a business man I want my supplies when I want them, preferably nearby. And we are locked in a situation where survival is rapidly becoming a very short term issue for many businesses – and for many people, too. So I understand ‘local production’.
As a human being I want to be able to trust my supplier wherever s/he is. I want to work with them in an honest way. If they will serve me well as a supplier, I will serve them well as a customer. If we can’t do that we will fight and kill each other.
Just as we are doing now.
Why can’t we grow up?