One of my favorite subreddit names is “a boring dystopia”. It is certainly not one of my favorite subreddits to browse—it is too depressing for that honor—but its name perfectly catches the zeitgeist. So many bad things happening right now are so dreadfully mundane that we don’t even want to think about them.
￼One aspect of our boring dystopia lately has been the failure of global supply chains to keep up with demand. Derek Thompson wrote about this in The Atlantic this week:
The U.S. economy isn’t yet experiencing a downturn akin to the 1970s period of stagflation. This is something different, and quite strange. Americans are settling into a new phase of the pandemic economy, in which GDP is growing but we’re also suffering from a dearth of a shocking array of things—test kits, car parts, semiconductors, ships, shipping containers, workers. This is the Everything Shortage.
The Everything Shortage is not the result of one big bottleneck in, say, Vietnamese factories or the American trucking industry. We are running low on supplies of all kinds due to a veritable hydra of bottlenecks.
There is a shortage in the labor market, resource shortages, shipping problems, and all other sorts of problems due to the COVID pandemic and to climate change. It seems as if all the just-in-time logistics I learned in business school stopped working all at once. People still want to buy things, which is a silver lining economically speaking, but we are all having trouble getting a bunch of different things. The global supply system is no longer working.
I can’t get certain products for my family on a daily basis. I am thankful I don’t need a car or a refrigerator because the wait times in them are very long right now. It is yet another terribly boring way that it feels absolutely insane to be alive today. Due to climate change, I think supply line shortages and delays are going to get worse before they get better.