Stephen D. Williams
Sun, 14 Oct 2001 23:00:40 -0400

You guys are so retro...

As soon as we're more efficient than we need to be for survival, the 
economy is driven by whatever we're interested in.  The 'size' of 
industries indicates a combination of what is still difficult to do, 
limitations of time/space/science, and what is most interesting.

Of course various levels of necessities have to be handled, but these 
tend to commodity with thin margins.  Groceries are an example of this. 
  Energy should be, and may be.

Only when friction interferes do industries stave off commodity for a 
while.  Friction in the form of: barriers to entry (autos, air 
industry), risk (insurance, banking, investment), resources (real 
estate, time), etc.

When we aren't happy subsisting, and at least some of us have been past 
that for more than 300 years in America, we desire enhanced survival, 
recreation, and 'progress'.  Progress can mean many things, but suffice 
it to say that the US is the leader in all of enhanced survival, 
recreation, and most forms of progress.

I used to think about losing manufacturing ability as a bad thing.  I 
grew up in Ohio which is filled with both farming and factories of all 
kinds.  A town losing a major factory can feel a pretty huge impact. 
Overall though, it's just an evolutionary process of commoditization 
causing restructuring that fits changing levels of progress and other 
interests.  The fact is that manufacturing the ideas and methods to 
create a product, service, or more raw IP can tend to be more valuable 
than manufacturing itself.

As far as middlemen, the US has less of this class working more 
efficiently than most developed countries.  Japan in particular has 
always had a terribly inefficient system of too many layers of 
middlemen, often protected.  We've lost most of that in the last 30 
years.  Walmart, for instance, is one of the ultimate commoditizations 
of products.  Buying 'clubs' like Sams and Costco are another.  Even 
Fry's falls into that category.  Most people now don't even know what a 
'jobber' is or even a 'manufacturers rep'.

The fallacy of much of the fatalistic thinking of this vein is that as 
soon as it might be an issue that we aren't manufacturing something 
ourselves we'd start (again).  As long as we remember how of course, or 
can reinvent it.

Of course, when we invent fully working nanotech construction, greatly 
enhanced medical ability, unlimited power production and/or storage, and 
really fast wireless Internet, it'll all pay off! ;-)


Russell Turpin wrote:

> Adam Beberg writes:
>>A. The free flow of information eliminates middlemen.
>>B. The american economy is primarily built on middlemen.
> Let's try the 19th century version of this:
> A. The industrialization of farming eliminates farmers.
> B. The American economy is primarily built on farmers.
> Or the 20th century version:
> A. Automation eliminates factory workers.
> B. The American economy is primarily built on factory 
> workers.
> The difference, of course, is that entire political 
> philosophies were built around the importance of the 
> independent farmer, not just as the center point of
> the economy, but also as the sine qua non of human
> life. Later, political philosophers were written around 
> the factory worker, though these saw factory work
> as necessary rather than as ennobling. I trust we're 
> not going to see the emergence of a political 
> philosophy built around the middle man.
> Russell

Stephen D. Williams
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax