Last night my power cord fried and I had to jiggle it to run my Dell laptop–so I needed a replacement (my second since I bought the laptop – they are built to fail). I went on Amazon and within about a minute I had the right model in my cart ready to order for about twenty bucks with shipping, or shipping was free if I found another item that would bring my total to $25.
But like a fool I decided to see if I could possibly buy the item in person (in the “real world”) at one of the following stores: OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, Frys, BestBuy and Staples.
Each of their web sites had both a store locator and an online catalog, but twenty years into Internet, they are still not properly coordinated.
Both Frys and BestBuy seemed to have in-store pickup, but I could not even locate a suitable item on the Frys web site–and in reality at BestBuy it was only available online – actual store pickup is “greyed out” (unavailable).
I found suitable replacements on several of the web sites, but also could not determine for certain if those adapters would actually work with my model and/or whether the item was physically available in the store.
Phone calls to the stores themselves led to decisions as to which button to press on my phone for store hours, etc. and then lengthy hold times for “sales representatives” who were either clueless or could not confirm that a suitable item was available at a price remotely close to the Amazon price.
Phone calls to the “800 number” got me one confirmation that the item I saw online was again not in any of my nearby stores, and another connection to a sweet woman in the Philippines whom I could not understand and who could not locate the model number as I read it to her from my screen.
All of this yielded no results and took about an hour. I could easily spend another two hours driving to Frys and/or the other stores and looking for the item, hoping for a miracle.
(Two years ago I had a “will call” item at Frys supposedly waiting for pickup; after 45 minutes waiting at will call the store manager confirmed that they did not have the “confirmed” item and substituted another).
So of course I will order the item from Amazon and wait a few days and get it delivered without hassle. Whenever possible I no longer deal with a human to fulfill a transaction, if I have the option.
If you multiply this experience exponentially you realize that economically we are doomed—because if real humans can no longer fulfill basic retail needs, then there will be no jobs for humans to enable them to participate in a functional economy.
A great deal of the blame goes directly to the corporations like OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, Frys, BestBuy and Staples who have been unable to put systems in place that serve human needs and can compete with completely automated stores like Amazon that have no overhead and few humans.
There is absolutely no reason why a potential customer should not be able to go to these other company web sites, find the item with the requisite information (will it work with my shit?) and ascertain whether it is actually available at the store down the street, and if so reserve it for pickup and go there and buy it in person.
To expect the potential customer to wade through automated voicemail menus to speak to ineffectual sales “professionals” who also cannot determine this information is borderline insane – to connect them to the Philippines is beyond the pale.
I am not excusing or exonerating mass murderers, but when the media says that they cannot figure out a motive for people who “flip out”, it would make sense to me to blame the reality that people can no longer simply get a straight answer from another human about a basic product or service.
Add this to similar “systems” for courts, hospitals, insurance companies and so on and it is no wonder people are flipping out all over the place.
The complexity of these “systems” and their complete lack of responsiveness to human needs (tell me the truth without putting me on hold or transferring me to the Philippines) would drive many insane, and apparently that is what is happening.
And then, when you look at unemployment figures and economic statistics it becomes obvious that most of the crap being purchased by “consumers” is being bought on credit.
Therefore, you must also realize that our economy simply cannot support the purchases with the meager salaries of retail workers—and well playing skilled jobs are no longer being created.
The best paying jobs are in fields like law, finance and “entertainment” – none of which create anything of real value. You can’t eat (or survive) on divorce, money or movies.
The other “stuff” being created is technology and software, which simply adds complexity without solving the human needs of workers – it merely makes them more “productive” – or not.
And the stores that employ these remaining unskilled retail workers also cannot compete with the automated systems that actually fulfill orders (like Amazon), and certainly not in sufficient numbers to enable them to hire more unskilled employees and pay them enough to buy the shit being offered and advertised—and not with real money that these unskilled workers actually earn—only on credit.
So these “companies” lay these unskilled workers off, or increase their hours without overtime and cut their pensions and medical benefits to compete in a “free economy.”
How is this being addressed by our “economic experts”? Well we are simply doing “quantitative easing” – which is an Orwellian term for printing money to buy fake bonds to prop up a rigged stock market that makes a few people feel prosperous enough to buy more shit.
And of course these dollars being “spent” represent no real value being created, that is if you even have “real dollars” – chances are you are “spending” electronic pixels on your screen or smartphone that simply change other electronic pixels on computer screens in “banks”.
(Remember, real “banks” used to provide real capital to real companies to build real products and provide actual services to real humans. Those days are apparently over – banks today do “investment” which means they lose massive amounts of fake dollars to enrich a few humans no one ever sees.)
I do not have children, but if you think this is sustainable for another generation, much less more generations, you are delusional. All we are doing is creating more shit, shrink-wrapped in plastic that is killing our real oceans and poisoning our real water and air.
And the real humans who are supposed to consume this useless shit cannot afford it and don’t really need it.
And the consumers who are the basis for this entire “system” are granted more credit to buy more of this shit, and go into more debt to consume it because they are no longer qualified to produce actual goods that would have the real value to pay for it.
Therefore, they need to take substandard retail jobs, if they can find them, at wages competitive with similarly unqualified and substandard workers in the Philippines.
To solve this “situation” we have a “government” that argues about abortion, gay rights and prayer in the schools.
I rest my case: America and Western Civilization are doomed.
You’re probably right – only it is not only western civilization that is doomed. Attached is an interesting discussion of alternatives that might make sense if we could act sensibly, an obvious oxymoron.
Great common sense here. Wish I’d thoguht of that.