First it was baby formula, now there’s a tampon shortage. Tampon prices are up 10% due to the rising price of oil affecting the cost of plastic and higher cotton prices due to mask manufacturing and the war in Ukraine. A whole lot of fertilizer comes out of Ukraine and Russia. So does neon which is used to make semiconductor chips. The chip shortage is shutting down car plants.
This is the thoroughly interconnected world celebrated in prose by journalists like Thomas Friedman who marveled at how Big Data and globalization brought everything together.
“No two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other,” Friedman once claimed. In his greatest paean to globalization, The World Is Flat, he argued that, “No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell’s, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain.”
McDonald’s in Russia has closed and the ones in Ukraine might be blown up any time. Russia restricted its neon exports while Ukraine’s neon exports have fallen sharply. Dell’s CEO Michael Dell has warned that the global chip shortage could last for years.
So much for the Golden Arches and Dell theory of globalist conflict prevention.
The world isn’t flat, it’s all too round. Much like history isn’t an ascending trend line to the right side, it’s also a circle. That’s why Islam is once again at war with Europe, Russia is invading Ukraine, China is relaunching its empire, and the ‘flatland’ is experiencing a dimensional shift.
Globalization advocates had just recreated Marxist central planning with a somewhat more flexible global model in which massive corporations bridged global barriers to create the most efficient possible means of moving goods and services around the planet. Borders would come down and cultural exchanges would make us all one ushering in the great union of humanity.
What an interdependent world really means is Algerian Jihadists shooting up Paris, gang members from El Salvador beheading Americans within sight of Washington D.C. tampon and car shortages caused by a war in Ukraine, and more radicalism and extremism than ever.
Trying to “flatten” the world just makes it pop up again.
The technocratic new world order of megacorporations consolidating markets and then doling out products with just-in-time inventory systems now flows through a broken supply chain. Rising inflation and international disruptions makes it all but impossible for even the big companies to plan ahead, and so they produce less and shrug at the shortages.
We’re in a wartime economy because our system has become too vast and too inflexible to adjust to chaos. Biden keeps trotting out the Defense Production Act for everything until given time the entire economy has been Sovietized. The more that the government tries to impose stability on the chaos, the less responsive and productive the dominant players become.
Market consolidation due to government regulations has left a handful of companies sitting atop the market. When one of them, like Abbott for baby formula, has a hiccup, the results are catastrophic, others like Procter & Gamble, which controls about half the menstrual products market, don’t have to worry about losing market share to competition. Similar consolidation in food, paper products, and supermarkets have replaced a dynamic economy with cartels.
Behind all the brands on the product shelves is a creaky Soviet system in which a handful of massive enterprises interconnected with the state lazily crank out low-quality products from vast supply chains that they no longer control and feel little competitive pressure to perform better. The only thing that is still American about the supermarket experience is the advertising.
The problems with the system were less noticeable when its predictive mechanisms worked and its foreign suppliers were eager for American dollars. Under stress, the failure points are all too obvious and what is less obvious is that the system has no intention of repairing any of them.
It doesn’t need to.
An out-of-touch elite responds to problems with meaningless reassurances, glib jokes and wokeness. Like Soviet propaganda, the only thing corporate statements communicate is the vast distance between the lives of those running the system and those caught inside its gears.
But despite their complicity, the massive monopolistic enterprises didn’t make this world.
Biden and the Democrats have been eager to blame companies for “profiteering” from the inflation created by federal spending. Few companies prefer the current crisis to 2019. Hardly anyone except bottom feeders enjoys not being unable to rationally plan for the future. Major corporations and their investors care more about a growth plan than quarterly profits.
The Democrats were the biggest champions of globalization. Their regulations led to record market consolidation and domestic job cuts. Corporations were pressured to export dirty Republican jobs to China and keep the ‘clean’ Democrat office jobs at home. The devastation wreaked havoc on the working class and the middle class, and rebuilt our entire economy to be dependent on China and a worldwide supply chain only globalists could believe was bulletproof.
OPEC’s impact on fuel prices under Carter became the model for the entire economy. A war anywhere impacts Americans. Dozens of countries have the power to wreck our economy, intentionally or even unintentionally. Even the environmental promises of energy independence have become a farce in which our government pleads with China for more solar panels.
Interdependence hasn’t even led to the world government that globalists wanted, but global chaos in which impotent western powers try to talk the rest of the world out of fighting to avoid being swamped by refugees, high energy bills, and empty shelves in supermarkets.
After selling off American economic sovereignty, globalists proved unable to maintain global stability. Lacking the will to actually stand up to China, Iran, or Russia, all they can do is hold more international conferences and build up a useless multinational bureaucracy.
Say what you will about the League of Nations, but it only had 700 employees in Geneva. The UN’s 44,000 employees are just the tip of the iceberg in the huge ranks of multinational organizations who all claim to be upholding the international order while running up the tab.
Globalization globalizes the ineptitude of the global order. Its grand plans, like those of the Soviet Union, are never a match for the chaos of human nature and its ambitions. Politicians, philanthropists, and philosophers had labored to replace American dynamism with a clockwork machine. The old Baggage clockworks became servers upholding a cloud that proved to be very handy for instant communications, but ran up against the same ‘flattening’ limitations.
America was never meant to be flat. It was a land discovered by those who understood that the world was round. Flattening America has depressed its economy and its spirit. A flat world with no room for American exceptionalism is instead becoming a playground for Chinese and Russian exceptionalism. And America’s economy is becoming one big permanent shortage.
This article first appeared in frontpagemag.com