Imagine four or more Sears and Roebuck catalog — and much, much more — type web pages; one of which belongs to the USPS, Amazon gets to keep one, if they can show copyright. Let’s call these Web Pages Amazon, Nile, Mississippi, and Danube, with Mississippi being assigned to the USPS. Each of these Four or More Rivers of commerce would have large numbers of manufacturers/producers as paid subscribers; we are, after all, now in the post retail, post warehouse era.
Anything anyone might want to purchase would be listed on one or more of these Web Pages along with the price and delivery time. The Four or More Web Pages would compete with one another on the basis of their Web Page and quality and value of delivery service. The manufacturers/producers would compete with one another on the basis of quality and price (value), and time of delivery with their ads on one or more of the Four or More Web Pages. The Web Pages/Four or More Rivers would compete with one another for producer/manufacturer listings; and, for orders based marketing skills, rates charged, and quality of service.
Each Web Page site would perforce be huge with millions of listings, employ thousands, and undoubtedly consume gigs and gigs of has to be green power.
In the olden days of retail, manufacturers took orders then produced lots that sat around on the factory floor or in warehouses. In the post-retail/warehouse era, goods are shipped as produced, or shortly thereafter. Instead of buyers and sales, producers will produce a product on the basis of market analysis; a prediction of what the market will be tomorrow that will prove to be more accurate and timely than the old method based on orders received. When a producer gets an order for a size 4 Simier Fariry blue dress — the demand is now — that dress will either be being made or be just finished.
When an order is received by the producer, the item is either ready to ship or will be within hours. The producers will package the order/item and hand it off to one of the Four or More Rivers who will then and there do the sorting and loading by destination. Some mini, van to van type, transfer points, may be required, but this is only all the more reason yet to have production proximate the point of consumption. The order for the blue dress is placed and within hours the dress is delivered to the purchaser’s home by one of the Four or More Rivers.
One of our weak spots is still manufacturing. That blue dress takes weeks to produce and bring to market, and the shipping time from Vietnam or Malaysia delays it further. Fast fashion is much faster than the old seasonal model, but it isn’t fast in comparison to what is possible. Ideally, one should be able to choose a blue dress that doesn’t exist yet and have it made to order with modifications and customization within a day or two. Right now, we can’t do that for a reasonable price. Labor is still too cheap and tariffs too low, but there are no technological barriers.
In some ways, this would be a return to the old days of the village dressmaker. It isn’t clear there would be just four rivers. Anyone could set up shop as a dress designer, and there could be numerous local highly automated clothing fabricators. At one time, one could identify a man’s home village by the design of his shirt, since the women of his town would produce characteristic shirts. We may return to that era, assuming we start valuing manufacturing againi.
(We’d also need a UBI, not just to provide orders for the local dress or shirt designers, but also for the newly unemployed in Vietnam or elsewhere.)
Understand the Cost of Manufacturing within each country, how it differs in each country, and how it is unrelated to manufacturing. Labor content cost is low.
Kaleberg’s got it right that our current technology should enable bespoke manufacturing so everyone could purchase precisely tailored clothing — or any other good. But one of the advantages of a widespread high-speed internet system is that most of those goods could be produced on a distributed basis because the purchases specs can be sent around the globe at almost the speed of light. What really needs to be managed now is the consumer’s mindset in accepting that bespoke goods might require more than 24-hour turnaround when purchased at some average price. Maybe we’ll see manufacturers have to return to selling quality for real and not just as lip service.
If you think the health care industry is unhealthy now, just wait till Amazon gets in deeper
via @BostonGlobe – April 4
Amazon, the behemoth seller of everything, announced last month that it was going into the doctoring business. The company already provided primary medical services to many of its own employees, mainly via an online telehealth service called Amazon Care. Now, Amazon says, it will sell access to the service to other companies so they can offer it to their own workers.
It’s a preview of what our health care system could soon look like: a landscape of regional or national oligopolies in which doctors, local hospitals, labs, and pharmacies are owned by distant corporations. Many community hospitals might disappear or be severely diminished.
More and more, “seeing a doctor” will mean a Zoom call or FaceTime with a nurse practitioner or another alternate provider who makes less money than doctors do. Telehealth does have an important role to play in fostering and maintaining good health, especially for those living in rural and underserved communities — and, as we’ve seen, during a pandemic, when visiting doctors’ offices increases the risk of spreading disease. But the technology is ripe for overuse by massive and centralized businesses focused foremost on maximizing profit.
Amazon’s entry into medicine is a tell; it confirms the trend. Health care is an industry approaching $4 trillion per year, about 19 percent of GDP. If you bill yourself as “the everything store,” and if health care is the biggest slice of the financial pie, then competing for those dollars can seem like an imperative.
Other companies have already gotten into the game, sparking massive consolidation. Private equity firms, venture capital outfits, and existing hospital chains are buying up nursing homes, physicians’ practices, real estate, and device companies. Insurance companies and pharmacies have consolidated, too.
Amazon already tried to get into health care with Haven, a joint venture with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan. Based in Boston, Haven aimed to provide medical services to employees of the three companies — though its ultimate goals appear to have involved reforming American medical care more broadly. Haven disbanded earlier this year. But there’s still Amazon Pharmacy, an online drugstore, and Amazon Halo, a body monitoring device. And now that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to expanded use of telehealth, Amazon sees another way into the health care business.
Amazon and other employers that offer telehealth services to their employees have been updating an old idea. It used to be common for larger companies, especially factories, to have a small on-site clinic, mainly to treat work-related injuries and minor illnesses.
With the rise of employer-provided health insurance, many companies stopped paying for such clinics. But as the cost of corporate health insurance plans skyrocketed, some companies went back to offering primary care services to their workers, in hope of saving on health costs by addressing small medical problems before they became big ones. …
Amazon*1994, first of the second generation, was founded by Jeff Bezos. Bezos understood computers, foresaw the potential of the Web, the significance of data, and the use and power of algorithms. He also understood margins; has exhibited an excellent grasp of economics. While the first generation had envisioned new products and new markets, he saw a fortune in retail margins. He would bring retail to the Web, or vice versa. He could do the same thing the retailers did without the brick and mortar and make a lot of money doing it. Fast forward to 2019: Poor UPS and FedEx never knew what hit them. Should have been one of them instead. Couldn’t see the brass ring? Reached but missed it? UPS had shown a spark with the parts department for hire. Too late, probably couldn’t borrow enough to begin to compete now. Not one to dawdle, Bezos, foreseeing the end of the warehouse, is going to go for The United States Postal Service, USPS, next. The government waited way too long to tackle the Amazon problem. Now, there is no escaping it. Unless something is done, Bezos will soon be the most powerful man in the world. He has already the surpassed John D. Rockefeller. Without doubt, Amazon has been a godsend during the pandemic; poised and ready, led the way. Looking down the road a bit, Amazon will become our worst nightmare.
Yellen calls for a global minimum corporate tax rate.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen made the case on Monday for a global minimum tax, kicking off the Biden administration’s effort to help raise revenue in the United States and prevent companies from shifting profits overseas to evade taxes.
Ms. Yellen, in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, called for global coordination on an international tax rate that would apply to multinational corporations regardless of where they locate their headquarters. Such a global tax could help prevent the type of “race to the bottom” that has been underway, Ms. Yellen said, referring to countries trying to outdo one another by lowering tax rates in order to attract business.
Her remarks came as the White House and Democrats in Congress begin looking for ways to pay for President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure plan to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, water systems and electric grid.
“Competitiveness is about more than how U.S.-headquartered companies fare against other companies in global merger and acquisition bids,” Ms. Yellen said. “It is about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government.”
The speech represented Ms. Yellen’s most extensive comments since taking over as Treasury secretary, and she underscored the scope of the challenge ahead.
“Over the last four years, we have seen firsthand what happens when America steps back from the global stage,” Ms. Yellen said. “America first must never mean America alone.”
Ms. Yellen also highlighted her priorities of combating climate change and reducing global poverty and underscored the importance of the United States helping to lead the world out of the crisis caused by the pandemic. Ms. Yellen called on countries not to pull back on fiscal support too soon and warned of growing global imbalances if some countries do withdraw before the crisis is over.
The slow pace of the deployment of vaccines around the world is also a concern for Ms. Yellen, who lamented that many developing and middle-income countries have been unable to invest in robust rollouts of inoculations, which could hurt the global economy.
“The result will likely be a deeper and longer-lasting crisis, with mounting problems of indebtedness, more entrenched poverty, and growing inequality,” Ms. Yellen said, estimating that as many as 150 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year. “This would be a profound economic tragedy for those countries, one we should care about.”
In a sharp break with the administration of former President Donald J. Trump, Ms. Yellen emphasized the importance of the United States working closely with its allies, noting that the fortunes of countries around the world are intertwined.
Overhauling the international tax system is a big part of that. Corporate tax rates have been falling around the world in recent years. Under the Trump administration, the rate in the United States was cut from 35 percent to 21 percent. Mr. Biden wants to raise that rate to 28 percent and increase the international minimum tax rate that American companies pay on their foreign profits to 21 percent.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in coordination with the United States, has been working to develop a new international tax architecture that would include a global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations as part of its effort to curtail profit shifting and tax base erosion.
Ms. Yellen said she is working with her counterparts in the Group of 20 advanced nations on changes to the global tax system that will help prevent businesses from shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions.
“President Biden’s proposals announced last week call for bold domestic action, including to raise the U.S. minimum tax rate, and renewed international engagement, recognizing that it is important to work with other countries to end the pressures of tax competition and corporate tax base erosion,” Ms. Yellen said. “We are working with G20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom.”
A new decision from the U.S. Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian means Democrats could advance more of President Biden’s agenda without the support of Republicans.
The official’s interpretation of Senate budget rules would allow the use of the reconciliation process more than once in a fiscal year, and it is viewed by Democrats as a possible strategy for moving top policy priorities with a simple majority, since getting the needed 10 Republican votes in a 50-50 Senate has proved difficult.
Details are still unclear as to how Democratic leaders might use the additional chance to pass budget-related policies.
“The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions,” Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Monday. “While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.”
Democrats have been vague about those additional parameters and the potential limitations that might come with this legislative pathway. The ruling appears to mean a majority party could revise budgets more than once in a fiscal year — each time giving them access to reconciliation instructions. …