Hyper Transit Widget Spheroid Solids was a corporation operating in the great state of [withheld] that produced hyperbolic-related widgets. There was a certain segment of our population (dorks) that was thirsty for these widgets and the company did well.
The product was theoretically tightly regulated by the government’s Department Of Hyperbole (DOH) which maintained and enforced a complex set of legislation designed to protect public safety.
One of the selling points of the widgets is that they were the “shiniest DOH-approved widgets” available anywhere in the whole wide world.
It was true that they were indeed the shiniest widgets. There was no doubt about that. And based on that fact, the Hyper transit widgets sold like hotcakes.
The was one minor troubling nit of a detail, though. The widgets were never DOH approved. Not meeting government criteria went a long way in making it easier to make their widgets shiny. Other widget manufacturers made products that were less shiny because they were hindered by the fact they actually obeyed the law.
Widget-hungry consumers, if they had bothered to look, would find an online database of many widget violations and disciplinary actions taken by DOH.
The corporation just keep making and selling the widgets and playing games with the government. They were able to get away with it for an amazingly long time. It’s not like public safety was involved.
Then, one day, something happened. Hyper Transit Widget Spheroid Solids dissolved and ceased to be a corporation. Yeah! A blow was struck for truth, justice and the American way.
It didn’t last long, though. The very next day a new corporation set up shop at the exact same address. It was called Blongorgic Transit Widget Spheroid Solids and, amazingly, made the very same products.
Of course the two corporations had absolutely nothing do with each other. Legally they were two different and totally distinct entities. They did happen to have the same person who controlled 100% of the shares, though. Odd coincidence, that.
Now if you excuse me, I need to go buy a transit widget spheroid solid. Nice knowin’ ya!
True. The tweet above had absolutely nothing to do with this post. It was actually about me going insane. (A very worthy topic.) But not, alas, the topic for today.
Instead, the word “stream” caught my fancy. Yes, I’ll admit. At first it was in a “don’t stand under this” sort of way. But then my thoughts turned to things like revenue streams and product streams. While in that place, I wrote the following little ditty (sung to the tune of The Streets of Laredo):
As I walked out with my Wall Street Journal
As I walked out with my Journal one day
I spied a rich douchebag with a bad hairpiece
A hairpiece as fake as the the caring I feigned.
I see by your outfit that you are a douchebag
I see by your hairpiece that you’re a douchebag, too
I think we should do business we’d both make a killing
There are lots of dumb marks that we can both screw.
We both love money so much that we eat it
We both use work to avoid our home lives
A partnership formed in our quest for more profits
To chase that worthy dream we’re both willing to lie.
Oh cheat and lie and gray the lies lowly
We’ll giggle and laugh as we roll along
Take it the bank and pull the wool o’er
If wealth is right we don’t ever wanna be wrong.
I’ve got greed in my chest and so I must lie.
This sad story is one about the “free market.” Yeah, that free market. You know the one, right? The one that people on the right love to ejaculate about so much? Yeah, that one. This story will provide a glimpse of insight into how that sucker really works.
It started with a phone call…
“Hello, this is Blowhard.” (That’s my boss! And no, that’s not his real name.)
“Hi, this is Madame X with Acme-Fun-Time Distribution.”
Madame X (not her real name) is a representative with a product distribution company. Blowhard has been courting a business relationship with her for some time. It’s very important to him and he worked very hard to build it up. He milks her for information that she probably shouldn’t share. When they met at the convention in Vegas, she took him out to dinner on the company credit card. When he recently toured their plant, she arranged to have his room paid for and got him the all-you-can eat buffet for free. He was as happy as a pig in shit. His two greatest loves are free and food, and she went and gave him both.
You’d think he’d be nice to her after that, right?
“Hey, Blowhard. I need to ask you a question. Have you ever heard of a company called Decepto International?”
My boss didn’t miss a beat. When lying becomes a way of life, you get real good at it. “Nope. I’ve never heard of them.”
I love it when chickens come home to roost.
“Oh,” she said. “That’s a bit odd. You see, they have the exact same address as you.”
Uh oh!! The jig is up! One of our dummy companies just got busted. It turns out that the boss greedily used the dummy company to sell products on Amazon.com but forgot to use a different address. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Mom was right. When you tell lies, it gets increasingly difficult to keep things straight. Obviously, since my boss was hatched, he never had the opportunity to learn this lesson.
How do you show someone that you respect them and care about them in the world of business? Yup. You lie unabashedly right to their face. Classic.
You see, Blowhard had set up a dummy company to purchase products from Acme-Fun-Time Distribution. He did this after his main company had been blacklisted by certain product manufacturers. He was blacklisted for selling products at prices lower than manufacturers wished. Yes, this cousin of “price fixing” is alive and well here in the United States. For more about this, see my earlier post entitled “Term Stomping” and Wikipedia’s page on “resale price maintenance.”
I guess most people would feel somewhat shamed after getting caught red-handed in a lie like that. Not my boss. Not when money is involved.
I could only chuckle at how he had just taken a major shit on the relationship he had worked so hard to build. Oh, they’ll still do business with us. After all, that puts coin in their pockets. And that’s the way the game is played. You deceive me, I’ll deceive the manufacturer, and we’ll all make money.
And this “free market?” It is one where product manufacturers exert a lot of pressure to maintain prices artificially high. It’s a murky world of blacklisting, contracts, gray markets, and companies ratting each other out. And, I’m willing to bet, most of the players are just like my boss.
I need the life version of an epidural because I am decidedly suffering from intense labor pains.
For most Americans (at least those not in the burgeoning service industry) Labor Day is traditionally recognized as a day of respite from toil. That means a lot of Americans get the day off. For some, the day represents the unofficial end of summer. For others it represents the start of something new, like the NFL season.
For others, however, the day is just like any other. A lot of people with service industry jobs will still be out there working. That’s probably a lot of people since these days the service sector accounts for the majority of American jobs. Less and less we actually make stuff in the good ol’ USA and more and more we are all out servicing each other. So to speak.
Personally I look forward to the day when we all work from home and no one ever goes anywhere. All the cities will be ghost towns and our highways will be empty. It’ll be a dream come true. Of course there will be no water, food, clothing, electricity, housing, toilet paper and other essentials like electronics unless they are imported, presumably by some sort of transporter technology. All the truck drivers will be working service jobs, too.
Speaking of dreams, yours truly decidedly does not have one when it comes to Labor Day. I’ll merely be experiencing additional labor pains as I schlep my useless carcass down to my dead-end job. Technically I’m not in the “service sector” as my job is theoretically technical. But in practice the technical duties I perform are the smallest slice of the pie chart that represents my day. Bigger slices on that graph are consumed by providing “customer service” on the phone (since it is imperative that every call be answered even if only by a miserable idiot like me who can only respond “I don’t know” all day long) and retail sales on the floor.
My wife has Labor Day off but I won’t be spending the day with her. For her sake I hope she has a backup lover to keep her occupied.
If you want the real history of Labor Day, check out Wikipedia. I just did and learned a few new things. If you are like me and working at a job you hate tomorrow, consider it a temporary distraction from your misery.
For me, Labor Day seems like a good time as any to consider my current situation in life. I’ll just go ahead and keep those ponderings to myself. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say it’s not good.
Today’s Los Angeles Times brings us a bit of interesting news: Some economists are now predicting that even if our economy bounces back the unemployment rate is not expected to do the same. They are saying it might be years or even decades before our labor market recovers after (hopefully) our economy rebounds.
One thing seems certain: As less of us have jobs and unemployment benefits dry up, there is going be a shortage of another valuable resource that is sometimes a wee bit beneficial to economies. Consumers with disposable money are a fairly vital ingredient to keeping other people in jobs making stuff and providing services. As less of us are able to spend I personally look forward to seeing what might happen. It should be a lot of fun. I’m stocking up on popcorn.
In the meantime it looks like there just might be a lot more boot licking in my future. But that’s all in a day’s work when one finds himself In the service of the King.