Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Globalization at Christmas

The global economy caught in the last-minute holiday crush:

Why is it impossible for parents to buy hot-demand new PlayStation2?

Because a month ago an oil tanker became jammed in the Suez Canal, closing the waterway for the first time in 40 years and blocking several cargo ships bearing containers of electronic toys bound to stores for the holidays. The trade publication EuroGamer calls the situation "grave".

Sony has reacted in globalized terms by chartering Russian-built Antonov cargo planes to fly to China and pick up game consoles from the factory, then ferry them to the United States and European Union. Each plane can hold 40,000 PlayStation2 consoles, but apparently even deliveries of 40,000 consoles per plane will not meet Christmas demand....

Imagine trying to explain to Chinese peasants living in shacks whose tin roofs are held in place by stones that children in the United States are crying because a global airlift cannot bring them video games quickly enough...
[The things one can learn from a football column!]
Such are the effects of globalization. If America was self-sufficient in video games then a tanker accident 5,000 miles away wouldn't deprive American children of their favorite new electronic toys at Christmas.

On the other hand, those new electronic toys might have all the game-playing power of my old TRS-80. And the Chinese who have escaped poverty by going into the electronics export business would still be back in their tin-roofed shacks. So we're better off as things are after all.