Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Malls on wheels

Up until very recently, when we wanted to buy anything, we wore something relatively decent and walked or drove or took a bus to the shopping area.  The mall.  Which, of course, confused me when I was new to the country because the place to buy stuff is a mall, and an important landmark in the country's capital is also the Mall.  I suppose this is America's unique way of saying that business is the politics of the country ;)

Now, the shopping malls are quickly dying. So much so that in a truly American manner, there is a website that is all about dead malls.  You can even purchase dead-mall merchandise; only in America!

Malls are dying because it has apparently become too much of a pain to go somewhere and shop.  Instead, you can be in your underwear at home and placing orders on websites.  Soon, your purchases arrive at your doorstep.  You can even open the door when you are still in your underwear, and pick up the packages.

One can easily imagine the role of goods transportation.  Trucks have now become mobile malls, and truck drivers have replaced the ones at the delivery windows of the old.  "A side effect of the e-commerce boom is a shortage of truck drivers and an overwhelmed shipping industry."

So, what would you do?  Either hire more drivers, or make the drivers haul bigger trucks, right?  Yep! "carriers including Amazon and FedEx have been — unsuccessfully so far — lobbying Congress to allow nationwide use of longer trailers, hooked one behind the other."

Hiring more drivers is not easy:
The number of truck drivers has held steady at between 3 million and 3.5 million over the past two decades, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). Freight volumes are expected to surge by about 37 percent over the next decade. The trade group estimates the industry now has a record shortage of 50,700 drivers, and expects that number to skyrocket to 174,000 by 2026 if "nothing happens."  
And even when the big trucks transport goods from one city to another, there is the challenge of the last mile--to get to the customer in his underwear waiting for the package.  Amazon tempts the gullible through its Flex program, which sucks the life out of those who sign up to be the last mile drivers.

Meanwhile, instead of walking around in malls, and interacting with fellow-humans, people are sitting at home in their underwear, staring into their blue screens of death and feeling lonely and depressed.

The real winner in all these?  Jeff Bezos, who certainly knew how to make suckers out of us all!


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