Supply and Demand – The Bitter Irony of Our Time

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The very pillar of capitalism is the open market system whereby supply is driven by demand – Econ101. This is when a group of so-called “elite” don’t sit and engineer what needs to be supplied to their liking. It is when the economic driver is the pull of demand, not the push of supply. But, what happens when demand is driven by supply? In such a case, what can be expected when the system breaks down by its very own conceptions?

It used to be that customer expectations were key. Enterprises centered their innovations and investments around customers’ expectations, not around what they would like customers to expect. Maybe that’s why capitalism “used to” work and that’s exactly why it has been crippled by its own making. The very conglomerates and gigantic enterprises that were the wheels of the capitalist economy have reached a point whereby they define what needs to be supplied. In the past, furniture, cars, and other products were designed to last. But when vendors design products to fail at an expected time, Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF), do we ask for more durability? Or, do we happily replace our recently purchased merchandise as frequently as possible?

For any system to work, the essential algorithms sustaining its foundations must deliver as assumed. When the fundamental assumptions of a system are no longer valid—in this case capitalism—does the rule of supply and demand still apply? In short, is what we demand to our interest, or not?

The converse drive of the supply-and-demand rule is the earthquake that shakes the bedrock of our capitalist societies. In our world today, the question remains: is supply driven by demand or is demand driven by supply?

Is supply driven by demand or is demand driven by supply?

In the data center world, for example, a manufacturer devises cold-aisle containment for better cooling in data centers. People follow it for a while. The same vendor comes out after a few years, with hot-aisle containment and what do we do? We follow that. Most people don’t even know the difference, nor which is better or even any being an ideal cooling optimization solution to begin with; Apple releases a new iPhone, a few months after the release of the previous version. We rush back in the lines and are proud to be standing in long queues to repurchase our phone yet again; All of us have been to restaurants where they aim to impress you with a big plate of sauce, a splash of salt and pepper and a decorative design of a leaf of basil but, come think of it, there is so little content in the center of a big and colorful, yet practically empty plate. We pay big bucks and somehow sallow air, instead of actual food along with a feeling of uncertainty wrapped with cognitive belief of fulfillment; Last but not least example: everyday we see our politicians make senseless remarks, as redundant as they get, as vague as they could possibly be, and as contradictory to the very nature of their own parties and communities, and yet their standing in the polls goes up.

Have we ever thought, why it is that we can still watch old and rusted movies and at times enjoy them more than most of the new releases that are the result of all sorts of technological advancements? Why? Is it for the camera lenses, the acting or the scenery? What could it be other than deep stories, values and the simple “innocence” that are hard to find in today’s movies? But somehow we have become convinced that if a film has a famous crew, a big budget, lots of noise, and utilized the latest technology, it has got to be what we want to watch, regardless of its substance or content. Hence, our entertainment business has no limits. We pay all kinds of costs to be entertained. We give away, liberty, wisdom, innovation, health and security to be entertained. Life-consuming entertainment has found its roots not only in our routine TV series, shows and programs but also in the serious matters revolving around our livelihood, including our socio-political atmosphere. An average viewer’s perspective of the presidential debates signifies how, even the most critical matters that touch economical development, social prosperity, even national security, have become subject of entertainment for a nation that is world’s number one supper-power both in terms of riches and debt.

Do we get supplied with what we demand, or are we demanding what we are being supplied? Are we constantly being fed what the suppliers deem best, for which we become consumers of, or are we demanding what we deem best and get that supplied to us? Do we even know what we want? Do we know better? Or, do “they” know better?

This key question is the crucial matter by which nations, societies, cultures, industries, cultures, communities and individuals within them are affected.

Aren’t suppliers the very root-cause of how the majority of our industries look and perform? Does media supply us what we demand or constantly feed us what, subconsciously, becomes our demand?

Because the interests of suppliers are not necessarily aligned with those of end-users, and because we are often made to believe that what they supply is what we demand, these seemingly minor diversions accumulate such that we are simply led to consume products that are not aligned with our true demand. Therefore, a lack of moral, lack of wisdom and lack of substance widen their presence in our lives. We become fashion-driven, meaning vendors showcase us something and we demand just that, no questions asked.

For as long we remain the consumers of the interests of our suppliers, instead of consumers of our own demand, we will not progress to a world that is better suited for us.

For as long we remain the consumers of the interests of our suppliers, instead of consumers of our own demand, we will not progress to a world that is better suited for us.

These are but some of the essentials we have got to think about…

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