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Demand Economy: Blessing of Civilization or Hidden Threat?



Behind the Economy on Demand Peter Atwater is president of Financial Insyghts and visiting professor at William & Mary State Research University in Virginia. He argues that the era of personalization has meant that those at the bottom of the hierarchy gain more and more power in everyday life. When Burger King invited customers to “do it their own way,” nearly 50 years ago, Burger King ushered in an era of mass personalization. Now, people can customize many of today’s hottest products and services, whether it’s a latte at Starbucks or a show on Netflix. And it’s not only about desires, but also about the possibility of choice. After the financial crisis, many companies have sprung up – from Doordash to Uber – who are ready to fulfill any desire “here and now.” What was once a privilege reserved only for the rich is now available to everyone. There are “gentlemen” and there are “servants”, including cooks, valets and lackeys, who are ready to fulfill the request on demand. Just like Downtown Abbey. If earlier no one paid attention to the vast scope of individual deliveries, then COVID completely exposed it. Self-isolation has never been easier. The rich and resourceful hardly need to go out. Everything can be ordered at home. Many believe that COVID has not only contributed to the development of the economy “here and now,” but that this business model has a bright future. This week, commenting on Warner Brothers’ decision to release all new 2021 films on the streaming service HBO Max, New York Times tech columnist Shira Ovide wrote: “If entertainment changes forever, it’s not just the victory of streaming. This is also due to the inability to resist total control. ” Indeed, the economy “here and now” implies total control. Who doesn’t like being served? Total addiction No Shira Ovide, like many others, overlooks the fact that the current concept of “total control” of these services is completely wrong. People do not control the situation, on the contrary, they have involuntarily become addicted. Like the “masters” of Downton Abbey, they are so used to being served that they have lost the ability to do everything on their own. People now owe a debt to Uber drivers, UPS deliveries, and Instacart employees. If you look at the employment report for the last week, you can see that job growth in November is largely due to such vacancies as “couriers” and “warehouse workers”. One hundred years ago, the elite depended primarily on workers from their own farms and from nearby villages. They knew the names of the people who served them. Today, many are served by faceless men in brown shorts and women working in ghost kitchens. Many suppliers are considered interchangeable by the crowd, if they see them at all. And while politicians complain that many of the companies that serve these workers are too powerful, the question arises as to whether the workers themselves are even more powerful. A strike by UPS drivers and Amazon warehouse workers would bring many sectors of the American economy to their knees. The Threat of Rebellion Today, to the beneficiaries of the economy “here and now,” the idea of ​​such a massive uprising of workers seems laughable. Many people think that “civilian workers” are grateful for any opportunities presented. And even with trade unions, they are considered powerless in a weakened economy. This perception of one’s own invulnerability means that the risk of workers’ uprising is much higher than they think. Among the most unexpected deviations in the K-shaped recovery are divergences within the here and now economy itself. Those who benefit the most from it are at the top, and those who work for it are mostly at the bottom. If economic conditions do not improve, the latter will have no choice but to act – if only to be heard. And the crowd naively thinks disgruntled workers need collective bargaining or trade unions to improve efficiency. As the past decade has shown, modern social media can overnight the scattered efforts of ordinary people into a cohesive national movement. You just need a resonance. While mass personalization is likely to remain a key aspect of future economies, its proliferation has unwittingly altered power dynamics. The people who support the here and now economy are now truly responsible. Given the apparent economic inequality, it’s easy to imagine that one day they too will demand that things be the way they want them to be. Prepared by Profinance.ru based on the publication of The Financial Times On the subject: The economic consequences of COVID-19 will not be fatal Investors saw signs of economic recovery The number of zombie companies is growing rapidly in the United States

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