We generally subscribe to a set of beliefs about what makes “good business sense”. This is part of the belief that business is a set of activities dedicated primarily to the making of profits, and is divorced from life and devoid of emotions.
In Western Australia, tonnes of top quality potatoes are being tilled back into the ground or turned into cattle feed. Enough potato to feed cities are being thrown away. Because doing so makes good business sense.
This sort of stuff just pisses me off no end. As a consumer, I am paying good money for food. As a citizen of this planet, I see people starving to death because they can’t afford food. Most of Australia is in drought. And worse is to come. And yet we are throwing food away.
From a business viewpoint, divorced from the real world, I can totally get why it makes sense to maintain tight control over supply. When you control the supply, you keep prices at a certain level. When there is an over supply, the farmers cannot simply give the food away or sell them at really low prices. That would upset the “price fixing” process.
In a manufactured good scenario, you would simply scale back production to maintain your supply levels. If there is excess inventory, you warehouse them. This is not possible to do with food production. We cannot yet control the weather and other elements of nature, which plays a huge part in governing production volumes.
Economics is not real life. It is a subset of it. It is a set of theories that assumes frighteningly simplified views of humanity and the planet. Simplification is necessary to build models for understanding complex systems. But there comes a time when we need to return to the real world and work within its complexities, its dirt, and yes even faecal matter no less.
Surely there must come a point when “good business sense”, as it has been so narrowly defined to date, become a travesty of common sense? When does “good business sense” become plainly stupid?
“Good business sense” has created a great culture of waste we see around us today in the Western world. It has created misery – Tianjing sweatshops making shoes and Sydney sweatcubicles making pointless mobile phone plans.
So who really gives a damn? Do you?