Logistical Chokepoints

Charmaine Chua writes on the politics of logistical chokepoints:

Sped along by transport deregulation and an associated wave of firm competition and consolidation, the containerization of bulk goods now allows a single dockworker to do what it took an army to accomplish in the past. Innovations in production technologies, such as flexible production, demand-driven manufacturing, mixed model production, and the just-in-time organization of inventory and delivery systems ensure that risks of interruption are reduced by limiting overheads, building ‘fault tolerance’ into logistics systems, and collecting and distributing data about the demand and supply of commodities at ever quicker speeds. Above all, logistics workers now choreograph and coordinate these circulatory flows across great international distance, so that workers across the global supply chain are pitted against each other to increase the competition for scarce jobs, drive down wages, and exploit wage differentials between core and periphery. So massive is the operation of these circulatory flows that over 90% of world trade by value travels across the sea via the behemoth container ships and oil tankers of the shipping industry. If that statistic does not surprise you, try this anecdote: it is now cheaper to ship freshly caught fish from the West Coast of the United States to China to be deboned and filleted by Chinese workers and then shipped back again, than it is to pay for the cost of that work under U.S. labor regulations.


This entry was posted in bureacuracy, capital accumulation, logistics, political economy, transport. Bookmark the permalink.

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