My husband uses CNBC as the de facto background sound of our home life, so for a week now I’ve been hearing news of the demise of retail businesses because people are doing their shopping on Amazon. Today, again, numbers for companies were spouted out and the numbers for Target were terrible. Upon hearing this, my husband started his usual diatribe against the store, something like, “Yeah, they used to have nice stuff now they’re just eh.” I retorted with the fact that they still had nice stuff tucked between the mountains of average crap, but like all retail, they are being killed by Amazon; in fact I just got an email from Amazon telling me that I will get free 2-day shipping on any electronic item I buy from “IT”.
All of a sudden I had a clear vision of our not so distant future landscape. Picture miles of our derelict infrastructure dotted with the empty shells of the warehouses where we presently consume our high margin goods made in China. These will become the roofs under which a great portion of the population who no longer can find decent, let alone meaningful, employment will seek shelter while they shoot up the free heroin doled out by the government. The heroin will be paid for by the revenue from taxes paid by a tiny middle class, the members of which will look like giant blobs of flesh* attached to computer terminals, making their purchases on line from Amazon, whose warehouses will be manned by robots and whose goods will be delivered by drones. Brave New World indeed, though Huxley’s was clean, orderly and pleasant compared to what I see will be ours.