The Cost of Business

I just heard from my supplier that the main door for the garage I bought last year is finally in stock here where I live. In total, it’s taken about five months to arrive, so you’d think it must be something special, but it’s not. Just a regular 12 x 8 roll-up door.

The world has been pretty topsy-turvy for the last few years, and such delays are now commonplace – that’s when items can still be bought. Everyone knows in how short supply many items are, along with the inevitable price gouging by vendors.

First, we had the pandemic interfering with supply chains. Now, we have the tragic war in Ukraine. Both events interfere with the smooth flow of goods around the world to a greater or lesser extent. But hang on. All I’m talking about is a run-of-the-mill garage door.

Is Canada really not able to manufacture its own doors? It was a similar issue with vaccines. When they first became available, supplies were understandably limited as everyone in the world needed them. But unlike many countries, Canada had no way of producing them locally. So we had to wait until supplies could get to us.

Outsourcing and the concept of “open trade” have been around since the seventies. The idea being that there should be few, or no, barriers to trade between countries, because that was good for business.

And it was good – for the businesses. They make more profits on each sale because of the cheaper production costs, lining the pockets of big business. But it’s a disaster for a country.

More and more manufacturing has been shipped overseas by large corporations to take advantage of cheap labor and cost of production. This is exploitation at best, and in some cases almost tantamount to slavery as workers endure disgusting conditions.

It’s happened to such an extent that many countries, including the U.S., Canada, and the U.K now have almost no manufacturing base left. All of those jobs have been shipped overseas, literally siphoning the countries’ economies with it.

As a result of this strategy, countries can no longer manage when problems hit, such as disease or war. This isn’t just a cultural problem. It isn’t just about jobs, and livelihoods and having a healthy society. There are huge security implications as we’ve seen recently with the problems in Ukraine. As we also see in relations with China, Russia, and the oil-rich nations of the Middle East.

This strategy is also a huge disaster environmentally. Because the only way it can work is by shipping things halfway around the world, relying on oil to power the cargo ships, planes, and trucks used to transport the goods.

That’s one hell of a price to pay to enrich a few already monumentally wealthy greedy business people.

Every country needs to tackle this issue. If a business wants to set up operations somewhere else, then let it. But any imported goods need to be slapped with a tax rate that makes them just as expensive as if they were made locally. The money collected that way could then be re-invested in truly local companies that enrich the society they operate in. Each country should set up major “buy local” schemes, to encourage people to buy from companies that work this way.

We need to do it for our kids, our cultures, our national security, and our environment. If we don’t, we’ll slide deeper and deeper into disaster under the corporate jackboot.

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