February 26, 2013

James Kunstler: The 'progressive' Ray Kurzweil

More than once on these pages, I've skewered Ray Kurzweil for his naive, naively optimistic, libertarian futurism, complete with its singularity.

Well, I've come to the conclusion that James Kunstler, the mega-dystopian futurist who essentially thinks Peak Oil, with a dash of climate change, is going to wreck America as we know it today, needs similar skewering.

This one, claiming that Peak Oil will wreck Walmart and other big boxes, was the tipping point.

First, Walmart itself hinted in 2008 that if oil prices got any higher and stayed there, it would seriously change its business practice. Second and related, I've blogged about such ideas myself.

What will happen if oil prices get high enough, long enough, again?

Walmart pressure on suppliers will have more of them building more in Mexico rather than in China. But, developing world manufacturing in mass lots, shipped to big boxes, will continue to happen.

Of the lower middle class, Kunstler says:
They have only one real choice: buy less stuff, especially the stuff of leisure, comfort, and convenience. 

Walmart and others will make boxes bigger. Walmart, afraid of dropbox ideas that Amazon is already trying, will look at more online purchases with dropbox type pickup at Walmart stores.

That will modestly, though not hugely, cut Walmart employment, while also cutting prices and cutting out yet more middlemen.

Basically, naive thoughts like the ones above made me come to think that, like Kurzweil, Kunstler writes stuff that comes off as wish fulfillment far more than legitimate prediction.

No comments: