Be careful. You don't want to look under that rock you're tripping over. Uh-oh, it's too late; you catch a glimpse...
A question: what happens when our ability to produce outstrips our needs and desires to consume?
First, stores begin to fill with merchandise. Where people once ordered stuff to be delivered sometime in the future, they can walk in and buy it off the shelf. As production increases, the shelves get bigger and the stores get bigger.
To help move the merchandise, stores start extending credit. Buyers no longer have to wait until they've saved enough money to buy something, they can buy now and pay later. As production continues to increase, credit becomes ubiquitous, to the point that college students who won't have a job for years are getting unsolicited credit cards in the mail.
As supply races ahead of demand, the suppliers are forced to lower prices to compete. They improve efficiencies, and thereby produce even more than ever before. This only adds fuel to the fire.
As the suppliers improve efficiencies, they need fewer workers. Start-up companies spring up, using the newly available workforce to produce even more.
The suppliers find themselves in increasingly tough competition. They begin relying heavily on marketing and advertising. This provides some temporarily relief, as some of the workforce leave their productive jobs and take up non-productive jobs in marketing and advertising. Soon the newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV have all of the advertising they can handle. Advertising begins to spill over onto nearly any publicly visible surface. Another temporary relief appears in the form of the Web.
Then advertising becomes so ubiquitous that it becomes ineffective. The suppliers decide not to spend so much on it, and they return to lowering costs by improving efficiencies, cutting their workforces. With the drop in advertising spending, many of the workers who made their living (either directly or indirectly) from marketing and advertising find their jobs disappearing.
What comes next?
The Western economic systems have been predicated on "he who produces the most should have the most". It's a competitive creed which has served us well for centuries, but it only works when our productivity is less than our consumption.
Somehow, we need to find a new system which is equitable and which works in such a situation. Anyone know of any?