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Chapter 6
Alternate Economics

Would You Like Fries With - AAACK!

by GIDEON GINRACHMANJINJa-VITUS, Alternate Reality News Service Economics Writer

Burton Lujinsky had worked on the assembly line at the Oshawa Ford plant for 15 years. Although over the years he had lost three fingers and developed an unidentified but nasty sounding hacking cough, Lujinsky took pride in the fact that he was making steering columns for the Spanish Galleon, the largest family car the world had ever known (that is, until General Motors created the Titanic).

Imagine his surprise when, one day, Lujinsky vanished from the assembly line and instantaneously appeared at his local Beef 'N Brews, bussing tables. Because the motion of the hands clearing plates from a table was identical to the motion of putting real fake leather on steering wheels, it took Lujinsky over 20 minutes to realize that he had moved to a different job; it might have taken longer, but a 12 year-old girl loudly complained that she didn't get the Star Blap XII: The Latest New Beginning toy that was supposed to come with her Heifer Meal, and that rarely happens on an auto assembly line.

"I...I was...stunned," Lujinsky wryly commented. "I...didn't know, you know, what had happened."

Fortunately, economists know exactly what happened to Burton Lujinsky, and many other workers like him: spontaneous deindustrialization syndrome (SDS). One moment, people are working on assembly lines, making stuffed hoot owls (with almost natural screeching sounds), ergonomically ambiguous computer keyboards and boombox headphones; the next moment, they are trying to convince skeptical parents that the higher priced running shoes are better made because they are named after a sports star or asking "Do you want fries with –"

"Yes, well," two-time Nobel Economics Good Sport Prize runner-up James Gandolfini coyly interrupted, "spontaneous deindustrialization syndrome is a relatively new phenomenon, having only been around for 25 years or so, so we're still not certain why it happens. It's like somebody picks you up off the assembly line and plops you down in a retail shop. It's like...like..."

"Lionheart Studios' The Movies!" shyly interjected Gamer Bois Mag Associate Editor of Obscure References martin2365bighead.

"No," Gandolfini intimately retorted. "It's nothing like that at all."

The phenomenon appears to be widespread. According to Statistics Canada, in February, 2008, for the first time in the country's history there were more jobs in retail (1.82 million) than there were in manufacturing (1.74 million). This highlights the trend going back many years of manufacturing jobs being lost as the number of retail jobs increased, a trend that hurts blue collar workers, since manufacturing jobs pay, on average, ten dollars an hour more than retail jobs.

Or, as Gandolfini put it, "Oy vey!"

How SDS actually works is still a matter of controversy among economists. In some documented cases, the wife of the worker was plucked out of the home at the same time and found herself working as a maid, babysitter or temp. In others, the moment the worker materialized in a new job, the entire family materialized in a smaller house or apartment. In some extreme cases, the new job came with a divorce. Some economists believe that the variation of circumstances indicates that spontaneous deindustrialization syndrome is not one, but perhaps a series of related problems.

There is no consensus among economists about why spontaneous deindustrialization syndrome is happening. Some believe that it is caused by the fact that god hates working people. "No, no, no," Gandolfini conciliatorily stated. "There's no need to resort to some supernatural entity to explain spontaneous deindustrialization syndrome."

Gandolfini is the leading proponent of the theory that SDS is an experiment run by 12 dimensional beings who are trying to determine the resiliency of our job market. If they find it satisfactory, they may decide to invest in businesses in our dimension. "They're not supernatural entities," Gandolfini avuncularly explained. "They're scientific!"

Wouldn't a simpler explanation be that government policy since the 1980s has been to enter into international trade agreements that make it cheaper and easier to move manufacturing to low wage countries? And, that this trend has been exacerbated by government policies that have stripped unions of the ability to protect workers?

Gandolfini pragmatically snorted: "You obviously aren't an economist!"

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