Friday, 8 February 2013

Extreme tomorrows

I suppose we all have odd ideas from time to time - ideas from the more extreme ends of the possibility spectrum. I have lots, you’ll be astonished to hear. One of them concerns the fascinating subject of supermarkets.

Suppose over the next few decades supermarkets are forced to search for new business apart from their current role as huge vending machines. Nothing unusual about that because they do it all the time, but suppose with a solid government nudge they extend their reach much further into the private lives of their customers.

We already have proposals to control how benefits are spent, so the idea could grow and conceivably supermarkets would become involved. These things acquire a surprising momentum, however draconian they might seem to us now.

For example, Sainsbury's already has its diet club so we have an idea to build on. All we add to the mix is a dash of authoritarian ambition from some amoral political wannabe - and job done.

Suppose supermarkets acquire a role as nutrition centres for those on benefits. Once established and accepted, the role could be expanded to include those diagnosed by their doctors as obese. In their case, the supermarket would have a contract to supply them with an approved diet – and nothing else.

A few other things would have to fall into place such as the disappearance of physical money. Then it will be technically possible to control the spending of any individual, particularly on things such as cigarettes, alcohol and high calorie food. The drugs war would be over because nobody would have the cash to buy drugs.

Sooner or later it may be possible to control individual, family and household food purchases. Some people could be directed to their local supermarket dietary centre where they would buy their approved meal to eat on the premises. They would not be able to buy food anywhere else.

I don't think it will happen, but that's today's perspective. Tomorrow things could change in ways we didn't expect. 


Scrobs... said...

It's horrifying to consider that Sainsbury's et al, could have local councillors, thought police, etc on their dietry committees so generously thought up by the scabrous sort of politician we've had to come to accept.

This is fertile stuff, Mr H, and very thought provoking!

Demetrius said...

Arise ye starvelings from thy slumbers.

Sam Vega said...

Thankfully, the scenario you describe has its own built-in self-destruct factors: the black market that would arise dependent on the system ("swap you a quarter of hash and a tub of lard for a dozen kiddies' shoes vouchers")and the fact that there could not be a monopoly of production ("I've got a couple of cases of turnip vodka in the boot. Takes the edge off that roadkill badger you sold me!")

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - yes, trends are not benign and we are not in control.

Demetrius - I think the slumbers have a while to go.

Sam - how did you know about the badger burgers? Not the food standards agency again?

James Higham said...

They would not be able to buy food anywhere else.

This, to me, is to become the key issue. It fits in with C&C seamlessly.

A K Haart said...

James - yes, cashless is akin to powerless.