The Soviet economy failed for many reasons. One key reason is that centralized command and control economics suppresses adaptation. No one in the system can add new technology or adapt to environmental circumstances. One example of this is the Soviet refusal to create plastic bags for bread.

Moscow was a city of 9 million in the 1980s. It needed 2,500 tons of bread every day. Bakeries made the bread the night before or morning of and sent it to the shops. The loaves only stay fresh for one day, so any delays would result in stale bread. Since this was the Soviet Union, there were many, many disruptions and delays.

The bread was wrapped in paper, if at all. The Soviets almost never used packaging. In the US, plastic bags and packaging were in widespread use and this extended the freshness of bread and made transportation easier.

Harvard Business Review takes a look at which societies are looking at the future.

There is a strong correlation with future-oriented societies, competitiveness and optimism. Singapore is the most future oriented and Russia is the least.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita describes why dictators do little to lift their people out of poverty. Cynically, dictators stay in power longer if they make their people poorer.

Democratic leaders and Autocrats both seek to stay in power. Democrats manage a large and inclusive coalition. This reduces their ability to bribe allies for support. Democrats must enact good economic policies instead. Dictators can just bribe their allied generals and party leaders to stay in power.

The standard shipping container is 20 foot by 40 foot and is so simple yet revolutionary. It’s so ubiquitous that you hardly notice it. This box spread in the 1950s and 60s caused a major infrastructure change in the US. The Container drastically increased productivity and speed of transportation and has helped globalization of trade. The once powerful Longshoremen Unions were obliterated.

We miss small wonders of our world. Hardly anyone looks at a 20×40 foot metal box and is impressed. We should be.

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