MORE must cost less. In his new book Zero to One, entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel observes that the dream of globalisation – expanding the affluent consumption habits of the western middle class to more and more of the world – demands we also commit to radical technological innovation in order to reduce that lifestyle’s environmental cost.
What a difference from the world of British politics, where both sides appear committed to the idea that spending less can only mean getting less: Labour believes it must prove it loves the NHS by paying more for it – and putting the screws on the City’s wealth to get the cash; the Conservatives, by contrast, sometimes seem as keen on preaching austerity for its character-building quality as championing the possibility of efficiency gains.
Yet offering more for less is something business achieves all the time: whether it’s free newspapers or faster processors. Take the introduction of containerisation for cargo shipping. In 1956, loose cargo cost $5.86 a ton to load. Using shipping containers slashed it to 16 cents a ton.