Lessons in capitalism at a craft fair

28 09 2010

I recently received an education in the principle tenets of capitalism and economic competition from an unlikely source. It wasn’t a Wall Street Journal article or a lecture from a business professor, but instead a visit to a friendly arts and crafts fair.

To be clear, it wasn’t a trip undertaken by my own will. As a hobby, my girlfriend loves to sew, and she recently started making her own clothes. She made some business cards, painted a sign and entered such a fair herself in March, but on this particular occasion we were just browsing.

After a few hours looking at various garments, mugs, prints and jewelry, I came to a realization. If you look past the hand-knit items and cutely crafted tidbits and beneath the kind of hippy vibe that hovers on the surface, these fairs exemplify a kind of ruthless, capitalism that would make Gordon Gekko smile.

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Smoke Break

11 05 2010

In Korea, cigarettes were part of the standard rations issued to every soldier. By law, all male citizens were required to serve for two years and most emerged from the experience with a recently acquired nicotine habit.

In fact, smoking enjoyed a broad popularity throughout Asia. From the upper class, suited, hair-parted, heavy drinkers in expensive bars to the grime-faced, blown-back haired motor bike delivery drivers of fried chicken, cigarettes were an ubiquitous presence on Asian lips. College students immersed in a game at Internet cafes, bar goers practicing their rudimentary English with drunk foreigners and old men squatting to gamble at a card game or just the traffic go by, all had packs in their back pockets.

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