On capitalist competition

Young people are trained to blame Wall Street and the Capitalists for everything that is wrong in our society. Our schools turn out armies of resentful, spitball socialists every year. They all know how to remake the world, condensed into five hysterical slogans. They agree that the rich should pay. Like their teachers, they are constantly protesting.

Well, maybe not all. I tend to exaggerate.

Sometimes, however, I wonder if what they need is not a Revolution, just an extra five points of IQ. Perhaps, quite apart from the Capitalists, their Customers could benefit from some critical attention.

We have a new, family-owned, mildly ethnic supermarket in Parkdale. It is almost excessively clean, fully staffed, and well-organized. Generic brands are packaged simply and sharply. Everything appears to be in stock. The prices are not higher than at the other supermarkets, except for luxury and high-end items. The food is noticeably fresher: it takes about one glance. The place is quite empty of customers thus far, so you may walk right in. The cashiers don’t charge for plastic bags.

Or you can go to the slightly nearer, “cut-rate,” mass-market foodstore. There, you must queue to enter, for more than a block, six feet apart. It is surprisingly dirty, for a store in a “developed country.” The atmosphere of crisis is palpable. The prices are sneaking up. Lots of shelves are bare. The customers are rude, loud, vulgar, and aggressive. Their children are wild and sneezing. These little ones seem to have been taught to handle all the merchandise, before rejecting it, having squeezed anything that might be soft. The staff try to be polite, but only till 10 o’clock in the morning. The stocking clerks like to run people down in their gigantic carts, and block the more popular sections. Notwithstanding, the place is crowded.

I’d mention that everyone around here votes Liberal, but that would be political. Besides, some of them vote NDP.

I had noticed before that, in the days when we had restaurants, there’d be huge crowds competing for the attention of the “servers” (who don’t serve), willing to pay higher prices for hamburgers that were half the weight of those available from quiet family restaurants, right across the street. I could sit peacefully in the latter and puzzle over the perversity of human nature; or the phenomenon of obedience to crass mass advertising. I could work on my personal theory, that humans are not “rational economic actors,” but more like kittens being led about by string. Or in an emergency, tangling themselves in loo rolls.

Perhaps, if we were attentive to Our Lady instead, we wouldn’t need that extra five points. Perhaps even with five points less of IQ, the methods of evaluating even the smallest things would mysteriously improve.

Good luck with those Capitalists, kids.

And to the backward, a glorious, if invisible, Annunciation.