Economics

The Glories of Capitalism

From snack foods to office supplies, the free market delivers a dazzling bounty.

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The glories of free-market capitalism are capacious. It has lifted hundreds of millions of people from bare subsistence to astonishing wealth. It has given us life-saving medical marvels, grocery shelves groaning with plenty, and phones that let you dial long-distance in the middle of a cornfield.

But its glories are not limitless. And the outer boundary of capitalism's blessings stops just shy of the dill-pickle potato chip.

You might differ on this. To you, some other product might better demonstrate how market economics' blessings are mixed: The DeLorean. Harley-Davidson perfume. The Apple Newton. British TV's Heil Honey, a short-lived sitcom about (no kidding) Adolf Hitler and his Jewish neighbor. The Kardashian franchise.

But you don't have to research the past 50 years of product flops to make the case. Just check a vending machine. There you will find every possible combination and interpolation of snack food. In the potato chip category alone—we don't have time to look at crackers, cheese puffs, corn chips, or cookies—one finds not just barbecue- or cheddar-flavored chips, but chili cheese, cool ranch, ragin' ranch, habanero, cheddar jalapeno, hot sauce, honey cheese, creamy chipotle, Mediterranean herb, and ketchup-flavored chips.

It's obvious what's going on here. Like every other industry, America's snack-food makers live in deathly fear that the other guys are going to come up with the next "disruptive innovation" first, so everyone is trying to innovate as fast as they can. The poor sots in middle management have been told next year's raise depends on producing X amount of revenue from new products. But there are only so many truly new products you can think up. Answer? Combine existing products the way you choose from a Chinese take-out menu: one from Column A, one from Column B. …

This seems to be the method at Hammacher Schlemmer—the fine folks who bring you must-have products like the bath mat/alarm clock and the remote-control pillow. It seems to work for them. So why not try it with snack food?
Pickle-flavored potato chips, that's why. Who needs all that ridiculous junk? Your basic potato-flavored potato chip was good enough for our ancestors and by gad sir, it should be good enough for us.

Or at least this is my attitude when standing before a vending machine. Whisk me into an office-supply store, however, and the tune suddenly changes

I am among those who have a weak spot—call it a fetish, call it an obsession—for school supplies. Pens, especially.

There are pens, you see, and then there are pens. The ballpoint might have been a wondrous innovation in its time, a leap forward as great as the saltation from the Underwood manual typewriter to the IBM Selectric. But today even the best ballpoint seems a poor and shabby thing amid the rows of rollerballs, gel-inks, porous-points, brush-tips, technical pens, and other fine writing implements.

And each of them has its place in an ordered world. You want the right pen for the job, after all. For marking up page proofs, there's nothing like a Pilot Bravo, which leaves a thick red or blue correction that bellows "FIX THIS" in a manly baritone. For jotting down a phone number on a scratch pad, you can't beat the speed of a Uniball Signo 207 gel. For everyday writing, the Pilot Precise V5 rolling-ball is splendid.

You can find those in most well-stocked stationers. But for the very best pens, you must seek elsewhere. The perfect implement for glossy magazine crosswords? It's a tossup between the 0.4mm Pentel Hybrid Technica and the 0.4mm Pilot Hi-Tec C (If you're working a crossword on newsprint, you'll want a Pentel Slicci—no tearing or bleeding.) Both the Technica and the Hi-Tec are engineering marvels. You can find the Technica at Hobby Lobby. The Hi-Tec isn't available in most U.S. stores, for some totally insane reason, but you can order it from jetpens.com, and I suggest you do so right away. While you're at it, order a Pentel Tradio Stylo porous-point fountain pen, for those days when you want your signature to look its jauntiest.

And then—this is purely personal opinion, mind you—there is the apotheosis of pens, the Koh-i-Noor 0.35mm technical pen. Technical pens are messy and balky, but when kept in proper working order and applied to a college-ruled 14-inch yellow legal pad, they are … well. Words fail. One gets choked up a bit, and needs a moment.

There. Composure restored. Now, if you are not a pen person—if you are content with a Bic ballpoint or (shudder) a simple No. 2 pencil—then the preceding will strike you as baffling and perhaps even stupid.

But then that is another glory of free-market capitalism. There's a pen for everyone, just as there is (sigh) a potato chip for everyone. We don't all have to like hypodermically fine-point technical pens for someone to make them, just as we don't all have to like ketchup-flavored potato chips, either. It's enough that some of us do, and the miracle is that they get made, even though nobody is in charge of the pen market or chip market. There is no federal Secretary of Pens, no Department of Potato Chip Flavors.

Yet somewhere out there right now, a middle manager is thinking up some totally awesome new type of pen, and when it hits the shelves your humble servant will be the first in line to snap it up. And somewhere out there, a chip fanatic is loading his shopping cart with Utz and Lays, a spring in his step and a song in his heart because someone has just introduced a flavor he hasn't tried yet.

I get it, Mr. Chip Man. I totally get it. Eat your heart out, big guy.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this article originally appeared.

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  1. “The Glories of Capitalism”
    Who the hell are you preaching to?

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  2. Finally, an article I care about.

  3. Yes, but capitalism is leading us to a class-based society!!!! Controlled by the 1%!!!! Argh snarl!

    Seriously, here’s the latest nonsense from David Brooks. Latching on to Charles Murray’s data about how Americans are separating into “two tribes”, Brooks says we need mandatory national service to force us all to hang out together again.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01…..vorce.html

    Since it’s the Times, the comments are naturally full of people complaining that the reason the bottom 30% behaves the way it does is because poverty has them all depressed.

    Here’s the thing: maybe, just maybe, the reason Americans are separating into tribes is because the bottom 30% are…deadbeats.

    I live in a small town in Vermont. 98% white (so like Murray’s data, race is not part of the equation, so racial discrimination is not an issue). And here’s what I see:

    The bottom 30% are failing their kids because that’s just the way they are. It has nothing to do with class in the economic sense. These people aren’t beaten down, or exploited, or too poor to enjoy the advantages I “get by privilege”. They’re just lazy and comfortable and really, really happy in a degenerative culture.

    There are two public libraries in my town. Free, to anyone. When I go to them with my kid, do you know who I see there with their kids? Rich people. The bottom 30% could bring their kids to the library – but they don’t, because they choose not to.

    Williams College (a few miles away), Bennington College, Southern Vermont College, the Clark Art Museum, and the Bennington Museum knock themselves out holding free community events, particularly for families with kids. When I take my kid to these events, you know who I see? Rich people. The bottom 30% could bring their kids to museums and concerts, and they choose not to.

    Gas costs money, sure – but the bottom 30% seem to be driving all over my town with no problem. Just not to take their kids anywhere they might accidentally learn to read.

    We’re dividing into two tribes because the bottom tribe likes what it does and doesn’t like what the top tribe likes. If we took one of the bottom 30% families and had them live my lifestyle for a week they would freak the fuck out. They would HATE it.

    If you take out skiing or other expensive winter sports, it is NOT EXPENSIVE to live the lifestyle of a 1 percenter here. Everything’s free. So that means it’s not money that’s segregating the bottom 30% out. It can’t be.

    1. Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      1. Fantastic!

        You’re in time to get the February issue, with its engrossing cover story “Fuck You Blow Me”.

        1. Totally OT, but we’re practically neighbors, sort of, in that I am in Berkshire County (ok, all the way in Pittsfield but I used to live in North Adams and I have a daughter at Bennington College) and have been known to drive to Pownal to buy cigarettes at Stewarts or take pictures of the Vermont Cheese Furniture sign.

          I now return you to your regular programming.

    2. [David] Brooks says we need mandatory national service to force us all to hang out together again.

      One can almost understand Brook’s conundrum. You see, how can people accept your greatness if they’re so attached to their liberties?

      1. I think that Brooks thinks that if we were “all jammed together”, that we’d all sit around and talk about the NY Times Book Review.

        I think what he’s not accounting for is the fact that the bottom 30% will never, ever want to sit around and talk about the NY Times Book Review. All that jamming the bottom 30% together with the top 20% will accomplish is increasing the amount of time the top 20% devote to beer and porn. Not bad things by any stretch of the imagination, of course, but not exactly edifying to the bottom 30%.

        1. I live in the ghetto. You know who brings their kids to my neighborhood library? Poor people. You know who brings there kids to Juxtaposition Arts and the like? Poor people. You, sir, are a fucking, classist snob.

          1. In fairness to Fluffy, rural Western New England poverty is a different culture entirely than urban poverty, and tends to be almost rabidly anti-intellectual, and not in a good way.

          2. Tough shit, dude.

            People are bitching because they claim that capitalism is splitting America into two classes.

            Do you think that’s happening, or not?

            Are you seriously going to sit there and deny to me that a huge part of the reason the top 20% and bottom 30% do different things with their time can be attributed to preference and not income or cost?

            I talked about free things for a reason – because it completely removes the element of cost from consideration.

            Per capita, who do you think does those things more – the top 20% or the bottom 30%?

            1. “Do you think that’s happening, or not?”

              No, I do not.

              However, I do believe that it is NO COINCIDENCE WHATSOEVER that the media keep hyping what just happens to be Obama’s campaign strategy.

              None of my neighbors have ever discussed, let alone participated in any OWS events.

          3. I see a lot of poor kids in the library as well. Their parent drops them off in the morning and then picks them up right before closing.

            1. 25 years from now that kid will be in the top 20%, though.

              And then the data will show that the two classes are even more segregated than they are now, and David-Brooks-Head-In-Vat will write a column saying how we’d all still be one happy family if we had just tried his 25-year-old national service idea.

              1. Don’t be such a bigot. Some heads-in-a-vat are much smarter than disembodied David Brooks.

            2. I see a lot of homeless in some libraries, too. And yet…..

              Opportunities exist, but you cannot force people to take advantage of them.

          4. Why are they having kids if they’re poor? And if they’re all at the library on a Saturday, then who are all those people jamming the parking lots of Walmart, Target, and the mall?

    3. I actually think you’ve made some good points here.

    4. I grew up in a blue-collar suburb in Maryland that was lily-white, so, again, racial discrimination wasn’t the issue. Not only did people not take advantage of what was offered to them, but they even ridiculed those who did.

      1. Exactly. And it’s not about money or income.

        Unless it’s about money and income in the opposite way: that when the bottom 30% have enough disposable income to do the things they enjoy, they choose things that move them farther away from the top 20% and not closer.

        That’s what I suspect it is. And that means that income inequality isn’t the issue – and that if you took money from the top 20% or 1% and gave it to the bottom 30%, you’d actually increase the divide, because every marginal disposable income dollar the bottom 30% gain would actually segregate them further.

        1. There is one thing that unites the top 20% and the bottom 30%: Television.

          I don’t mean the crap on television; I mean the TV itself. Everyone wants a bigger and better TV and I’ve met plenty of people who complain about never having 2 nickels to rub together in order to pay to fix their car but found a way to afford the same 60 inch flat screen and a cable subscription to go with it that my boss has.

          1. I see that with phones.

    5. Newsletter please.

      I live in a middle-class ivory tower, so take this with a grain of salt…but…I see charities and government programs for just about everything. Free cell phones. Free food. Free health care. Free shots. Free condoms. Free education. Free toys for tots. Free books. Free this and that. With all that abundance, people are still going without? Dafuq?

      1. The major material penalty for being poor in the US is that you end up housed near other poor people.

        And that’s a legitimate penalty. That’s a negative thing.

        But to a certain extent when you try to solve it you run into the Buckaroo Banzai problem: no matter where you go, there you are. People don’t decide to stop going to Hooters and go to the cafe in the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead when you give them more money.

        I think that all those “free” things you talk about can solve just about every problem of poverty but that one.

        1. Those free things don’t solve the problem of insecurity, or get anyone near independence. To paraphrase Frisco: money can get for you what you want, but it won’t generate the prerequisites for desire.

    6. The bottom 30% are failing their kids because that’s just the way they are.
      —————————-
      that’s the part the collectivists don’t get until they try an actual collective. There is always a segment that is sorry, just as there is always a segment that will overachieve regardless of environment.

      The left pretends that you can mandate equality of outcome. No, all govt can and should do is guarantee equality of opportunity.

      1. Just look at the very first European colonies that came here to the New World. The Pilgrims first tried collectivism until they discovered that only some were actually doing all the work. They quickly changed that to “only those who work shall eat.”

        1. Mmmmm! The venerable old “Pilgrim Story.” Oooh, I’m gonna like kicking this one out the window…

          Irrelevant. Labor was so scarce in the Americas that slavery and the slave trade flourished here for centuries. What the Pilgrims did or did not do in that kind of an economic situation has exactly no significance to what happens in a fully-mechanized economic system in which less than 3% of the population is sufficient to complete all agricultural work and less than 10% of the population is sufficient to complete all industrial production. “Reserve labor” is the signal feature of our economy. It has been since the gilded age; it remains so; and any “theory” that cannot account for it has no worth whatsoever.

          1. No, dumbass.

            The early colonists in every major Spanish colony had often lucked or thugged their way into fortunes by looking for gold and Indians to steal gold from.

            The first waves of English settlers had trouble feeding themselves because so many able-bodied men spent their time trying to track down gold to steal, instead of spending their time farming.

            Labor market conditions in the 1680’s are absolutely irrelevant to BSR’s quite historical anecdote, which dates to the first 1-5 years of English settlement in the Americas.

            1. “…so many able-bodied men spent their time trying to track down gold to steal, instead of spending their time farming.”

              in other words, ‘financialization’ afflicted the early pilgrim economy.

      2. The left pretends that you can mandate equality of outcome.

        No matter how many times you guys repeat this lie, it won’t become real.

        If what you want is government to guarantee equality of opportunity, then you should join the left in supporting a strong social safety net and high taxes on the rich. Because if you can’t afford the basic necessities then you don’t have an equal opportunity to succeed.

        The problem is ALL of the support the right has in this country is based on the precise ignorance you just displayed. They have you afraid of authoritarian communism and various other bogeyman, all the while they’re taking your opportunity away and giving it to the rich in the form of tax cuts.

        1. You know what? I used to be poor, and brought up three kids on a sub-poverty-level income. At no time were we in any danger of going hungry, or of sleeping on the streets. Were our choices constrained by our circumstances? Of course, and that’s a good thing, since it helped motivate both me and them. Upward mobility is not mysterious and impossible, one of the great blessings of capitalism. I realize that hard work and delayed gratification are harder in the short run than whining, but the rewards are not illusory.

          1. And that’s why we should have current tax rates instead of Clinton-era tax rates? Why must the status quo always be the freest possible system?

            1. That’s about the falsest of false choices. I vote neither.

            2. What opportunities are rich people stealing by not paying 4% more in taxes (or whatever)?

            3. Fuck you, Tony, and your redistributionist fantasies. People came to this country and raised their standard of living long before the income tax, which is nothing more than extortion. Don’t believe me? You don’t owe anyone anything unless and until you enter into a contract with them. Gov’t is no different. But the contract must be entered into voluntarily. Signing a 1099 at work is not voluntary. It’s extortion – “sign here or no job”. That isn’t a voluntary contract. Gov’t has no magic power over us, unless you count their guns. Might makes right isn’t covered by the Constitution.

            4. There are are number of tax policies which are freer than the status quo, but Clinton’s tax policies are not one of them.

            5. Tony refuses to say why 34% is woefully inefficient for a tax rate, but *39.6%* is damn near the cure for death itself.

        2. MAOR STRAHMEN

    7. You are clearly a racist….or something.

    8. I volunteered with the poor for eight years, and everything you say is true. There’s no secret cabal of evil, old white guys in three-piece suits with their thumbs on the poor; the Stonecutters are not rigging it so that the bottom 30% can’t enjoy life. When you see the lives of the supposed bottom 30% close-up, you see they’re where they are because of a rather simple progression of either outright bad choices, or choices to avoid anything that challenges them.

      I grew up in the inner city, and had a public school education. The poor kids that still occupy that neighborhood are bused to the same schools that I was, and have the same opportunities that I did. Today, they have many times the scholarships and opportunities available to them that I did back in the ’80s, and they have the Internet to track down those opportunities, which I didn’t have.

      Anybody who does not want to be part of the bottom 30% does not have to be. *shrug*

      1. “Anybody who does not want to be part of the bottom 30% does not have to be. *shrug*”

        *************

        Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? I think the laws of mathematics dictate that there will always be a “bottom 30%.”

      2. Also, I very much doubt the good faith, skill and competence that you brought to your resume-padding “volunteer” stint. Maybe your smug self-satisfaction affected your performance as a “volunteer,” and you were yourself part of the problem.

        1. Or, maybe “we” is just a fucking prick.

          1. Maybe it’s both…

  4. the simple presence of this article speaks volumes.

  5. Capitalism turned a banal cartoon pony cartoon into a bizarre and fascinating Internet phenomena. For that alone it should be loved.

      1. SO, like, an acoustic version?

  6. The glories of free-market capitalism are capacious. It has lifted hundreds of millions of people from bare subsistence to astonishing obesity.

    FIFY

    1. Being fat’s way worse than dying of starvation!
      /sic

      1. Chicks dying of self-starvation is way better than them being fat!

        /sarcasmic, as perceived by John

        1. AHAHAHAHA

          That was really good. And true.

        2. Anorexia… bulimia… either way, it’s a toss-up.

          *drum roll*

    2. The porn workout program was meant to negate the overzealous junk food habit

      Tim, do you not watch enough porn?

    3. tim,
      are you saying bare subsistence is better or that people lack the ability to avoid making bad decisions? The former speaks directly to the benefits of capitalism; the latter has nothing to do with it.

      1. It was sarcasm.

    4. Starving to death

      1. Think I’d rather have heart failure than the slow, maddening decay of starvation.

        1. It was sarcasm.

    5. Re: Tim,

      It has lifted hundreds of millions of people from bare subsistence to astonishing obesity.

      Yes, it did. So, what’s your problem?

      1. It was sarcasm.

        1. but you still hate porn?

      2. The fatz!!1!!11!

  7. Now Tony will have to hate potatoe chips.

    1. He supports Obamacare, which means he already does.

  8. The penis mightier than the s words, Alex.

  9. Dude, you’re the me of reason.com. Alas, we are smarter than everyone thinks we are.

  10. I think that dude knows exactly what the deal is.

    http://www.puter-privacy.tk

  11. Yet somewhere out there right now, there is a bureaucrat trying to figure out how to regulate this free market chaos…

    1. I hope so. I hate a lot of those flavors, and since the market has failed to give me precisely what I want, every time, and nothing else, the market has failed.

  12. The glories of free-market capitalism are capacious. It has lifted hundreds of millions of people from bare subsistence to astonishing wealth.

    If one wants to be specific about the mechanism that allowed this, one has to mention the two most important concepts of human behavior that allow this explosion of productivity:

    a) Division of labor, and
    b) Savings (postponed consumption)

    Without previously saved resources, you cannot embark on long term projects. Without the division of labor, you cannot lower the cost of production. Without BOTH, you cannot have the raising standards of living we have enjoyed.

  13. But Hinkle, you’re forgetting about the paradox of choice.

    What about all the psychic damage we’re doing to people who are overwhelmed by too many potato chip choices?

    1. Re: Fluffy,

      What about all the psychic damage we’re doing to people who are overwhelmed by too many potato chip choices?

      I am never overwhelmed by too many choices. I simply look at what’s for sale.

      1. Which wouldn’t be possible in a dystopia with fewer choices.

      2. I like potato chips, but I do not like dill pickles. I was at the supermarket the other day and of the myriad possible potato chips to put on sale, they had dill pickle flavored chips marked down. I felt small and that my opinion didn’t matter.

        1. Another victim of capitalism!

        2. You’re short-sighted. You should rejoice, because the reason they’re marking down the dill-pickle-flavored chips is that few others like them either, so the store is reducing their price for quick sale. You were not othered; you’re the otherer in this instance.

        3. That’s good, because you are small and your opinion largely does not matter. What should make you feel good is this; that truth applies to everyone else.

      3. Agreed, I have never understood the backlash against choices (particularly in Supermarkets and so forth). Buy the one you like, if you stop liking it, buy another one or don’t buy any of it at all. Not exactly a grounds for psychological breakdown.

  14. There is no federal Secretary of Pens, no Department of Potato Chip Flavors.

    Some of the clueless will tell you that people need these departments in order to assure proper and just distribution of goods – you know, the lovely goods like those Zappo cars and sandy toilet paper.

    1. Like Tony, for instance.

    2. “sandy toilet paper”

      it’s “Sandi toilet paper”.

  15. What the fuck is this UTZ?

    1. It’s a Northeast brand – yummy sourdough pretzels.

      1. Their cheese balls and party mix are pretty good too.

        1. And their Salt and Pepper potato chips are awesomely delicious.

    2. Utz is some good stuff.

  16. I’m still waiting on the Hamburger Flavored Potato Chips to hit the shelves at Publix.

    As far as pens are concerned, I’m a big fan of Sheaffer 500.

    1. You use ballpoint pens? you philistine.

      1. You’ve obviously never seen the Sheaffer 500. In a pinch it can double as a weapon capable of puncturing the skull of a pit bull or the sidewall of my neighbors car tire after he parks in front of my driveway for the 100th time (not that I’ve had occasion to do either of those things). And it’s far cheaper than one of those tactical pens they make for survivalists.

        1. fuck tactical pens. A plastic bic with the cap off will pierce eye, cheek, or throat no problem.

          1. Yes, but can you still write with it after you’re done, and I’m not talking about using the blood of your victim for ink.

  17. not carrying a legal ID, and allegedly did not give the park ranger his real name.

    I hate “Bar-B-Q” potato chips; this means they are unnecessary, and a waste of resources. Market FAILURE!

  18. Whoops!

    Stupid keyboard.

  19. Latching on to Charles Murray’s data about how Americans are separating into “two tribes”, Brooks says….

    I don’t care what ANYBODY who relies on Charles Murray says.

    1. I don’t doubt for a second that every one of Murray’s data points is correct.

      I just don’t see what he expects us to do about it.

      1. You have to understand Murray. His business is politically incorrect facts that nobody else wants to touch. So he has to go the extra mile to put up the veneer that he really really cares about people and wants us all to get along, rather than that he’s just exposing truths for their own sake (which is what he’s really doing).

        1. INOW, he doesn’t give a shit whether elitists have lost touch, he just wants to expose them as elitist pieces of shit they think they aren’t.

  20. the bottom 30% will never, ever want to sit around and talk about the NY Times Book Review.

    I am quite definitely not part of that bottom 30%, but I quite honestly not give a fuck less what manner of pretentious nonsense they’re dishing out at the New York Times Review of Books.

    1. I needed a one-clause way to summarize the type of interests you might find to be more prevalent in the top 20% than in the bottom 30%.

      You can substitute at will.

  21. could not give…

    Writing am hsrd.

  22. This article illustrates exactly why we need central planning. Capitalism produces too much stuff.

    1. I’ve actually seen this argument made, in the form of “Capitalism forces people into artificial desires.” There’s a lot of kooky ascetics out there who think we’d all be happier if we were all poorer.

      1. yea, and it all fits into such other stuff as global warming fanaticsm, enviromental extremism, and even lesser stuff like local food movements, etc.

        of course these are the same people who can’t live without their ipad and shit, so i find it amusing

        1. well duh, how else are we supposed to blog about the latest vegan fads, knuckle-dragging republicans, and organize protests in the middle of a workweek?

          1. kind of like how OWS protests, which were full of hippy crunchy environmental types left TONS of litter, even excrement, and were a complete blight… tea partiers cleaned up after themselves.

  23. i’ve heard libs and progressives argue (in yet another stupid screed against capitalism) that this choice is “illusory”

    for fuck’s sake, within 30 miles of my home, i have two very good butchers, a # of farms where i can buy a side of beef (as i do), korean markets, mexican markets, one of the best cheese and imported food markets i have ever seen … with bulk spices, a couple of kick-ass jerky outlets, at least 1/2 dozen farms selling meat and eggs from free range animals, and grocery stores with an incredible array of items

    capitalism fucking rules

    1. You’re still not getting into the mind of the “progressive”. This choice is illusory because they’re all the wrong choices! Obviously only people who agree with me are making correct choices; yet the vast majority of people keep acting like their preferences sometimes differ from mine! The only explanation is that they’ve been infected by a malevolent “false consciousness” (no, I’m not exaggerating, Google that).

      1. you are right

        of course, getting into the mind of a progresive is about as appealing as getting into the vagina of roseanne

    2. You buy a whole side of beef? How long does it take to eat all of it?

  24. The left is not criticizing capitalism, it is criticizing specific problems that capitalism currently has. But every single time any such problem is pointed out, it’s characterized as an assault on capitalism itself. The left is not who is distorting this conversation.

    1. The left is not criticizing capitalism…The left is not who is distorting this conversation

      Douchebag liar is a douchebag.

      1. The fuck you aren’t, Tony.

        And besides you, lots of your fellow Team members rag on capitalism, in even worse ways. Constantly.

        1. So the fuck what? Capitalism is just an imperfect system of distributing resources. It’s not something people are required to worship.

          1. Funny you should mention “worhsip”, considering your ob session with raising taxes.

  25. Bullshit. I actually follow the links and read the articles my various progressive and occutard Facebook friends post. Anyone who can believe this tripe and still claim to favor capitalism simply doesn’t understand what capitalism means.

    1. capitalism allows WAY too many choices for the individual, something that progressives can never abide

      reminds of the old simone de (can’t even spell her last name), one of the old school feminists who said “women should not be given the choice to stay at home and raise children, because if they are given that choice, too many will take it”

      that pretty much defines progressivism, in a nutshell.

      they are the MOST anti-choice people around

      1. Educate yourself:

        http://www.goodreads.com/autho…..e_Beauvoir

        Then you can stop embarrassing yourself.

        1. spare me. i speak french. i just couldn’t remember how to spell it

          sorry if i don’t meet your 3l33t spelling protocols

          (rolls eyes)

        2. oh, and i’m not embarassed, but to quote a man i can spell… “i’m laughing at the superior intellect”

          1. The quote is apocryphal, and not representative of the woman’s thinking in any event.

            Again: educate yourself. Read the woman’s actual quotes. I provided the link. Learn something outside of your fetid, angry little bubble-universe.

            1. yawn. right. the angry, shrewish feminist was not angry and shrewish

              of course, look at her husband

              1. “we” can’t argue about others being angry, without first taking stock of itself.

  26. A pen fetish article without mentioning the Zebra F-301? Blasphemy!

  27. How are you going to write an article featuring pens and leave out the Zebra’s? Those are truly excellent writing devices (and not prohibitively expensive). I love my F-701. In the nuclear navy they were a favorite for page after page of log taking.

  28. The author praises vending machines but I personally disagree. I find their wares to be disappointing with pretty much three types of carbs: potato chips, chocolate, and crackers. Where’s the beef? (so to speak?) How about a slim jim pack?

    Now from what I saw on Discovery, Japan has got it right! Beer! Canned foods that heat themselves!

    I’m probably not the best critic because at the office, I buy my snacks in bulk at the grocery store and stock up. If someone blows $2 a day at the vending machine, they deserve to remain in the lower classes.

  29. I got a lesson in capitalism recently when I tried to reserve a motel room in Wendover Utah for Speed Week in August. Every other week of the year I could expect to pay about $40-50 a night. Aug 13-17, rooms START at $200 a night. What is the dividing line between supply and demand, and price-gouging?

    1. Planning ahead.

      1. If the hotels are unable to rent the rooms for the price they ask, they were priced above market. If they rent at those rates, the price is fair.

        If you are convinced the locals are “gouging” then perhaps you should consider getting into the hotel biz and undercutting them for a tidy profit. My guess is that you would fail, however.

        One REAL way to deal with this is to use supply and demand to your advantage. Reserve the room at a lower rate BEFORE the event schedule is finalized. That would take alot of work and you’d be competing with professional travel agents but it can be done. Still, most people prefer just to pay the higher rate and avoid the headache.

  30. Very good article.
    Hope to read you, next time maybe.

    Keep up the good work !

    Marie-L. Bickel.

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