This morning, my wife, dog and I when to a local Farmers' Market. The concept of a Farmers' Market is where local farmers (from regional Victoria) bring their seasonal produce to sell to the local community. The produce, though not very different from what you would get from a local supermarket (in variety) were definitely more expensive... on average one would be paying close to 30% mark-up off supermarket shelf price. I have never understood the popularity of the Farmers' Market with the locals, why would people prefer to shop in a place where everything cost 30% more than the supermarket.
Why did we go to the Farmers' Market? You see, Pearly and I got sick of the everyday bread, butter and kaya combination and we decided to have breakfast at the "more expensive" local market. We thought this was a brilliant idea as Wen Wen (my dog) will get to meet many of his "kind".
In the Farmers' market was a small "make-shift" bistro that serves the usual coffee, tea and toast combination. The food was definitely more exciting than our usual breakfast; the weather was beautiful and sitting outdoor sipping a cup of hot coffee (and sausage roll) and enjoying the local market scene was a relaxing way to past a Sunday morning.
Seated next to us was an elderly gentleman - Frank. At first, it appears that Frank was intrigued by Wen Wen's endless antics under the table. Then, I saw Frank cast a few glances at us as if he was trying to make conversation... I decided that I will start by saying "hi..." It turns out that Frank would visit the Farmers' market every Sunday to stock up on the local "organic" produce. He recommended the unpasturised milk from Swampy's.
I can't really remember how... but the friendly Sunday morning conversation about organic food soon developed into a discussion about America's social economic system... it also brought about the thought that Australia is first becoming USA's 52nd State (after Canada). In summary, Frank shared his not-so-positive views about America's capitalistic move towards "privatisation" of everything from grocery to healthcare to County Police and State Highway Petrol. He also shared his thoughts about how the US education system deteriorated under the Bush's administration.
Some of Frank's word resonated with me... and made me ponder about what capitalism stood for today and how it has changed the lives of many...
(1) We excel when we strive for excellence, but we place little emphasis on providing excellence for all - isn't it true that excellence only goes to those who can afford it? One concoct examples from numerous other fields (e.g. transportation or housing). Whether this is good or bad is largely a value judgment, but I think capitalism makes people more individualist and less collectivist.
(2) We can sometime forget that society matters more than any single institutions or company. Look at what happened what we give private corporations an unchecked freedom to pursue profit, society eventually pays - eventually.
(3) Capitalism promotes individualism that makes us selfish.
One can go on ranting about the negative effects of capitalism... but communism, the antonym of capitalism has shown through the years that it brings even more harm than good. Most countries in the world that have previously embraced communism have now come to adopt a more socio-economic type of communism very similar to capitalism (eg. Vietnam and China).
I should probably stop here... need to prepare dinner...