Bulgaria-So I was sitting on my couch the other day finishing off a bag of garlic-flavored bagel chips and watching Keith Olbermann sock it to the White House when my mind went on overload and I began studying the bag the chips came in. It really was a thing of beauty--New York Style bagel chips, it said across the top. Lots of nifty artwork on the shiny bag touting the garlic-flavored, thin chips--a real thing of beauty (You do know, of course, that I got kicked out of art school when I was in my 40s? So I know about graphic artwork...). Then, on the side, in real tiny letters, it said: a product of Bulgaria. Bulgaria! What does Bulgaria have to do with bagels? Or even Jews, for that matter? I still don't know, and will have to find out if I ever quit editing Custer and His Naked Ladies.
But it started me thinking about one of my favorite topics: economics. Now, I'm just small potatoes, and no one ever asks me for my opinion on anything, much less economics, but I think I have a clearer picture of what makes the world go around than a lot of professionals. Take those bagel chips. Because, halfway across the world, I bought a product made in Bulgaria, some child is eating. This is more, I'm sure than Bush has done for the same child.
Wonders never cease. Because of the Internet, and shopping networks on television, third world countries can play with the big boys--and win. For instance, I have purchased jewelry from all over the world on my favorite shopping channel, QVC. There used to be a little black man who came from the Savannahs in Africa. His little country had a ruby mine. I was fascinated to hear him tell us about the cave that his people mined for rubies in the day--and how the lions and other animals moved into the same cave at night to sleep. When the workers came back in the morning, the animals got up and walked away. No one got eaten. I haven't seen the man lately. The last I heard, the mine was just about played out. It's a shame. I'm hoping they find another vein because I never did get a Savannah ruby--they aren't cheap!--I'm saving up! There's an Indonesian woman who brings silver jewelry set with semi-precious and precious stones from the Island of Bali, and a man who travels all over the world, visiting villages, and buying jewelry fashioned from all sorts of materials--metal, wood, seashells--
They bring in other vendors from all over the world, and I've learned to love these people who are coming to America, via technology. Irish, Italian, and Polish wares are frequently shown, presented by the vendor. Most times, they sell out. When they do, I'm as excited as they are!
Some might say this is exploitation. I don't think so. These people are selling direct to the buyer, and not being sucked into the great Madison Avenue machine that spits back tiny payoffs to the crafters, then slaps a big, fancy label on the item and resells it, for big bucks.
I often complain about all of the world leaders and all of their failures, which are too many to name in our lifetime. I see this economics thing as a way the people (us!) can do something good on our own. It's a small way of taking control of a bad situation.
It is said that the business of America is business. It's what we do best, and maybe it's our true gift to the world. Hopefully, it will be remembered more than our politics and foreign pollicy, which sucks.
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October 13, 2006
Bagels in Bulgaria, who knew?!