Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughts on the Mall

Living in DC I don't go to malls very often. I'm lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where I can buy about 99% of what I need (really 100% of what I need and 98% of what I want) somewhere within about a 15 block radius from home now that the Harris Teeter finally opened. I guess I go to Pentagon City a couple of times a year, but it's usually during the holidays and I'm there on a mission not fucking around like I was today.

For reasons I can't explain, I took a stroll through the West Acres iteration of Spencer gifts while I was at the mall today. I was fascinated and kind of weirded out to see that the Misfits iconic Crimson Ghost logo now appears on everything from air fresheners to wallets. I'm glad that there's some kind of cultural counter-point out there to focus grouped garbage like Hannah Montana, but the blatant cash grab is kind of gross.

All of this got me thinking about capitalism. I'm an unapologetic capitalist who wishes that there were more ethical rules applied to capitalism. I firmly believe that many of the innovations that make modern life worth living wouldn't and couldn't have happened in any other economic system. Look at the poor prick who invented the AK-47, quite possibly the most popular weapon ever made, he got a medal and the designation of "proletarian hero" but not much else out of the deal. What's the incentive to innovate and invent if you're still gonna be living in a shack with a dirt floor no matter how successful you are?

The flip side of that is that capitalism produces a lot of garbage in search of the next "killer app". Spencer's was full of all manner of frightfully stupid and unnecessary junk; penis lollipops, breast suspenders (don't ask 'cause I can't really explain), and edible underwear are just a few examples. Presumably, behind each and everyone of these products was someone who thought, planned, and worked to get these products to market with the thought that they were going to make some money off of them.

I can't help but wonder what if all the time, money, and energy that went into manufacturing and distributing the useless tchotchkes sold at Spencer Gifts, Hot Topic, and Pac Sun were put into renewable energy research? But that's not the way capitalism works, we can't compel anyone to innovate in a specific area, we can only provide incentives.

I saw this post the other day about a "Green New Deal" that I found quite fascinating. I don't know if we want lawyers coming up with our environmental policy, but the idea has some merit. This is where we need to give capitalism a little kick in the ass, help it get out of its conservative rut with some gov't assistance.


viagra online said...

Agree, I don't really like malls to many people, I'm cheap but everything is more expensive... and like you I have all I need very close to where I live.
Nice post, thanks.

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