Thursday, February 28, 2008

Government is for the Rich

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:36 PM Permalink

If you had any doubts, read this:
It is a vibrant fixture of Lower Manhattan commerce. Tourists jostle for space at Canal Street’s stores and sidewalk kiosks, bargaining with vendors over sparkly watches, handbags and perfumes with fake designer labels that are sold at a fraction of the cost of the genuine item.

But over the past five weeks, like the goods that are not what they appear to be, undercover police officers and city agents fanned out and pretended to be real shoppers in an area the mayor called the “Counterfeit Triangle” — which roughly includes Canal, Walker, Baxter and Centre Streets. They picked up items that included a Prada handbag for $40; a Patek Philippe watch and a Rolex for $80, and two pairs of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses for $18.

So who really cares if some tourist from Peoria or some working class schlub from Bensenhurst pays $18 dollars for D&G sunglasses? It's not like either one of them are going to pay $100s of dollars for the real thing. NOBODY who buys anything on Canal street is doing it to save money on the real thing. Meanwhile, people who make the knockoffs are employed, the people who sell the knockoffs are making money, and people who buy the crap will only have it for as long as the poor workmanship can manage to survive and they'll then have to go back to Canal street to buy something else. That's the way it works.

So, you have to wonder, who really benefited from having this done? And of course, the answer is "the greedy corporations." Knockoffs don't really hurt anybody but the corporation that's being copied. Anybody who really wants D&G glasses will buy D&G glasses. If the knockoff economy keeps a few glasses from being sold, so be it. To the huge corporations, it's not even a dent, it's a mite at best. Certainly, if I were a bag designer, and I saw my bag design on Canal Street being sold for a fraction of what I charge, I'd be annoyed. No doubt. But we're not talking about a small company that can't absorb a loss. We're talking about Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger.

So, was it for show? A demonstration of the power of the State?


Is it the State bending to the will of the corporation?


Are more regular folks hurt by this act than corporations?


Who makes the decisions that benefit so few on the backs of so many?

The closing paragraph of C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elite" (1956) offers a clue:

The men of the higher circles are not representative men; their high position is not a result of moral virtue; their fabulous success is not firmly connected with meritorious ability. Those who sit in the seats of the high and the the mighty are selected and formed by the means of power, the sources of wealth, the mechanics of celebrity, which prevail in their society. They are not men selected and formed by a civil service that is linked with the word of knowledge and sensibility. The are not men shaped by nationally responsible parties that debate openly and clearly the issues this nation now so unintelligently confronts. They are not men held in responsible check by a plurality of voluntary associations which connect debating publics with the pinnacles of decision. Commanders of power unequaled in human history, they have succeeded within the American system of organized irresponsibility.

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