Labor vs. Material Ctd.

Well, not really labor vs. material – just labor in this case. When Michele and I went to Death Valley and back a couple of weeks ago, we pretty much stayed off of the 5 – I can't help it, that just sounds weird, I'm going back to calling it I5 (which only looks weird). Anyway, because we didn't spend much time on I5, we didn't stop at any official reststops this trip. 

But I was reminded of an incident from a couple of years ago, probably closer to 15 years ago.

We stopped at a reststop that was in the middle of a farming area and – like all reststops – fenced off from the surrounding area. It sort of reminded me of the compound where I lived when I was in the Army stationed in Korea where the native people and their normal life – for them – was on the other side of the fence.Occasionally, on the other side of the fence, both here and in Korea, we would see farmers working.

On this occasion – I5, not Korea – there were farmers, or farm workers, or just stray people, trying to sell us produce through the fence. We bought something, probably almonds. The next time we came by, the sellers were gone and, in their place, were signs saying that vending was illegal. It still pisses me off. They were just trying to make a buck by providing a service.

But, if we want a snack, we are forced to go down the freeway until we come to an interchange that features, authorized, chain fast-food joints and gas station stores. (That have hired lobbyists to get their franchises protected.)  Everywhere I have traveled, except the USA and England, there have been informal vendors selling various foods and trinkets. In China, the state not only allows it, but encourages it by building sales kiosks and open, covered sheds, where people are
likely to stop. Especially in National Parks as shown below.    

China - labor material-1095 

Imagine how nice it would be if, instead of discouraging vendors at reststops, the state encouraged them. We could buy a taco at a reststop on I5 on the way to LA. Or, at the viewpoint at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, we could get a fresh Chinese burrito. I think that our country would be better for it and it would probably help with our unemployment problem.

Kiosk 2-0814

2 thoughts on “Labor vs. Material Ctd.

  1. A fine idea indeed. Of course if China is anything like VN (and I’m sure it is) those “unauthorized” vendors have to pay a stiff bribe to the authorities (instead of paying a lobbyist to to make a campaign contribution) in order to be allowed to sell. And then, of course, in China and VN health and safety regs are pretty much non-existent, whereas in the US we would demand they be enforced (for good reason). So in the US we might get the convenience of having food service at the rest stop, instead of two miles down the road, but it would likely be provided by the same fast food chains. Actually, I’m surprised the state hasn’t put such contracts out to bid already. It would seem there is demand, and it would certainly fund the rest stop maintenance budget. A win for everyone except the unauthorized vendors.

  2. You are right, of course, Peter, but my fantasy is that the vendors, bribes, and lobbyists would be lower down on the food chain than McDonald’s. And the health and safety regs would be non-existent but a lot of people, including you (I expect) and me would prefer that to working at McDonald’s at minimum wage.

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