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.
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.