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Posts Tagged ‘free market’

Not many Americans may have heard of it, but Kaubajama is one of the largest department stores in Talinn, Estonia. It could be compared to our own Macy’s. Or Nordstrom. Or Meir and Frank. Or Barney’s… The list goes on and on, because in America, we have a variety to choose from. To me, it’s fascinating to think that capitalism is still a relatively new idea in some European countries. And that for them, the concept of capitalism is still a vague notion compared to what they have experienced.

Having just learned about the existence of Kaubamaja, I myself was intrigued at how their department store promotes itself as modelled by western standards. Their progressive philosophy is described on their website, in terms that I thought were slightly ironic, coming from a country in the former communist block.

“Kaubamaja Values”

We value Creativity
There is always somebody with better ideas than we have. We help people give birth to ideas and realise them.
Every new solution that helps us better serve our customers is worth being considered.
Every member of our staff who is willing to seek and find new solutions deserves to be met with appreciation.
Every business partner who is willing to seek and find new solutions along with us is of interest to us.

We value Will
Only those who strive to be the best are truly good.
The willingness to serve our customers and help them fulfill their wishes is characteristic to every staff member of Kaubamaja.
The willingness to set and achive higher objectives is the issue that denotes our contribution to the development of Kaubamaja and society.
Being the best does not necessarily mean being number 1 in a competition, but may also mean being among the best.

We value Cooperation
Cooperation in customer relations is not merely an empty phase – it means a relationship in which customers will get the best offers and service and will keep coming back to us.
Cooperation is also the key word in work relations.
We do not want to win on the account of our people, but with them.
Cooperation in business relations means acting together for sake of common long-term goals that will benefit both parties.

We value Honesty
We communicate in an honest and open way. Honesty creates the basis for long-term relationships, saves emotions and time.
We act honestly towards our customers and partners by saying what we can offer them and what we expect of them in return.

Wow. “We value Creativity, Will, Cooperation, and Honesty”. What American company would list these as its core values? It’s unusual, if you break it down.

“Only those who strive to be the best are truly good.” Kind of strange actually, that you might label individuals ‘good’ or ‘bad’ like this.

“The willingness to set and achive higher objectives is the issue that denotes our contribution to the development of Kaubamaja and society.”

Interesting to extend a store’s values into it’s contributions to ‘society’…I wonder if Nordstroms thinks about this factor in its sales of mini-skirts and high heel shoes (although perhaps Nike does demonstrate such an ethic).

But I really like this one. “Honesty creates the basis for long-term relationships, saves emotions and time.”

If only more American companies valued a long-term relationship with their customers and less of the desire to make a quick buck by short-changing them. If only Enron had valued its employees and treated them with respect and honesty instead of kyping their retirement savings. If only capitalism behaved more ethically, citizens such as Michael Moore wouldn’t have such widespread popular support and the economy might be more robust. If only capitalism realized you don’t get ahead by short term profiting by cheating; selling inferior items, providing inferior service at least cost. I think people would be prouder to be Americans.

Instead, we can look to the idealism of a budding post-communist type capitalism to contrast with our jaded realism.

Kaubamaja has locations in Talinn and Tartu, Estonia.

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Came across this directory listing for illustrators: Directory of Illustration.com .

One of the featured artists in the Illustrator’s Guide: Matthew Hollings. I love the freehand stylization and splashed color which expands the boundaries of the art on the page. In my comparison of graphic and fine art earlier, this does have elements of fine art. The portraits are hand drawn, and emotionally edited to reveal character. They are fine art graphics.

As an example of someone who is less a fine artist but excellent illustrator of narrative, Lynne Avril , who has won several awards for work with children’s stories. Which shows the differing skill levels at which artists may produce and maintain functional careers in art.

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Shhhh…everyone be quiet, listen up; the POTUS is on deck. But for some reason, that is not reassuring to me.

As I listened to Obama, I couldn’t help but make the analogy to a preacher at the pulpit. And as I observed the congressional representatives rising and clapping, I could almost imagine them with pom poms, jumping like elated cheerleaders at a football rally. No matter what their man said, they would support him. And Joe Biden, on the dais behind Obama, smiling and nodding his “amen”. Did I imagine it, or did Susan Pelosi the Speaker of the House seem as though she was going to cry?

But for me, Obama’s words rang empty. He seems to say what people want to hear, and present himself as a strong leader, but seems hollow to me. I don’t think he grasps with his heart the context of the history of the US constitution. Because he has a motivation to be an equalizer of the people of the country, he may be undermining the legality of the existing structure of the government of the country and why certain laws are in place in our system of checks and balances. Briefly he mentioned that if certain bills he suggests are not to his specifications, he would use the power of veto. Which is within his powers, true. But it seems he is more interested in throwing his weight around than in letting economic principles take their course…

There seems to be some confusion as to the economic route to take, the difference between Hayekian and Keynesian philosophies–whether to let capitalism and a free market regulate itself with possibility of choppy waters, or whether to engage in selective bailouts and government aid with increasing possibility of government at the helm. But ironically, he would as easily slap fees or taxes on the banks bailed out, to effect repayment of their loans. And although he said “it was hard to do”, the trillion dollar “economic stimulus package” was as easy as signing a paper, at the same time promising the burden would not be passed on to future generations of American citizens.

Where does the money come from? Obama continued to promise (paraphrased) that “in a country as great as America, no citizens should go without access to higher education, and availability of Pell grants would be increased to assist students, as well as tax relief.” Is education to be guaranteed then, for everyone? What are the other “rights” of American citizenship? He briefly glossed over any responsibilities associated with those ‘rights’. Is there a difference between a ‘right’ and an ‘opportunity’?
Similarly, can we regard healthcare as a ‘right’ of citizenship, or is it merely a priviledge accorded those who can afford it?

And arguing that those who have incomes below $250,000 would have no higher taxes, was laughable. Persons living (subsisting) on one tenth that income at the $25,000 level of teachers and minimum wage employees, should rest assured that they would not pay more tax than someone earning ten times as much?

The trouble with Obama’s hopes of equalizing the disparities between the US’s citizens, is that in providing equality, rather than “opportunity of access”, creates a conflict of the motivation of capitalism. Like it or not, Obama’s goals smack of socialism, the only drawback of levelling the playing field.

According to socialist thought, the inherent problems of capitalism lie in ” monopoly, business cycles, unemployment, unequally distributed wealth, and the economic exploitation of workers.” Unfortunately, what “made America great” was due in part to these very things. JP Morgan wouldn’t have invested in building America’s railroads if he didn’t think he could profit by it. Nor Andrew Carnegie have invested in steel production if environmental restrictions had been in effect to hinder him. In capitalism and the practice of free enterprise, the benefit to America is in the long run, and sometimes results are not obtained immediately with palliative short term fixes.

The benefit of socialism, is security for the citizenry. But the price paid for security is the loss of freedom to seize opportunity to profit for oneself. Whether this is moral or environmentally correct, profit is the reward for effort in capitalism, and it is the profits which have provided the benefits which have made America the great nation we claim it to be. Profit and freedom of opportunity are the reasons people come from foreign countries to make a new start in ours. And the lack of these opportunities in more restrictive governments is not as attractive.

The more America adopts restrictions and increases government involvement in enterprise, the more we move away from capitalist economics.

Economically, socialism denotes an economic system of state ownership and/or worker ownership of the means of production and distribution. In the Soviet Union, state ownership of the means of production was combined with central planning, in relation to which goods and services to make and provide, how they were to be produced, the quantities, and the sale prices.”

Centralized government control and regulation. Were we only joking that for a moment it looked as though Obama made himself the head of GM while he fired the ceo? Did we watch the government bailout Chrysler and several banks as though it were playing Father Knows Best? Is it really Obama’s place to “fix it” for us? Scary.

Scarier, is that

A December 2008 Rasmussen poll found that when asked whether Americans supported a state-managed economy or a free-market economy, 70% preferred free-market capitalism, with only 15% preferring a state-managed economy.[83] An April 2009 Rasmussen Reports poll, conducted during the Financial crisis of 2007–2010, suggested that there had been a growth of support for socialism in the United States. The poll results stated that 53% of American adults thought capitalism was better than socialism, and that “Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided”.

Looks like we’re forgetting exactly what makes America great.

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