Monday, November 22, 2010

2010.11.22 — Economics Circling the Trade Floor — a Crafty Fushigi

This morning my wife our friend AG and I visited the

at the 
We walked in the door of the show room floor. We checked our watches — 10:30a.m. — and set ourselves to meet up in one hour. Then my wife and AG went one way, and I another, as we to begin wade our ways through the 275 exhibitors (per the programme guide, which, for completeness, I've listed below).

Without consulting the floor plan I found the food area where I bought myself a piece of pretty good carrot cake for my breakfast. Once I'd chomped that down I allowed my nose to lead me around the giant space, still without any plan. And it was big:

At about 10:40, almost immediately after starting to meander, I walked by a booth that caught my eye because it was a craft show anomaly. I have been to about seven of these Circle Craft trade shows, and perhaps a dozen others of one sort or another, and do not remember having seen a booth quite like this one. It was tiny, which isn't unusual, but it had books — which is a bit unusual. But what made it truly unique in my experience is that unlike the few book displays I've seen in the past, this one was not for children, nor was it 'art' books, or gussied-up re-covers of classics old or modern. Instead the display appeared to be of several copies of only two, or maybe three books. (Later I learned that two books were the prominent display, and that there was an advertisement for one other that was in the process of going to press.)

So I paused to look — I always at least stop to look at books on display — while the vendor was talking with a customer. Somehow, before I could walk away from what looked like a peculiar gardening book, the vendor grabbed one and waved it out in my direction and said something. I forget what it was, but I answered 'Is this a book about seeding a garden, or something?'

'No,' he said, 'it is about the failure of economics to feed the poor.' 

'Oh,' I said. 'What do you mean?'

Paraphrased, Hugo Bonjean told me that he became awake to what the corporate world was doing to the poor and third world countries while he was a VP for Merriott Hotels. When I asked him what he did after he hat that realization, he said he that changed his life. When I asked him how, he said that he quit his job as a VP in the Merriott Hotel chain because 'When I was told that the only thing that mattered was the bottom line, I realized that my bottom line was different than theirs.' And so he quit the corporate world and wrote his first book, In the Eyes of Anahita.

We talked about a few other related items, and then I told him that by chance I had spent several hours last night working on the 'anti-economics' economics course I am writing for my local continuing education programme. I told him that, specifically, I was looking for an old videotape I'd made of a NFB documentary of Marilyn Waring who found in her research on how economic measures are made that the official international books of account deliberately exclude so-called 'women's work' from any measure of economic well being (GDP/GNP). [The documentary, Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics, is excellent. It is a synopsis of her book If Women Counted. The entire 94 minute film can be seen on her facebook page.

Hugo and I talked about a few other things, specifically media misrepresentation of economic events. I told him about my article 'Death by Freezing,' which arose after reading Linda McQuaig. I told him that in one of her books a prominent Canadian TV journalist admitted to her that he had lied in his news story on the New Zealand financial crisis of the eighties in order to persuade Canadians through fear curtail social programs and move the economy towards a pro-corporate/business agenda. This is one of the most exposed examples of Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent in a so-called democracy.

I told Hugo about my perception and reaction to my official university economics schooling. And, lastly, I told him, very badly, about my having written a letter to a local television journalist that challenged him for his highly hypocritical misrepresentation of a local banking 'failure.' [The perpetrators of the failure were recently convicted of fraud that resulted in prison time for them but no financial compensation for the victims]. He called me about a month to thank me for my letter. A few months after that I stopped seeing him on the TV news station. I called the station to learn that he'd quit. And he has never said that my letter influenced him, but I have often wondered if it did, especially when I stumbled across his freelance piece on the corporate profitability of hand gun sales in third world countries.

I haven't published that letter on this blog yet, but now is a good time. I've made it a separate entry, which you can link to from here.

Oh! I bought Bonjean's 2nd book. I haven't started the book yet, bit will write a review when I do. You can read the first couple of chapters from his web page on this link.

Q: Does this encounter count as a fushigi? Well, I'm not sure, but it certainly suggests that life has a peculiar sense of humour. And that in turn infers that intelligence and perception are in Life extant.

Now for a sigh! For completeness of this fushigi I have included below the list of vendors, in order to give a better sense of how small was the statistical chance I'd have the experience I did, a chance made smaller by the layout of this show — different than previous shows — in that the small block configuration instead of long aisles allowed for maze-like zig-zagging that made missing booths very easy.

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