Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Buying Local and the Birth of Globalization

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 11:56 PM

A very long time ago, a local tree fell in a local forest, and a handful of locals carved it into a canoe. They used this canoe to cross the previously uncrossed river, upon whose East Bank they lived.

When these East Bankers landed their canoe on the foreign West Bank, they found odd people who thought they were the locals. The West Bankers even proclaimed their localness by wearing black T-shirts with white letters spelling "Bungal Ocal" which, back then, meant "Buy Local."

One of the East Bank canoeists had brought some cash with him, so he purchased a shrunken head from the West Bank Souvenir Cave.

Attaching the West Bank shrunken head to the bow of their canoe, the East Bankers contemplated how

the West Bankers could live on the other side of the river, but think they were the locals! The East Bankers paddled their canoe back to the East Bank, musing upon this paradox, and unknowingly inventing the concept of relativity.

Meanwhile, happy to have made a sale to unexpected tourists, the West Bankers took the East Bank cash and stored it in a specially marked West Bank coconut half way up a specially marked West Bank tree. After dinner at a local non-franchised restaurant, the West Bankers went to sleep thinking about canoes, and dreaming of one day crossing the river themselves.

That night, the monsoon season brought lightning which happened to strike the tree, crack the coconut and wipe out their fledgling mutual fund. In the morning, the West Bank locals found the damage, and resolved to build their own canoe so they could ship heads to the East Bank for more cash. But, none knew how to make a canoe.

Meanwhile, back on the East Bank, those locals fell in love with the foreign West Bank shrunken heads. The heads were undeniably superior to East Bank shrunken heads, which never looked all that scary, and sometimes even looked comical. Fearing shrinking demand for locally shrunken heads, the East Bank Head Shrinkers Union voted unanimously to change their name to Local Heads Only. They made T-shirts fashioned from stories told by East Bank canoeists of West Bank T-shirts.

When the East Bank canoeists next returned home with their canoe full of more West Bank heads, the Local Heads Only blackshirts stormed the canoe and their fellow countrymen, delivering lashes with palm fronds, and tipping the West Bank heads into the river. The next morning, East Bank bloggers contemplated civil war.

The East Bank Canoeists (who by now had begun capitalizing the "C") met in an undisclosed location to plan their next move.

"Let's sell the canoe blueprints to the West Bankers like they want, then use the cash to buy bigger palm fronds and crush Local Heads Only!" said one East Bank Canoeist. "I hate Local Heads Only!" shouted another with big palm frond welts on his back.

Then, someone wearing a locally-made pocket protector stood up and calmly said, "Why should we sell them the plans? Let's build another canoe and trade it to them for lots of heads. We'll saturate the head market here, thereby removing any sympathy for Local Heads Only. And, the West Bankers still won't get the trade secrets contained in our canoe plans."

The room grew quiet. The East Bank Canoeists wrinkled their brows, then smiled. Unknowingly, they had just invented the concept of public relations.

When the East Bank Canoeists next arrived on the West Bank towing a second, identical canoe with a "For Sale" sign on it, the West Bank locals rubbed their eyes in disbelief. They looked at each other, at the sky, then down at their T-shirts. "Bungal Ocal!" they shouted. "Bungal Ocal?!" They tore at their hair, stomped around, and ripped the black T-shirts from their pale bodies. Naked to the universe again, the West Bankers suddenly felt the pinch of a globalized market. They reluctantly bought the non-local canoe from the East Bankers, then fell to their knees and wept.

Clouds gathered into the likeness of Milton Friedman.

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