Wednesday, September 16, 2009

IKEA trip

I went to IKEA today, which is both a mundane and yet fascinating experience. Walking around the store I found goods made in:
  • China
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Germany
  • Czech Republic
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Mexico
  • India
I'm sure there were more. So think about that, workers in Sweden design furniture and other household goods which are then produced all over the world and shipped to a store about a 30 min drive from me -- College Park, MD -- where they can generally be had for a pretty reasonable price.

While most people probably regard this as absolutely ordinary and unremarkable, it's really a minor miracle. I remember in college reading about an expedition that sailed from Spain or Portugal to the Far East in the 1500s or so, and when the ships returned with their goods they profited so much that each sailor became instantly rich. Now you can purchase goods made halfway around the world for only a few bucks.

No other system except for capitalism could achieve this.

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