Capitalism at its best - Ed Brock

Walk into the Wal-Mart in Stockbridge and you will see "Star Wars" posters covering the security scanners and a display of the bestseller called "The Purpose Driven Life."

It's a perfect example of capitalism at work.

Let's start with the obvious. The "Star Wars" franchise, the combination of movies and toys and more based on the movie, was one of the first franchises created in my lifetime.

When I was a wee lad in the late 1970s my mother would take us kids shopping every payday. We were allowed to chose one small toy, but I always begged for the "Star Wars" X-wing fighter with the laser lights and sound.

I never got it, of course.

But what I liked the most about these posters advertising the next and, theoretically last, "Star Wars" movie were that they were designed to camouflage the shoplifting security gate. Thus, they served a dual purpose.

It was the special display of "The Purpose Driven Life" that really caught my eye. The book itself is a prime example of an old capitalistic venture, the selling of spiritual guidance.

However, it was pushed to the front, obviously, as a brilliant response to the courthouse shooting and hostage drama of last week.

You'll remember that Ashley Smith, the woman taken hostage by accused courthouse gunman Brian Nichols, read from this book while killing time with the man who was holding her prisoner.

Now it's right there at the front door of Wal-Mart for all to see and purchase. Beautiful.

And let's not forget that all this is taking place at the temple of Mammon itself, Wal-Mart.

This is why I love capitalism, and why our system so dominates the world. It reflects life and stimulates thought. Some clever manager somewhere in the system said, "Hey, we're getting a lot of press on this book now and people are going to want to buy it. Put it up front."

As a moderate liberal I'm alert to and wary of the abuses perpetrated by mega-corporations, and I certainly believe the government should act as a balance to the power these corporations have. But that doesn't mean I have lost faith in the capitalist system in general, nor do I believe corporations are inherently evil.

For example, several companies are wising up to the fact that the internal combustion engine is on its way out, and they are wisely beginning to invest in hybrid cars and alternate fuels like hydrogen. They know the demand for that will continue to rise with today's gas prices, so they act to provide for that market.

Much of the time capitalism works well. It's not a perfect system, but it's certainly a stimulating one.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipal governments for the Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com .