Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Is this the Minnesota we've come to? 

In 1974 I toured Romania as a high school chorus member. I went to buy some beautiful sheet music for violin from a music store in Bucharest. I went to one station to find the number of the music, a second station to determine whether they had the music in stock and receive an invoice, a third to pay the invoice, and a fourth to buy the music. In the States I bought music by picking out what I wanted and paying for it. This, I thought, was due to socialism.

In 1996, living in Ukraine, I went to a state store to buy cheese. I could walk right up and see the cheese. I got an invoice, went to a second line to pay for it, and then came to a third station where someone sliced and packaged my cheese. Three stations rather than four. This, I thought, was due to economic transition from socialism.

Today, suffering from a pretty bad head cold, I went to my local Walgreens to buy DayQuil. For five minutes I look at the cold remedies. Plenty of shelves of NyQuil, but no DayQuil. Nearby I see a tagboard with the names of a variety of cold meds, including DayQuil. I take a tag with DayQuil on it, and it says go to the pharmacist. I do, and hand them my tag. They page someone to help find DayQuil in back; they have not yet adjusted to the new law and don't have shelf space for all the medications they must now store behind the counter. They hand me my DayQuil, which I take up front and purchase.

This is capitalism?