History’s Insight of Market Sweet Spots


Political economy also involves psychology: the colonial market sweet spot–rice–was a crop colonists never planned to grow (and didn’t know how!); it came to America with enslaved Africans. Its hardy storage fed Europe in harsh winters, its versatility made it a domestic staple, its taste made Carolina Gold a brand.

Its production by the enslaved soon became a tacit partnership; in return for record production and globe leading wealth, the enslaved were left alone: work was done by task (not time), personal gardens were allowed, disappearances (often to see family!) were forgiven and folk specialists sustained community health. Trust was as much a bond as the whip; what appeared obedient hid an independence, above the sufferings inflicted was an unbreakable will.

This curious, cruel economy innovated, but not by force. It shipped clean rice 95% unbroken. But every innovation belonged to the workers. From sowing techniques, to the design of the flood trunks, the winnowing of the grain and its cleaning, not one technique was introduced from Europe by property owners.

The irony of this enlightened practice hidden in slavery was lost as wealth blinded itself and forced profits by power. But the enslaved understood something modern workers miss: collective action. Work together for both self interest and the common interest. Use models.

Fights over taxes and trade agreements will never restore the middle and working classes. They need to innovate and copy models of self-help.

Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/1XSoWFN


One thought on “History’s Insight of Market Sweet Spots

  1. The irony, too, deepens, in the bittersweet understanding that your insight, truths, and threading of powerful veins of history into today’s cloth of current events is a gift of eloquence unrivaled by any paid, tenured university professor in this land of ours (the United States). They should want to learn from you! Then they MIGHT have something worthwhile to teach, and their students might, in turn, find authentic voices….and then, yes, collective action might be re-born!
    Yet it is painfully obvious that we are in no Renaissance, no age of Enlightenment, but, in fact, this age is careening ever further, each decade, into willful blindness: instead of learning how to skillfully weave wisdom garnered from the lived experience of our ancestors into creative, almost limitless, possibilities of markets, social structures, and family dynamics in response to shifting politics, much as a river transforms its landscape both by carving and the accumulation of silts– our children are, instead, accumulating lifetimes of debt with worthless degrees! Hollow words from hollow institutions strip the body from the policy–without imbuing policy with history, examinations of cruelty, resistance, and mercy, they are dry, worthless, and no help in getting anywhere new, or anywhere anyone would want to go.
    The fact that I was able to readily (this is a gift of freedom! a gift we should always carry with humility in remembrance of those locked away in prison!) knock on an extremely humble door and enjoy the blessings of your way-finding, unencumbered by crowds, is proof of the meagerness of our debate and our social institutions. If more people had even a few grains of wisdom, they would be encircling your orations to contribute their own poly-rhythm of point and counterpoint….and the universe, the macro and micro, from cell to star, would reside in our colony of scribes…as we falteringly attempt to create in places like the NYTimes comments community.
    Instead, the larger institutions keep me moored at this desk, this window, where the tether of my family also consoles. It is bittersweet, but should neither surprise nor alarm me that someone such as you resides outside the university and shares wisdom more abundantly than it does, requiring no tuition for this imparting, only the intuition to recognize the timeless from the cheap, the enduring from the gaudy—without that intuition, all tuition even at paying institutions is blown, as it no doubt is every day.


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