Five types of economy
October 29, 2001
World Economies of today can basically be reduced to five different types of Gas Stations.
First there is the Japanese Gas Station. Gas is $5 a gallon. Four men in uniform and white gloves, with lifetime employment contracts, wait on you. They pump your gas. They change your oil. They wash your windows and they wave at you with a friendly smile as you drive away in peace.
Second is the American Gas Station. Gas costs $1 a gallon, but you pump it yourself. You wash your own windows; you fill your own tyres. And when you drive around the corner four homeless people try to steal your hubcaps.
Third is the Western European Gas Station. Gas there also costs $5 a gallon. There is only one man on duty. He grudgingly pumps your gas and unsmilingly changes your oil, reminding you all the time that his union contract says he only has to pump gas and change oil. He doesn't do windows. He works only thirty-hours a week, with ninety minutes off each day for lunch, during which time the Gas Station is closed. He also has six weeks' vacation every summer in the South of France. Across the street, his two brothers and uncle, who have not worked in ten years because their state unemployment insurance pays more than their last job, are playing Boccie Ball.
Fourth is the Developing Country Gas Station. Fifteen people work there and they are all related to each other. When you drive in, no one pays any attention to you because they are all busy talking to each other. Gas is only 35 cents a gallon because it is subsidised by the government, but only two of the six gas pumps actually work. The others are broken and they are waiting for the replacement parts to be flown in from North America or Europe. The gas station is rather run-down because the absentee owner lives in Miami and takes all the profit out of the country. Most of the customers at the developing country gas station either drive the latest model sports utility vehicle (SUV) or a motor scooter - nothing in between. The place is always busy, though, because so many people stop in to use the air pump to fill their bicycle tyres.
Lastly, there is the dwindling Communist Gas Station. Gas there is only 50 cents a gallon - but there is none, because the four guys working there have sold it all on the black-market for $5 a gallon. Just one of the four guys who is employed at the Communist Gas Station is actually there. The other three are working at second jobs in the underground economy and only come around once a week to collect paychecks.