Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Microsoft Produces Cashews...

Beautiful weather, fall colors, the wonders of nature do not come to mind when one thinks of Fresno, California. But for my wife and I, relaxing in lounge chairs on a late November morning is sheer bliss. Our backyard features three towering redwoods, two large pines and a deciduous tree that I can't identify. We are frequented by playful red squirrels and a variety of bird life. Yesterday morning a woodpecker came to visit.

As we watched the Nutall's (found him on Google) hungrily peck his way between the redwood's thick folds of bark -- after all manner of bug life -- I say to Judy, "isn't it fascinating how nature, spontaneously, takes care of herself? While pursuing his breakfast, the woodpecker is protecting the tree from the life-threatening damage caused by burrowing insects, and thus helping sustain the habitat for countless other organisms." Or words to that effect...

The same can be said of markets. As Judy and I pecked at a bowl of cashews while taking in nature's perfection, we were -- at the moment as oblivious to our beneficence as was the woodpecker to his -- supporting our local community (via our grocer), the community of Pleasanton, California (where Safeway packages the nuts), the maker of the plastic tubs they come in (its owners, employees, etc.), the transportation industry, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. Not to mention Microsoft, Caterpillar, Apple, Pfizer and countless other U.S. exporters. Only a desire for the stuff U.S. dollars can buy would inspire the Indian, Vietnamese, Indonesian or Tanzanian (according to the label) cashew producer to cater to the U.S. consumer. At first blush one would assume that the U.S. climate isn't conducive to cashew production -- oh but one would be profoundly mistaken. The U.S. business climate, through the production of technology, industrial equipment, pharmaceuticals and myriad other goods and services is perfectly suited to the production of cashews in India.

No amount of government planning -- however bright the minds or good the intentions -- will ever remotely yield the universal benefits of free trade.

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