Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 6/6/11
A recent trip to the mall left me idly contemplating the ways of modern capitalism. Did you know, young whippersnappers, that the corridors of indoor shopping malls used to stretch unbroken from the Foot Locker on the east to the Ann Taylor on the west, with plenty of room to walk and no kiosk in between hawking kibbutz-manufactured facial cream or calendars with cute cats on them or the same cell phones you could buy in two or more of the actual stores in the mall? You see, most shopping malls are owned by publicly traded corporations these days, and investors aren’t just satisfied with retail that makes more than it spends: it has to show an improved profit year after year, which for most older shopping malls means trying to extract more revenue from the same square footage, which in turn means that the broad indoor boulevards where old people used to power-walk are now cluttered with as many little store-shanties as management can cram in there.
In its own way, the mighty pharmaceutical industry is in the same boat. With most Americans now doped up on between two and six prescription medications at any given time, the drug companies need to cast an ever-broader net to find more customers for their wares. And if that means that pharmaceutical reps need to travel to isolated communities where you can still get burned at the stake for selling cures that aren’t root-based poultices, and then seduce lumpy-faced inbred nurses as if they were the villains of a Flannery O’Connor story, then so be it. The demands of the capital markets are remorseless.
Mark Trail, 6/6/11
“You have to return to your loved ones once every six months or so, and make a few days’ worth of awkward small talk! That’s what I do! Don’t worry, you don’t have a wife, so you won’t have to touch lips with anybody.”
Ha ha, it’s funny because everyone hates the bus drivers and wants them to quit! Some people are trying to make sure they quit, by threatening violence against them. That … that’s the punchline?