u201860s might be a distant memory to those people who suffered through
that cultural nightmare, but the decade's community most despised
by the right is still thriving. Remembered by many as a cultural
movement composed of individuals with a distorted moral code, braided
hair, patchwork clothing, and an insatiable appetite for drugs,
the hippy community exists today in much the same form as it did
over forty years ago. If you haven't seen a hippy recently, it is
because you haven't been looking in the right places.
people who were known once to live on tour with The Grateful Dead
have found new homes. Volkswagen buses, dread-locked heads, and
"free spirits" can be found still in large quantities
in the parking lot of a Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident,
or Leftover Salmon concert.
right, because it has not taken the time nor had the incentive to
closely examine it, always has viewed this society with contempt.
It has been said that "where there is a community, there is
an economy." By any definition, the hippies are a community,
and almost unbelievably, they have developed a nearly perfect economy.
Rightfully charged for almost single handedly fostering "the
last bastion of communism" known as environmentalism, these
self-proclaimed anti-conservatives flourish in a capitalist economy
of which many right-wing conservatives have only dreamed.
almost any day of the year, one can find thousands of people, adorned
in the usual hippy attire, converged on a field near a blue-grass
festival or civic center parking lot and taking an active role in
of make shift storefronts made of small canvas rooftops and card
tables are set up within minutes of the merchants' arrival. Competition
is plentiful and product differentiation is difficult in this market.
Each participant is trying to make enough money to afford a life
of constant traveling. The entrepreneurial spirit is abundant among
the hippies. Creative ideas for products can be seen where ever
one chooses to look while strolling through this outdoor market.
designed t-shirts with logos and clandestine references to songs
or band members that will be recognized only by other fans are set
out on display for shoppers. Tie-dyed shirts, a trademark of this
counter-culture, remain popular items sold by many trying to make
enough money to cover the expenses of their chosen lifestyle. Tradesmen
are seen everywhere selling hand crafted, glass-blown pipes for
up to $200 per pipe. Hemp braided necklaces, bracelets, anklets,
and dog collars are available for the shopper on a budget who is
searching for a souvenir. Looking for a new wardrobe? Beautiful
corduroy patchwork shorts, skirts, and dresses are sold in every
color combination that can be found at the local Goodwill store.
No shopping center would be complete without a food court. Although
the cuisine is not in a central location, one will never go hungry
for lack of food at one of these festivals. Coleman stoves, Hibachis,
barbeque pits, and woks can be found behind almost every Volkswagen
bus. Their owners will dazzle you with their culinary skills by
preparing vegetarian entrées that will satisfy any meat-lover's
palate. If adult beverages are not sold at a chef's make-shift restaurant,
immediately to his left or right, his neighboring vendor will have
available for purchase a selection of foreign beers to add the perfect
compliment to any dish. For less than $6, even the hungriest of
shoppers will be able to fill his or her stomach to point of blissful
Do not bring a Master Card or Visa Card to this unusual market place.
The government will be able to tax any purchase made with a credit
card. The American greenback is the only form of payment accepted
by these entrepreneurs.
thumbing their collective nose at society's rules is their goal,
the hippy community certainly has achieved it in good form. The
participants in this market are subject to the laws set by state
and federal governments but intentionally subvert them. Competition,
in its purist form, is the only force that the hippie community
and sales taxes are not collected. Competition is not stifled by
anti-trust legislation. A mandatory drinking age is for squares.
One needs only a couple of dollars and change to purchase fine imported
brew from a hippy's cooler. No price ceilings are set if a seller
is deemed to be price gouging. A minimum wage is not enforced or
desired in this economy. Although children are used to peddle necklaces,
tie-dyed t-shirts, and flowery head ornaments in the baking sun
or freezing snow, no child labor laws exist in this peaceful market
place. Marijuana is a popular commodity that is bought, sold, and
traded for concert tickets openly. Even those who do not take part
in this darker side of trade simply leave those who supply and demand
this product to the natural consequences of their actions.
would think that a community such as the one described in this article
would be a powerful ally in the fight against an ever expanding
and oppressive government. Unfortunately, the hippy community does
not understand fully the free market forces that it embraces. The
moment that they enter the arenas to enjoy a night of music presented
by their favorite bands, they too willing sign pieces of paper that
petition a state or federal government to enforce rules on another
economy that yearns only to be more similar to the one which the
hippies have established. Every attendant is swarmed by friendly
smiles presenting the opportunity to "save" a river, tree,
bird, frog, or jungle simply by scribbling his or her name at the
bottom of a list. This hypocrisy is conducted under the disguise
of environmental protection. However, one only needs to walk through
the vacant parking lot filled with debris the morning after this
community departs to realize that its members do not value the environment
in their actions as in their words.
same individuals who reject laws subjecting them to the value scale
of others proudly petition governments to force others to bear the
costs of a political movement valued by them only in speech.
economy established by the hippy community is a joy to watch. If
ever its participants realize fully what they have created and why
it has flourished, they will be much needed companions in the struggle
for freedom, and should be welcomed with open arms by those who
have despised them for so long.
Barnes [send him
mail] is an investment analyst in Atlanta, Georgia.