Monday, October 03, 2011

Neoliberalism, tomatoes, and Yelp.

How Yelp is killing chain restaurants:
...However, looking more broadly, chain restaurants as a whole seem to have declined in market share as Yelp has grown in prominence. “This suggests,” Luca writes, [pdf] “that online consumer reviews substitute for more traditional forms of reputation.” In 2007, about 50 percent of all restaurant spending, some $125 billion per year, went to chain restaurants. Chains have always benefited from uniformity: No matter where you go, you always know what you’ll get at an Applebee’s or a McDonald’s. Independent restaurants, by contrast, are more of a gamble. But as online review sites like Yelp expand, that’s no longer the case."
From last year
"Italian rules allowing candy makers including Nestle SA to label their products as “pure chocolate” breach European Union law, the region’s highest court said.

Permitting chocolate made from pure cocoa butter to be called “cioccolato puro,” or “pure chocolate,” clashes with EU-wide measures which allow chocolate laced with vegetable fats to be marketed as chocolate, the tribunal in Luxembourg said."
German roofers were under pressure from the EU a few years ago because in Germany you were not allowed to start your own company without 7 or 8 years of experience, and other countries were far less strict. But German roofers were considered the best in Europe. At the same time small batch cheese makers in Switzerland are under pressure now from industrial cheese manufacturers in Germany, who buy up all the milk.

Brad DeLong has come out in favor of cardboard tomatoes for the masses. have to either live in the countryside or live in the city and be really rich to say that rubber tomatoes suck. For those humans who live in the city and are not really rich, rubber tomatoes provide a welcome and tasty and affordable simulacrum of the tomato-eating experience.
DeLong on Seeing Like a State
--How can market-driven standardization have the same consequences as the commands of architects who have never lived in the cities they design, or as the collectivization of Soviet agriculture, or as the forced "villagization" of Tanzanian peasants?
It is unclear.

--However, people bought (and buy) rubber tomatoes because they are cheap--because relatively little social labor is required to produce them.

--But when we look around at modern large-scale bureaucratic capitalism, we see what Scott calls "metis" everywhere. Everything from the flick of your wrist so that the supermarket laser-scanner reads the bar code (try it some time)...
Comments at the time, at CT and here. The "metis" of the 12-year-old at the factory loom.
And of course they all ignore the metis of corporate lawyers, ad men, and academics.

The protests on Wall street and elsewhere are not the beginning and they are not the continuation of something begun in Cairo.

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