Train ‘Em Up Young

WC has grave doubts about capitalism. Certainly when unregulated, it can be horrific. Read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle if you think otherwise. The late Larry Carpenter, a sometime client of WC’s, said that made WC a Communist. Perhaps not.

The problem for WC has always been that he doesn’t have a particularly good alternative. Particularly now, when the pendulum of government regulation has swung to a low point, it’s impossible for anyone with a social conscience to feel comfortable with capitalism’s excesses. WC isn’t the only one with ambivalent feelings about the ethos.

The Girl Scouts train their members in capitalism starting young. Each year, they send squadrons – battalions – of young entrepreneurs off to flog girl scout cookies to the masses. WC suspects that a substantial part of the extra weight he packs around is traceable to girl scout cookies. Specifically, Tagalongs, a/k/a/ Peanut Butter Patties.

But WC has digressed. This blog post is about unease with capitalism, not unease about the dubious nutritional qualities of Tagalongs.

Unrestrained capitalism says that a Girl Scout who sets up a cookie stand outside of a marijuana shop in San Diego is exemplary, focused on maximizing sales by targeting a munchies-plagued potential customer base. Unrestrained capitalism would applaud her for selling 312 boxes of cookies in less than six hours. Talk about knowing your market.

Targeting your market, Girl Scout style

Targeting your market, Girl Scout style

And yet in some of us, at least, there’s a bit of unease.1 The national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA, has apparently punted the issue to the local communities. According to the New York Times,

“This is kind of a community issue,” said Mike Lopes, a spokesman for the Girl Scouts of the USA. “For the most part, it’s not any different than selling in front of any other kind of shop. It just happens to be a marijuana dispensary.”

That comment probably qualifies as profoundly ignorant or profoundly disingenuous. And certainly unhelpful to local Girl Scout organizations struggling with what they may be teaching to their youngsters. Colorado has flopped around on the issue. The state organizations in Oregon, Washington and Alaska apparently have no official position.

But there’s that sense of unease, isn’t there? Exactly what are we teaching here?


  1. There’s the whole separate issue of revenues. Only 10-15% of the total sales stays with the girl scout troop that makes the sales. The rest goes to the regional council and the manufacturer. 

2 thoughts on “Train ‘Em Up Young

  1. A couple years ago I was photographing the Iditarod at Crystal Lake. There were tons of spectators lining the trail. Along came a Girl Scout on a snow machine towing a sled full of Girl Scout cookies. A few hours later on her return the sled was empty. She was escorted by her mom.

  2. The problem, as you pointed out, is just that there are many, blatant contradictions in capitalism, for which we do not want to find the answers… even if we know we should (the unease you were talking about)…

    Answers would lead to serious changes in our habits and lifestyle, and nobody wants that, do they?

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