Traveling north through Georgia up highway 11, we came into a small town, Monroe, named for the US government president James Monroe. As a small town, the people were typically friendly and polite, as well as living amongst the classic beauty of historic buildings. On the northern end of the town, we noticed a bunch of oils being sold on the side of the street and I took the time to take a break and investigate this potentially counter-economic business. There was a wide gravel lot behind the oils, with a nearby local convenience store, necessary for refreshments from the hot sun. Looking around, I noticed goods besides oils and fragrances, from hats and shirts to incense. A hand-painted sign for the street vendor was available to the side furthest from the convenience store.
From a van further back on the lot, hobbled out a smiling man on crutches, missing a leg. Introducing myself and inquiring if this was his store, he introduced himself as Eden and his store as the Garden of Eden. Apparently, he’d been run over by a train as a seven-year-old, was blind in one eye, and blind in two spots in the other, though he assured me he could play basketball fine and jumped around in a mini-demonstration. Explaining that he worked helping handicapped individuals walk again and that the business helped fund this charity, it quickly piqued my interest and I began inquiring further as to this socially-conscious business.
I learned he was a pastor, but didn’t have a typical congregation. He considered humanity his flock and scorned the use of a formal organization and building. Despite not being an anarchist, many times I thought his statements were ones that would be made by a christian anarchist with a belief in Jesus as caring for the people and not the organized religions that exist now. In addition to helping the handicapped, Eden collected unwanted clothes, which he distributed to the local youths who needed it. During our time there, he was a generous host, buying Nicole and I snacks and drinks from the local store.
- Car Fresheners
- Air Fresheners
- Shower gel
- Hand gel
- Foot Socks
- And more I can’t begin to recollect!
Most of the products range from five to ten dollars. You can see his number on the sign, but in case you can’t see it, its (770) 256-8201, if you are in the are and would like to find him.
When asked, he informed me he didn’t pay taxes, though I later learned he had licenses to operate, which he admitted only having because otherwise he’d be harassed by police. Considering his open street vending being public and not paying taxes, I think this is forgivable.
Though within the system, the existence of a street vendor, with charitable interest and a down-to-earth spirit was a refreshing experience on our journey. Often, many scorn a profit-seeking incentive, but here is one which fits in with the charitable perspective of a human who loves those around him. This is but one model of subjective value expressing itself in the organizational structure and voluntary pursuit, resulting in business seeking to improve lives around them. Customers can use socially-conscious businesses to gain material value while also giving back to their community in a mutually-beneficial, community-driven interaction. Furthermore, this nearly counter-economic actor apparently doesn’t pay taxes meaning products bought will not go to fund statism’s evils. And it is these statist evils that force him, due to his public service as a pastor, to acquire a license, in order to operate safely without interference from the largest, mass-legitimacy-perceived criminal gang. I look forward to hitchhiking down that backroad highway again to spend more time conversing with a caring soul.