Browsing through the "new arrivals" table at The Bookery in Lexington, I came across a book that's been on my to-read list for at least a year. I checked the price sticker on the back. It was a new copy and it read $19.99.
"Oh, that's too expensive," I said to my friend. "I'll just order it for cheaper on Amazon."
I left the locally owned bookstore, filled floor to ceiling with classics and Virginia history and local poetry, without buying anything.
Earlier that morning I had gone into Lexington Coffee Shop, what we affectionately refer to as LexCo. It's my ideal coffee venue: quiet atmosphere, natural lighting, showcasing local art and incredible- tasting coffee and tea and every combination you can think of. I grabbed a turtle mocha (my favorite) and, in need of caffeine, asked for a double shot of espresso, said yes to the whipped cream and paid the $7.12. I thought about how if Lexington had a Starbucks, I might be more inclined to buy my specialty coffee there for much cheaper.
As a writer and a lover of books and coffee, these two are my favorite stops in town and encapsulate what I consider my "aesthetic." It struck me later that day: should my money go toward the most qualified product or the cheapest product? Is the most sustainable option to financially contribute to the local grassroots market or is competition healthy and necessary for the survival of our economy? How realistically applicable are both capitalism and socialism? Does a happy medium exist?
These questions are daunting to me as my economic ideas have always been directly influenced by my social ideas, without any real background knowledge of how the American economic system actually works. Up until now, with my poverty studies class and recently listening to economist Peter Singer speak at Washington & Lee, the only interactions I have had with economic ideas are the occasional commentary from my dad, a former economics professor, and a vague childhood memory of my mom bringing me to an (unsuccessful) anti-Walmart protest in a utopia-style town back home.
But I understand that to firstly be a contributing citizen in society and to then contribute to and understand political dialogue, it is necessary for me to seek economic awareness. I can't make truly informed decisions about budgeting and income without understand how the whole process works. As I've learned in my poverty studies class, I can't say that I want to support low-income families but have no real solution about how to practically implement that. In the coming weeks, I'm looking forward to delving into the ethical implications of the economy and how to go about making sure a system proportionately provides beneficial opportunity for all.