- Published: 17 April 1978 17 April 1978
Dear Worker's Power,
I have a rather sad story to relate to your readers concerning the problems that afflict American businessmen who set up shop for themselves overseas.
One day I was dining in a restaurant in mid-town Manhattan. Now for those of you’se unfamiliar with such restaurants, let me merely state that the seating is rather tight, which of course makes eavesdropping obligatory to all who have functioning ears.
This particular day two businessmen were sitting next to me swapping stories. To make it less confusing we'll call them Fred and Charley.
Anyhow Fred, you see, was telling Charley about how his aunt died and left him a lot of money. Now Fred was no stick in the mud; he was a fellow with gumption who wanted to see the world. So he says to wife, "Let's go down to Argentina and see my sister" and off they went.
Things were going just dandy down in Buenos Aires. It was the 19SO's and Eva and Juan Peron were in power and Fred's sister had a nice spread so he and his wife decided to settle there for a while and played lots of golf.
Now being a smart capitialist Fred knew that he could not sit around playing golf all day long, for if he did all his money would soon fritter away. So he and his wife decided to open a fancy dress shop as a way of investing his money lo make more money so he could continue to play golf.
So they opened up shop and the future seemed all rosy. The materials were cheap and labor was cheap and they made everything they sold on the premises so they had little supplier costs.
Fred used his sister's connections to develop a high and classy clientele. Naturally enough, once you develop such a clientele, they of course spread word about you to all their friends which means you can raise your prices ever more and play 36 holes instead of 18.
Well, one day manna fell from Heaven and Mt Vesuvius erupted - Eva Peron walked In to order a bunch of dresses and blouses and whatnotnots, including some for an upcoming state ball. This of course meant that Fred was set for life. After all, Eva was the second most important person in Argentina; the fancy dress trade was at his feet. When he looked to the sky at night Fred didn’t see stars but golf balls. But in the end Fred bogey’d it. You see he was a capitalist, but a foreign capitalist. Poor Fred thought that capitalism in one country (America) would be the same in another (Argentina). Besides. wasn't Juan Peron as loved by his people as Dwight Eisenhower was? And Argentines do eat as much steak as we do, don't they? What they call football isn't what we call football, but that doesn't mean anything, does it? No. Fred. it doesn't. But he still bogey’d it.
You see, after Eva got her dresses and blouses and whatnotnots, Fred sent a bill.
No one had bothered to tell Fred that Eva Peron, being the President's wife, didn't have to pay for anything. On being told this by an emissary from the Presidential Palace Fred said. "But that’s not capitalism." The emissary said "Humph." and left.
Shortly thereafter, following Fred's repeated efforts to have his bill paid, he received a visit from the secret police who informed Fred that his attitude was not conducive to a friendly state of relations between America and Argentina and would he please leave while everybody was still smiling.
So Fred (and his wife) had to leave Argentina and leave all their profits and goods behind as a gift to the Argentine people to show that there were no hard feelings. And so Fred (and his wife) came home and set himself up in business here.
But materials cost a lot more and labor costs a lot more and there a lot more middlemen and the mob to pay off and Fred doesn’t get to play too much golf.
P.S. This is a true story, with certain embellishments.