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December 27, 2022

The Necklaces

Steve Norris

At the Christmas party every year, there was always this big exercise of showing the value of the free market. The invisible hand and whatnot.

Here’s how it worked: everyone got these necklaces. The necklaces were made by a local daycare. All the necklaces were different.

You opened your box and recorded how much you liked your necklace on a scale of 1 to 5. Then the CEO gave a little speech and said you could trade with other people at your table. The satisfaction was recorded again. Then you were allowed to trade with anyone. The satisfaction was recorded a final time.

The point was that by the end, everyone was the happiest and you were supposed to hate regulation, as it made you sadder about your necklace.

Then this year—we found out in March, I think?—it came out about the necklaces. It turned out that the local daycare was forcing the kids to churn them out in sweatshop-like conditions, I mean not nightmarish but like, rather than playing games outside and such, the kids would spend hours making these necklaces. A kid came home with bleeding fingers crying once and told his parents everything. Ended up in the news that night. Our company was mentioned. The Christmas party went back to booze and raffle tickets. 

Anyway, I gave my necklace to my mom for her birthday, and she loves it. Wears it all the time.