As Long As It Is Legal Tender

Boutique businesses for money laundering
From Joe Bageant’s Blog.


I have just read your essay Dead Man Shopping. Your writing simply dazzles. I wish you could enjoy the temperate climes of California. I wonder why certain writers, like Joan Didion and John Steinbeck, ever left this state for New York. To me their talent remained here. The provincial is perhaps the most critical of his own character, like the reformed smoker.

Twenty years ago I lived in Northern California, the Eureka area, which was branded by the twin male occupations of logging and fishing. A third dynamic was taking hold, the male occupation of pot growing. Fishermen may carry guns, loggers probably not, pot growers always.

A friend of mine returned to the area recently and came back with startling reports of a new urbanized, and unprosecuted epidemic of pot growing indoors. She tells me there are billboards advertising hydroponic equipment. Evidently the police don’t care, or they are on the take, (in Southern California they watch your electric and water bills) that much isn’t clear. What is clear about the boutique industry is that it has become the money laundering mechanism, specifically restaurants and microbreweries. Food service is notoriously difficult to audit.

The sheer size of the underground drug economy begs the question. So now when I see these small boutiques with little or no business, I don’t automatically assume its a hobby, it might be a business expense.

Anyway great piece, keep up the good work.




We should be so lucky as to have a pot growing industry here in Winchester, Virginia! Especially if its profits could animate our dead downtown area.

Unfortunately, the locals are notoriously uncreative when it comes to main street business (a dog washing shop, a Dollar Store, etc.). But just the same, I am sending your idea to Charlie Weiss, president of the Winchester Chamber of Commerce.

It would be nice to see some dough around here for a change. It can be laundered money or covered with boogers — most of us don’t care, so long as it is legal tender.

Joe Bageant

PS: A city tax break for hydroponic tanks and grow lights would be nice too.


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