American Know-How

by Conor Friedersdorf

Parents in middle-class nations around the world should want to send their kids to American colleges. Young strivers should dream of working in Hollywood or Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs from Israel to Indonesia should be visiting venture-capital firms in San Francisco or capital markets in New York. Global engineers should want to learn the plastics techniques in Akron and retailers should learn branding and distribution in Bentonville and Park Slope.

– David Brooks

Father in developing nation: Son, in order to improve our family business, we sent you to America, where you spent 90 days studying branding and distribution. What best practices have you learned?

Son: There is so much to change! Look at these aisles – certainly they are not wide enough to accomodate even the narrowest stroller. Disable our wi-fi immediately. Do you want surly local novelists to camp out here? That trash bin. It has but one compartment. How will we separate recyclables? And remember that number 5 plastic must be especially clean and dry! Rather than merchandise on this wall, it may be necessary to install a pleasing facade of exposed brick. Many of the most popular establishments provide a plastic sitting crate that attracts a local homeless man to greet customers as they come and go. Finally I've acquired these neon vests with the words FOOD CO-OP, which seem to vest their wearers with great authority and inspire timidity among all others. They will be perfect for our security guards.