Meet George of George’s Baklava. George believes in running a business, ideally, without government oversight and without the government stealing the fruits of his labor. He was a popular spot during all three mealtimes at Porcfest. I decided to “dig in” to the details and learn a little more about running a business off the grid and what he values from these unregulated transactions.
You’ve been selling your famous baklava and other delicious greek treats for years now. How has business been?
Business has been great, especially around the Thanksgiving/Christmas time period. Baking and shipping baklava was initially a way for me to make a few extra dollars outside of my taxed 9-5 job. I have since moved to NH, as of PorcFest, and I am working on becoming a full-time agorist. I’m thinking some type of delivery restaurant, but I still intend to do online baklava sales.
At Porcfest you were interviewed by NPR, did the lame-stream media treat you well? I seemed to like the interview…
I think NPR treated me as well as I could have hoped. Robert Smith, from the Planet Money podcast, asked a lot of fair questions, and I think I gave him decent answers. I just find it a bit silly that he left out some of my answers. In the podcast he said he had to trust that my hands were clean, implying that being in the woods means everything is dirty. When he brought that up during the interview I pointed to our sink. We had a huge sink with a propane hot water heater hooked up to it. We used it for hand and dish washing. We also had multiple bottles of liquid hand sanitizer in our kitchen. When it comes to cooking I don’t mess around. I’m probably a little obsessive with making sure my hands are clean while I’m cooking. I don’t consider that a bad thing.
You were accepting alternative currencies for your delicious food at Porcfest. What kinds?
We accepted anything and everything so long as we were interested in whatever you, the customer, had. Silver is by far the #1 currency of choice, and we took it in all forms. “Junk” silver, dime cards, Shire Silver, silver rounds. We even had a customer pay us with a gram of gold. We gave him a hand written card that kept track of his balance, and he used it all week. We were also offered different types of foods and products as barter. Things like pulled pork and bars of homemade soap. If someone at our stand was interested we’d do the trade. I’m a huge fan of bartering for things I actually want, but I’m not a fan of collecting things I won’t use.
Why accept that stuff?
Why not? I’ve been trading since I was selling bubble gum out of my book bag as early as 3rd grade. Some kids had the 50 cents for a pack of gum, but others would offer me different things in exchange. It’s unfortunate that we still need FRN’s to survive, but there are plenty of other items we need, too.
I’ve also been a big fan of silver since I was a child. My father was a goldsmith before he moved from Greece to the US to open a restaurant. I grew up around gold and silver coins, and they always fascinated me. I’ve had silver coins since I was a kid, and they’ve done nothing but go up in value. Ok, maybe technically the value has stayed the same, but the value of a dollar certainly hasn’t. That’s the main reason I prefer to be paid in silver. We were taking silver at $20 an ounce during Porcfest 2010. Today silver is worth around $35 an ounce. How much inflation of the dollar has taken place in the past year?
How did the transactions sans FRN’s feel?
Everything about an FRN-free transaction feels better, especially when we’re talking about silver. I love the song a silver coin sings when it is dropped on a table, and I can recognize it from across the room. The weight of the coin in my hand is cool and solid. The peace of mind in knowing that I just got paid with something of real value is the best part.
If the dollar failed tomorrow (knock on wood) what currency would you put into place if you had some sort of magic wand like the Fed?
Silver is by far my favorite form of currency, and obviously I love to barter. Those are my two favorite ways to do business, but I would never force anyone else to conform to these ideas. I would do business my preferred way, and I would imagine other people would do the same. People should be free to trade and sell goods without being forced to accept a certain currency, like the FRN. Freedom cannot exist if you’re forcing your neighbor to take forms of payment he may not want to take. If the force-backed dollar failed I would want to see it replaced with the currency of freedom. That’s the answer.
True or False: You retained your masculinity at Porcfest after wearing that pink and purple dress?
The dictionary definition of masculinity is, “Possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men.” Wikipedia states, “…the basic characteristics of masculinity include physical prowess (strength, fitness, and a lack of laziness), courage, wisdom, and honourable or righteous behavior.” When I think of people saying they are masculine I picture those huge, musclebound guys. I’m more of the type that enjoys to cook and clean, especially when it’s for a loved one. I love to be there for a friend or loved one in any way that I can, especially when that support is appreciated. I’m a simple guy, and being appreciated goes a long way.
The reason I wore a dress was because I wanted to support a great organization called Fr33 Aid. Per their website, “Fr33 Aid was created to help liberty activists organize projects that educate people about the value of mutual aid and lessen the burdens of government. Our main activity involves providing voluntary medical and educational services at liberty-related events.” I would think any liberty-oriented person would want to support a group like this. So I decided to do a fundraiser. If we raised $350 for Fr33 Aid then I would cook in a dress. The funds were raised and the dress was donned. I think we could have raised even more money if a new fundraiser was started to get me out of the dress and back into my normal clothes!
I guess it’s up to the individual to decide if I retained my masculinity, but I’m happy with the person that I am. =)Tags: money