By ELEANOR BLACK
A capitalist's tour of Auckland takes in every Starbucks and common StarMart but avoids the swank new Hilton and one of the city's more popular watering holes.
Participants in yesterday's Walk For Capitalism, celebrating what even the walkers called the selfish pursuit of money, tied (conservative) blue ribbons at Viaduct Basin business entrances, to thank them for improving their world.
But you won't see any of the 25 marchers darkening the door of the Hilton, where their ribbons and placards were not welcome, or Lenin Restaurant and Bar, a money-making success with an unacceptably revolutionary name.
"If someone opened a bar called Hitler, would that be tasteful?" asked David Pritchard, a customer services manager.
He said he was supporting the walk - organised by the Melbourne-based Prodos Institute and held in 107 other cities worldwide - because it was time to promote capitalism on moral grounds, not just pragmatic ones. Like most of the marchers, he thought capitalists were unfairly painted as conceited bullies with no interest in the environment or the poor.
They wanted to be seen as independent thinkers who worked hard for their luxuries.
"If life is about the pursuit of happiness, selfishness is a virtue," said Andrew Atlas, a civil engineer with a "Taxation is Theft" sign stuck to his back with gaffer tape.
When Auckland walk organiser Peter Cresswell, an architect and member of the Libertarianz party, ran inside each business en route to present them with their ribbons, the others stood outside with their placards both lofty ("I own my life, I am not a slave, I am a capitalist") and plain ("Capitalism is Good").
Cafe customers peeked over their cappuccinos in amusement but not all business people were pleased to see the capitalists.
The young counter staff at Starbucks - 4900 locations and $US237 million ($569 million) revenue worldwide last month alone - did not seem to want their award. At least one customer just seemed bewildered.