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Subject: Being sold a lie. rss

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Much of what I abhor in the modern world is rooted in my observation that many people "buy" into ideas because the presentation of the idea matches some reality or concept they see as valuable. What is abhorrent isn't the concept, or the people... it's how easily otherwise intelligent people buy into lies because of the smooth-talking liars.

Take Walmart. Now there's a large company that everybody loves to hate. RSP and even the front page of BGG have often had threads where the prevailing attitude is that Walmart is terrible. You all know the reasons why Walmart is terrible so it's pointless to repeat them here. Trying to compete with the meme that currently holds a majority of the brain-space you allotted to hating large corporations is futile.

My attitude has always been neutral about such matters. Walmart doesn't bother me. In fact, it seems that the more educated and liberal portion of America is the portion that has always been up in arms about how evil Walmart is and how it is working to "transform America"! Wow. I guess transformation is only good if it matches ideology huh?

Anyway, my daughter and son are deviations from the norm in my bloodline. I'm old school. I like saving money and I hate cheap crap so will buy expensive only if it's the only option that makes sense. Walmart makes sense on some levels and not so much on others. But my kids have always been horrified when they find out I've been to Walmart. Well, not my 7 year old, The first word he could recognize was Walmart. He loves the place because he knows the value of a buck... even if he doesn't count so well and hasn't grasped totally the concept of getting change back.

The older kids are foodies. They are also infused with the memes that so many college grads get infected with. They really think they know more about consumerism and quality, price versus value and usefulness as opposed to useless then they really know. Take my daughter. She has a degree. A hard science degree. She knows agriculture, plants, food and even served several years in the specialized branch of US Customs that deals with incoming produce and agricultural products. My son is far, far worse. He and his wife are true foodies.. of the uppity sort that cities like Austin produce in huge numbers.

And I think reality is slowly bringing them out of their "educated trance" and into the real world. My daughter has been to Walmart a number of times for products that are equal to or the exact brand as the more expensive stores carry but that are a real savings for a young family. Think diapers for just a start. She now has two children in diapers.

My son and his wife are more resistant. Last fall we all went into the H.E.B. store near their Austin home and after walking around a bit, throwing some beers and chips into a cart, I remarked to my son, "This store is okay... like Walmart. Only way more expensive." He visibly blanched at my comment, but I pointed at the cart where I had placed a 12 pack of premium beer and a couple bags of Frito-Lay's finest. "What? You think Walmart only carries beer and chips made in China?"

The lie that is easy to sell someone intelligent enough to have an ideology is simple... all you have to do is convince them you are just like them and then get them to give you money. Or votes. You don't actually have to be just like them. In fact, you don't actually have to have the intention of delivering what you promise... say... I dunno... a fundamental transformation of America that is similar to what they envision. All you have to do is convince them you are like them and they are like you. Their wallets will fly open and they will punch your name on the voting ticket like good little sheep... until they are broke and totally under your power.

Take this recent dust-up in DC over health care. Forget the profusion of graphs, charts, CBO numbers, battling pundits and so forth and so on. The bottom line is that the party in power got into power by presenting an appealing face to a variety of subsets of American voters and convinced each subset that what they wanted is what the ruling party wanted.

We all know that isn't true. We don't all admit it.... but we all know it. And for those few who are so unfailingly dense that they don't know it yet... well... you're way too dumb to figure it out anyway. Sorry.

Obama and his health care war is, in many ways, a lot like the war that has been conducted on Walmart over the last 20 years or so. It's an unrelenting assault on common sense and basic understanding of how the world works. Yes, Walmart may have eradicated some jobs. No, it's not the end of America. In fact, it may well be the type of transformation that is healthier in the long run than the former set-up. Good products priced for less are what most people want. Some people... a tiny minority... want to pay more for the same thing you pay less for because they want it to "feel" better to them. It's about them, not the product. Diamond wedding rings are kind of like that.

As a fan of Walmart... both for pricing as well as the entertainment provided by the daily visits of some of the more colorful Americans... I never bought into the lie that Walmart is bad. It's neither bad nor good. It's a company that wants to make money. And if it can make money providing a different class of job, or transforming local economies... then so be it. Have a little fucking patience people... transformation is often slow.

You may disagree... and some of you will. But I did find this article to be particularly insightful and because it's about Walmart I was amused by some of the attitudes presented and laughed out loud at one comment made by people who were "tricked" in the blind taste test. One was actually angry that the Walmart food beat out the Whole Food selections in so many categories. And the angry person was one who voted blind for the dish prepared with Walmart purchases. Read here if interested:

Walmart

It's a good article. Enjoy the week-end and if you shop at Walmart remember... they still don't have quality meat. But the beer is the same as they sell at the more expensive stores.
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J
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Wal-Mart is great, but don't forget your bingo card.

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Marc P
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Often, Wal*Mart is the only place in rural settings to get all of the absolute crap that you don't actually need that could previously only be obtained in the suburbs.
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Destiny's got her hand way, way up in their puppets! It's an unpleasant tingling! The deepest of wriggles!
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I prefer Target. Same prices, cleaner store, employees are better at pretending to be interested in helping you.
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John Burt
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Tripp, I agree completely, except I see the exact same thing in religion and alternative medicine. People are told a lie that makes them feel better about themselves, or so they can feel like part of a group.
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slowcorner wrote:
Often, Wal*Mart is the only place in rural settings to get all of the absolute crap that you don't actually need that could previously only be obtained in the suburbs.


That's one of the memes I was referring to in my OP. But seeing as how you are a city slicker I would expect no less of you Marc.

I once figured out that I was saving right around $1000 a year by stopping off at Walmart for groceries and cleaning items, light bulbs etc on my way home from the big city. But when you factor in things like my TV, which I saved over $150 on and luxury items like DVD's for my son, it gets even better.

The two nearest Walmarts are both situated to serve more upper middle class down to middle class areas than rural ones. When I do buy groceries there the parking lot has way more Lexus SUV's, Subaru WRX's and Hondas than it does pick-ups and rusty station wagons. Which tells me that pinching a penny for the family food budget isn't just for the retarded gun-toting country hicks. Even nice people understand about economic responsibility.

Overall, Walmart isn't the best place to buy food... but it's right up there. There is a regional chain called WinCo (which I think you may have near you) which often beats Walmart in pricing and has a better selection of many items and also a bulk food section. Clothes for kids are better purchased elsewhere. My boy is a 70 pound tank and he plays very, very rough and spends copious amounts of time in the dirt, muck and pastures. Target has a better selection of higher quality jeans and shirts at similar prices and for the real price-conscious quality I stick with Levis, Wrangler and Carhart for him... none of which Walmart carries in the styles he likes.

So it's a mixed bag and the competition is growing... which means all the larger stores need to be better, have better products and create more inviting shopping experiences.

That's not so bad... is it?

Jarred ~

I'm giving you a thumb for the bingo card even though I posted it here in BGG a couple years ago. It's still funny. Just not as funny as when me and your mom first saw it.
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MGK
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Part XVI of "Tripp Versus Book-Learnin'": another sad rehash of his classic volume 9 effort. Franchise is in need of a reboot. Perhaps if Chris Pine played Tripp?
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J
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mistermarino wrote:
I prefer Target. Same prices, cleaner store, employees are better at pretending to be interested in helping you.

I would say Target is a little more expensive and a little better quality. Their home furnishings are decent and Walmart's are terrible. Don't ever buy a piece of furniture at Walmart. I really like WM for consumables.
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Lawson
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That article was interesting -- thanks for posting it -- and I was pleased to gather that Walmart is giving thought to environmental, local-food concerns. Walmart promoting local, small farmers sounds like a no-lose situation to me.

The rest of what you wrote, though, doesn't resonate with me. I'm somebody who has tended to avoid Walmart, but it's not out of snobbery. It's because of concerns about their labor and purchasing practices. I'm all for getting inexpensive goods because a volume purchaser makes that possible. I'm not at all for getting inexpensive goods because they were produced in questionable factory conditions and/or made possible because the company selling them skimps on providing health insurance to its employees.

Seeing evidence of Walmart's more-thoughtful intentions, though, is likely to nudge me into looking at what the state of the art for Walmart is now. At a minimum, the mainstreaming of environmental, local-food awareness is certainly happy news!
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Bela's dead and Vampira won't talk
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As an uppity foodie myself, I feel compelled to reply.

First, I consider myself neither a fan of Wal-Mart nor an opponent to it. In fact, I was there just a few weeks ago, buying some various cleaning supplies, a giant plastic bin to keep my 50 lb. bags of flour in, and some white t-shirts (such is the glamorous life of le_cygne), and took a moment to check prices on these mysterious, new-fangled "high definition television machines."

That said, I disagree that the war on Wal-Mart is "an unrelenting assault on common sense and basic understanding of how the world works." I think that the opposition to Wal-Mart is every bit as much of the process of progress to an (ephemerally) "better" future: as you say, part of "the type of transformation that is healthier in the long run than the former set-up."

Companies like Whole Foods (or, better yet, farmers' markets or specialty purveyors with generations of expertise and craft passed down from grandma and grandpa) serve a balancing function against the "cheap crap" phenomenon, something that is itself extremely important if we want the future to, well, not suck. Sure, there are uninformed fringe cases--social-climbing yuppies, hippies who buy into the lifestyle but don't have an understanding of underlying ideologies, "cheapness before quality" shoppers--all around. But this doesn't change the fact that various sides have various points of potential value, beyond arbitrarily bashing Wal-Mart (or Whole Foods for that matter).

I very much doubt, for example, that Wal-Mart would have felt compelled to improve the quality of their produce department were it not for competition from high-end competitors (and their mid-price imitators), recent trends from both environmentally-minded consumers and foodies focusing on local cuisine, and the social and political pressure coming from some who say that Wal-Mart destroys local economies (and coincidental pressure against agricultural conglomerates for the perception of doing the same to local farmers*).

I mean, pomegranates at Wal-Mart without Whole Foods or Trader Joe's leading the way? Without the demand from an increasingly food-savvy American consumer? Really? Locally sourced veggies without Mr. and Mrs. Harcore Environmentalist making John and Jane "I Guess I'll Change to Compact Flourescent Bulbs One of these Days" take notice? I don't buy it.

While I may not particularly care about whether my food is fair trade or organic**, there are other legitimate social, political, and environmental concerns that people have, and I think it's generally beneficial to bring them to the table. (Other conventional issues like customer service, shopping experience, aesthetics of the store, count too, of course, but people tend not to have extreme positions on this sort of thing.) If the issue itself is flawed, then we as consumers can ignore it as a selling point and explain why the issue shouldn't really matter. If Wal-Mart is singled out and made to compete on these grounds due to its size and success, then so be it, and if they can address these concerns and bring them into synergy with other legitimate concerns that Wal-Mart already addresses (like cost and accessibility to consumers), then all the better.

The war on Wal-Mart is in my opinion one comprised of many legitimate concerns from many different groups, and it looks like Wal-Mart is willing to address at least some of them. As the Environmental Defense Fund representative quoted in the article seems to indicate, there's no reason to think people's opinions of the company won't change once their concerns are addressed, even as this, too, may take time.



--
*What do we expect? Our government subsidizes the hell out of them at the expense of small farmers and biodiversity.
**Actually, I do sort of care about this, because the whole organic notion is exactly the sort of notion-that-people-buy-into you're discussing. But that's a topic for another post.
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John So-And-So
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Just for the record, I don't hate Walmart because I think their products are inferior (which is what I think the OP was getting at), I hate it for the piss-poor way they treat their employees.

Yes, I know "they're giving jobs to people who wouldn't have jobs otherwise". That's the same rationale that makes it ok to pay Chinese kids 6 cents an hour to make Nikes, and it doesn't fly with me.
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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I carried a grudge against Wal-Mart for years. When they were expanding into small town America in the late eighties and into Seymour, Indiana , the "Small Town", where I happily ran a fine mens clothing store for ten years, they killed us. Although we didn't overlap with them much on menswear, we competed with them for "gift dollars" at Father's Day and Christmas. They killed us and other small town downtown shops. We closed up on New Year's Eve 1989. I boycotted them for years. I've let up on them a little bit in the past five years as they are the largest and cheapest seller of ammunition in the country.

DW, I didn't read your entire post assuming it ends in an implied or explicit fuck obama. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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Doug Iverson
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I like Walmart and shop there on occasion. Stores are clean and the workers are generally helpful. Prices are not the best but are right up there. In fact, just to irritate any one looking for a WiFi connection, mine broadcasts "Walmart is great". It is, of course, encrypted. Walmart is not giving anyone a job. I personally think the "poor Chinese kid is making $.06/per hour" is overblown. What, you think buying Nike shoes in another store mean they were made at a higher rate?
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William Boykin
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I don't own a car *gasp- Kill him, he's UnAmerican!*, so WalMart and the other deep discounters are of limited use for me. I just can't carry enough crap home with me to make the extended trip worth the savings that I get.

I'm overweight, like oh so many of us who prefer the 'sedentary arts', but I do try and eat less. And one of the ways that I do that is just not having that much food in the apartment. I also try and buy just enough veggies and bread that I can eat in a couple of days, before it goes bad. I was raised to be a total cheapskate- the idea of throwing out food because it went bad makes my skin crawl.

Which is why I either buy from a little grocer (Wheatsville Co-Op, which I wish wasn't so networked into the Organic movement; their veggies are good but I'm not spending a $1.50 PER apple), or I go to a HEB or Central Market (Which is an upscale HEB trying to look like a Whole Foods, for those furriners (ie-NonTexans) reading this.) Its not a choice of cheaper- its a choice of not wanting to just 'bulk out' on food.

I go to Sam's Club or CostCo for work, to pick up stuff, and I'm always amazed at HOW MUCH CRAP people buy when they go in there. Carts and Carts and Carts of stuff. So, while I'm sure some of them have huge families (and being a bachelor, perhaps I'm being naive of how much food a family of four really does go through), it just strikes me that no really needs to be buying 100 oz box of spaghetti- even if it is on sale.

I think that one aspect of our endemic obesity is tied in with that- to get the lowest price for food we're encouraged to buy in bulk. Bulk food at home just makes it more likely that its going to be EATEN, unless you're a person of amazing willpower. And I don't know about you, but the few times I've bought one of those big giant Tins of Caramel Popcorn, to 'share' with gamers on game night, well..... gulp

This isn't to say that there aren't other factors- Corn syrup in everything, making so many of us borderline diabetics, is another pet peeve of mine- but I do think that this is a concern.

Other than that- which isn't a problem with WalMart, its a problem with how Americans buy food- I have no real problem with WalMart. I just usually prefer to shop local businesses. But I don't think that its a 'moral' preference- just a personal one.

Darilian
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I've not shopped at Walmart because they've never been in any place I've lived. I prefer smaller retailers that you can get to know and will avoid chains unless the chain offers something unique. I've seen what Walmarts do to small towns so I probably wouldn't shop there if I had the opportunity, but they are problematic as they tend to drive the Ma & Pa stores that I prefer to shop at out of business, so if I were in a small town I wouldn't have anywhere else to shop.

Fortunately, I've lived in cities that are wise to the effect and ban them.

More than anything though, perhaps my biggest flaw is that I'm prejudiced against white trash, so I don't go into places like that.
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Bela's dead and Vampira won't talk
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Darilian wrote:
I go to Sam's Club or CostCo for work, to pick up stuff, and I'm always amazed at HOW MUCH CRAP people buy when they go in there. Carts and Carts and Carts of stuff. So, while I'm sure some of them have huge families (and being a bachelor, perhaps I'm being naive of how much food a family of four really does go through), it just strikes me that no really needs to be buying 100 oz box of spaghetti- even if it is on sale.


So you're saying that most bachelors don't buy 50 lb. bags of flour for personal consumption?
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Well, considering Lawson and le_cygne's response it's valuable (I think) to look at a business like Walmart more as a business than as a charity or social services experiment. Of course Walmart will transform. And of course it will alter it's business model to meet the needs and wants of what it perceives as the target customer base. I am not suggesting that something as large as Walmart has any real social consciousness. It doesn't. Nor does any large entity comprised of tens of thousands of people. Like.. you know... the Federal Government.

I personally don't care if a worker in China gets paid shit. Really. I don't. If it cost me nothing I would prefer they get paid more than shit. But if it costs me money that I am already tight on, fuck 'em. Social consciousness on a global scale is the arena of the affluent elite, not the run-of-the-mill citizen of America, Canada or Belgium who wants to pay .59 cents for bananas rather than $1.59 for the same product.

So Walmart is transforming, not because it's a socially conscious entity, but because it makes good business sense to partake in the issues that others are all pissy about. And along the way it appears they are discovering that there are ways to be a better local citizen all while making profits. Good for them. But it's not about being "good", it's about being profitable.

At the same time I understand why some folks, Lawson and le_cygne, think that stuff is important when it comes to spending their money. It's their money after all. The difference is that as a somewhat regular Walmart shopper I have never felt compelled to express outrage at how anyone else spends their money or at the businesses they choose to spend it at. I mean look at GM... they make a Corvette that generates 600HP and is not exactly a demonstration of being environmentally in-sync with the "movement". And some of those parts are made in Mexico where plenty of bad shit happens to underpaid workers. So the attacks seem selective to me. That's just my take. I figure if you had real integrity on the issues you would go after any and all companies and government entities that don't tow the ideological line you demand of them. Starting with the federal government and working your way down to your local county or city would probably be a better way to spend your time and energy.

In the end I think the transformation will last a couple of decades. Walmart will evolve and mature as a global giant and eventually raise the stakes by paying people more, offering additional benefits and spending resources developing local economies like the article details. It makes business sense. And it's how the free market works. If you reduce the intervention from government bullies and activist lawyers, eventually large, cumbersome leviathans like Walmart will be better citizens because it makes money sense.

Scrib attested to that by noting how they are cornering the ammo market. They have the best selection at the best price around here as well.
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William Boykin
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le_cygne wrote:


So you're saying that most bachelors don't buy 50 lb. bags of flour for personal consumption?


Well, sometimes after a long night of quilting and working on scrapbooks, I do get the yen to make a 4 layer cake....... snore

NO- I don't buy 50 lbs of flour!!

I buy 50 lb bags of RICE. But I've got a little Korean grocery store right next to my apartment complex, so I didn't have to carry it that far.

Actually, most bachelors I know end up eating out for most of their meals..... I really, really need to cut down on that.

Darilian
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Darilian wrote:


Actually, most bachelors I know end up eating out for most of their meals..... I really, really need to cut down on that.

Darilian


I pity you. Actually, I pity most bachelors for failing to grasp the joy of cooking. It's not only fun, it's healthy. On top of which it can get you laid faster, easier and with a wider selection of attractive partners than DarthX and his wingman Johnny Sorpano will probably ever collectively score.

And furthermore... it will put money in your pocket. Depending on your annual "eating out" tab, it could mean a difference of a couple thousand bucks per year. Cooking your own meals also aids the restructuring of your life into good patterns as opposed to bad habits. It takes patience, discipline and the ability to follow directions and exercise good judgment. You have to be punctual and observant and learn when to act and when to observe. All skills which also will lead to getting laid.

In fact, the ability to cook coupled with the ability to dance makes a man formidable in the global competition for sex... even small penis's like those found in Texas (due largely to the migration of Yankees and Northerners into the state, no doubt) are dismissed as not being important to a women who has fallen under the spell of a gourmet meal cooked by her dance partner.

Walmart... it makes getting laid affordable.
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William Boykin
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Dont get me wrong-
I do know how to cook, and am quite good at it. My father was teaching me the fine arts of making omelletes at the age of 8...

But I just hate eating alone in my apartment. HATE HATE HATE it.

So if I'm given the chance to eat out with friends, or go home and save money, I eat out. Which I shouldn't, for all the reasons you mention.

(Dancing, on the other hand, is right out. I have NO sense of timing. Old GF of mine who was a ballerina/jazz dancer tried to help me out, and got me to a point where I can shuffle and not embarrass myself, but I'm most certainly not at the point where I can do a jitterbug....! )

Which means what I REALLY need, like Darth Xaos, is a girlfriend- so I have someone to TALK TO as I'm making and eating dinner. But WalMart isn't really going to help me there.

Nor is BGG, for that matter......

Darilian
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mistermarino wrote:
I prefer Target. Same prices, cleaner store, employees are better at pretending to be interested in helping you.


I prefer Target too, but I consistently see prices significantly higher than those of Wal-Mart. I'm speaking about toiletries and the like, btw. Even things like batteries, toys, etc. are marginally more expensive (5-20%, depending on item). It adds up.

But I do prefer Target's cleanliness.

Edit: just read Jarred's post - sorry for the dupe thought. I agree about the furniture, though I still have some old college-era bookcases I bought there years and years ago that still work fine.

BTW: Tripp is so right on the meat, at least in the steak department. I find a meat market is the way to go in this area. However, for chicken, ground beef, cubed steak, and even pork ribs, wal-mart is just fine.
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Rich S
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Here's what I think most people miss. Walmart is not the #1 destroyer of small business. That honor goes to Amazon. And Amazon isn't just killing small business or even just large business. They are killing off entire retail sectors. Right now there is only one non-internet bookstore chain that can still claim a profit (B&N). Borders is under constant threat of bankruptcy. Amazon, and you can say internet commerce as a whole, is destroying the consumer electronics retail industry as well. CompUSA and Circuit City, both major chains, have gone under simply because they cannot compete with the internet.

And it's not just sales and managerial jobs that are lost. Think of all of the office equipment sales, maintenance jobs, rental property, and various supplies that also go away when a B&M store goes under and replaced by internet commerce. Sure Amazon gets to hire a warehouse worker here and there but it doesn't even come close to the losses from B&M shops.

Right now Walmart is the ONLY B&M store that is able to compete with Amazon and in that matchup I root for Walmart. I believe we need to start taxing internet sales for the sole purpose of giving B&M stores a fighting chance against Amazon. The more Amazon dominates, the more jobs will be permanently lost.
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John Burt
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phosrik wrote:
I believe we need to start taxing internet sales for the sole purpose of giving B&M stores a fighting chance against Online Gaming Stores. The more Online Gaming Stores dominate, the more jobs will be permanently lost.


Sound familiar?

I CHANGED PHOSRIK'S QUOTE, HE ACTUALLY IS REFERRING TO AMAZON IN HIS QUOTE

Better?
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Rich S
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Xlyce wrote:
phosrik wrote:
I believe we need to start taxing internet sales for the sole purpose of giving B&M stores a fighting chance against Online Gaming Stores. The more Online Gaming Stores dominate, the more jobs will be permanently lost.


Sound familiar?


It's never a good idea to change someone's quote. Even if you use italics. Point is taken but that's still a no-no.

Edit: Better, but I think the best way would be to use my quote and then say something like "You could say the same thing about online game companies." Then redo my quote as you originally did.

I don't mean to be an ass about this, but I did see one occasion of an altered quote come back to the original poster through no fault of his own. I know you didn't mean any harm by it and your point is clear. Sorry if I came across too negatively.
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phosrik wrote:
Xlyce wrote:
phosrik wrote:
I believe we need to start taxing internet sales for the sole purpose of giving B&M stores a fighting chance against Online Gaming Stores. The more Online Gaming Stores dominate, the more jobs will be permanently lost.


Sound familiar?


It's never a good idea to change someone's quote. Even if you use italics. Point is taken but that's still a no-no.


It's acceptable if you say "FYQ".
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