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Small boutiques... (a short rant) - Page 2

post #16 of 47
Vero:  You realize that by following that line of reasoning, drug dealers and the foreign cartels that supply them would not be considered immoral simply because there is demand among the American population for drugs.  Are you comfortable with that?  Does demand from the public justify any immoral or unethical behavior on the part of the supplier? What if in addition to all the currently unethical things that oil companies do, they had to occasionally kidnap someone's child to maintain current profit levels? That's okay because Americans DEMAND lots of gas, right?
post #17 of 47
In America, using oil and gas is socially acceptable. Using elicit drugs is not socially acceptable. Being a libertarian, I am more open to legalizing drugs than most people. Several modern, civilized countries have legalized drugs and attempt to control their use instead of simply ban them. They actually have "drug parks" where users can go and legally use the drugs (Netherlands, parts of Switzerland, etc.). Their societies have not fallen apart as a result. And, their countries don't have to spend billions "fighting the drug war" as America does. So, yes, I am comfortable with that. I am always more comfortable with more freedom and more creative ideas to social problems than most people who fear change are. This "immoral supplier" debate could go on across many other industries -- do you or your wife wear a diamond ring? Have you ever seen or read about the deplorable working conditions and slave trade used in diamond mining in Africa? The low paid poor people in southern India that cut the diamonds? How about the diamond cartel in Antwerp, Belgium that controls it all? How about the company deBeers -- the one with the TV commercials showing rich, happy, white people gleefully giving each other diamonds -- that is the front for the cartel? Are you comfortable with that? Are you going to go pawn your diamonds now that you know this? Many, many industries operate in this kind of arrangement throughout the world. That is life, that is the way the world works. I don't like it much either. I just choose not to whine about it and wring my hands in worry as much as "liberals" do. The rest of the world does not operate like America, does not share the same values for human life like America, and is far more racist, sexist, tribal, and barbaric than America. The United States is an island of luxury and safety surrounded by a moat of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. We are coddled and spoiled here. The items and resources we want to spoil ourselves with VERY OFTEN come from some pretty deplorable people and places. Even much of the clothes that are sold here are made in huge sweatshops throughout China, Bangledesh, El Salvador, and other Third World countries where workers are paid pennies per piece -- pennies they, unfortunately, would not otherwise have if not for our demand for cheap clothes -- because only one or two privileged families, self-serving communist leaders, or a tribal warlord controls the entire country or region in which they live and are the only source of employment in the area. The only thing that is going to change that is if we change our lifestyles and change our demands. Are you open and ready to change your lifestyle to help make a change in other people's lives? Except for the clothing example above, we have digressed way off topic. Let's get back to those snotty, spoiled teenagers working in our expensive, luxury clothing boutiques. ;-)
post #18 of 47
VersaceMan (Eric), 3.5% from a bank CD ain't too shabby at all right now. If you worry about losing your principal amount, keep it in the CD. The royalty trusts do go up and down in value based on the price of oil and/or gas in the marketplace. They are up right now because natural gas prices are high right now -- see my earlier comments about limited drilling (supply) in the US. But, the royalty trusts I mentioned -- particularly SJT in New Mexico -- own good pieces of raw land from which natural gas is being captured in the US. Natural gas doesn't ship well from overseas, so domestic gas sources at today's market prices equals good income for you just for buying a couple hundred shares. :-)
post #19 of 47
Quote:
The only thing that is going to change that is if we change our lifestyles and change our demands. Are you open and ready to change your lifestyle to help make a change in other people's lives?
These are valid questions, but apathy is not form of moral justification. The unrealistic idealism of many young "liberals" can be annoying precisely because it is so naive. The cynicism of so many "conservatives", young and old, on the other hand, is merely repugnant. As for obnoxious sales clerks, I have never met a less helpful bunch than the salesman at Barney's shoes and accessories section, in contrast to be the excellent service on Barney's Men's designer floor (L.A. store.)
post #20 of 47
Vero, You are right on the money. I find it so amusing that people moan and whine about all the things wrong with the world, yet they go right on supporting these same wrongs. If you think the oil and gas industry is the root of all evil, then step up to the plate, and quit driving a car. Oh and by the way, if you live in California quit using any electricity, as nearly half of California's power plants are fired with gas. Of course no one will do that. Hell, most won't even quit driving and take public transportation. It's just so much easier to sit back and talk about how evil oil companies are: You make a couple of comments about big, bad oil, someone makes a few George W. jokes, you and all your friends nod your heads in agreement, and then everyone jumps into their own individual cars and drive off, knowing that you have done your part for the environment.
post #21 of 47
Well, if it means anything, I am one of the few people above the poverty level who chooses not to drive and to use public transportation. (BTW, more people should do that, if just to see how the other half live.) I bike recreationally and also as a commuter (I've logged countless thousands of miles on both road and mountain bikes,) and I have never turned on the heat during my years in L.A. (I come from a much colder place originally, and trust me, 45 degrees is balmy.) Everyone makes their choices and live accordingly. But statements of fact like "this is life", "everyone does it," and "what, do you drive?" do not excuse anything. I'm not advocating that people give up their cars, electricity, and go back to the stone age. I am, on the other hand, in favor of letting oil companies take a financial hit by making them responsible for the consequences of their products (hell, the tobacco companies are...) and of bringing American gas prices more in line with those in Europe (at least double what it is now.) You'd see quickly enough how much vehicle and electricity usage would decrease. Economics 101. Unfortunately, the requisite political will is severly lacking in this country to make these necessary changes. Hell, the oil lobby is so strong that Congress couldn't even ratify the Kyoto agreement. Now, back to snooty salespeople: I know that Steve B. will disagree, but I've never had particularly good service at the S.F Neimans. The S.F. Saks Men's store, on the other hand, provides exemplary service.
post #22 of 47
LA, You are right in thats its all about supply and demand. Its amazing how people curb thier consumption when prices go up. Even though I am very anti-tax, I would support an increase in the gasoline tax. It would definitely decrease our oil consumption. I dont think it was the oil lobby that prevented Kyoto from being ratified, as the Senate essentially rejected it 95-0. A vote on it even today wouldnt generate more than 10 or so 'yay' votes. The treaty was just too punitive towards the US. As far as snooty sales people go, the worst I have ever experienced was at Richards here in Greenwich. I have taken my business elsewhere as a result.
post #23 of 47
Vero: Intelligent, if not misled, theorizing, but followed to its logical conclusion, your reasoning fails substantiation on two counts. Firstly, you claim that consumers have the ability to not use oil. What the people are presented with herein is known as a Hobson's Choice. We need energy to live normal lives. People must commute from point A to point B; people must heat their homes; people must light their rooms. For the most part, we need energy to live modern lives. However, people are not presented with viable alternatives to gas-based energy. They can complain however much they want about gas, but they are still consigned by some delusion or other to final disappointment to use it. A starving vegetarian may complain about eating meat, but if he's faced with either a beef patty or death, he'll select the latter. Secondly, people are woefully ignorant of the blood that taints their oil. This is an altogether different issue, but I believe that we can't hold a population that largely receives its news from Jay Leno, Time Magazine, and the AP responsible for knowing the ramifications of purchasing foreign oil. How opposite in their case to what is called poetical justice. Such conservative/"libertarian" theorizing is the greatest psychologic phallusy of the age (both Game Theory and University of Chicago Supply-Side Economics aside). I, however appreciate the debate. So, too, do my colleagues as they chuckle at me throwing myself headlong into the fray.
post #24 of 47
Wow. "I am one of the few people above the poverty level who chooses not to drive and to use public transportation." Puhhhhlease. There are over 12 million people living above the "poverty level" -- whatever that means -- in New York City alone who choose not to drive and use public transportation. And, likewise, there are millions of people near or below the "poverty level" in America who choose to buy and drive cars even though it is considered a luxury by billions of people elsewhere in the world (i.e., China and India, for example). "BTW, more people should do that, if just to see how the other half live." Is this the statement of an egalitarian or an elitist? It's not clear... Many "poor" people in America refuse to give up their luxuries of TV, cable/satellite dishes, liquor, cars (who do we think buys all those Camaros anyway???), cigarettes, and gambling/lottery tickets, and then squeal about not having any money (or their better monied, guilt-ridden sympathizers squeal to politicians for them). Rich or poor, living in a mansion or on the street, all Americans are absolutely blessed to be living with the freedom to choose -- "Everyone makes their choices and live accordingly". Very well put. These "poor" Americans are not so much poor as they are horrible managers of their personal lives, their personal choices, and their personal finances. Tens of thousands of immigrants try to enter the United States (and hundreds die trying -- drowned Cubans, overheated-in-rail-cars Mexicans) each year. These truly desperate human beings would love to be "poor" and living below the "poverty level" in America -- the wealthiest and free-est society in the history of the world. At least they'd have a choice, better opportunities from the choices they make, and chance to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. I say open the gates and let 'em in. At least they'll appreciate what they've got... Finally, one doesn't "[bring] American gas prices more in line with those in Europe" with a wave of a magic wand. It is not "Economics 101". In Economics 101 everyone learned that prices do not determine supply and demand -- supply and demand determine prices. Likewise, as much as OPEC tries to the contrary, oil prices are set by the worldwide supply and demand for oil. That is, unless a government hijacks the process with tariffs, quotas, embargoes, etc. that alter supply and demand characteristics that ultimately increase prices for everything in an economy that uses oil as an input to its manufacture and/or distribution. When this happens, "poverty" increases for everyone as prices rise for all goods in the economy (food gets delivered by gas-guzzling trucks after all, and that expensive gas gets factored into food prices). Getting a government involved in economics only makes things worse for everybody -- as the Soviets were forced to acknowledge and the Germans are now finding out. That said, I must say that I am all for abolishing the *income tax* code we have today and replacing it with a flat *consumption tax* like the VAT in most of Europe. One single surcharge everytime someone buys any item. That's all the governments -- local, state, federal -- should get. Then, one can work hard and make money without fear of a large chunk of it being taken away by overreaching bureaucrats, mismanaged governments, and "progressive" income tax policies that seek to punish personal financial success and reward lazyness and not trying very hard to improve one's own life. With a flat consumption tax we can free up the hundreds of thousands of lawyers and accountants trapped in non-productive, non-GDP-enhancing jobs sifting through the current labyrinthian income tax code and filing tax returns for other people. Their brains and creativity deserve better, and their more productive utilization will benefit our society more. But, of course, our federal politicians are too cowardly to take such political risks, and are too entrenched in the current system (hey, we pay all those guys in Washington D.C. ~$200,000 per year each for performing a "civic" duty they supposedly "volunteer" to do -- how altruistic of them.) to change the status quo and improve our lives. The worst boutique experience I've had? I don't go into the boutiques much because I think everything is overpriced there. I do get negative vibes at the Mont Blanc shop at NorthPark Centre in Dallas. Tres snooty, n'est pas?
post #25 of 47
AAA, Yes, like all those anti-globalization protestors who probably buy their riot gear on eBay -- the purely global marketplace. :-)
post #26 of 47
"Firstly, you claim that consumers have the ability to not use oil." You must have me confused with someone else. I never claimed that. "Secondly, people are woefully ignorant of the blood that taints their oil. This is an altogether different issue, but I believe that we can't hold a population that largely receives its news from Jay Leno, Time Magazine, and the AP responsible for knowing the ramifications of purchasing foreign oil." All said population has to do is turn off the boob tube, and go to any bookstore or library, pick up a newspaper, magazine, or book, and read about the ramifications of purchasing foreign oil. It's pretty straightforward. Only the individual him- or herself is responsible for doing so. "phallusy" Uh, I think you mean "fallacy". A phallus is a penis.
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Now, back to snooty salespeople:  I know that Steve B. will disagree, but I've never had particularly good service at the S.F Neimans.  The S.F. Saks Men's store, on the other hand, provides exemplary service.
By S.F. Neimans do you mean San Francisco Neimans? If so I've had the opposite experience. I find the Neimans salesmen to be very friendly and knowledgeable but I've had some bad experiences at Saks. I'll never forget - I was once in the Saks shoe department and I commented on how nice this pair of Testoni's was to the salesman. His response was "of course you like them, they are a $1500 pair of shoes."   I haven't visited their shoe department since.
post #28 of 47
Quote:
That said, I must say that I am all for abolishing the *income tax* code we have today and replacing it with a flat *consumption tax* like the VAT in most of Europe. One single surcharge everytime someone buys any item. That's all the governments -- local, state, federal -- should get. Then, one can work hard and make money without fear of a large chunk of it being taken away by overreaching bureaucrats, mismanaged governments, and "progressive" income tax policies that seek to punish personal financial success and reward lazyness and not trying very hard to improve one's own life. With a flat consumption tax we can free up the hundreds of thousands of lawyers and accountants trapped in non-productive, non-GDP-enhancing jobs sifting through the current labyrinthian income tax code and filing tax returns for other people. Their brains and creativity deserve better, and their more productive utilization will benefit our society more. But, of course, our federal politicians are too cowardly to take such political risks, and are too entrenched in the current system (hey, we pay all those guys in Washington D.C. ~$200,000 per year each for performing a "civic" duty they supposedly "volunteer" to do -- how altruistic of them.) to change the status quo and improve our lives.
Vero, I agree with 99% of what you've said.  I believe, however, that the idea of replacing our income tax with a national sales tax is a complete pipe dream (albeit one with which I have a great deal of sympathy).  Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't Europeans pay an income tax on top of the VAT?  What's even worse is that the VAT is imposed at every step in production, with the result being a cascading tax that gets passed on to the consumer. Even if a national sales tax was practical, there would be a need to build progressivity into the tax to make it politically palatable -- exemptions would be made for necessities such as food, medicine, etc.  The end result would be special interest lobbyists decending on Washington like locusts claiming that the product or service that they represent deserves exemption.  The resulting tax legislation would introduce widespread distortions into the economy.  Finally, if one wanted to generate the same amount of revenue with a sales tax as with the existing income tax, the tax rate would have to be set around 20% or so.  With the tax rate that high, I'm afraid that an underground economy and widespread bartering would soon result. I'm personally in favor of a flat tax along the lines of those proposed by Jerry Brown and Steve Forbes with the first $30,000 or so of income exempt.  That tax would generate revenue while introducing the fewest distortions into the economy. With regard to the original topic, I have little experience shopping in boutiques (view the current thread on lame DC shopping).  I do occasionally browse in high-end watch stores and I would be naive to think that the high-end watch I usually wear has no effect on how I am treated by salesmen.
post #29 of 47
Quote:
If you think the oil and gas industry is the root of all evil, then step up to the plate, and quit driving a car....
Sir, may I submit that you are not someone who grew up in a country where TWO DIFFERENT OIL COMPANIES (Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron) at TWO DIFFERENT TIMES squelched peaceful protest by sending in racist mercanaries (i.e. disgruntled whites who left the Rhodesian or RSA armies after integration), supplying them with combat helicopters, and then through a combination of bribes and arm-twisting got the corrupt military junta to post facto bless their intervention. And for the record, I do not currently drive a car every day, I ride the Metro. Most Americans don't have that option, because Standard Oil bought up so many municipal mass transit firms in the early 1900s so as to dismantle them and pave the way for the mass adoption of the car. I did drive a car every day when I lived in America. When my wife has to return to med school in Vienna in September or October, I'll be flying or perhaps taking a EuroCity overnight train on weekends. (Or sending her on same.) I did recently buy a car for entertainment, an Opel (General Motors Europe) Speedster in bright orange with matt aluminium windscreen and Targa top (see images below) that because it's properly designed gets over 30mpg even when driven at its limits. I did like the even more fuel efficient (700cc + turbo compared to 2200cc, and a lighter body) Smart Roadster better theoretically, but as a practical matter it's just not intended for anyone over 6' tall so I could not fit comfortably inside of it. I also considered a used Renault Sport Spyder, but decided I wanted a new car; also, I thought about one of the crazy British bike-powered cars, such as the Ariel Atom, but then decided I needed ABS, airbags, and some measure of weather protection. Or at least it was decided for me. Also, to be vaguely on topic, the Opel dealer was a professional, willing to put up with my still-halting French and even speak in halting English or German to me, and generally treated me better than I'd imagine any American GM dealer treating its customers. The Citroen Pluriel 1.6 I bought for my wife as an occasional vehicle (she too rides trains every day for point a to point b commuting) is even more fuel-efficient and will be almost as much fun to drive as my Speedster when she finally gets it. (I placed the order shortly before Valentine's Day, but demand is so high that she's hopefully looking at a September delivery.) Peace, JG PS: Opel Speedster exterior front: Exterior rear: Interior: The Speedster is built by Lotus for Opel, but has more space inside than Lotus's similar Elise. (I was on the waiting list for a US-market Elise until I moved.) The Elise is lighter and faster, but ultimately the Speedster was a better fit for me. Main differences between the Speedster and the Elise are cost (I took home my Speedster for about the high street price of a loaded Mazda Miata 1.8), cost/ease of servicing (I can go to any of a million Opel dealers, rather than needing to find a Lotus specialist.) I chose the regular one over the new Speedster Turbo because it didn't feel noticably slower to me and is a lot cheaper. Also, I could have one right away in the orange/tan leather colour combination I wanted.
post #30 of 47
I'd rather not paint with a broad brush, but I'd have to say the my experience working for a certain French petro-monster in Gabon taught me a lot about the industry, not to mention the 5th Republic. After 9 months, I had to jump ship. No amount of money (and they threw it at me in huge wads) could make me blind to the extortion, intimidation, bribery, embezzlement, and contract murder that were routine "business practices." I realize, however, that I'm as guilty as the rest, having lived it up on that money. BTW, please don't let anyone tell you that de Villepin and his bunch are acting on principle when it comes to anything. (Now I'm waaay off topic.) They're in the soup just like everybody else. Don't take this as a tacit endorsement of American fo.po; it's not--W's world isn't my world. Moral high ground just does not exist--in the States or in Europe. I just couldn't stand that rallying around Chirac over the war--as if the man were some kind of inspirational pacifist. Whew. Sorry about that. Back on the real topic, I'm in complete agreement with A Harris--the sales crew at Neiman Marcus has always been very helpful and courteous with me.
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