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).
I live in LA, where it's pretty fair to say that the large majority of those who take public transportation are those who can't drive or can't afford to drive. As for seeing how the other half live, I don't think that you would be making such broad, condescending, bullshit statements like:
These "poor" Americans are not so much poor as they are horrible managers of their personal lives, their personal choices, and their personal finances.
if you had any idea of the difficulties some of the poor face. The adage that wealth begets wealth, and poverty begets poverty holds true, generally - and the latter, particularly. The poor are not able to take advantage of economically beneficial opportunities, even if it is something as simple as buying things in bulk, on sale, or shopping at out-of-the-way discount stores because they lack transportation. At the same time, the poor are often faced with having to make financial decisions, in order to alleviate an immediate financial crisis, that will, in the long run, exacerbate their poverty. Those terrible "cash for check" places are a case in point. If you are forced to lose 20% of your future earnings in order to eat and pay rent for the rest of the month, you will nevertheless do so, because not eating or going homeless is not a viable option. It is true that many Americans (not just the poor) make very poor personal financial decisions. However, the less impoverished you are initially, the more able you are to buffer the consequences of your poor decisions and the better the chance you have to recover from those decisions.
In Economics 101 everyone learned that prices do not determine supply and demand -- supply and demand determine prices.
Generally true, but pure bullshit when it comes to the oil industry. The supply of fossil fuels is in nearly inexhaustible by modern means (contrary to what a lot of environmental activists will have you think.) Oil prices are agreed upon by oil suppliers and individual governments. For the supply and demand argument to hold absolutely requires an "ideal" market, which is nearly never the case anyway. The oil industry is closer to the diamond industry on that spectrum. And, besides that, there are numerous cases, especially in the broad area of "natural resources" where prices are artificially set for social and political reasons. Why do you think Southern Californians, who live in a desert, pay so little for fresh water? Is the demand so low, or the supply so great? And one last thing. Many things factored into the demise of the Soviet regime. And while many of its difficulties can be traced back to problems with central planning, the history of pre-revolutionary Russia also biased the Soviet system to failure - and it would be a grave mistake discount the historical arguments purely in favor of the economic one.
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.
Really? Maybe I've just caught some bad days. I'll have to go back to make sure. They do have some great stuff, especially in the way of shirts during the Chirstmas sales season.