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Small boutiques... (a short rant) - Page 3

post #31 of 47
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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:
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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.
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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.
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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.
post #32 of 47
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Everyone makes their choices and live accordingly
I meant that in a moral, rather than economic sense.
post #33 of 47
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The supply of fossil fuels is in nearly inexhaustible by modern means (contrary to what a lot of environmental activists will have you think.)
Please explain, for a genuinely interested observer. Does this mean we have much more than the 70-or-so years many people claim? As for the thread, I think snooty salesmen (and I do mean 'men,' as saleswomen seem much more friendly and easier to deal with on the whole--not to mention I would never propose the following query to a female) reply better to an invitation to "step outside" than a lost customer. Sure, they may threaten w/a call to the police, but it's worth it.
post #34 of 47
Ken, Energy resources is not my area of expertise. That being said: one of the interesting facts about energy consumption is that the per capita usage has in fact stayed rather flat for some time due to technological advances - fuel efficiency, for example, has increased dramatically, and consistently, since the sixties. The emphasis on miniaturization is likewise driving energy consumption in some areas down. Considering this, the increasing ability to extract oil from existing sites and the ability to access previously unprofitable sites, the world's oil supply is in no eminent danger of drying up. The 70 years that is often quoted is extremely conservative, to the point of being unrealistic. Increasingly, I've been hearing estimates in the centuries.
post #35 of 47
Vero: I was indeed addressing you, unless you have a doppelgänger posting under the selfsame avatar. You said, in a previous posting,
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"Oil companies are just supplying the product that fulfills the demand at the market price."
This means, effectively, that the oil companies are doing no wrong; they are only (and innocently) abiding by the wills of the market. What claptrap. As both my previous response and one of Joe G's evidences, most Americans don't have the option to forsake oil. As for the phallusy remark, yes, I meant "phallusy" in the strict sense of the term. Consult your OED. And, as for your comment that
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"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,"
what a loaded assumption. I find such statements obscenely ignorant and unfounded. Instead of taking Economics 101, you need to take a How-the-World-Really-Works Class. The most effective economies in the world have largely been Fascist. The Japanese economy of the 1980s, one that American businessmen laboriously attempted to copy, was entirely planned. The United States, the European Union, and the East-Asian economies of today, too, are widely moving towards Fascism. You can dreg through the annals of civilization and you'll be hard-pressed to find a successful, true capitalistic market. On the other hand, if you look towards the colonial, mercantile, and Fascistic successes of Rome, the British Empire, and the United States, you'll see a "guiding hand" that is the government's. What financed the high-tech industry that drives America's economy today? Was it a capitalistic free-market? No. It was WWII and NASA through the 1970s, and the Star Wars program through the 80s and 90s. The drug industry? Also government organized and sponsored. Lending and loaning? Government. Gambling, automobile, and airline? You guessed it, also government regulated, sponsored, or ran (or received much help from the government). Your competitive commodities are leveraged on the backs of the tax payers. And don't even begin with this "Welfare-Queen" myth about how the poor are lazy and solely responsible for their destitution. Have a fifteen-year old mother addicted to crack, a father you've never met, a school system with a 70% drop-out rate, and your only babysitter as daytime television--have just one of these--and tell me how enabled you would be. I could go on, ad infinitum, but this post is already off-topic enough. "Freedom to choose"? Not in this country. Not with this system, and not with your system.
post #36 of 47
As far as the "inexhaustible" supply of fossil fuels goes, yes that is probably true. But don't confuse inexhaustible with unlimited. Inexhaustible means we can't get to it. Just because it is sitting in the ground beneath us, doesnt mean it is doing us any good. I am not worried about oil. We will be fine in our lifetimes, but the real question is what will we do about gas? We are running out in North America. Period. LNG will come on over the next few years, but dont count on $2 gas anytime in the short run. $4+ gas is probably here to stay.
post #37 of 47
Hi AAA, You're right about the difference between inexhaustible and unlimited. However, using the very naive assumption that technology advances can be extrapolated into (even the immediate) future, we should be able to access more and more sources as needs warrant. BTW, I think that by making the industry directly responsible for environmental costs - vero_group, you should be in favor of this, since the current system is an effective government subsidy of the industry - gas prices should be driven to at least $5.
post #38 of 47
"tell me how enabled you would be" It's all relative. That American kid remains far more enabled than the millions of abandoned children of Sao Paolo, Manila, New Delhi, Rio, Lagos, Mombassa, etc. who dig through refuse bins for food, live in shanty towns built on active landfills, have no schools at all to go to, and beg on the streets for a few worthless pesos, reals, rupees, etc. that really won't buy them much (government corruption/overspending typically devalues the currency severely). They are almost like wild animals (and even move around in packs sometimes). Having a TV and a mother at all is a relative luxury to these children. If you talk to these street kids, you find out they dream about America. They hear the stories -- some true, some not -- about streets paved with gold, limitless opportunity, and freedom of speech, press, and religion. To them, America sounds like heaven, a heaven they can only dream about. We all know America is not perfect -- no country is -- but it offers the best quality of life and the highest standard of living in the history of the world. Compared with these street kids, making excuses for the American kid, poor as he may be in the world's wealthiest country, seems a bit much. If one wants to be viewed as altruistic and a "defender of the poor", then they would be best served to move to one of the cities above ASAP and try to help the children who really have no chance and no hope in in this world. Meanwhile, there are thousands upon thousands of real life 'Horatio Alger' stories throughout American history of the "disenfranchised", "disadvantaged", and the "poor" moving up economically and socially. Oprah Winfrey is a standout example if you've ever read her biography. Not all "poor" are doomed to their situations in America. To think otherwise is to take a very cynical and pessimistic view of the environment in which Americans live. Why do you think America is a country of immigrants? Because successful, transformational life changes do happen here if one thinks optimistically, looks for opportunities large and small, and applies himself. Not so, for other human beings in many other countries. That's why they struggle -- and our parents or grandparents struggled -- to come here in the first place. My point is, all 381,000,000 of us in America, however we got here, wherever we live, and however we live, are truly blessed and damn lucky to be living and breathing on this patch of land. It could be far, far worse. To whine and moan and groan about life here not being all that great is to be a combination of cynical, naive, and ungrateful.
post #39 of 47
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We all know America is not perfect -- no country is -- but it offers the best quality of life and the highest standard of living in the history of the world... Meanwhile, there are thousands upon thousands of real life 'Horatio Alger' stories throughout American history of the "disenfranchised", "disadvantaged", and the "poor" moving up economically and socially. Oprah Winfrey is a standout example if you've ever read her biography. Not all "poor" are doomed to their situations in America. To think otherwise is to take a very cynical and pessimistic view of the environment in which Americans live. Why do you think America is a country of immigrants? Because successful, transformational life changes do happen here if one thinks optimistically, looks for opportunities large and small, and applies himself. Not so, for other human beings in many other countries. That's why they struggle -- and our parents or grandparents struggled -- to come here in the first place.
You've got to be fucking kidding me. This makes me laugh.
post #40 of 47
Jesus, does all this really belong here? I'm all for stimulating and informed political discussions but most of what I see here is an arms race to see who can throw out the most ad-hom's and be the most condescending in dismissing the arguments of others with unsupported blanket statements and rhetoric. Not trying to seem patronizing myself, but there is a currents events/politics forum on this board so threads like these don't overwhelm the main topic of this forum. It would do everyone a lot more good to move the discussion there. Finally, I notice that these long and generally unproductive flamewars develop because every so often a few people (not anyone in particular) have problems resisting the urge to take incendiary potshots which seem to have "obvious flamebait" written all over them. You don't have to start Bush-bashing when Oxxford is mentioned, and there's no need to start flag waving against France if Hermes comes up in discussion. Oh yeah, I think had something to say about high end clothing salesmen, but I'll have to remember it before I go back and post.
post #41 of 47
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 and there's no need to start flag waving against France if Hermes comes up in discussion.  
You may be referring to me here. My intention was not to bash the French; I value France's contributions to culture, cuisine, and the creation of the U.S.A. very much. I tend to consume and purchase a substantial amount of French food, beverage and clothing. I was just reflecting on my own personal experience in dealing with their foreign ministry while working for a French conglom, and I went off on a rant. I was simply trying to say that no one's got the moral high ground in this world. Sorry if I ruffled some feathers. *** As for the original topic, I thought I'd elaborate on my point about the helpfulness of the Neiman Marcus staff on Michigan Avenue. One of their salespeople always calls and lets me know when the pre-Last Calls and Last Calls are kicking off--usually giving me a day or two head start on the masses. (Marks items down to sale price before the sale, etc.) He tends to know of my preferences, and calls when something that may be of interest to me comes in.
post #42 of 47
Happy Bastille Day, by the way.
post #43 of 47
I concur with Ay's observation. However, because there are three separate threads within a thread running here (i'm counting Joe's car observations), I can't really move the thread... How about we agree to start a new thread on the oil and America and car thing, and leave the sales people issues here.
post #44 of 47
Whoops, I didn't mean to sound like I was singling you out, and sorry if it seemed like a potshot of its own. I was just trying to make up a good stock example based on recent current events, such as the whole French boycott fuss, and had no idea. So my apologies if I inadverently put you on the defensive; it surely was not intended My observation was just that there's no need for anyone to drop one-line political comments and take over topical threads when there's another forum here for people to flesh out their ideas. I'll stop rambling now, so (as someone with no French heritage) happy Bastile Day to you too. Re: salesmen, I was curious as to how your treatment from salespeople tended to vary based on demographic. As a younger consumer with a limited budget, I'll notice an even split between patronizing salesmen who think I'm not wealthy or refined enough for their time and especially amiable ones who are trying their darndest in the hopes of snaring a future clotheshorse early.
post #45 of 47
I realize that this horse is dead, but I thought I'd beat on it a little more with some facts published recently in the "American Housing Survey" by the U.S. Bureau of Census, and reported by Gene Epstein in this week's "Barron's": The poverty line is a family of four with an annual income of $18,900. There are 14.6 million households (11.7% of all U.S. households) officially listed as living below the poverty line. Of these 14.6 million poverty-ridden households: - 73% own a car or truck - 46% are homeowners - 56% live in manufactured housing or single-detached homes - The median housing unit is 1,400 square feet (40% more living space than for the average resident in Japan, the world's second largest economy) - 65% own a washing machine - 56% own a dryer - 73% own a microwave oven - 78% have air conditioning in their homes - 33% own a dishwasher - 7.5% hold liquid assets worth $25,000 or greater, excluding the equity built up in their homes Mr. Epstein adds, "Some are foreign-born who now account for 15% of those officially in poverty, and from their standpoint, what they have [here in America] is far better than the alternative, a fact of life that pious liberals should bear in mind." If you want to read the entire article, "Put Me in the Poorhouse -- Please.", it's on page 32 of the July 21, 2003 issue of Barron's -- $3.50 at newstands this weekend.
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