November 30, 2008

Not the America I remember!

(November 30, 2008, 13:14)

While the world watched aghast as terrorists stormed through Mumbai on an uncontrolled killing spree, American shoppers in New York trampled a store clerk to death and two men in a Palm Springs toy store watched their female companions beat each other bloody then the two men pulled out guns and shot each other.

What in heaven's name has happened to America? The terrorist attacks in India I can understand. I cannot condone them, but at least I can look at the cultural and social factors which drive people to terrorism and point out social and legal practices that must be changed if we are ever going to stop creating terrorists. I can understand shoppers in Tokyo or Beijing busting down the doors and trampling a store clerk. There are a number of cultural elements prevalent in Asia that contribute to the kind of callousness, jealousy, greed, and aggression of the kind demonstrated in New York last Black Friday. However, to the best of my knowledge, none of those cultural assumptions are true for the United States, especially not on the East Coast.

Concerning the shooting in Palm Springs, I feel the same way. This is not the kind of thing that California culture tends to create. If it turns out the two shooters where successful middle-class professionals (i.e., doctors or stock brokers) then it becomes even more baffling. I grew up in California. I lived in some of the most gang-ridden neighborhoods of Los Angeles when I was ten and eleven, but Palm Springs? People in Palm Springs might carry guns, but they don't shoot each other in toy stores. Instead, they call their lawyers.

What in the world has happened to America?

(November 30, 2008, 16:24)

Union Claims Wal-Mart Death Preventable

I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart when Sam Walton's son took over. The first thing the son did was slash salaries of first year workers, revert all non-managerial positions to part-time positions without benefits, and tell managers below the executive level they could either take a stiff pay-cut or resign. Union recruitment was banned and in place of a union senior management created an employee organization to handle any and all employee complaints about work conditions.

Well, eventually they did have to accept a real union, but nowadays store managers make less than clerks made while Sam Walton was alive and non-managerial positions are not only part-time only, they cannot remain an employee longer than five years. At the five year mark, they must resign and seek "more suitable employment" before reapplying, usually three to six months later, at which point they start over as first year employees.

So I don't shop at Wal-Mart. Period. Not even a pack of gum. As long as I have another choice, that chain will get my business. Unless, of course, that chain is just as bad. Nowadays whenever I travel to America I start by seeking out local merchants to buy from and only if there are no local merchants do I resort to buying from a retail chain.

Read the article above. It sets out in simple terms the callous, insensitive, and highly irresponsible attitude of executive management. As far as Walton's son and his board of directors are concerned, anyone not part of the executive office is not even human.