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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Walmart Factor

After more lurking in forums, I found what might be fix to the network hiccups we've been having. Based on a poster's reported success with similar issues, I manually adjusted some of the settings using the web interface. At least the problems we have aren't comprehensive or crippling. The product almost works.

It seems like everything we buy has some "crap element" to it. That's what I call the Walmart factor. That's probably not really fair, since GM pioneered the concept by selling crap cars that needed multiple recalls in the 1970s.

It frustrates me that the standard in our economy is to provide cheap crap that doesn't really work. I don't know where this starts or where it could possibly end. Even Levis has taken to producing low quality jeans to sell at Walmart. Question: Is it still counterfeiting if you counterfeit your own product? Discuss amongst yourselves.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that the issue predates Walmart; they didn’t invent it, they just did it better.

The built-in crap factor you reference is crucial to keeping our economy – and our whole way of life – going. Take furniture.

Back in the “olden days” (pre 1960), if you were a middle class person buying a piece of furniture you entered into a real commitment. The dining room table would, most likely, outlast you. You bought one – and only one. If your taste changed and the colonial style table you had no longer fit what you wanted – too bad. Few people of the class buying good furniture moved on a regular basis, so the problem with the large table fitting in your new house didn’t exist.

Today, very few people spend their whole adult life in a single house, let alone a single city. The colonial style furniture that looked perfect in one house might not fit in another. Another big change is the idea of change, itself, as being a part of adulthood. So the idea of wanting new furniture to go with the new house or new spouse or new job doesn’t seem that unusual.

If you accept that the table you loved when you were 35 isn’t what you want when you’re 50, then you start thinking about furniture being a replaceable item. What’s the point of buying a table that’s built to last 100 years if you only plan on using it for 15 years? It just allows the guilt to be that much greater when you decide that you no longer want your perfectly good table anymore.

Now, that explains why you want a new table. But the important part is why you need a new table – if you are a good American. Back in those olden days the American economy ran on manufacturing. There were lots of furniture companies that made tables. Some made inexpensive tables for people with less money; others made the built-to-last stuff discussed above. The economy ran on the harvesting of the wood, the building of the table, and only last and least on your purchase. So even if you only bought one table in your life, that one purchase financed everyone from the loggers to the guy who delivered the table.

Today our economy is built on retail consumerism. Tables are made in China, or the Philippines, and often of composite woods with multiple sources around the world. The only real profit for this country comes from the retail transaction when you buy the table. Factories are few and far between, but big-box stores and malls are everywhere. Our economy only works when people spend every penny they have on stuff. One of the big problems with the current recession is that the people who still have jobs have started saving money – which is now bad.

So the answer on how to be a patriotic American is to buy more stuff. And the best way to buy more stuff is to make sure that the stuff you buy just isn’t all that well-made, so you’ll have to keep buying more.

And that's why the Levis sold at Walmart are cheap. Because a 50$ pair of jeans that will last 10 years is exactly what the socialist communist single-payer pallin' around with terrorists anti-Americans want.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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