June 25, 2010

Who to Blame for the Social Fabric

Justin Katz

Because he italicized it on a list of one-liners, I couldn't help but catch the following from Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr:

The damage Wal-Mart has done to the social fabric, to the downtown connections and sense of community, is incalculable.

Blaming WalMart for the deterioration of downtowns is merely an indication of the human urge to find some group to hate. Given advances in technology, the ubiquity of automobiles, and other cultural factors, an opportunity existed for a large chain of one-stop shops, and the specific company WalMart happened to catch the wave. Had there been no WalMart, there would have been Target, a reinvigorated K-Mart, or the elevation of some other regional chain that most of us have never heard of.

More importantly, to my mind, in providing necessities cheaply and reducing the cost of luxuries, WalMart has made it possible for less well-off Americans to save money on their weekly expenses and to enjoy items that they couldn't possibly afford were the prices not driven down by the same dynamics that have priced downtown shops out of their storefronts.

I do not like the effects on communities — or, to be sure, on the culture at large — but I wouldn't presume to tell my countrymen that they must do without items that WalMart makes affordable so that the likes of Bob Kerr can buy them in small local shops. If there's blame to be laid — and that's a sincere "if" — it must ultimately fall on the people of the United States for the culture in which WalMart, like shopping malls and all of the other consumerist villains, thrives.

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The confused, communist hippie from Massachusetts rears his socialist head to spout off against "the man". Is this guy ever going to grow up? He is usually found in the front seat of the short bus.

He's so keyboard tough and with Rolling Stoned and Exile on Main Street at the top of the charts it's the radical 60's all over again.

Posted by: dave at June 25, 2010 7:59 AM

Walmart killed the downtown?


The first Walmart opened in Providence -- when? about five years ago maybe?

Downtown retail districts started to die forty or more years ago when suburban malls began to flourish.

And long before Walmart was in the Northeast, there was Zayre, Ames, Caldor, Bradlees, etc., etc.

The Lefties hate Walmart because it's non-union.

Posted by: brassband at June 25, 2010 12:12 PM

Blaming WalMart for the deterioration of downtowns is merely an indication of the human urge to find some group to hate.

And nobody but nobody does hate like a liberal.

Posted by: EMT at June 25, 2010 12:13 PM

I don't read this guy or any other of the Prov. papers, but the sad fact is that the WM culture can best be summed up as "the high cost of low prices".......

We lost our manufacturing base due to companies like WM going offshore. So, now the workers, making less than ever, get a good deal on some fatty snacks or a T-shirt at Walmart...can you really compare the two things?

Walmart is known....100% proven....to have been the final nail in the coffin for many business districts throughout the US.

The company in many ways is the perfect example of the Ugly American....in this case, doing the harm to US as opposed to overseas. For instance, since they pay so poorly, their workers tend to qualify for more welfare (food stamps, free or low cost medical care), thereby shifting much of the cost to society as a whole.

Also, the Waltons are the richest family in the US (maybe the world) and they use their money to......wait....to lobby against the Estate Tax (yes, they headed that effort), so once again they shift the tax burden to others. It's un-American, in my book for a company to prosper because of American Freedoms and Protections, but then have absolutely no allegiance to American Jobs, decent wages and benefits, paying taxes, etc.

Mind you, nothing they are doing is illegal. But it is part of the problem, not the solution.

Getting back to RI and Wal-Mart, I doubt it has very much effect here. The density of businesses is too great. They have done vastly more harm in more rural areas.

Truly, the High Cost of Low Prices. If having the Communist Chinese make all your goods is your ideal of heaven, then you'll want to pray at the altar of Wal-Mart.

Posted by: Stuart at June 25, 2010 1:51 PM

Walmart = quality goods at low prices = benefit to society.

Posted by: Chet at June 25, 2010 4:17 PM

Really good 1-hour podcast EconTalk interview with author Charles Platt about his experience working at Wal-Mart:


Nobody here should be surprised that they are successful precisely because they provide quality products at low prices, treat their employees extremely well (paying them well above market rate), and have phenomenal customer service.

I had no idea just how innovative and competitive a company they were before I listened to the interview. Monopoly claims are ludicrous - they operate their stores like they are at risk for being driven out of business at any moment, and there is a surprising amount of local autonomy. The Mom and Pop stores deserve to go out of business, they overcharge and have terrible customer service. Kerr is just another elitist MA dickwad who wants everything he buys to be "hand-crafted" and "custom-made." Apparently he doesn't care about the million people Wal-Mart employs and how they've made items available to poor families that wouldn't otherwise be able to purchase them. He obviously doesn't have such problems.

Posted by: Dan at June 25, 2010 4:45 PM

Wal-Mart's patriotism would have a little more credibility if they stuck with American suppliers for most of their goods. But then again, maybe they consider the offshoring of American jobs a positive thing for our economy.
And I'm still amazed how Kerr, who actually fought for our country in Vietnam as opposed to some of our fair-weather patriots who agitated for fighting but wouldn't do it themselves, is considered a Communist here. Maybe he should've gone to Canada LOL.

Posted by: rhody at June 25, 2010 5:13 PM

"Wal-Mart's patriotism would have a little more credibility if they stuck with American suppliers for most of their goods. But then again, maybe they consider the offshoring of American jobs a positive thing for our economy."

Manufacturing isn't coming back to America, nor should it. It's a positive thing for everyone, but it requires adaptation. That's just the reality of globalization. Perhaps you'd like to return to an agrarian society like some of the eco-terrorists on RIFuture, since it amounts to the same backwards nonsense as bringing back manufacturing jobs. I'm surprised you aren't glad for the other countries that get the business since companies like Wal-mart typically pay them triple or quadruple wages to what they could otherwise earn. Oh, I forgot, that counts as "exploitation" since they don't pay them exactly the same as much as American workers.

Posted by: Dan at June 25, 2010 5:46 PM

And Rhody-you served -when?
Kerr may have served this country well,but most of the time he's over the edge trying to be Mr.Progressive and he winds up sounding ridiculous.
Sometimes he makes sense,but usually he's on some crusade for illegal aliens or convicted felons or some other "downtrodden"group.
As far as his columns about veterans,he doesn't amount to a pile of beans compared to groups like DAV,VFW,and the American Legion who stood up to this rotten president at the very beginning when he tried to sabtage veterans health care.
The DAV,a nonpolitical organization,of which I am a life member does yeoman work every single day to help those the government would as soon see disappear into the ground.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 25, 2010 8:56 PM

Dan, that is ridiculous....saying that we don't need to manufacture and in the next breath praising working at Wal-Mart. In fact, it is so fantastic it takes my breath away.

Perhaps you don't know about a country called....GERMANY......where they still make things and, by virtually every measure, are more advanced economically than we are (quality of life, health care, vacation time, wages, pensions, productivity, etc.).

A country of our size, resources and population NEEDS a manufacturing base. To listen to you, one would think that either Wal-Mart or Wall Street are the two best options for productivity in America!

Hint - neither of those places actually do anything much.

But, hey, I'm sure you could get a job there.

It's interesting connecting the dots of what the right wants....even more corporate control than now, the loss of decent manufacturing jobs, McMansions and Hummers in the 3 car garage (unlimited energy use - drill, baby, drill), etc.

It's an interesting "dream" for the future. One might think we learned something from the past 30-40 years...but it appears not!

Posted by: Stuart at June 25, 2010 8:57 PM

Stuart writes:
"Perhaps you don't know about a country called....GERMANY......where they still make things and, by virtually every measure, are more advanced economically than we are (quality of life, health care, vacation time, wages, pensions, productivity, etc.)."

Stuart, Germany is "out sourcing" like mad. Read "the label" on your Audi. It is probably made in Hungary, or Czechoslovakia. They moved it out of Germany and quality went up. People imagine that Mercedes are made (they are almost untouched by human hands) by blonde, blue eyed, white coated "technicians". In fact, for many years they were assembled by Turkish and Portuguese "garst arbeiters". Now they are almost totally assembled by robots, the last "hand made" Mercedes rolled off the line in 1972.

The worst problem with Germans is getting them to show up for work. I could go on about their welfare system that includes pets as "dependants", but most readers wouldn't believe it. When they unified, not only did they not make Paris the capital, they were unable to get the East Germans to work.

For all of that, they are the strongest economy in Europe; that speaks volumes about Europe.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at June 25, 2010 9:36 PM

WalMart is supporting Providence PD's gun buy-buyback program with $50 and $100 gift cards.

Liberals must be totally conflicted over that one.

Posted by: George at June 25, 2010 10:40 PM

At what point does Stuart's trolling quality him for some sort of sanction? It's like he's not even trying to keep up a veneer of legitimacy anymore. Just spewing on and on about things he knows nothing about for the sake of getting a rise out of people.

I can't even imagine the kind of day to day life he must live to be so starved for attention. He must have next to zero friends and his family must have shut out his incoherent ramblings a long time ago.

Posted by: Dan at June 25, 2010 11:04 PM

He is kind of strange,spending so much time and effort here.
Almost like he has to convince people here of something most of them don't believe in.
His posts have a lecturing quality mixed with constant insults to peoples' intelligence.
OTOH I certainly don't think Stuart lacks any intelligence,just much common sense.I used to post on RIF,but I got tired of the stock nonsense from Crowley and some others who were anonymous keyboard commandos.
They had this peurile little "rating"system which was constantly misused to tag posters as trolls when in fact they were on topic and merely disagreed.
Alex Moore,the administrator of all people,was the worst offender.
This "right wing" blog tends to be pretty open towards allowing dissonant voices.
I for one,don't fear opposing views,just lying weasels who make up false accusations about others.
Dump Rhody!!
Stuart is actually a "funny guy"(am I now a plagiarist?

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 25, 2010 11:39 PM

Joe, RIFuture has changed considerably since when that Stalinist nutbag Crowley owned it. Hull is a very intelligent and thoughtful person, and he has turned the site around in a number of ways. He moderates the site himself now and he is quite fair - tries to keep some decorum but gives plenty of warning and doesn't let politics play into it. I haven't even seen Alex comment in 6 months, and he certainly hasn't been moderating. Crowley is still "around" but he has no power anymore, just makes the occasional inane anti-charter school contribution every several days which everyone then proceeds to ridicule, progressives sometimes included. The rating system is no longer abused like it was under Crowley, it's no longer an issue.

There is a pretty solid showing of conservatives and libertarians on the site who comment regularly now. They have returned now that Crowley's reign of terror has ended and it is safe to comment again. We often outnumber the liberals and progressives in threads, particularly on fiscal issues. I would recommend giving RIFuture another chance. I have had some good discussions over there in recent months and met some interesting people. I also abandoned it for a time during its dark days, but it's a different site now than it used to be.

Posted by: Dan at June 26, 2010 12:23 AM

I still lurk there to see what's being said.I miss that war between Jerzyk and Charles Drago.I don't agree with either of them.At least they both used ther real names unlike some taunting pissants around here.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 26, 2010 1:25 AM

If Wal Mart is supporting some gun buy back program they can go to H*ll!!!!

Why do they want to disarm us?

And why does the PD want to?

Posted by: helen at June 26, 2010 10:15 AM

Walmart=cheap ugly stuff,little variety
=lowered standards and expectations for society(that means most of us)

Posted by: helen at June 26, 2010 10:26 AM

For someone who professes to love freedom and liberty (and has fought for it, a claim the majority of us here cannot make), Mr. Bernstein seems to have a Stalinesque or Duvalieresque attitude toward people whose views differ from his own. It's like he became the people he fought against.
Thankfully, the propriators of both AR and RIF have taken a differing and (apologies to Justin in advance) more liberal view of lively and occasionally raucous political debate.
I never had any use for that rating system, either - not into THAT kind of politicking.

Posted by: rhody at June 26, 2010 1:47 PM

It's pretty funny that Dan now wants sanctions after spewing on wanting porn to never have any!

Heck if I can figure the guy out!

Listen carefully, Dan...and Joe. I really don't give a crap if you try to pull the old "he's not one of us - sanction him" crap....all you are doing is showing your immaturity and the lack of a reasonable viewpoint. If you think "ganging up" on someone is fine social behavior, so be it.

And, if folks think thousands of acres of blacktop with WalMart Supercenters and other big boxes helped the "social fabric" of our communities and society, so be it. Me? I chose to live in places that are not that way.....to the degree possible.

Faust, as to "For all of that, they are the strongest economy in Europe; that speaks volumes about Europe"

Here is one study ofL
"Top 50: the most stable and prosperous countries in the world"
hmmmm....I would want to be high on that list, right? And we are. We are #22
Germany is #15
Denmark is #12

Germany, at #15, is the highest scoring country of any reasonable size - Vatican is 1 and Sweden is 2.

But, again, here we tend to make up our own facts....we might not have savings in the bank, but we have some GREAT missiles....and stuff at Wal-Mart is dirt cheap.

Waiting for those sanctions with baited breath......all Justin has to do is ask me to not post here and it will be done. That's how things work in "left wing world".

I would counter that maybe it speaks about US.

Posted by: Stuart at June 26, 2010 5:35 PM

Stu-please read before making comments-I didn't suggest you be sanctioned-I just wonder why you bother.
Rhody-I don't like being LIED about.That is not the same as debating my viewpoint.
Helen-Walmart also sells firearms and ammunition(at great pricess too)so go figure?
Their Providence store sells neither-a bit of extortion by Little ChiChi and Shiny Badge?

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 26, 2010 7:37 PM

Rhody-no matter how many times I correct your misrepresentations of my comments,you just go on and on like a little child,making things up to denigrate me.
Not once have you taken my challenge to illustrate by my prior comments any shred of evidence that I've either threatened someone or accused them falsely.The Handy reference is the one that stands out.
When I've referred to people as subversives or communists I've backed it up.
Shana Kurland screaming at a Senate hearing that we have no right to borders is an example.
I've called people names-big deal-I can't print the things I was called routinely.
I don't think Rhody,you'd be very comfortable in a barracks or a police locker room.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 26, 2010 8:25 PM

There goes Mr. Bernstein again, calling anybody else anything he wants, only to cry foul when someone refuses to say "Thank you, sir, may I have another crowbar across my kneecaps?"
And he would be surprised to learn I have spent a little time among officers of the law (although not under arrest - my police record, much to his chagrin, remains clean). His fantasies about a barracks beatdown will have to remain just that, I'm afraid.

Posted by: rhody at June 26, 2010 11:31 PM

Rhody-you exagerrate everything to the point of mental illness.That's when you
're not inventing something.
A "barracks beatdown"-what an ass you are.
And why would I give a sh*t if you've ever been arrested?
My point is that someone as easily offended as you wouldn't like the language.
I certainly hope your job doesn't give you the opportunity to influence gullible children.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 26, 2010 11:40 PM

Given Mr. Bernstein's obsession with dragging me into threads which I have not even commented on, he is the last person who should be accusing anyone of being mentally ill.
If Mr. Bernstein wants to continue this threadjack, he'll have to do it himself.

Posted by: rhody at June 27, 2010 11:04 AM

Actually,I'm not mentally ill.I am physically ill,but WTF,it keeps things from getting humdrum.
You,on the other hand seem a little neurotic.
I wouldn't say psychotic-I've seen that up close too many times.It's horrible.
I had a guy once who was tripping on acid,killed his girlfriend,and then lacquered her body and wrapped it in tinfoil and kept her stored under the bed in the summer.Every so often he took her out,unwrapped her and shtupped her.She finally stank out the building and they busted him.I took him to court about a dozen times.Now HE was psychotic.Still got convicted.You hadda be in the courtroom when we cut open the bags holding the tinfoil.half the jury ran for bathroom.So did a few court personnel.I brought the stink home on my clothes(my wife wasn't too thrilled with the reeking uniform.)
Jose Colon was the guy's name.
We also had Wolfgang Oill,who ran his mom and grandma through with an old cavalry saber and left them pinned to the wall.
Rhody-you don't have any idea what crazy is.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 28, 2010 7:19 PM

Willy Colon,actually.
My mother in law(now deceased) was also a schizo-command hallucinations,pyromania,and assaultive behavior-the whole deal.
Amazingly enough,all her kids survived her abuse and grew up to be normal,productive citizens.Well,their father was a great guy.
I say this because you throw around asinine allegations about me being "unhinged".
Nobody else(such as people who actually know me)seems to think that.
I've never had an incident of domestic abuse,traffic violations(other than parking)nor a single blemish on my record in my job.Can you say the same?I mean,how would I know anyway?You can say anything you want because you're anonymous.
Ruggerio IS being primaried by the way.
Ray DeStefanis is running against him.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 29, 2010 5:32 AM
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