Friday, October 20, 2006

Response to UHNA Wal-Mart hooplah and complaining.

While I personally abhor Wal-Mart since they changed their management when Sam Walton left and agree that they are a net bad versus a net good, utilizing more of Peach Care than any other one employer in Georgia for example, there are many political blogs on the net already about Wal-Mart and their dastardly deeds (BTW Target isn't that much better). Apparently, Wal-Mart decided to do a blog as well, spamming it full of garbage.

And to Mr. Petzer - overall I have to agree with your attitude. People should shop with their feet and should have spoken up about all of this far sooner. We really do have bigger problems, and all of this hoo-rah should have been settled 3 years ago during the planning phases. Moreover, given the alternatives that were on the table, this was clearly the most attractive of the lot. Target or any other vendor "could" have vied for the lease in that spot. Wal-Mart won. It is not as if Selig is controlled by Wal-Mart. Go their website. They have tons of other anchor tenants in their various properties and do not specialize in Wal-Mart like some developers.

Yet, I think you may have lost your steam towards the end. If there are more important things in life as you say at the bottom of your letter, and you also deny possessing a political agenda. How would you propose to accomplish any of those goals? I suppose those goals must be isolated onto you and not involve anyone else. Otherwise, they would involve others. Then, you would have to employ a measure of politicking, therefore finding it necessary to manage an agenda.

As for your comment at about the G8 protestors, I hope that was written out of frustration. If not, you clearly have not followed exactly how those "riots" were sparked off. In Genoa, for example, the police went in to the school the night before the protest where the protestors were given lodging by the government, and beat several of them to within an inch of their lives while they were sleeping in sleeping bags. That is a sure fire way to agitate protestors. Then the next day when it all hits the fan, one of the cops shoots and kills a your male protestor. I was in Europe at the time. The American press for the most part did not make ANY mention of the beatings by the police the night before, portraying the protestors as just wild and unruly kids with nothing better to do but make trouble. However the Euro presse-agencies had the courage to offer a full accounting.

If you read about G8 at Seattle or Miami, similar events ensued. Miami's riot was started when an ill-mannered hippy tossed an empty plastic water bottle at the cops. The cops did not just try to arrest the culprit, the logical course of action. They beat the protestors, including all the old (50-60 yrs old) protestors that were there representing the Unions. The United Way was supporting those union folks (if you are anti union and give to the united way, you may to do some homework on where you give) and I know one of the people who was organizing the United Way's piece. If you want a real eye opener, see if you get your hands on a training video that the police use to train their troops. Germany in the 1940's would have loved to have such an artful and pertinent training tool.

In short, stores like Wal-Mart are a real challenge and often a threat to local businesses and the fabric of culture where those businesses operate. Is it really a good trade to get cheap golf balls, cheaply made trinkets, and some crappy clothes for the price of an area's culture? Certainly, the US is short on culture, but go and visit Sylva NC if you want to see the effects Wal-Mart has. The downtown shops are now all closed. The majority of the people, literally, work at Wal-Mart. The shops that are open are galleries run by people who do it for a lifestyle thing, and not necessarily to make a profit. They are simply idle rich folks having something engaging to occupy their minds and time.

If your idea of a vibrant and positive society is that of big box retailers and regional retail centers being the glue that holds our societal fabric together, I suggest you move out to HWY 138 in Conyers, Barrett Parkway in Cobb, or Pleasant Hill Road in Gwinnett. Me, I will take complicated and funky Intown living any day. I will take a Mayberry community to a strip mall by the expressway any day. I will drive the extra 5 miles to trade in the older style businesses. I will shop at Return to Eden and not Whole Foods. I will go to Octane, West Egg, or Café Centrale, not Starbucks (unless I am really hard up.) I will pay the extra .25 for the golf ball, and the extra .35 for the orange juice. I will reward well-run stores with my business, and therefore not shop at Kroger across the street but make the trip to Paces Ferry, Ansley or Vinings. I will vote with my feet and wallet.

That extra money when spent wisely stays in the community instead of rolling up to a multibillion dollar roster of shareholders that have no more concern about your quality of life other than whether the P/E ratios and projected growth rates meet their investment models.

Enjoy the Wal-Mart. Yes, it is better than the Castlegate, to be sure.

Bryan Grant
Woodland Hills Avenue

PS During the past few days, it seems our neighbors are more worried about sushi con jobs and Wal-Mart store hours than the Bill of Rights.

While we had our attention focused on the bargain basement across the street, our esteemed President passed legislation in direct contradiction to a Supreme Court ruling back in June. The bill allows a high degree of torture, testimony is admissible even if obtained under duress, charges do not have to be substantiated, and habeas corpus is dead. Of course, most folks think this is just for terrorists, and in a sense that is true. But who decides who is a terrorist? If there are no legal grounds for the accusation and the case can be prosecuted without these grounds, anyone could be conveniently called a terrorist and hauled in. I wrote an article here, that proposes what we as citizens can do in our own way to start making changes so that our government is more under our own control. Plus, you will find loads of quotes related to the topic from our favorites, Ben Franklin and George Washington. Enjoy.

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