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One of my pet peeves is that I as an individual citizen am often referred to as nothing but a "consumer", as if it's my sole function to consume whatever the "producers" throw over the wall.

Reality check: There's no such thing as "consumer's rights". There are "individual rights", and "citizen's rights", but "consumer" is a marketing designation, not a legal status.

I hear you. I'm sick of "consumer" replacing "citizen" too. BushCo has played that card brilliantly since 9/11. But it's a tricky battle to wage because we're a consumer society. I can't see Labor, for instance, telling people to shake off the yolk of consumerism. And, to be fair, when I run into problems in my role as a consumer and I need legal help getting it settled, it's okay by me to refer to the area of law I'll be getting help from "consumers rights." It's like the idea of patients' rights to me.

What I wish Labor would do is expand the defintion of "consumer" to take on at least some of the responsibilities that the idea of citizenship does. It's going to be necessary if any boycott of my bete noir, WalMart, is going to work.

OT from the previsou comments: I live a hop, skip and a jump away from Inglewood, via freeway. I think the people of Inglewood would be surprised to find their city seen as snobby.

Amazing how this is so far from reality. It was a struggle for them to get the message out to the voters, according to the accounts I've read. A real grass roots effort and it worked, this time.

And the local newspaper made a difference, in my opinion, in this case. I also think it helped that the daughter of the publisher was a writer for the LA Weekly, the big alternative weekly in this area.

"Consumer" rights are a very limited subset of one's rights as a citizen/resident of a political entity. That is, they're the rights granted to someone to complain of dealings by commercial entities outside of the bounds of the law. That's why I get twisted up about the monicker "consumer"; it's essentially meaningless, and pernicious in its uses.

Great Thunderballs of Jupiter.

It almost pains me to say it, but may be music to y'all's ears.

I am retreating from Austrian Economics.

Yes, I was an uber-libertarian. Until I realized that while Wal-Mart is better for the overall economy (in the short term) it is worse for me, the worker. Until I saw myself and many of my friends - all of whom were mostly lower-middle class guys who went to local colleges, worked, avoided drugs and pregnancy, got good educations, did everything 'right' - laid off and unable to find work that even matched our entry-level pay.

I worked my way through school as a retail store assn't manager and then as a Boston cab driver. I rue giving up driving the cab. I made $35k a year doing it (but no health benefits, no problem then since I got it from the school cheaply). Now I can't get anywhere near that doing anything with my vaunted college education. Because I did alright as a cab driver, I thought that whining about no job opportunities was just a cop-out. I 'knew' that once I had my degree, I'd do much better. Frankly, I should have saved the money I spend on school and brought a house instead. Hopefully, I'll make the NYPD (I moved back with mom and dad after living alone and paying for my own apartment and schooling for 6 years).

I am putting millions of double-digit/per hour American workers (with benefits) out of a job just to save 10-20 cents at Walmart.

Just saw the Frontline special. As a former Retail Manager, at no slouch of a company - Albertson's - I was slack-jawed at finding out Walmart gets 30-40% percent margins on the vast bulk of their inventory. Only a pittance of that, relatively, is lower prices.
Besides, the very weak dollar eats up a lot of that savings anyway.

Many of my friends - some of whom are my own converts, if you will, to Austrian Economics - don't understand some critical points about basic economic theory.

Like, comparative vs. absolute advantage:

The former, you do one thing well, the other country does another thing well, if you buy and sell from each other you both make out.

The latter, the other country does the same thing as good or nearly as good, for much, much cheaper. Then, the first country loses - eventually.

We are essentially maxing out our credit cards by importing and not exporting.

And 'giving them dollars they eventually have to spend here' doesn't help, either. Because India, China, and Japan 'hoard' our dollars, and use them to finance their own infrastructure (makes them even more competitive) and especially 'invests' in US Equity.

The 'investment' so touted by fanatical (as opposed to realistic) free-traders is mostly in US Gov't Bonds, so it subsidizes increased public spending without increasing taxes.

At some point, this will come to bite us on the rear. We are essentially subsidizing.

Ironically, we subsidize the least efficient of our market - agricultural products - when we could by foreign (say, African) goods, which would be win-win for everybody. By exporting our expensive industrial base and especially knowledge base (when you export the servicing of, say, the DMV records database to India, eventually only Indians will be able to understand how to access it), we are essentially transferring our wealth to other countries.

And not even their workers are seeing an advantage. China and India keep their currencies from floating, which keeps the buying power of their people low (in order to maintain their labor-cost advantage). Basically, these corrupt governments (perhaps like our own is becoming) keep the power of the money to themselves.

Sad... hopefully as more and more middle-class jobs are exported overseas and more college grads and skilled blue-collar find themselves working at Walmart for peanuts, they'll educate themselves further and realize that while free-trade has benefits, it's sometimes very one-sided.

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