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We Are the Free?

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They are still out there monitoring you, tracking you, telling you what to do, what to view, and what to think. Our lack of freedom keeps showing up in the news.

Midwest Theaters Ban ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’: the filter rears its ugly head. Corporations control what we see and don’t see. In its place I bet there was a Ronnie Reagan moviethon. Here is something else that we don’t get to see: Bush’s War-Era Records Damaged. Where the hell is the Watergate-style outrage? Are all of the people who “served” with Bush dead, as well? I’m thinking I should become a politician just so that I can get that indecent exposure taken off of my record (those nuns had to be mooned).

We all know how dangerous art can be: Nine Artists And One Company Subpoenaed In USA Patriot Act Case:

    On May 30, members of the performance art collective Critical Art Ensemble were subpoenaed by the FBI. The FBI is planning to indict Steve Kurtz, a member of CAE before a grand jury on June 15, on unknown charges. CAE is under investigation for their use of scientific equipment to produce art projects that question the relationship between commerce, politics and biotechnology. Critical Art Ensemble have been producing performances and theory that merge political realities with technology and theater since 1987. Thus far nine subpoenas have been issued to: Adele Henderson, Chair of the Art Department at UB; Andrew Johnson, Professor of Art at UB; Paul Vanouse, Professor of Art at UB; Beatriz da Costa, Professor of Art at UCI; Steven Barnes, FSU; Dorian Burr, Beverly Schlee, Claire Pentecost, and Julie Perini. One subpoena has been issued to the book publishing company Autonomedia.

Autonomedia is the same company that publishes T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. I’m thinking Autonomedia has been on the list for quite some time. I hope they fare better than Sherman Austin, the creator of that Raise the Fist website. Oh shit, I just realized that I bought a copy of T.A.Z. from Amazon: Patriot Act Foes Lose Fight to Revoke Feds’ Book Snooping Privileges. Hey, but John Asscrawl says the Patriot Act is helpful. Yet we know those Neo-cons are famous for leaving out information, hiding things and lying to us: Ashcroft’s Patriot Act Report to Congress Omits Key Information, ACLU Says. That doesn’t help me much, though. Please contribute to the Dirtgrain Defense Fund. When I get vaporized, will someone please take care of my dog?

Give us free billboards, please: Clear Channel Rejects Times Square Peace Billboard Timed for RNC:

    Media giant Clear Channel is reneging on a deal with a Berkeley-based organization, Project Billboard, to put up a peace sign in Times Square, New York. Clear Channel, which has ties to the Bush administration, rejected the ad calling it “distasteful” and “politically charged”. . . .

    Each year, more than 26 million people visit the 10-block area where Seventh Avenue meets Broadway. Massive neon light displays illuminate the night sky, giant billboards trumpet Broadway shows, an electronic ticker beams the latest news and stock quotes and some 50 “supersigns” display ads for fashion, liquor and other corporate products.

    Media giant Clear Channel controls about one-half of these billboards. It is now refusing to put up one organization’s billboard, with which it had a signed contract. The sign showed a picture of a bomb with lighted fuse decorated in Stars and Stripes. The caption underneath reads “Democracy is best taught by example, not by war.” The billboard was to be mounted on the facade of the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

I can sleep comfortably knowing that corporations such as Clear Channel are keeping distasteful notions such as peace and democracy off of our billboards. I just know that Clear Channel has a ban on Jimi Hendrix’s version of the Star Spangled Banner. Clear Channel just moved to the top of my list of corporations to hate–of course, I hate most of them (Costco seems to be pretty cool in some ways: A Corporation That Breaks the Greed Mold).

When Bush comes across reporters who don’t play along with his creepy spiel, he turns away from them: Angry Bush Walks Out on Media, Refuses to Answer Questions About Relationship With Ken Lay. Attaboy, Mr. President, show the world how mature and forthright you can be. Turn the other cheek doesn’t mean run away, man. Or he prevents them from entering the country: The Soviet American Union: Keeping America safe from foreign writers:

    Two months ago, I traveled from London to Los Angeles on assignment for a British paper, The Guardian, believing that as a British citizen I did not require a visa. I was wrong: as a journalist, even from a country that has a visa waiver agreement with the United States, I should have applied for a so-called I (for information) visa. Because I had not, I was interrogated for four hours, body-searched, fingerprinted, photographed, handcuffed and forced to spend the night in a cell in a detention facility in central Los Angeles, and another day as a detainee at the airport before flying back to London. My humiliating and physically very uncomfortable detention lasted 26 hours.

    I’ve since learned that mine was not an isolated case: Since March 2003, when the Department of Homeland Security became responsible for immigration and border patrol, 13 foreign journalists were detained and deported in a similar manner in that year, all but one at the Los Angeles airport.

So much for freedom of the press–either you are a corporate zombie as a reporter, or you don’t get access.

Even our propaganda outlets in foreign countries are being privatized and corporatized. Apparently, Voice of America isn’t propagandistic enough for the Bush Administration: VOA Staff Members Say Government Losing Voice:

    More than a third of the Voice of America’s staff has signed a petition accusing the federal government of “dismantling” the international broadcasting agency, while financing a pair of newer, semi-private and separate media operations that the staffers said do not live up to VOA standards.

    Their complaints have sparked a nasty brawl with the program’s parent agency — the Broadcasting Board of Governors — which created the new media groups. The board has rejected the staffers’ charges, defended its young offspring and accused the VOA dissidents of being slow to adapt to necessary change.

    The petition, which was submitted to Congress last week, pointed to a series of decisions the board has made over the past few years. In 2002, it replaced the VOA’s Arabic-language news service with an outlet called Radio Sawa, which, like its predecessor, broadcasts to the Middle East. Then, earlier this year, the board opened Al Hurra, a Virginia-based television network that officials hope will be able to compete in the Middle East with Arab broadcasting giant al-Jazeera.

    The nearly 500 VOA staffers complained that the newer outlets are not only autonomous from the 62-year-old broadcasting agency, the pair — especially the radio network — focus too much on music and entertainment at the expense of the sort of hard news, PBS-style programming the VOA has traditionally emphasized. Moreover, the petition said, the networks do not share the VOA’s commitment to balanced and comprehensive news coverage.

    Meanwhile, the petitioners said, the board is planning to cut the VOA’s daily English-language radio broadcasts that are beamed across the world by almost half, and has ended its programming for 10 Eastern and Central European nations.

    “At a time when the ability of the United States to speak to the world in a clear, effective, credible voice is more crucial than ever, the United States is broadcasting less news, information and analysis to fewer countries for fewer hours in fewer languages,” the petition said. “The presidentially appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors is dismantling the nation’s radio beacon — the Voice of America — piece by piece.”

I didn’t know that the VOA had standards, but apparently they are too much for Bush and cronies. “Slow to adapt to necessary change” equals not being quick enough to lie, misinform, hide the truth, etc. I have this strange vision of Iraqis tuning into US radio, hoping to get some idea of what the US has in store for them, only to find streams of calming sixties muzak, complete with a horn section (or maybe something like the music from the website, Minimal Porn (relatively work-safe)), that you usually hear when you are on hold on the telephone. May I put you on hold, Iraq? Please stand by. . .

Back in America, the spying on citizens continues: Intelligence: The Pentagon—Spying in America?:

    Ever since the 1970s, when Army intel agents were caught snooping on antiwar protesters, military intel agencies have operated under tight restrictions inside the United States. But the new provision, approved in closed session last month by the Senate Intelligence Committee, would eliminate one big restriction: that they comply with the Privacy Act, a Watergate-era law that requires government officials seeking information from a resident to disclose who they are and what they want the information for. The CIA always has been exempt—although by law it isn’t supposed to operate inside the United States. The new provision would now extend the same exemption to Pentagon agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency—so they can help track terrorists. A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the provision would allow military intel agents to “approach potential sources and collect personal information from them” without disclosing they work for the government.

They get your emails, too: Interception of E-Mail Raises Questions :

    In an online eavesdropping case with potentially profound implications, a federal appeals court ruled it was acceptable for a company that offered e-mail service to surreptitiously track [and read] its subscribers’ messages.

And let’s not forget that TIAS is still on the move: What Price Freedom?

    Despite Congressional action cutting funding, and the resignation of the program’s controversial director, retired admiral John Poindexter, DARPA’s TIA program is alive and well and prying into the personal business of Americans 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    “When Congress cut the funding, the Pentagon – with administration approval – simply moved the program into a ‘black bag’ account,” says a security consultant who worked on the DARPA project. “Black bag programs don’t require Congressional approval and are exempt from traditional oversight.”

    DARPA also hired private contractors to fill many of the roles in the program, which helped evade detection by Congressional auditors. Using a private security firm like Cantwell, instead of the Federal Protective Service, helped keep TIA off the radar screen. . . .

    “Basically, TIA builds a profile of every American who has a bank account, uses credit cards and has a credit record,” says security expert Allen Banks. “The profile establishes norms based on the person’s spending and travel habits. Then the system looks for patterns that break from the norms, such of purchases of materials that are considered likely for terrorist activity, travel to specific areas or a change in spending habits.”

    Patterns that fit pre-defined criteria result in an investigative alert and the individual becomes a “person of interest” who is referred to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, Banks says.

    Such data mining is also called “database profiling” and is prohibited under Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against invasion of privacy says Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Steinhardt points out the information is already being used to create “no fly” lists of people who are thought to be a danger but that safeguards are not in place to insure the accuracy of the information. . . .

    “The agencies involved in data mining are trying to skirt the Privacy Act by claiming that they hold no data,” said Clay. Instead, they use private companies to maintain and sift through the data, he said.

What kind of data? All kinds, according to the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 which just got sprung on us: Day 5: Your Financial Information Is Available on Demand (use the username and password from this site if you want to skip the registration):

    A law that amends the Patriot Act, the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004, expands the types of records that the FBI can demand with an NSL to include documents kept by more than a dozen types of businesses, including the U.S. Postal Service; casinos; car dealerships; pawn shops; insurance companies; real-estate agents; commodities brokers, and jewelry stores.

Jewelry stores? Are they after my bling bling?

Who are they? For one thing, they are the rich: Millionaires fill US Congress halls. They are also idiots in many ways: The Top 10 Conservative Idiots (No. 162) (be sure to scroll down and see Colin Powell making hay with the Village People). They are Bushites, Neo-cons, Conservatives, Republicans. . . They are Democrats, too: from Librarian’s Stand Against Federal Law:

    Mary de La Rosa is a young lawyer who was working on similar legislation for Bill Clinton’s National Security Council.

    “The Patriot Act isn’t a sea change,” she says.

    “It’s an incremental change. A lot of the powers existed before. They’re just easier to use.”

    “The old security laws were written before there was an internet and cell phones. So we’ve been playing catch-up.”

    “It’s not the law that’s the problem, it’s that not enough is known about it.”

    Which means that if it is to be repealed, most likely it will not be the Democrat opposition leading the charge.

They will postpone the elections, securing the Bush dictatorship, when the next “terrorist threat” comes around the corner. From Exclusive: Election Day Worries:

    American counterterrorism officials, citing what they call “alarming” intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack, NEWSWEEK has learned.

You can hear about it on your weather radio: Weather Radios Will Carry More Kinds of Alerts. I’m getting a weather radio ASAP, so I can know the exact moment when we completely lose our freedoms.

When the shit hits the fan, don’t expect the police to help protect your freedom: Welcome to the Matrix: Inside the Government’s Secret, Corporate-Run Mega-Database and also Court: If police ask, you must give your name and also Proposal floated for North American ID card.

I can’t breathe. Corporations and the government are smothering me. I’ll go to the bar and escape. Doh! Corporations are there, too: Greene King Snaps up Laurel Pubs:

    Brewing and pubs group Greene King today announced the purchase of 432 neighbourhood pubs from privately-owned Laurel in a £654m deal that boosts its estate by a quarter.

Neighborhood pubs? Not any more. They are corporate pubs. Give us free.

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About Dirtgrain

  • Dirtgrain, you’re all over the place here, with no discernible center, and using piss poor examples.

    For starters, please give us a definition of the word “freedom.” That would give us some idea what we’re looking for.

    Also, your examples are mostly nothing little examples of private businesses simply not wanting to promote your left wing agenda. Some movie theater doesn’t wish to show F9/11? It’s their theater, and THEIR freedom NOT to be involved in showing a movie for whatever reason. Start your own theater, and you can have a 24 hour pinko film review every day. Heck, I might even attend.

    Generally, left wingers today have a very odd idea of what constitutes “freedom.” I generally think of it in terms of just being left the hell alone to do my thing.

    Left wingers on the other hand seem to think that “freedom” means everybody doing what liberals want them to, and subsidizing them in what they want. If I don’t agree to use my property to promote your agenda, them I’m oppressing your freedom.

    In any meaningful real world sense, freedom of property rights is utterly core, as we live in a material world. Having half your money stolen in income taxes, and a bunch of bureaucrats backed up to tell you how to run your business and your home (ie socialism) is the opposite of freedom.

  • I’m sorry you mistook it for a formal essay. Instead, it’s just a pile. If I had overtly stated a thesis, it would have been that we aren’t as free as we pretend to be–or as we think we are (maybe I did imply that, after all). As a pile, this entry was only intended to present the breadth of the attack on freedom. Everybody sees a pile in a different way. Take what you can from it. I see more evidence of a systemic government/corporate movement to monitor us, track us, tell us what to do, what to view, and what to think.

    As for defining freedom, I assume the concept of freedom as based on the Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution–an idea of freedom that I think many Americans hold to. Yes the details will vary, and our beliefs change over time, but I believe that the majority of Americans do not support the types of violations of “freedom” that I gave as examples (note: to determine my definition of freedom, you could have simply considered all of the examples of violations of freedom that I provided and conversely inferred a definition from them). I wonder how Libertarians (not that you are all a homogenous group necessarily) view the Bill of Rights. Do I have to take Libertarian views into account every time I post, Al? Sorry for being so insensitive. Will you be arguing for inclusion and diversity training next?

    I don’t see how Libertarians can support the corporatization of America (the conglomeration going on in the business world and the control corporations have taken over our government and our lives). Corporations and their influence are the antithesis of freedom. Corporate America is very much like the USSR in terms of manipulation, central control and lack of freedom (see my post, Conspiracy–Corporatocracy and The Soviet Union; Corporatocracy). Corporations aren’t people, but they are given the rights of people–they are given even more. How does a Libertarian reconcile this with his or her belief in autonomy?

    If Rupert Murdoch succeeded in taking over the entire mass media, and he decided to create his own version of the news in a secret and manipulative way, then you wouldn’t have a problem with that because it’s his media and he is free to do with it what he wants? Just what is the role of the media in your version of an ideal, free society?

    Stepping aside from Libertarianism, what role is the media supposed to have in a democracy? Is it okay to have a manipulated and misinformed public? I think that you can’t have a true democracy without freedom of the press (which is supposed to ensure a lack of corrupting influence from businesses, agendas, etc.–at least when it all adds up). The corporate conquest of the media is no longer a footnote or something that you can easily dismiss. It’s there, obviously, and I also think it is obvious that this influence is sickening our democracy. I say we sever the corporate grasp on our government and our lives (of course, you don’t even want much of a government, but that is another story). We need to End Corporate Personhood.

    The other piss-poor links provided deal with the government invading the privacy of its citizens, harrassing and persecuting its citizens based on political agendas, and lying to its citizens. I don’t see most Libertarians arguing with this (but I don’t mean to pin you down with a label, either. I just don’t exactly understand your objections). These links add up–along with all of the other such links that I have been blogging since last November. We live under corporate Big Brother. Beware of corporate creep–it is taking us over.

    Are you really a Libertarian? Do Libertarians support the Patriot Act? I would think not. Can you honestly support the Neocons and Bush? I’m assuming that you do only from some of your past defenses of their actions and agendas–forgive me if I assume too much. I have another question about Libertarians. Is your dislike of government founded on the belief that governments by their very nature tend to be corrupt? Keep in mind that these questions are in no way meant to be argumentative–I am truly curious.

  • DG, your follow up comment here seems to actually say a lot more than the original post. I’ll take a little credit for prodding you.

    My outlook on politics would generally be reasonably described as “libertarian,” and I am obviously running for office under that moniker. However, I have become increasingly disinterested in the label. Noting your Amazon link to the Illuminatus trilogy, I’ll make a point that Robert Anton Wilson has emphasized, “The map is not the territory.” Or sometimes he expresses it differently that “The menu is not the meal.”

    This thought weighs more and more heavily with me over time, and makes me more suspicious of my own ideologies. The basic observations and premises that give the underpinnings of “libertarian” philosophy are generally the truest and best explanations and analysis I have found for human behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that they are the be all and end all of philosophy.

    In other words, I don’t believe that the answer to every question is to go to the Libertarian Playbook and plug in the relevant quote. My general assumptions might go that way, but the particulars of a situation might not.

    Basically, ideology tends to cause people to decide what their position is, and then work backwards to make the actual facts fit their pre-determined position. That’s not good.

    It is more important to me to make the best interpretation based on observed facts on the ground in a particular situation rather than having the Correct Libertarian Response. I used to be really bugged by the famous Emerson quote that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” In this type of context, though, I have come to see some wisdom there.

    Questioning my own BS (Belief Systems), I have become somewhat more critical of corporate malfeasance. Coming from a Republican family, and being a Libertarian, I’ve come to recognize that such things might be something of a blind spot.

    So, I’m not saying that everything that corporations do is peachy keen. I see that corporations are somewhat like government, in that neither one actually exists. They are conceptual entities that can tend to hide the wrongdoing of actual individuals. Plus, corporations are largely creations of the government.

    Still, I’m less concerned with corporations screwing us generally than with governments. Basically, only governments have guns and the authority to use them. IBM might not give a rat’s ass about promoting a libertarian society, but they don’t have armies and bombs and the power of a military draft. This significantly minimizes their ability to screw us.

    Most of their worst nefarious behavior comes from their influence with government. I will tend to say, though, that if government has money and power to grant favors, it is pretty near inevitable that rich folks and rich corporate interests are going to get the lion’s share.

    Therefore, I will tend to say that as a rule of thumb, the best way to minimize corporate abuse is to minimize the amount of power that government has to grant them unfair advantages that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

    Also, corporate interests are relatively clean even in their corruption. They just want to make a buck, by hook or by crook. We just need to try to make them keep it between the lines, and making their money by hook.

    But even when they’re making money by crook, it’s cleaner than what politicians most often are doing. Business mostly just wants money, but politicians want power and authority. THAT is what is really dangerous.

    Corporations have no big general desire to run your life, or own your soul. They just want to empty your wallet. Our challenge is just to keep them doing it honestly.

    I don’t really see the corporate Big Brother thing. Big business doesn’t give a shit whether you’re watching porno, or smoking a joint. They don’t care what kind of political rhetoric you’re consuming.

    Hell, they’ll SELL you copies of the Communist Manifesto. The Clash and Rage Against the Machine recorded for major labels. Don’t think that Michael Moore isn’t making big bucks for all kinds of Evil Rich Corporations. Hey, they’re WHORES. They don’t care as long as they’re making their bucks.

    In the facts on the ground, I just don’t see your beef with corporate media. Rupert Murdoch fills a market niche – a good part of which has a somewhat leftist slant. It’s his network, after all, that gave us the Simpsons. I don’t see how he’s trying to suppress anyone else’s expression.

    Even Fox News deserves their stature. Again, they’re filling a market niche for people sick of the very real liberal slant of much of major media. I recognize that I might not have an entirely level view, but I don’t see how FNC is particularly much even tilted to Republicans.

    Even if you think they are though, so what? You’ve got NPR, and Dan Rather and such what.

    But more importantly, there are in fact more and more choices for consumers wanting different viewpoints. They can go to Drudge. As a leftist, you might not personally like him, but he’s certainly no corporate creation. Or you’ve got a million other websites, cable channels, or even online and satellite radio.

    The combination of human ingenuity, greed and market forces have given more people more access to more information from more sources than ever before.

    Leaving political candidates aside, look at music. Screw Clear Channel. I don’t need their playlists. I’m getting recommendations and emailed mp3s from fellow Blogcritics. I also make recommendations and email mp3s to Blogcritics and other buddies. I’ve literally got access to 1,000 times more music right now than I did living in this same house 20 years ago.

    The public is only as manipulated and misinformed as they want to be – and I don’t know how much that really even is. Consider how much difference you are making between “misinformed” versus “not believing the same things I do.” I know that I have to do that a lot personally.

    I don’t think that it is the media’s job to inform us so much as the citizen’s job to demand and seek out relevant information. Like Adam Smith’s selfish baker, FNC or NYT will give us good content because that is what we will pay for, not because they are selfless seekers after the public good.

    Note that I do NOT support the Patriot Act – though I don’t think it reasonable or useful when opponents start going off about Ashcroft being a Nazi and Bushitler and so on. I’ll have a white paper essay on the Patriot Act soon. We’ll come back to this topic.

    I don’t broadly support President Bush. I am voting for Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party candidate. However, I will give Bush some limited credit for biting the bullet with Iraq, which I do support.

    On a more personal note, I would not call you argumentative here, nor fault you for it if you were somewhat. You are clearly in the range here of trying to have a reasonable, thoughtful discussion. You’re not name calling, or playing a cheap game of “gotcha.”

    You’ve come to this discussion with some different premises and interpretations and priorities than I do. Stuff like this is exactly why I want to publish political stuff here at Blogcritics, rather than looking for a libertarian or conservative site where we all agree, and spend our time jerking each other off. Answering your objections sharpens and improves my own understanding.

    Giving you due credit to that end, thank you for the impetus to have stopped in the middle of writing this novel length comment to compose “My hawkish libertarian apostasy” pinged above.

  • Shark

    Dirtgrain, great stuff.

    Al, I notice that you justify the LONG LIST of freedoms lost by the euphemistic phrase as “…businesses simply not wanting to promote your left wing agenda”.

    *In a similar and famous 20th century regime, that’s ALMOST EXACTLY what some unconcerned people were saying as Jews were being forced out of their businesses and neighborhoods. Wow. What a coincidence!

    Al, just remember: when 1936 hits, we’re all Jews, babe.

    BTW: If guys like me ever get into power, the first thing I’ll do is arrest anyone who checked out Ayn Rand on their library cards.

    *note to Censor Czar – this is in no way meant to ‘attack’ Big Al and/or equate him with a “Nazi” — it’s meant to show that small euphemistic and semantic stretches can often have profound consequences when it comes to slowly losing one’s freedom.

    BTW: This is also a case where it takes a smart, analytic, articulate mind to understand the Right, Justene?

  • Shark

    Whoops. Shoulda been:

    BTW: This is also a case where it takes a smart, analytic, articulate mind to understand the difference.

    Right, Justene?


    …although it was a synchronistic typo error, eh…

  • Shark, you’re smarter than this utter NONSENSE, equating some theater not showing the stupid F9/11 movie to “that’s ALMOST EXACTLY what some unconcerned people were saying as Jews were being forced out of their businesses and neighborhoods.”

    Let’s see, Clear Channel plays some records, and doesn’t play some others. Are they morally required to give equal play to every record that comes out, or be considered Nazis?

    Fox News now has more people tuning in to their channel than any other cable news.

    Yeah, I can see how that’s pretty much the same thing as Jews being run out of their neighborhoods at gunpoint. NOT.

    Some corporation buying up some local bars is maybe just a LITTLE bit different than running Jews out of their businesses for fear of being SHOT.

    Exactly what constitutional “freedom” is being violated here? Do you have a “right” to drink beer from a locally owned tavern, even if the owner WANTS to take a generous offer from an outside investor?

    You’re just calling anything that happens that you don’t like “freedom” being taken away from you. You seem to want the “freedom” to dictate how everybody else runs their business.

  • Mike Kole

    Dirtgrain- I am a libertarian, and to me there is a simple distinction to be made between corporations and governments.

    Wal-Mart is omni-present, but I haven’t shopped at one in almost a year, and have no intention of going into one anytime soon. My non-participation is permitted. Wal-Mart will not be threatening me with jail, placing a lien on my property, garnishing my wages, intercepting my savings, or stripping me of professional license.

    The goverment is omni-present, and every year on April 15, I have to pay my income taxes. I wouldn’t pay for most governmental service because I do not believe in them. I am glad to pay for those I believe in. But I do not have the luxury of choosing. I must pay. If I do not, I will face jail, fines, and all of the other horrors listed above.

    Wal-Mart advertizes and hopes to win my business. My government threatens me with violence, and will make good on the threat using guns if I refuse to do business with it.

    To me, the greatest measurement of any society’s relative freedom is the degree to which a citizen is free to not participate. Can you avoid military service on any your own terms? Can you avoid paying for things you find morally reprehensible? Etc.

    The omni-presense of corporations can be daunting, but you are still always free to not patronize them.

  • boomcrashbaby

    The omni-presense of corporations can be daunting, but you are still always free to not patronize them.

    Even if you do not patronize Wal-Mart, your life can still be adversely affected by one in your neighborhood. If there were a crack house down the street, I might not patronize it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me in some way.

    Wal-Mart intimidates and harasses it’s employees to be non-union. It’s grocery centers refuse to cut their own meat because then they would have to hire unionized butchers. So Wal-Mart can pay it’s employees minimum wage. This store can be right next to other business’s where they have to pay their employees a liveable wage. Those stores cannot compete. Wal-Marts presence then has a ripple effect in the community, in many ways, affecting you adversely, even if you never set foot in one.

  • Poor Unionized butchers…

    Wal-Mart treats its employees like dirt. But consumers still flock to their stores. And people still willingly apply to work there.

    It’s a free market after all…

  • BCB- Your complaint then is that the market price for labor turns out to be less than you think it should be, and that Wal-Mart should pay more than they have to for labor. No one is forcing anyone to take a job at Wal-Mart. Perhaps the butcher’s union is demanding higher salaries than the market will bear.

    How is any of this affecting me adversely if I don’t go to Wal-Mart? It’s certainly ridiculous to compare the presence of a department store to a crack house. Crack houses mean big bunches of criminals wanting to rob you, and hookers out on the corner. Wal-Mart mostly just means cheap shopping.

  • boomcrashbaby

    Poor Unionized butchers…

    You miss the point. It is the entire community who pays, not just unionized butchers.

    And people still willingly apply to work there.

    Because often the alternative is the unemployment line as the other shops around Wal-Mart close. (Costco is a brilliant example of how to get around this problem. Too bad more business do not follow the Costco model – cheap prices, better wages, everybody profits, except of course their biggest competitor, Wal-Mart.)

    It’s a free market after all…

    No one is forcing anyone to take a job at Wal-Mart.

    Have you been in a Wal-Mart lately? All the Wal-Mart employees I know of hate their job. And they hate you, the customer. And my partner used to be a manager for them, so I know a lot of employees in different regions. In most cases the alternative isn’t another job, it’s the unemployment line.

    How is any of this affecting me adversely if I don’t go to Wal-Mart?

    Simple economics. I don’t need to get into all the reasons/effects. Have you ever seen a news story about a community fighting Wal-Mart to stay out of it’s community? I see them all the time. There are numerous reasons for it.

    Crack houses mean big bunches of criminals wanting to rob you

    Corporate monopolies mean big bunches of criminals wanting to rob you. Wal-Mart not only intimidates their employees, they intimidate their vendors too. But then so does Toys-R-Us.

  • “Wal-Mart not only intimidates their employees, they intimidate their vendors too. But then so does Toys-R-Us.”

    Your problem seems to be more with large corporations than Wal-Mart specifically.

    My advice: Attend a Nader rally. Become completely brainwashed. Vote Nader in 2004!


  • boomcrashbaby

    Toys-R-Us is one of my favorite places to shop. I would go to Wal-Mart if the minimum wage workers knew how to handle so much business. Shopping at Wal-Mart is an all day event to navigate through the traffic of carts and behemoths.

    I favor capitalism, however like any good thing, if allowed to run unchecked, the ‘good’ part of it gets lost.