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The birther fear of death

When I say “death” I don’t mean physical death, but death of a way of life. Birthers are mostly old white people who are saying: “Obama is destroying the country.” Ignore the “Obama” part for a minute, and listen to the fear that they live in the midst of some kind of destruction. Some of them think that the world is about to end in the Biblical Apocalypse, but even if the world isn’t ending, it is passing them by.1 Change comes at what appears an accelerated pace (and even if the pace were not accelerated, it would seem that way to older people whose sense of time is different). Change scares them witless because it could mean the death of their way of life. And out of this fear, they seem to be grasping at straws: that Obama is ineligible and every law he signed can be made to go away, that the Tea Party can set the clock back to 1950, that all the immigrants can be expelled2.

“Immigration and people of color” is a big deal for the status quo because in the future the United States is going to populated and controlled more by non-white people, and that can be a source of anxiety for white people. The Southern slaveholder’s greatest fear was of a slave uprising in which they would be murdered in their beds, and revenge would be exacted on them for the cruelty they had inflicted on their slaves.3 The people of the United States have exploited immigrants from the beginning, whether it be the unwilling Africans, the Irish, the Chinese or the Latinos today who work for less than the minimum wage and in some cases in slave-like conditions. Those classes will share in the leadership in American. Even racial distinctions are becoming blurred by mixed-race families. What’s even scarier to some is that other countries like Russia, India and China (among others) are growing at tremendous rates and America must share world leadership to a growing extent. (I was just in Russia and was impressed by their potential in land area, natural resources and a well-educated population if they can stay at peace and maintain internal stability for a while.)

I’m 63 years old now and I am reconciled to the reality that each generation makes its own rules and has to solve its own problems (except that the next generation will have to solve its own problems plus the ones my generation left them). While I love my Country, I also believe in the equal value of all human life. If someone not like me does well, that’s a good thing too. My view is not that white people are in decline, nor that America is in decline, but rather that we are seeing the “rise of the rest,” to use a phrase borrowed from an immigrant with a funny name, Fareed Zakaria.4

It is a brave new world, but it’s not necessarily a bad one.

I’m really not sure what to say to the birthers. “Chill out” seems trite. My former pastor strongly recommended prescription drugs for anxiety. To the extent that you can, find constructive activities, delete those gloom and doom chain emails, and spend time with your family.


1Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. John 21:18

2Note this headline from an article on Orly’s site:

How to fight Soros pro amnesty thugs? We need bikers and truckers there, advising them that they are under citizens arrest and we need to call immigration and police immediately, demand deportation and have the call to immigration on loud speaker and on video. We need congressmen there talking to immigration on loud speakers. Maybe George Soros should be arrested for misprision of felonies, for inciting violence and violation of immigration laws? Is Soros a U.S. citizen, did he get his U.S. citizenship under false pretenses?

3The book The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory talks about paranoia over real and imagined slave revolt plots.

4I had a really hard time writing this article, and making it say something worth reading, instead of being a collection of platitudes. A great deal was written and deleted. I don’t think I succeeded beyond offering the idea to the reader that part of birtherism can be attributed to old white people’s fears of losing their way of life.

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71 Responses to The birther fear of death

  1. avatar
    Danimal October 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I agree with most of your story except the fact that Latino’s are not being forced to come here to work for minimum wage.As one of those older white people that knows this is a changing country I can accept some of those changes.What I cannot accept is the fact that these illegal aliens are the ones driving down wages and doing jobs now for half the money that Americans use to make a living doing.

  2. avatar
    Danimal October 19, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    I also must admit as a Conservative I do use your site to try and talk some sense into my fellow Conservatives to the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii.I do not like Obama as President but it has nothing to do with his skin color it is because I disagree with his policies .These birthers just drag the whole party down to a level I have never seen before and it is embarrassing.

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Historically, political parties have had some pretty bad streaks. What continues to amaze me is that political parties survive the scandals they make.

    Danimal: These birthers just drag the whole party down to a level I have never seen before and it is embarrassing.

  4. avatar
    Keith October 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    I’m 63 years old now and I am reconciled to the reality that each generation makes its own rules and has to solve its own problems (except that the next generation will have to solve its own problems plus the ones my generation left them).

    I’m a year younger than you Doc, and I figured that out a long time ago; but I disagree 100% with your ‘exception’. Every generation since the dawn of civilization has had to deal with the problems the previous generation left behind, some a lot worse than those we have now; and every generation left seemingly unsurmountable problems for the following generation.

    The Founding Fathers left behind the gangrenous puss of slavery. The Civil War generation left behind the festering cancer of reconstruction and Jim Crow. The World War I generation left behind the impossible stricture of Versailles.

    There is no ‘exception’ that our descendants have it worse than their ancestors just because its us and we have done worse than our forebears. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic here, for the most part, each generation does leave the world in a better place than they found it.

    But ‘better’ is a relative term and perfection exists only in the mind of impossibly naive.

    “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

    Omar Khayyám

  5. avatar
    Slartibartfast October 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    There’s nothing that you or I or any other anti-birther can say that will help the birthers break out of their viscous cycle of fear and hate—a necessary part of their delusional worldview is seeing us as being complicit with, shills for, or patsies of the evil conspiracy. The only possible way for them to break free, in my opinion, is for someone who is already inside of their circle of trust to convince them that they are wrong. Given the degree that birthers tend to alienate sane friends and family, I think that the odds of this happening in most cases are vanishingly small.

    Dr. Conspiracy: I’m really not sure what to say to the birthers. “Chill out” seems trite. My former pastor strongly recommended prescription drugs for anxiety. To the extent that you can, find constructive activities, delete those gloom and doom chain emails, and spend time with your family.

  6. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    Doc writes: I had a really hard time writing this article, and making it say something worth reading, instead of being a collection of platitudes. A great deal was written and deleted. I don’t think I succeeded beyond offering the idea to the reader that part of birtherism can be attributed to old white people’s fears of losing their way of life.

    I think you did just fine. Fear of change is the foundation and the black man in the White House is just a very big brick in the wall. But there are lots of other bricks.

    As an amateur student of our history I have always been fascinated at the dichotomy our national pride produces. On one hand we are the melting pot, we profess to welcome “….your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…..”. We talk about equal rights and, in fact, have done a great deal to fulfill all those dreams in ways no other country has managed to equal.

    But periodically things turn ugly when the scales tip against the status quo and the tired, poor huddled masses try to blend into the American melting pot. Over nearly three centuries each new group has confronted the resentment of those who preceded them. That’s the one that has always fascinated me……immigrants resenting immigrants.Race, of course, has always dogged those who come from somewhere other than Europe…..primarily western Europe.

    Now, more than ever before, the scales are tipping irreversibly in a direction that too many think will destroy their way of life. Rather than celebrating the richness and diversity of a changing America they desperately try to hold on to an America that never really existed so they resent salsa outselling ketchup and, worst of all, there’s that black man living in our White House and thinking he can run our country!

  7. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Danimal: .What I cannot accept is the fact that these illegal aliens are the ones driving down wages and doing jobs now for half the money that Americans use to make a living doing.

    I don’t know where you live but I grew up in Arizona and spent most of my life (I’m 66 now) living there off and on until we retired three years ago.

    In our last tour we owned a couple businesses that used the services of landscapers, contractors, etc., and I can tell you when the economy was cooking they were paying top dollar for aliens…..even the day hires you see hanging around Home Depots.

    Why? Two reasons: You get what you pay for. Low pay gets you low quality work. And, most important, there weren’t any people available to work for pennies and, most telling, there were no “Americans” (read that white folks) willing to do landscaping and construction work in Arizona in July and August for any amount of money.

    How much did they pay? My friend with the landscaping business said $75 was the going rate for 8 hours work. The fellow with the construction business paid even more for skilled carpenters and finishers.

    How many were legal and how many were illegal? I don’t know and they didn’t either. The people they hired had documents and passed E-Verify and had taxes withheld from their wages.

    So…..again I’m not sure where you are but aliens (illegal and otherwise) weren’t driving down wages when I lived in Arizona and they weren’t taking jobs from “Americans”.

  8. avatar
    Rickey October 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Danimal:
    I agree with most of your story except the fact that Latino’s are not being forced to come here to work for minimum wage.As one of those older white people that knows this is a changing country I can accept some of those changes.What I cannot accept is the fact that these illegal aliens are the ones driving down wages and doing jobs now for half the money that Americans use to make a living doing.

    Ironically, conservative economists such as Paul Craig Roberts argue that the historically low minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) is one of the major drivers of illiegal immigration. Roberts says that if the minimum wage were increased to $12/hour illegal immigration would grind to a halt because legal residents who won’t work at McDonald’s for $7.25/hour would be willing to do for $12/hour.

    Roberts says that many minimum wage jobs are filled by undocumented aliens because businesses can’t find enough citizens or legal residents to apply for them. Raising the minimum wage, he says, would cause the employment market for undocumented aliens to dry up.

  9. avatar
    Rickey October 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    I was driving on I-84 in Connecticut today and I saw an “overpass” protestor. He had put up two American flags and a “Don’t Tread on Me’ flag and he held a sign which said “Honk for Freedom.” He looked to be in his sixties, was white, and he was alone. I only observed him for a couple of minutes, but nobody honked during that time.

    If I had not been in a hurry I would have stopped and asked him what his agenda was.

  10. avatar
    Hermitian October 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Mr. C. just doesn’t get it ! Many citizens are not just concerned about losing their way of life but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

  11. avatar
    Danimal October 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    CarlOrcas: I don’t know where you live but I grew up in Arizona and spent most of my life (I’m 66 now) living there off and on until we retired three years ago.

    In our last tour we owned a couple businesses that used the services of landscapers, contractors, etc., and I can tell you when the economy was cooking they were paying top dollar for aliens…..even the day hires you see hanging around Home Depots.

    Why? Two reasons: You get what you pay for. Low pay gets you low quality work. And, most important, there weren’t any people available to work for pennies and, most telling, there were no “Americans” (read that white folks) willing to do landscaping and construction work in Arizona in July and August for any amount of money.

    How much did they pay? My friend with the landscaping business said $75 was the going rate for 8 hours work. The fellow with the construction business paid even more for skilled carpenters and finishers.

    How many were legal and how many were illegal? I don’t know and they didn’t either. The people they hired had documents and passed E-Verify and had taxes withheld from their wages.

    So…..again I’m not sure where you are but aliens (illegal and otherwise) weren’t driving down wages when I lived in Arizona and they weren’t taking jobs from “Americans”.

    I’m from the corrupt state of Illinois.Ironically one of my friends had a landscaping business in Arizona and said he got out of it because the illegals were always undercutting him and low balling on all the jobs.Another friend had a drywall business and the same thing happened to him.People are going to go for the cheapest price regardless and a lot of those same people that went with the illegal crews had the nerve to ask him to come back and fix the screw ups.He refused and said the same thing, ”you get what you pay for”.
    The days of making a good living with a strong back are long gone thanks to illegals.
    The jobs they claim that Americans won’t do would be done if they paid more.

  12. avatar
    Danimal October 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Rickey:

    If I had not been in a hurry I would have stopped and asked him what his agenda was.

    You’re lucky you never.These are people you just cannot talk to.

  13. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Danimal: The days of making a good living with a strong back are long gone thanks to illegals.
    The jobs they claim that Americans won’t do would be done if they paid more.

    Well my experience and observations are at odds with your friends. Not sure there is anything else to say than that.

    As it regards jobs that pay good money there are many Latinos who have built businesses through hard work and personify the American dream. I know and worked with many of them.

  14. avatar
    Danimal October 19, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    CarlOrcas: Well my experience and observations are at odds with your friends. Not sure there is anything else to say than that.

    My personal observations are that many of them do come here and contribute positively and are just trying to live the American dream.This country is a mess and blaming illegals for everything is near sighted on my part.It goes higher up then them.Oh and I’m not learning no stinking Spanish either.Too old and set in my ways.

  15. avatar
    Dave October 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    When people get all worked up about white people becoming a minority in this country, that point of view implicitly relies on seeing some sort of important division between those who are white and those who aren’t. And while that line seems important now, we have to remind ourselves how ephemeral those lines are.

    In the 19th century, a lot of white Americans were all worked up about Irish immigrants. They worked for low wages, they were Catholic, and they talked funny. But the Irish stayed, the country wasn’t ruined, and we no longer see so much importance in drawing a dividing line between Irish Americans and other white Americans.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 20, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    People are all too ready to chuck civil liberties out the window when they get scared. I call to mind the Patriot Act of 2001 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 for two brief examples.

    Hermitian: Mr. C. just doesn’t get it ! Many citizens are not just concerned about losing their way of life but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

  17. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    People are all too ready to chuck civil liberties out the window when they get scared. I call to mind the Patriot Act of 2001 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 for two brief examples.

    Let us not forget Executive Order 9066 which interned American citizens.

  18. avatar
    JPotter October 20, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    Hermitian:
    Mr. C. just doesn’t get it !Many citizens are not just concerned about losing their way of life but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

    The only thing you have to fear, is fear itself, Herms. Encourage your imaginary friends to man up!

  19. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    Danimal: My personal observations are that many of them do come here and contribute positively and are just trying to live the American dream.This country is a mess and blaming illegals for everything is near sighted on my part.It goes higher up then them.Oh and I’m not learning no stinking Spanish either.Too old and set in my ways.

    History teaches us that the American dream is the product of many different peoples who came here over several hundred years.

    One other thing I learned in studying American history is that some people have always thought we were in a “mess” (and sometimes we were) but we managed to survive…..just like we will this time.

  20. avatar
    Lupin October 20, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    CarlOrcas: One other thing I learned in studying American history is that some people have always thought we were in a “mess” (and sometimes we were) but we managed to survive…..just like we will this time.

    “this time” is not exclusively about America but the planet as a whole. Peak oil and global warming are like two express trains rushing towards us, tied to the tracks. I hope we manage to survive the 21st century in something resembling the civilizations we know.

  21. avatar
    Daniel October 20, 2013 at 2:34 am #

    Hermitian:
    Mr. C. just doesn’t get it !Many citizens are not just concerned about losing their way of life but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

    Is that why birthers hate America and the Constitution?

  22. avatar
    Steve October 20, 2013 at 2:36 am #

    I’m in my mid-40s and I grew up in Massachusetts. Most of my high school classmates, judging by their Facebook posts, are far-right Tea Party types. Not sure if any are birthers, though I did have a rather heated discussion with one of them about Obama’s college transcripts and they seem willing to share and believe almost anything that is bad about the President.
    They’re also very big on the God and country stuff. Kids need to say the Pledge of Allegiance, especially the “One Nation Under God” part, is school and woe to the person who wishes them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And what I get a kick out of is how the biggest holy rollers never struck me as being overly pious back in the day.
    I’ve often wondered how they came to be the way they are and I ended up the way I did. My high school and college years coincided with Reagan’s two terms. Maybe they look back on that as a better time. I never cared much for Reagan (when I turned 18, the first person I voted for was George McGovern in the 1984 Democratic primary).
    Though I grew up in Massachusetts, the town I grew up in was, and is, conservative. It went for Scott Brown and Mitt Romney in the last election. Back then, it was almost entirely white and Catholic. When I was in elementary school, Boston was in the middle of the bussing controversy and maybe some of those families moved out of Boston to my town to get away from that. It’s also close to New Hampshire with its lower taxes.
    I have no idea what any of these people’s politics were like back then. As I said, most of them didn’t strike me as overly religious. My life now is very different from theirs. They have families and children. I’m single and have no children and at this point in my life, I doubt those things will ever change. Some of them own their own businesses (usually blue collar stuff). I have had the same job for the last 14 years and don’t make a lot of money. I also went for a good part of my 20s into my 30s without health insurance (luckily nothing bad happened, but I would never do that again).
    How much did those things shape their view of the world as opposed to my life experiences shape mine?

  23. avatar
    JPotter October 20, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Danimal: This country is a mess and blaming illegals for everything is near sighted on my part.

    Anything of, for, and by human beings will always appear messy when viewed in micro, and sometimes appear messy in the macro to boot.

    Danimal hasn’t mentioned “the free market”, but worship of that concpet tends to go hand in hand with nativism. How is a members-only club a “free” market? 😛

  24. avatar
    Arthur October 20, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Arthur Goldwag has got a new article up at Salon that lends support to the arguments of this post: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/20/conspiracy_theories_explain_the_right/

  25. avatar
    Rickey October 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    CarlOrcas: History teaches us that the American dream is the product of many different peoples who came here over several hundred years.

    Many anti-immigrant conservatives forget that their hero, Ronald Reagan, was (on his father’s side) the great-grandson of immigrants from Ireland.

    Of course, we Irish had the advantage of being white.

  26. avatar
    Rickey October 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Steve:
    I’m in my mid-40s and I grew up in Massachusetts. Most of my high school classmates, judging by their Facebook posts, are far-right Tea Party types. Not sure if any are birthers, though I did have a rather heated discussion with one of them about Obama’s college transcripts and they seem willing to share and believe almost anything that is bad about the President.

    They’re also very big on the God and country stuff. Kids need to say the Pledge of Allegiance, especially the “One Nation Under God” part, is school and woe to the person who wishes them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And what I get a kick out of is how the biggest holy rollers never struck me as being overly pious back in the day. I’ve often wondered how they came to be the way they are and I ended up the way I did.

    I have noticed that same thing about many of the people I knew in high school. One woman, who actually took Constitutional law classes, posted a note on Facebook that anyone who does not believe in “one nation under God” should not be allowed to have any say in how our government is run.

    Based solely upon personal experience, my theory is that many people who become fundamentalist Christians when they are adults became attracted to evangelical religion at low ebbs in their lives. They may have had trouble holding jobs, or had marriages which fell part, or had drinking problems, etc. They are then assured that by becoming “born again” they can have a personal relationship with God. It makes them feel special. At the same time there is the sense of inclusiveness which comes with becoming accepted by a group.

    But every story is different in some respect. One man I’ve known since first grade never expressed any particular interest in religion until he met a Southern Baptist woman from Texas. He then divorced his wife of 30 years, married his new love, and now he posts Bible verses on Facebook.

    I occasionally argue with my conservative acquaintances on Facebook, but I take pains to avoid making it personal. The only person I have ever unfriended is a guy I served with in the Navy who became so obnoxius that I couldn’t take him any longer.

  27. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Rickey: Many anti-immigrant conservatives forget that their hero, Ronald Reagan, was (on his father’s side) the great-grandson of immigrants from Ireland.

    Of course, we Irish had the advantage of being white.

    Yes, that is an advantage. Unfortunately it comes with some bad baggage……historic myopia.

  28. avatar
    Danimal October 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    JPotter:

    Danimal hasn’t mentioned “the free market”, but worship of that concpet tends to go hand in hand with nativism. How is a members-only club a “free” market?

    Their is no such thing as a free market and if their was we would not have any subsidies.

  29. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    If by “free markets” you mean laissez faire capitalism, that has been tried and it doesn’t work–it leads to monopolies.

    Danimal: Their is no such thing as a free market and if their was we would not have any subsidies.

  30. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Danimal: Their is no such thing as a free market and if their was we would not have any subsidies.

    Can you give us some examples of markets you think would work better if they were completely free…..no regulation, no subsidies, etc.?

  31. avatar
    dunstvangeet October 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    If by “free markets” you mean laissez faire capitalism, that has been tried and it doesn’t work–it leads to monopolies.

    It leads to monopolies, and then to companies that then look for the short term, rather than looking towards the long term. Laissez-faire captialism is largely what led to the Great Recession of 2008.

  32. avatar
    Steve October 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Rickey: I occasionally argue with my conservative acquaintances on Facebook, but I take pains to avoid making it personal. The only person I have ever unfriended is a guy I served with in the Navy who became so obnoxius that I couldn’t take him any longer.

    I no longer argue politics on Facebook. It just got me too aggravated. I haven’t unfriended anyone for their political issues. For the most part, they’re all longtime acquaintances with whom I’m able to have some pretty good conversations about other things.
    No matter what they say now, I take a “smile and walk away” approach.

  33. avatar
    Woodrowfan October 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    “Of course, we Irish had the advantage of being white.”

    Not at first they weren’t. Check the old cartoons that depicted the Irish as apes.

    or, “How the Irish Became White”. by Noel Ignatiev. 1995

  34. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG October 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Woodrowfan:
    “Of course, we Irish had the advantage of being white.”

    Not at first they weren’t.Check the old cartoons that depicted the Irish as apes.

    or,“How the Irish Became White”. by Noel Ignatiev. 1995

    If my history is any good, the Irish were treated about as badly as the Chinese, especially by the railroads.

  35. avatar
    misha marinsky October 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Hermitian: but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

    Pastor Ted Haggard believes that non-Christians do not have a right to be American citizens:

    Bush confidant Pastor Ted Haggard to non-Christians: ‘Get out.’

    “Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday…He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy.

    He moved the church to a strip mall. There was a bar, a liquor store, New Life Church, a massage parlor. His congregation spilled out and blocked the other businesses. He set up chairs in the alley. He strung up a banner: SIEGE THIS CITY FOR ME, signed JESUS. He assigned everyone in the church names from the phone book they were to pray for. He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches—in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation “prayer-walked” nearly every street of the city.”

    http://jeffsharlet.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/soldiers_of_christ.pdf

  36. avatar
    misha marinsky October 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Hermitian: but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

    James Kopp believes that Jews who provide legal medical services do not have a right to live. As noted before, I knew Dr. Slepian.

    James Kopp is an American citizen who was convicted in 2003 for the 1998 sniper-style murder of Barnett Slepian, an American physician from Amherst, NY who performed abortions. Prior to his capture, Kopp was on the FBI’s list of 10 Most Wanted Fugitives. He was affiliated with the militant Roman Catholic anti-abortion group known as “The Lambs of Christ”.

    On 10/23/1998, at approximately 10 p.m., Barnett Slepian was standing in the kitchen of his home in Amherst, NY. Kopp fired a single shot from a rifle from a nearby wooded area, which entered the Slepian home through a rear window. Slepian was a well-known obstetrician/gynecologist who performed abortions at a women’s clinic in Buffalo, NY. He also maintained a private medical practice in an office in Amherst, NY. Within hours of the murder, anti-abortion militants posted Slepian’s name crossed out on their internet website, which also served as “a virtual hit list of doctors who carry out abortions”.

    Kopp dismissed his court-assigned attorney, an assistant federal public defender, and chose to represent himself.

    In his opening statement to the jury, Kopp said that although Slepian’s death was “a full-bore, 100 percent tragedy” it wasn’t murder because it was not malicious or premeditated. He did acknowledge that he had planned the shooting for a year, and that he fired a high-powered rifle with telescopic sights, but that he had only meant to wound the doctor (to keep him from performing abortions). Kopp claimed that murder means “Shoot them in the head, blow up a car, riddle their body with bullets like they do in the movies. That’s how you kill someone.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Charles_Kopp

  37. avatar
    misha marinsky October 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Hermitian: but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

    Randall Terry, former used car salesman, Operation Rescue founder:

    “Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.”

    “Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God’s law, on the ten Commandments. No apologies.”

    “I don’t think Christians should use birth control. You consummate your marriage as often as you like – and if you have babies, you have babies.”

    “When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we’ll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed.”

    “There is going to be war, and Christians may be called to take up the sword to overthrow the tyrannical regime that oppresses them.”

    http://adultthought.ucsd.edu/culture_war/the_american_taliban.html

  38. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG October 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Oppressed? What is he talking about?! We Christians have it DAMNED good here in America. If that guy wants to see Christians being oppressed, he needs to go take a trip to Vietnam some time, or the Middle East.

  39. avatar
    Garrett October 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Lol…you are bizarre. How is it that you seem to know what is hidden within people’s minds. The word is delusional.

  40. avatar
    Garrett October 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Oh no! Someone has a different view, let’s call them racist! Doesn’t it get old. Speaking of which, most brothers are actually young, but don’t let facts get in your way.

  41. avatar
    Slartibartfast October 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    When a significant portion of a group of people is known to make blatantly racist comments and spout rhetoric that has been used in the past by racists to justify racist policies and the rest of the members of this group completely fail to indicate that they don’t agree with their racist fellow travelers, then the group tends to get called racist. If you don’t like being painted with the same brush, I suggest you stop standing shoulder-to-shoulder with racists.

    The problem is not that the birthers have a different view, but that their view is completely contradicted by the facts (i.e. President Obama is a natural born citizen by virtue of his birth in Hawai’i which has been established to the fullest extent possible under the Constitution). Not all views are equal and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

    Garrett:
    Oh no! Someone has a different view, let’s call them racist! Doesn’t it get old. Speaking of which, most brothers are actually young, but don’t let facts get in your way.

  42. avatar
    Keith October 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG:
    Oppressed? What is he talking about?! We Christians have it DAMNED good here in America. If that guy wants to see Christians being oppressed, he needs to go take a trip to Vietnam some time, or the Middle East.

    I know there is history between the Christians and the Buddists in Viet Nam. When Uncle Ho took over, the Catholics were told by Diem that the Communists would slaughter them and eat their babies, so they fled south by the millions. Diem then exploited them as a power base in the South. In fact it was much more a case of Buddhists being oppressed by the Catholics.

    I don’t believe that the Catholics are subject to much oppression in Viet Nam today, but I wasn’t there long enough to get much of an insight into that. There is a beautiful cathedral in Hanoi that seemed quite busy, every day, all day.

  43. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG October 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    Keith: I know there is history between the Christians and the Buddists in Viet Nam. When Uncle Ho took over, the Catholics were told by Diem that the Communists would slaughter them and eat their babies, so they fled south by the millions. Diem then exploited them as a power base in the South. In fact it was much more a case of Buddhists being oppressed by the Catholics.

    I don’t believe that the Catholics are subject to much oppression in Viet Nam today, but I wasn’t there long enough to get much of an insight into that. There is a beautiful cathedral in Hanoi that seemed quite busy, every day, all day.

    Its not as bad as some places, but still very much a “You have to worship your god of choice in secret.” kind of place. My brother-in-law’s wife Hao(She prefers to be called “Hope” since she became an American) was telling us about it. They’ll try to use everything from jail time to threats of violence to get people to renounce any non-state sanctioned faith. Her family was so afraid of her faith causing problems for them, that they disowned her.

    My point being that Randall Terry has a very poor grasp of the word “oppression”.

  44. avatar
    Danimal October 20, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    CarlOrcas: Can you give us some examples of markets you think would work better if they were completely free…..no regulation, no subsidies, etc.?

    I don’t think it’s the Government’s job to pick any winners or losers .If it was truly a free market then the consumers would be the ones that decide that.
    Why should Exxon get tax breaks and subsidies when they are making billions in profit?
    As far as Regulations you have to have them in place because as we can see now greed overrides everything .

  45. avatar
    Keith October 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Danimal: I don’t think it’s the Government’s job to pick any winners or losers .If it was truly a free market then the consumers would be the ones that decide that.

    But it isn’t a free market in the way you mean it, and the way you mean it wouldn’t produce a free market.

    Go into a supermarket and look at laundry soap. You have a choice of dozens, don’t you? Actually most of them come out of the same factory and have exactly the same formulation. That is not choice, that is monopoly.

    Why should Exxon get tax breaks and subsidies when they are making billions in profit?

    They shouldn’t. And profit doesn’t have anything to do with it. They shouldn’t get tax breaks or subsidies because all that does is SUPPRESS alternatives that might actually lead to a market that is more open to change. Again the consumer has NO real choice in the market place.

    As far as Regulations you have to have them in place because as we can see now greed overrides everything .

    Correct. Removing regulations won’t lead to a ‘free’ market, and I find that an extremely offensive claim that continues to be chanted by the monopolists. A better name would be a ‘Libertarian Market’ so that those pushing the stupid idea at least have to wear the consequences of it.

  46. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Danimal: I don’t think it’s the Government’s job to pick any winners or losers .If it was truly a free market then the consumers would be the ones that decide that.
    Why should Exxon get tax breaks and subsidies when they are making billions in profit?
    As far as Regulations you have to have them in place because as we can see now greed overrides everything .

    That’s not an answer to my question. Let’s try again: Can you give us some examples of markets you think would work better if they were completely free…..no regulation, no subsidies, etc.?

    For the record though I am not a big fan of special tax breaks or subsidies for large companies like ExxonMobil that are making billions in profits.

  47. avatar
    Danimal October 20, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Keith I agree with you.Maybe I never wrote it the right way but the system in place now does not work.
    Why should a place like Wal Mart get free land and infrastructure with a low tax rate while the grocery store that has been there for over 30 years does not get the same breaks?
    The Corporations that are moving oversea’s are not just going for the cheap labor they also want to not be regulated either.Sweat shops are fine with them as long as profits are good.

  48. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 20, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    Exxon doesn’t get tax breaks to help them be profitable; they get tax breaks as incentives to do things deemed to be in the public interest that aren’t profitable, or are less profitable than something else they would otherwise do. Exxon is in business to make money, not to guarantee American energy independence or reduce global warming or whatever else they get incentives for.

    My remarks are very general, and I don’t claim any expertise in the oil industry. Exxon may well get subsidies for things they would do anyway, or larger ones than necessary.

    Danimal: Why should Exxon get tax breaks and subsidies when they are making billions in profit?

  49. avatar
    misha marinsky October 20, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Hermitian: Many citizens are not just concerned about losing their way of life

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24605130

    Egypt gunmen open fire on Coptic Christian wedding in Cairo

    Three people, including a girl aged eight, died when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic Christian church in Cairo.

    At least nine others were wounded in the attack in Giza, officials said.

    What are you, Hermitian, personally doing for the Christians of Egypt? I’ll answer in advance: nothing.

  50. avatar
    Danimal October 20, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    CarlOrcas: That’s not an answer to my question. Let’s try again: Can you give us some examples of markets you think would work better if they were completely free…..no regulation, no subsidies, etc.?

    I think every market should have regulations.As far as Subsidies start with the Farm industry.That money goes to places like Mycogen that are very profitable and to the large farmers that do not need it and that is why small farmers are becoming extinct.
    Do we really need to subsidize places Haliburton or anyone in the military defense industry?We have many companies that can make the same equipment that meet their standards for less money.Again that is the Government picking winners and losers and naturally the ones getting the subsidies are going to be the winners.
    As I have already said the energy markets should not be getting subsidies when places like Exxon are making billions.

  51. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Danimal: Why should a place like Wal Mart get free land and infrastructure with a low tax rate while the grocery store that has been there for over 30 years does not get the same breaks?

    I used to live in a city of 450,000 in the Phoenix area that had (I just checked) 13 WalMart stores. I do not recall any of them getting “free land” or other incentives to open those stores in the ten years I lived in the town.

    Can you provide an example where WalMart has gotten free land? I’ve heard stories about developers getting infrastructure work (roads, sewage, etc.) and, sometimes, a lowered tax rate for a few year but my impression those things aren’t quite as popular as they used to be.

  52. avatar
    Danimal October 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    CarlOrcas: I used to live in a city of 450,000 in the Phoenix area that had (I just checked) 13 WalMart stores. I do not recall any of them getting “free land” or other incentives to open those stores in the ten years I lived in the town.

    Can you provide an example where WalMart has gotten free land? I’ve heard stories about developers getting infrastructure work (roads, sewage, etc.) and, sometimes, a lowered tax rate for a few year but my impression those things aren’t quite as popular as they used to be.

    Right here in the town I live in.Wal Mart got the land for free and the state paid for all the roads, water, sewer and electric to be run out there.Dave’s Market who had been in business for over 45 years could not get any of that to build a new store out by the interstate to compete with them.The TIF district that Wal Mart was in paid half as much in taxes then Dave’s and he could not compete.

  53. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    Danimal: I think every market should have regulations.As far as Subsidies start with the Farm industry.That money goes to places like Mycogen that are very profitable and to the large farmers that do not need it and that is why small farmers are becoming extinct.

    I had never heard of Mycogen until your message. Near as I can tell it is a small biotech company that is now owned by Dow so I doubt there are any financials for its products. I also couldn’t find any information about it ever
    receiving any “subsidies”. Can you provide a source for that?

    As far as the farm subsidy program I agree that there are lots of issues with it but for all its problems it has brought a semblance of order to a historically chaotic segment of the economy.

    As far as small farmers are concerned they have been growing extinct for nearly a hundred years because the economies of scale work against them.

    Danimal: Do we really need to subsidize places Haliburton or anyone in the military defense industry?We have many companies that can make the same equipment that meet their standards for less money.

    What subsidies does Haliburton receive? Not sure I understand your use of the word.

    As it regards military suppliers I’m not aware that there are “many companies” who can build the sophisticated products they need…..for any amount of money. Who else can make warplanes besides the folks who are doing it now? Missiles? Tanks?

    But again…..we’re off the tracks. Here’s my question again: Can you give us some examples of markets you think would work better if they were completely free…..no regulation, no subsidies, etc.?

  54. avatar
    NBC October 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    Hermitian: Mr. C. just doesn’t get it ! Many citizens are not just concerned about losing their way of life but rather their way of life as constrained and empowered by the U.S. Constitution.

    By ignoring the Constitution? That’s hilarious. These poor souls would not even recognize our Constitution if it were to hit them in the face…

  55. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Danimal: Right here in the town I live in.Wal Mart got the land for free and the state paid for all the roads, water, sewer and electric to be run out there.Dave’s Market who had been in business for over 45 years could not get any of that to build a new store out by the interstate to compete with them.The TIF district that Wal Mart was in paid half as much in taxes then Dave’s and he could not compete.

    I searched Google for Dave’s Market and WalMart and didn’t find anything that seemed to match your story. There’s a Dave’s chain in the Cleveland area that seems to be doing well with 14 stores and, specifically, a mercado designed to compete against WalMart.

    Can you provide a link or links to information on the situation you are talking about?

  56. avatar
    Danimal October 21, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    CarlOrcas: I searched Google for Dave’s Market and WalMart and didn’t find anything that seemed to match your story. There’s a Dave’s chain in the Cleveland area that seems to be doing well with 14 stores and, specifically, a mercado designed to compete against WalMart.

    Can you provide a link or links to information on the situation you are talking about?

    Dave’s went out of business in 2004 .I really don’t want to let everyone know where I live but here is a link.
    http://www.walmartsubsidywatch.org/

    Click on Illinois and my town is in there.

  57. avatar
    Danimal October 21, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    CarlOrcas:

    Can you provide a link or links to information on the situation you are talking about?

    Another good article on how they get away with subsidies.
    http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/sites/default/files/docs/pdf/wmtstudy.pdf

  58. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Danimal: Another good article on how they get away with subsidies.
    http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/sites/default/files/docs/pdf/wmtstudy.pdf

    Yes, I’ve seen that. It’s from 2004 and not terribly relevant today.

  59. avatar
    Danimal October 21, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    CarlOrcas: Yes, I’ve seen that. It’s from 2004 and not terribly relevant today.

    They are doing the same thing in 2013 as they were in 2004 and nothing has changed.

  60. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    Danimal: Dave’s went out of business in 2004

    Even searching for Dave’s Market and Illinois I don’t find anything and without more information there’s no way for me to comment on what happened so I’ll let that one drop.

  61. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    Danimal: They are doing the same thing in 2013 as they were in 2004 and nothing has changed.

    If that is the case I would expect to see more contemporary information and I don’t. Both your links point to a group called http://www.goodjobsfirst.org which appears to be funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

    In that regard it is my impression that the union’s anti-WalMart effort peaked a number of years ago and now that WalMart is second largest employer in the nation it’s all kind of moot.

  62. avatar
    Keith October 21, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Danimal: Why should a place like Wal Mart get free land and infrastructure with a low tax rate while the grocery store that has been there for over 30 years does not get the same breaks?

    Because they have pockets deep enough to influence elections and elect candidates that will look favorably on the idea. What can be more free market than that? Everybody has the opportunity to buy their own State Legislature.

    There is an argument that Walmart employs lots of people and so is of benefit to the community and the taxes paid by those employees compensate for the low tax rates. But since they pay such low wages, those employees don’t pay much taxes. Local sales tax is a boon though. If a Walmart goes into town A, and causes local grocery and dry goods stores in 15 surrounding towns to go bust, town A now gets all the sales tax revenue they used to have to split with those other 15 towns.

    Tough titties for the other 15 towns. That is free market capitalism.

  63. avatar
    Keith October 21, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    CarlOrcas: I do not recall any of them getting “free land” or other incentives to open those stores in the ten years I lived in the town.

    Can you provide an example where WalMart has gotten free land?

    CarlOrcas: Yes, I’ve seen that. It’s from 2004 and not terribly relevant today.

    Not argue too strongly, I realize you are trying to draw Danimal out, but those two statements are pretty much contradictory. If you have seen the report then you know that property subsidies have occurred, some as high as 10 millions dollars value for a single project.

    According to the other link, the incentives in Arizona appear to be Sales Tax rebates to reimburse access improvements and sewerage. In one case it would appear that Walmart was paid (via these Sales Tax Rebates) to move from Indian Reservation land (no sales tax?!?) to non-reservation (sales tax!!! yay!!!) land less than a mile away.

  64. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    Keith: Not argue too strongly, I realize you are trying to draw Danimal out, but those two statements are pretty much contradictory. If you have seen the report then you know that property subsidies have occurred, some as high as 10 millions dollars value for a single project.

    I am not aware of any free land in the city where I lived. The report he cited is ten years old and while I didn’t spend a lot of time on it the only $10 million deal I saw was on page 8 says:

    Free or reduced-price land. Local officials can substantially reduce the cost of building new stores or distribution centers by providing land at no cost or
    at a reduced price. This type of subsidy, which is more common
    for Wal-Mart’s distribution centers (some of which require more than 100 acres of land ) than its stores, has been worth as much as $10 million for a single project.

    Not a lot of detail there.

    As far as other incentives provided WalMart this is nothing new in America. Governments – local, state and national – have been giving free land, tax incentives and even cash to lure businesses and residents since the founding of the republic.

    Canals, post roads, railroads, highway, airports, etc., have all be funded and developed that way.

    Whether some places give away too much is open to discussion but that’s an issue for local folks to settle with their representatives.

  65. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    Keith: If a Walmart goes into town A, and causes local grocery and dry goods stores in 15 surrounding towns to go bust, town A now gets all the sales tax revenue they used to have to split with those other 15 towns.

    The addition of those 13 WalMarts where we lived didn’t drive anyone out of business. In fact Safeway, Krogers (Frys), the local grocer and specialty places expanded nicely in the same period.

    As far as wages are concerned…where we lived they paid essentially the same as the other stores because they were recruiting out of the same labor pool and had to be competitive.

    And, of course, WalMart saves people a lot of money with their low prices. A couple years ago there was a story that they were a major factor in keeping inflation down for years.

  66. avatar
    The Magic M October 21, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    The Southern slaveholder’s greatest fear was of a slave uprising in which they would be murdered in their beds, and revenge would be exacted on them for the cruelty they had inflicted on their slaves.

    Well, the end of Apartheid in South Africa at least proved that the transition from a white-controlled state of non-equality to a (in this case: black) majority-controlled system can work without the feared “mass revenge” or a 180 turn (where now the previous oppressors are the oppressed).
    But then again, any system in which they are not the ruling class probably constitutes “oppression” for those old whites. You can see that in their constant “we’re not a democracy” croaks which translates to “thank Lordalmightychristgod we still have some ways to keep those who disagree with me oppressed”.

  67. avatar
    Lupin October 21, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    No offense intended (and apologies offered if given) but a lot of the discussion above strikes me as very “20th century” if not “19th century”.

    Even in my tiny village (pop. 800) in Southern France, local discussions often revolve around the already felt impact of global warning (what kind of trees to replant? we’ve begun importing douglas firs from your pacific NW BTW), whether or not we should have another windmill farm on the next hill, “shorter” distribution circuits to buy food grown locally, how to deal with the rise in sea level, fewer fish to fish, and the general and commonly-shared awareness that the current economic growth-centric system is going to change in the next decades. And I live in the French equivalent of your Harlan Country (cf JUSTIFIED).

    This is not peculiar to my region; I’ve had identical conversations with German, Belgian, Dutch and Swedish visitors.

    If you want to survive without a bloodbath, you’re going to have to get a grip on the new century.

  68. avatar
    Keith October 21, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    CarlOrcas: And, of course, WalMart saves people a lot of money with their low prices. A couple years ago there was a story that they were a major factor in keeping inflation down for years.

    The argument pros and cons of Walmart business model can go on for ever. A subsidy that happened 10 years ago is still a subsidy that ‘allowed’ Walmart to expand that local competitors could not take advantage of.

    Safeway and Kroger are not ‘local grocers’. Arizona is different to many places ‘back east’. Phoenix and Tucson (and a lesser extent Flagstaff and Yuma) grew too fast and too late to develop those ‘small town’ shops that Walmart steamrolls. Some communities ‘back east’still have butchers and bread makers, or did have until Walmarts opened the megamarts.

    Tucson once had a little remnant of that local business feel. There used to be two great butchers in Tucson on Grande Blvd, alas, no more. Ronstadt’s Hardware (Linda’s Grandfather started it) was once one of the great hardware stores in the country, now its a Bus station. Big box stores did it in. Tucson used to have 2 competitive department stores; Levy’s and Jacome’s. Levy’s was eaten by Goldwater’s of Phoenix which in turn was eaten by whoever the holding company that owned The Broadway. Jacome’s just withered away by the competition from the big nationals.

    Low prices at Walmart come at a cost in other places. Town centers depressed because of ‘dead’ shops. Low wages and no health care. Local (American) manufacturing gone. Local business starved.

    I’m not up on all things Walmart, they aren’t in Australia (yet!). I have visited a Tucson store and bought a Timex watch that is still ticking after taking a licking. There are good things about it, lots of bad things too.

  69. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Keith: The argument pros and cons of Walmart business model can go on for ever.

    Indeed. This conversation has gone far afield but it is typical in that it is full of misinformation, misapplied information and assumptions that don’t pass the smell test.

    So….quickly let me just provide some perspective based on my living in Arizona for most of the last 55 years.

    Keith: Safeway and Kroger are not ‘local grocers’. Arizona is different to many places ‘back east’. Phoenix and Tucson (and a lesser extent Flagstaff and Yuma) grew too fast and too late to develop those ‘small town’ shops that Walmart steamrolls.

    Having also lived all over the country I can tell you that urban sprawl is the same in Arizona as it is everywhere else. But to the point: The third or maybe fourth largest grocery chain in Arizona is Basha’s…..locally owned and operated since the 1930’s.

    Keith: Some communities ‘back east’still have butchers and bread makers, or did have until Walmarts opened the megamarts.

    Under the category “butchers” yellowpages.com lists 88 businesses in the Phoenix area and 26 in Tucson..

    Keith: Tucson once had a little remnant of that local business feel. There used to be two great butchers in Tucson on Grande Blvd, alas, no more. Ronstadt’s Hardware (Linda’s Grandfather started it) was once one of the great hardware stores in the country, now its a Bus station. Big box stores did it in.

    See above for butchers. Ronstadt’s Hardware closed in the early 80’s…..30 years ago. The problem was not big box stores but location. It was in downtown Tucson and hadn’t expanded to the suburbs where its customers had moved. The family had also run out of members who wanted to run it. Linda was a singer and Peter would become Tucson’s chief of police in the 1980’s.

    Keith: Tucson used to have 2 competitive department stores; Levy’s and Jacome’s. Levy’s was eaten by Goldwater’s of Phoenix which in turn was eaten by whoever the holding company that owned The Broadway. Jacome’s just withered away by the competition from the big nationals.

    First, Levy’s: It was sold to Federated in the 60’s, not Goldwaters….which, btw. was sold to Associated Dry Goods in 1963. Federated and Associated Dry Goods are the “big nationals”.

    Like Ronstadt’s Jacome’s also decided to stay in downtown Tucson and not expand to the suburbs. They closed in the early 80’s……again 30-years or a generation ago.

    Keith: Low prices at Walmart come at a cost in other places. Town centers depressed because of ‘dead’ shops. Low wages and no health care. Local (American) manufacturing gone. Local business starved.

    Finally here we have more sweeping and faulty generalizations. “Town centers” began declining after World War II as people moved to the new suburbs. That happened long before Sam Walton opened his first store and, in fact, created the opportunity for him……not the other way around.

    As far as wages are concerned I can only speak of the area I know and the competitive job market in Arizona doesn’t allow anyone to low ball workers. Should retail workers make more? Probably. Health insurance? Yes, indeed and it looks like they will have it now.

    No businesses were starving in Phoenix because of WalMart and, of course, the stores are full of American made products and, like every other store, products made overseas.

    So,,,,there are lots of things to say about big businesses like WalMart but let’s do it based on facts and accurate information.

  70. avatar
    Keith October 22, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    CarlOrcas: Indeed. This conversation has gone far afield but it is typical in that it is full of misinformation, misapplied information and assumptions that don’t pass the smell test.

    OK, yeah. The ins and outs are complicated and almost impossible to follow. Levy’s was folded into “Bullocks”, not “The Broadway”. Federated put it into the Sanger/Harris group which became Foley’s in the mid 80’s then sold it to May in 1988.

    May bought Associated Dry Goods in the mid 80’s. The Levy’s stores in Tucson were re-badged as Goldwater’s and then sold to Dillard’s. The Goldwater name didn’t last long in Tucson, but I did shop there.

    I didn’t mean to imply that Walmart was directly behind the demise of Levy’s, Jacome’s, or Steinfield’s (which I hadn’t mentioned before), or Ronstadt’s. But I acknowledge that that is pretty much what I did say. The point I was trying to make was that local stores had been pushed around by national players sitting in their New York or Los Angeles offices.

    I remember the hype when “The Broadway” opened in the Tucson Mall on the eastside (well it was the eastside then). Every thought ‘hey, our market is being recognized by the big boys’. But the buyers were living in some bubble in LA (actually Phoenix at the time, but Phoenix was already an LA suburb) and the store didn’t come close to paying for itself. Tucsonians just didn’t want to buy most of what they were selling.

    Various mergers later it became part the May division of Federated which had owned Goldwater’s from the mid 1980’s. The El Con “Levy’s” store was rebadged Goldwater’s and sold to Dillard’s.

    And yes, that all happened before Walmart’s push really got going. Walmart is not in the same market as those Department stores. Walmart is much more down market (Kmart? Target? who else is still around?). Local ‘five and dimes’ which used to abound in every small town in America cannot compete with buying power of Wal-mart. Wal-mart can squeeze Chinese manufacturers and switch to Vietnamese manufacturers or Bangladeshi manufacturers between breakfast and lunch. It means nothing to them what-so-ever. Small locals cannot. Even national players like KMart and Target cannot.

    To get back to the original point, even if a local store owner won the lottery and wanted to invest in expansion of his business, the opportunities for development support that Walmart takes for granted, are almost always denied to him.

    Walmart gets them coming and going, the buying power and the political power makes them very difficult if not impossible to compete against. Just like the Coal, Oil, and Railroad tycoons of the early 20th century.

    This has gone way way off the rails of the topic; another of my patented thread-jacks I suppose.

    Once again, sorry Doc.

  71. avatar
    CarlOrcas October 22, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    Keith,

    The Tucson stuff, as you’ve finally acknowledged, is irrelevant so I’m going to ignore it.

    Keith: To get back to the original point, even if a local store owner won the lottery and wanted to invest in expansion of his business, the opportunities for development support that Walmart takes for granted, are almost always denied to him.

    Okay then……let’s take a look at something……from Wikipedia the “List of supermarket chains in the United States”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_supermarket_chains_in_the_United_States

    Now…quickly….take a look and notice that there are ten national chains. Notice that Kroger has almost as many stores as WalMart and the remainder of the top ten almost three times as many stores as WalMart.

    How can this be, Keith, if the opportunities to expand “are almost always denied” them?

    Look further down the page to the Regional/local chains. There are several hundred of them. Many of them very large, mufti-billion dollar operations. Others not so big but doing fine.

    How can this be?

    Notice also the retailer’s cooperatives. These are the wholesalers who service the independent grocers that, collectively are many times larger than WalMart.

    Do you really think they don’t have buying power?

    Then down toward the end of the entry are the other limited assortment chains. There you will find the dollar stores that have replaced the old 5 and dime stores. Their business is booming.

    And finally the fastest growing operations….the ethnic, specialty and natural food chains. There are dozens and dozens of them. Pro’s Ranch Markets – http://www.prosranch.com/ – entered the Phoenix market just before we left and if you check the link you will see what the stores look like and how they were swamped when they opened. They are amazing and we loved to shop there.

    So……to wrap this up….the notion that WalMart has destroyed retailing in America is just laughable.