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Author Topic: Theory: Big Box Marketer 'Lower Prices' Have Drawn Wages Down; Hurting The Middle Class Back to Topics
SemiSteve

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Message Posted: Aug 8, 2013 3:03:21 PM

The theory I am arriving at is that the zeal to offer the lowest prices possible has hurt us in several ways and should be discouraged. It should be replaced with an emphasis on higher quality products which would cost more but would also last longer. The longevity is the value to society and to our economy.

1. Since it is widely accepted that a family can live for less with all these low priced products the result has been that earners are willing to work for less; so employers are offering and paying less for workers. Salaries have thus not kept pace with inflation. But health care and energy prices have soared and had a devastating effect on the low price / low wage middle class.

2. The motivation by big box marketers to have low priced products on the shelf has caused them to pressure suppliers to constantly reduce the cost of stock. This has lead to a trend where manufactureres seek the most impoverished regions of the world to locate their factories to take advantage of cheap labor. The workers there have few other options besides working in the factories so they are subjected to abuse, deplorable and unsafe conditions (the Bangladesh factory collapse comes to mind - over 1000 dead) and prevented from collective bargaining to improve their treatment by the collusion of factory owners and local governments (think: pay-offs).

3. When Americans buy low-priced imported items from big box marketers they are supporting near-slave like working conditions for workers living in squalor. These workers can't even afford to buy the products they are making.

4. The constant pressure to lower prices results in the poorest quality products. Profits are generated more from planned obsolescence than from margin. Consumers think they are getting a good deal to buy something for a low price and it seems like it at the time. But a few days/weeks/months/years later the product fails and must be replaced. This drives the consumer back to the store to spend more money. The richest owners of the biggest corporations are raking in lots of wealth but that is not trickling down to the middle class.

5. Sadly this planned osolescence / throw-away society contributes heavily to pollution and resource squandering. We don't really 'buy' products much anymore. Mostly we just 'rent them.' We go to the stores and buy something, use it until it breaks/fails or is displaced by a newer product with more features, and then we just throw it away. Some of that gets recycled by concientious consumers, but the vast majority of it goes into landfills all over the nation. We are in the process of essentially renting cheap junk from major corporations and stoking landfills with valuable resources. That's the big picture. And it's decadent. It's not sustainable. A society can not do that for eternity. So I have to wonder. How many centuries can this continue?

The theory that I am currently arriving at is that these low priced cheap products have depressed wages because it is now accepted that this is how we need to live. I believe if we had higher quality products that lasted longer (and of course cost more to purchase) that wages would have to rise to reflect that. And then we would not be squandering resources or supporting near-slave labor conditions overseas so much. American labor would be more competitive because there would be greater focus on maintaining good quality products instead of having them be unservicable and disposable.

Interestingly enough, the FairTax would support this because while it places a hefty sales tax on new items it values good quality used items much more because there would be no sales tax on used items. The best part of it, of course, is that there would no longer be a tax day such as April 15th when everybody has this big deadline to 'get done' either by spending a lot of time figuring out forms or by paying somebody else to do it. How nice would THAT be?

Imagine all the American jobs created by new industry to maintain/preserve high quality products! We COULD get away from using so much throw-away stuff and place more emphasis on having valuable items. I can't yet envision how we get from where we are now to a better place but I can certainly see the big picture of what we are doing and it is not very good. We have the richest / most powerful driving these trends and, of course, they are mostly concerned with simply increasing their own wealth rather than making positive contributions to society or the advancement of civilization. I am beginning to wonder if fancy new products neccesarily translate into advancing civilization.

[Side note: Some posters here wonder where I get these ideas. They assume I must be repeating some liberal propoganda and they wonder what my sources are. This is -my- theory. I have not seen this in any publication. It is my observation and impression of some of the processes at work which shape our economy.]
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 24, 2013 10:20:53 PM

:::A high quality knife can be expensive with marketing gimmicks, reasonable from a good source, and a REAL bargain at a yard sale or thrift shop. ::::


I've already given examples of where you can buy high quality knives for under $10. Well under. Ikea, the supermarket, and the job lot stores.

I've also given examples of where you will be ripped off buying often the same knife - Williams Sonoma, Saks 5th Ave. and boutique kitchen stores.

The knife example is true of nearly all retailing. Price is determined by store cachet, and has no relation whatsoever to do with quality. Often there is an inverse relationship. The highest priced merchandise is often shoddy. Clothes are a classic example.


Look at the example of Oprah Winfrey trying to buy that stupid handbag at Trois Pomme in Zurich last month. $35,000 dollars for a handbag? As an aside, looks like the Swiss are as intolerant as the Austrians (and many Europeans) when it comes to black folk. The Swiss store clerk automatically assumed Oprah was a bust out and could not afford to spend $35,000 on their ridiculous bag. Why? because she was black of course. It was a hoot to listen to the excuses coming out of Trois Pomme and the Swiss state department when they learned Oprah is worth $3 billion.

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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 24, 2013 8:02:33 AM

When quality has not been compromised during mass production and marketing that is a good thing. Smart shoppers are wise to select true bargains. And of course examples of those exist.

The smartest shoppers buy very few new items, though. A good quality product endures so long it might pass through many hands. A high quality knife can be expensive with marketing gimmicks, reasonable from a good source, and a REAL bargain at a yard sale or thrift shop. Same product. Once it has been purchased and utilized it is no longer new. Often bumbling and inept people buy too many things as they screw up their personal lives. They find themselves liquidating everything in a divorce or a hasty decision to move away; run from the mess they have made of their lives and start over somewhere else. Other times an estate is put up for resale following a death. There is no reason that good products should not re-utilized.

But sadly Americans are not all so shrewd. Too many lives revolve around TV; and the weak are far too susceptible to mass marketing. They buy poor quality junk, take it home until it fails; and then it goes into the landfill. Our dollars went overseas; people got paid dirt wages to help drain dollars from a local economy; lousy products with short lifespans rob indiscriminate shoppers of their wealth; and the fleecing of the middle class is ongoing. A few get very rich in the process; many are hurt a little; and the nation's economy is continually deflated.

We need to demand that a trade balance is maintained. No nation should be required to allow itself to be sucked dry.
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 23, 2013 11:19:35 PM

::::I'm not surprised that those who can't see the demise in product quality simply don't want to hear about the knife that broke in two while cutting a mango.:::


A distortion of fact. Its not that we don't want to hear it. Its that we don't believe it. You equate low price with low quality. Just the opposite is typically the case. Low price generally means optimized manufacturing, highly efficient supply lines, and a thoroughly developed product with few if any defects.

High price typically means lots of hand work, with often inconsistent output. Fine and expected if you are buying a Samurai sword, totally unacceptable if you are buying a kitchen knife. The best knives are the cheapest, sold in warehouse stores like Costco, not in ripoff yuppie cuisinariums like Williams Sonoma.

Speaking of which. I was in one of those dollar-style job lot stores last week. I happened to look at kitchen knives. They had a fine German made chef's knife for $10. Brass rivets, a solid blade, good heft and great feel. The tang went all the way to the end. Handle made of some kind of substantial resin - much preferable to unsanitary wood. I was tempted to buy it as it was an unbeatable bargain. Extremely nice, a fine instrument, easily the equivalent of a $180 Henckel that Sak's 5th Ave. peddles to nitwit yupsters.

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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 23, 2013 10:20:41 PM

I'm not surprised that those who can't see the demise in product quality simply don't want to hear about the knife that broke in two while cutting a mango.

The knife was so cheap the blade only went into the molded plastic handle about 3/4 inch. Good knives go all the way through the handle. The metal blade didn't break. The handle did. Where the plastic surrounded the blade is where the plastic failed. The plastic cracked around where the handle was attached.

It wasn't new. It had been acquired in a yard sale or thrift - we can't even remember. Glad we didn't pay much for it. And we did get years out of it. Now it is in the land fill with all the other junk products Americans waste their money on. Somebody paid good money for it.

Hey, I heard on the news that workers are striking and demanding better wages in Bangladesh. Imagine that. They want $100 a month to build the stuff we pay for and the factory owners don't want to pay it. (they only get about $38) Can you imagine having to pay what it would cost for your neighbor to sew the clothes you wear?

We pay people to run grueling miserable sweat shops so we can have 'lower prices every day'. We don't want to think about what our favorite product workers' lives are really like. It helps for us to be so insulated from the suffering.

You know our economy is dysfunctional if we can't even afford to build the things we buy. We are sending our dollars and our worth over seas. That can't last. It is not a sustainable situation.

[Edited by: SemiSteve at 9/23/2013 10:23:47 PM EST]
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 20, 2013 9:47:21 AM

QUOTE :::::--I have bad feet, so I have to wear fairly good shoes with some arch support. El Cheapo shoes don't work for me. I buy fairly expensive shoes that have good arch and are well constructed.. as well as using hard orthotic inserts. No choice.::::


Watch this vid it will enlighten you as to just what a 'good shoe' is. Orthotic inserts are discussed near the end, also eye opening.
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 20, 2013 1:17:25 AM

SemiSteve said: "Somebody talked about shoes, too. for years I would buy the cheapest sneakers I could find. Why pay for a name? Then I realized that I was getting less than a year out of these things so maybe it was really more cost efficient to buy a more expensive pair. So far that seems to be true. We'll see."

--I have bad feet, so I have to wear fairly good shoes with some arch support. El Cheapo shoes don't work for me. I buy fairly expensive shoes that have good arch and are well constructed.. as well as using hard orthotic inserts. No choice.

And also: "And what good is a kitchen knife that breaks when you try to do some chopping on a cutting board? So many products are just junk these days. Planned obsolescence is only good for those who profit from selling the junk. Everybody else loses. Our society loses. The environment loses. And so does our nation."

--The only knives I've seen "break" are ones that people are using as pry bars, or ceramic knives. If you're using your knife as intended, it should provide years, neigh a lifetime of service, even with regular honing. I have one set that a friend gave me (when she upgraded) like 30 years ago. I still have them, and they're still sharp. Some of them are showing "wear" as they do shrink a bit as I sharpen and hone them.
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 10:40:25 PM

:::::Maybe store-bought ones from your nearby major big corporate chains are all the same consistency but I assure you their offerings are not all that there are.
::::


Since I live in a cold climate where mango trees are not native and can't survive, yes, I buy them from a store. As do the illegal immigrants who grew up eating mangoes in whatever foreign country they came from...before illegally breaking into the USA that is.

In fact just about everything in the market, whether corporate or Mom and Pop, is not native. How boring if we had to live only on local produce. This is the Utopian pipe dream of the liberal left...to eat local. Don't they realize that to eat only local produce means you can't even have a banana?

Food snobbery is amusing. Its only been maybe 15 years since basic mangoes even became available. Hmmm, about the same time illegal Hispanic border jumpers started becoming a nuisance. There is likely a connection there.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 1:43:13 PM

"A mango is a very soft fruit, ..."

--All mangoes are not alike. There are red ones, yellow ones, purple and other varieties. Maybe store-bought ones from your nearby major big corporate chains are all the same consistency but I assure you their offerings are not all that there are.

Chains are not the only place one can get mangoes. There is a wide variety of mangoes and quite some variability within each strain depending on ripeness.

I was cutting into one that had a mixture of soft parts and more tough skin. Agreed, the knife glides right through the soft skin.

Mangoes are a very interesting fruit - wiki

Reminds me of a time when I got some real eggs from a friend who has chickens. They were all different sizes shapes and colors. Blue, brown, white. I happened to take a few of them to a small local cafe one day (there I go supporting the local economy instead of big-box marketers who suck money out of a region). I asked if he would use my eggs to make an omelette. He said "sure, no problem." I carefully handed him the eggs; He looked at them and said: "What kind of birds did these come from?" I said: "Chickens." He asked if I was sure. I had to laugh a bit. "Of course I'm sure."

He had never seen anything like that in his life. He thought all chickens were like Big Ag purpose-bred birds!

Makes ya wonder how people every got by before all this over-processed food.

Do you buy everything you have with money or do you trade favors and barter at all?

There happens to be a perfectly good life without big-box marketers, ya know.

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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 1:18:03 PM

:::::::Best tip: Find an old wooden handle knife at a thrift store. The type with the rivets holding the wood onto the metal. Thicker metal is better. Learn how to sharpen it. Something every Scout should know by age ten.:::::


New thinking is those old wooden handled knives are ideal for breeding bacteria. Can't easily be cleaned. (You don't simply put them in a dishwasher, you are supposed to just wipe off a knife). I've got 2 knives handed down from ancestors, (may have even come over on the boat from Europe)). They are nice heirlooms but I'd never actually use them. Simply not as nice as a modern steel blade.


As far as Boy Scouts, I went to two Boy Scout meetings as a kid. The whole experience was so bogus, that as a 10yo I saw through it and walked out. You can learn to sharpen anything out of a book. Even a straight razor is a cinch. I self taught how to sharpen knives, chain saws, and lawnmowers. Sure didn't need the silly Scouts.

Although I don't know how to approach sharpening a serrated blade.
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 1:07:29 PM

I've cut into plenty of mangoes with my $3.99 supermarket knife. I've never broken a knife.

Also, if you are applying so much pressure to break such a knife, you have a dull blade. A good edge just needs guidance, with almost no pressure.

A mango is a very soft fruit, I could cut it in a pinch with one of those white plastic picnic butter knives. Nearly impossible to break a knife on a mango. Are you sure you didn't cut into the seed?


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AFSNCO
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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 1:06:05 PM

Steve, did you get a set of sporks with those knives?
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 19, 2013 12:35:14 PM

"Knives don't break. "

--Tell that to the two pieces of knife in my trash can. I was in the process of cutting into a mango when the plastic handle broke off the blade. The blade only went into the plastic handle less than an inch. The rest of the handle was nothing but plastic. The plastic cracked, probably due to some swelling of the rusted metal inside that handle.

A good knife has the metal go all the way through the handle. The handle is built around the metal. But it's cheaper to use less metal, and it LOOKS just like a good knife.

Another big corporate trick.

Gotcha!

Throw it away and buy another one.

Our disposable society threw away environmental responsibility a long time ago.

Best tip: Find an old wooden handle knife at a thrift store. The type with the rivets holding the wood onto the metal. Thicker metal is better. Learn how to sharpen it. Something every Scout should know by age ten.
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Hemond
Champion Author Providence

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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2013 9:19:32 AM

:::::::And what good is a kitchen knife that breaks when you try to do some chopping on a cutting board? ::::


Knives don't break. A cheap kitchen knife will last years. I've heard its possible to break the tip of a Japanese knife if you drop it (thin blade) but in normal use knives don't break.



I've got a large collection of kitchen knives, I've never broken one, and they were all inexpensive. My favorite is one I bought in the supermarket for $3.99. Had it for 5 years, feels good in the hand, has held its edge since new, balanced, and handle remains firmly attached.

Again what makes a knife expensive is the brand name and store where it's sold. A GErman made Henckel goes for what? $100? Its no better than a $9.99 IkEA of similar type. Both will last forever. The only difference is the cachet of the name, and because they are sold in Sak's Fifth Avenue.

My second favorite is an IKEA Japanese chefs knife. Paid $9.99.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2013 8:27:08 AM

Speaking of footwear, I'm hell on work boots as I'm heavy, do a lot of walking and I'm constantly subjecting my work boots to water, dirt, chemicals, oil, welding/cutting/soldering heat/slag/solder etc.

I've had the best luck buying cheaper steel toed work boots more frequently than spending more on fewer pairs of higher priced work boots and wearing them longer.
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 18, 2013 8:17:13 AM

<<And what good is a kitchen knife that breaks when you try to do some chopping on a cutting board?>>

It depends how soon it breaks and/or if the breakage was due to abuse.

That said, I purchased over a dozen dirt cheap knife sets with holders, cutting boards, scissors, pizza cutters, rolling pins, can openers, serving spoons, spatulas and other accessories.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money as I was equipping 5 weekly summer rentals and stuff has a habit of being abused, lost or stolen.

I figured these sets would be "good enough", however they ended up being much better than needed even though they were the cheapest sets available.

Since these sets were dirt cheap, I bought quite a few more sets to replace future missing items and to equip other weekly rentals, camps, campers, boats etc.
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2013 2:38:11 PM



SemiSteve argued: "What I am saying is that over the years manufacturers have been pressured by big-box marketers to make products cheaper and cheaper"

AC-302: "Steve, that, too, is a weak argument. The Big 3 automakers have been doing this same thing for years. They ask for a 5% per year, year over year price break on the cost of parts that are made for GM. And if one doesn't meet it, there's a chance that they'll take the business elsewhere. Many suppliers participate anyway. It does ultimately force those suppliers to become more efficient."

--Autos are a different beast. I was thinking of the type of products which can be had on the shelf at a big box retailer. Things like that umbrella that's so flimsy it is essentially a disposable product posing as something you can own and count on.

Somebody talked about shoes, too. for years I would buy the cheapest sneakers I could find. Why pay for a name? Then I realized that I was getting less than a year out of these things so maybe it was really more cost efficient to buy a more expensive pair. So far that seems to be true. We'll see.

And what good is a kitchen knife that breaks when you try to do some chopping on a cutting board? So many products are just junk these days. Planned obsolescence is only good for those who profit from selling the junk. Everybody else loses. Our society loses. The environment loses. And so does our nation.
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mudtoe
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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2013 11:59:28 AM

SS: "--Oh, nobody. Just another member of the interdependent society we all share in which the things we do affect our environment, our habitat and thus each other. That's who."


a.k.a. A control freak who seeks to enforce their vision of how people should live their lives on everyone else.



mudtoe
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2013 11:07:55 AM

mud: "Who are you to judge what someone else needs or wants?"

--Oh, nobody. Just another member of the interdependent society we all share in which the things we do affect our environment, our habitat and thus each other. That's who.

Who are you to think that what you do has no effect on anybody else? Some kind of loner living a sole existence on your own little planet?

[Edited by: SemiSteve at 9/17/2013 11:12:47 AM EST]
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MarkJames
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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2013 8:41:28 AM

When products are cheaper we have more customers that want them, more customers that can afford them, more customers that buy them, more customers that buy several identical products, plus we can markup the products much more.

Lower priced products, sales and loss leaders also bring more customers into our stores where they spend a lot of additional money on unplanned impulse purchases.

Lower priced products also reduce our losses from customer/employee theft, damage, unsold products/inventory, returns, spoilage, waste etc.

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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2013 2:27:22 AM

SemiSteve argued: "What I am saying is that over the years manufacturers have been pressured by big-box marketers to make products cheaper and cheaper"

--Steve, that, too, is a weak argument. The Big 3 automakers have been doing this same thing for years. They ask for a 5% per year, year over year price break on the cost of parts that are made for GM. And if one doesn't meet it, there's a chance that they'll take the business elsewhere. Many suppliers participate anyway. It does ultimately force those suppliers to become more efficient.
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 17, 2013 2:23:24 AM

QUOTE :::::What I am saying is that over the years manufacturers have been pressured by big-box marketers to make products cheaper and cheaper. Where they can't be made any cheaper the quantity has been reduced but the price remains the same. ::::


Thats not what happpened at all. What is happening is products are made cheaply by slaves in China. Makes no difference if they are sold in Walmart or Nordstrums. Do you really think the $200 necktie sold in Nordstrums is of higher quality than a $20 tie from Macys? Please. And I won't even mention what a tie goes for in Bergdorf Goodman's - you'd call me a liar.


Instead what is happening is marketeers are building a fantasy into their products. The worst example is sneakers. Come on, $200 for Air Jordan sneakers? Kids in high school are assaulted and have the sneakers stolen off their feet. All they are are some bits of rubber dyed weird colors. Then sold to fools from the ghetto for $200. The sale of Levons, and Kanye West sneakers has caused riots.

The message is "Buy this sneaker if you want to be like a celebrity" Unfortunately, with sneakers, the ghetto fools are suckered in. The underlying product is actually cheap junk. You can in reality buy the best sneaker out there for $60 full retail, $40 or less on sale.
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mudtoe
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Message Posted: Sep 16, 2013 5:21:48 PM

SS: " 30 years ago you could never EXPECT to find an umbrella for $3. But now you can."


If I left my lifetime warranty umbrella at home, and it's threatening to rain on my freshly pressed suit, perhaps a $3 umbrella that I can throw away at the end of the day is exactly what I need in that situation, versus going into the traditional department store and buying another $50 umbrella just like the one I already have at home.

Who are you to judge what someone else needs or wants?


mudtoe
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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 16, 2013 3:40:23 PM

A pretty weak argument:

Since there is no discernable difference in the quality of imported cheap-labor higher-priced socks vs the imported cheap-labor lower-priced ones that means every product is of the same quality as in the past prior to big-box imported cheap-labor product marketing.

Look. I am not claiming that the quality of higher-priced goods is different than that of lower-priced products. (even though for many products that is true)

What I am saying is that over the years manufacturers have been pressured by big-box marketers to make products cheaper and cheaper. Where they can't be made any cheaper the quantity has been reduced but the price remains the same. ie: you pay the market price but you get less product.

You can buy an umbrella for $3. It is such poor quality it may break the first time you use it. Certainly it won't last very long. You may get several uses out of it but this is not going to be an umbrella that will last a lifetime. The metal is so thin that the first big wind gust that thing is history. And the mechanism is designed to fail even if it doesn't succumb to wind. It's not strong enough to last for 100 openings and closures. It probably won't last you a year.

This is a new low in umbrellas. 30 years ago you could never EXPECT to find an umbrella for $3. But now you can. And you know what is going to happen when you do. Sooner or later it is going to fold up on you or you will not be able to get it closed or open. There you will be struggling with it when you don't need the hassle. You just want a good product. But you didn't get it because big box marketers saw you coming. They knew if they offered it somebody would buy it.

They also knew that whoever bought it would be needing another umbrella sooner or later. And they love that. Poor quality products dovetail right in to planned obsolescence. Give 'em less and give 'em junk and they'll be back for more.

What good is planned obsolescence? Makes more money for the already-rich. Hurts our society by draining the accounts of the middle and poor. Wastes time and energy. Increases taxes to pay for garbage and recycling collections. Wastes natural resources. Contributes to more CO2 going into the atmosphere. CO2 causes ocean acidification. That makes it difficult for hard-shelled sea creatures such as oysters to survive. Oysters filter 50 gallons of sea water a day. Clear sea water helps sea grasses to grow. Sea grasses provide hiding places for small fish so they can grow into big ones.

So much of our world is inter-dependent. You're a human. You live in a society. That society exists on a planet in an environment which forms our habitat. The things we do affect it. I'm all for individualism but we can not ignore the facts. We all depend on each other. What we do matters. The minute you think it doesn't is the moment you are fooling yourself.
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AC-302
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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 8:19:26 PM

Ha! I get my socks and skivvies through the local BX. They're American made, and cheap.

SemiSteve said: "Maybe we should have a topic on how to save money by bucking the standard consumer trend and seeing options most don't consider. Of course it couldn't exist in the politics forum, tho. Good luck then on keeping it alive."

--Actually, I would tell you that that would be one of the few non-partisan threads you'd ever propose, and I think it would actually last. Particularly if there were some useful savings tips.
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Hemond
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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 4:31:20 PM

:::::4. The constant pressure to lower prices results in the poorest quality products. ::::


Not true at all. What determines price is the name on the stores marquee as you walk in. I noticed this recently while trying to buy some low cut athletic socks. In a high fashion store, a name brand (like NIKE) no-show or low cut goes for $4 to $8 a pair or more. Made by slave labor in backwater 3rd world countries.

While in the (unnamed) Bigboxer, you buy a Hanes brand for $2 or less a pair. You can get the 12 pack for $17. Also made by slaves no doubt.

There is no discernible difference between the Nike or the Hanes, other than the store which sells them. The 100% to 400% markup on the Nike brand has nothing whatsoever to do with production salaries. In both cases workers are paid what? $1 a day? Its the store which is getting all the profit. The BigBoxer simply gets less of it.

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SemiSteve
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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 12:16:13 PM

When I got my cell phone I cancelled home phone service. When that became bundled with internet and cable I cancelled cable and relied on office and public internet availability.

I found out there is a perfectly good life without the bills. Sure is nice to have savings in the bank, no carried card balances, and the ability to pay all other bills as soon as they come in. Paid cash for the car - no payments. Everything else that would incur interest is paid up front. The only thing I pay interest on is the mortgage and that was refied at a low rate when the market was right.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 12:11:17 PM

"More and more I find myself walking out of big box stores without buying anything due to high prices, poor selection and poor service. "

--So true! Same here. I always get the impression that somebody has calculated a weakness for the propensity to buy attractively marketed items. Almost invariably if the consumer is creative a much cheaper alternative exists for a needed item.

I decided to try to find a nutritious lunch for under $5 the other day. Well that left out most restaurants, certainly ones with table service. First I tried some convenience stores, hoping to find a good looking sandwich or volume-prepared ready-to-eat foods counter. I couldn't find one where I was and time was ticking by; so I ended up in a grocery store. They had a choice of hot meals where you select the main dish and some sides but the combo with two sides was $5.69; over my limit. I asked if I could get it with one side. That was not an option. Then I asked if I could just have the main course. Bingo. The protein-only part was only about $2.50. But now all I had was the protein and no veggies. Then I went to the produce section and looked around for what looked good. Pears were looking very ripe and were priced to move. I picked out a large one and went up to check out. The total was $3.44. I could have added something else! I wasn't overly hungry so I went with that. Blew away my goal. I normally have my mid-day meals with water so that was not a problem.

If I had gone with the mentality of "I'll just accept what ever product the big corporate marketing gurus offer" I would have had a hard time beating my goal. But with a bit of creativity I was able to get almost the same thing for less. Can't get one side, indeed.

I've wasted a lot of money on eating lunch over the years. Used to be lunch was an automatic $5 gone. Now-a-days it's hard to do a good lunch for less than $10. Big corporate marketing schemes see you coming. I've had enough of 'taking what I get.' Now I am much more creative and save the typical lunch routine for special occasions such as going out with others.

Maybe we should have a topic on how to save money by bucking the standard consumer trend and seeing options most don't consider. Of course it couldn't exist in the politics forum, tho. Good luck then on keeping it alive.
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 12:05:54 PM

Our service economy is based on "consumers on steroids" paying for many goods and services they don't really need and/or can't afford.

As consumers demand more and more goods and services with relatively flat income growth, the only way to entice them to continue their gluttonous demand and consumption is by making the goods and services less expensive, making addictive goods/services (inelastic demand destruction), or creating even more goods and services that they want to spend money on.

Technology is a good example. As it's scaled down in price and scaled up in performance, feature sets, reliability etc more and more consumers are buying, upgrading etc.

Only 10 years ago many households didn't have cell phones, computers, laptops, iPads and broadband and weren't spending 200/300 plus dollars per month on cable, broadband and cell phone minutes.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 11:46:09 AM

"Cheaper imported products allow us to sell more products, win more competitive bids, mark-up parts substantially higher, make much more profit etc, so our workers have more work, or can keep their jobs.

Generally speaking - the lower the price of hardware, automotive, plumbing, heating, cooling, refrigeration parts, the more you can mark them up and the more jobs you'll land due to the lower prices."

--That's the problem. With so many 'getting on the bandwagon' the nation is experiencing an economically destructive trade deficit. It is in nobody's particular immediate interest to stop doing this. So we are going to you-know-where in a you-know-what.

Only the government can do something about this. But representatives are dancing to the tunes played by big money rather than shouldering the responsibility of managing the nation for endruability. We are frogs in a pot and with every twitch of our legs we turn the heat up slightly more.

The only people we need to be saved from is ourselves.
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sgm4law
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 11:34:30 AM

"If you're going to use WalMart as your "whipping boy", why not CostCo?"

That question's easy to answer. As for the other retailers, they're following Wal-Mart's lead.
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 9:38:04 AM

<<If you're going to use WalMart as your "whipping boy", why not CostCo? Why not K-Mart/Sears? Why not Walgreen's drug or CVS? Is Mother Jones News not beating on them this month? Is it not fashionable to "hammer" on any other retailer that's doing the exact same thing?>>

Locally Walmart is a much better place to work than most other stores as they have more full-time jobs, higher part-time hours, more flexible hours, better working conditions, specific job duties (often single job duties), more chance for promotion etc, however they're a Whipping Boy due to their size and success.

The worst places to work - grocery stores, discount stores, deep discount stores, drug stores, restaurants, mom and pops etc get a pass as they're smaller and less successful.

It's much the same in the fast food industry. Many rag on McDonald's (even though the franchise owners are responsible for pay), yet the worst offenders are smaller and privately owned restaurants that of course get a pass as they're not as big and successful.
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streetrider
Champion Author Gary

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 8:41:10 AM

Counter point the mom and pops stores only supported the mom and pop, no benefits or tax base.
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 8:36:20 AM

I should add that the prices and/or selection at many big box stores really suck, hence why more and more shopping the smaller grocery stores, deep discount stores, online, or opting out/trading down.

More and more I find myself walking out of big box stores without buying anything due to high prices, poor selection and poor service.
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 8:32:23 AM

Lower priced products in stores of any size allow many low income people to buy these low priced products and buy larger quantities of low priced products, however they don't allow them to "live for less" due to skyrocketing "real inflation" I've mentioned below.

Lower prices free up more cash which they spend elsewhere, but once again they're not living for less, just buying more stuff.

Lower prices - every day lower prices, sales, loss leaders etc also attract more customers into the stores where they buy more overpriced products. Many sales are unplanned "impulse purchases".

Once you get the suckers into the stores they can't resist buying strategically placed displays of higher margin products.

To live for less many should stop spending money on non necessities - not spend less on them.

I have to laugh when I hear someone say "I saved $X" on product/service X as they would have saved a fortune not buying it.
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 13, 2013 12:31:51 AM

SemiSteve foolishly said: "Can anybody show us how big box marketing of cheap foreign labor imports has -raised- US wages?"

--OK, I'll field this one, but I think your premise of "since you can't prove it raises wages, that AUTOMATICALLY means that it must lower wages" is very, very silly.

Here now:
1) By providing goods and services at lower prices, and delivering them efficiently to those who need them, they are contributing to Americans being able to stretch their dollars further. That is, in essence, a "raise". spending less money as an individual is very much like getting a raise.

2) WallyWorld provides all kinds of professional jobs -yes, even to middle class people such as optometrists, audiologists, various levels of store managers, and the supply chain managers all through the stores and infrastructure needed to make such an enterprise go.

3) WM sells stock, and that stock pays dividends. Those dividends go into retirement funds, to pay for the retirements of all kinds of middle-class Americans. And for those who say it's only the "rich" who own stock, I'll respond by politely saying "bunk"!

Anyone else? I grow weary of Steve's tired and foolish arguments. If you're going to use WalMart as your "whipping boy", why not CostCo? Why not K-Mart/Sears? Why not Walgreen's drug or CVS? Is Mother Jones News not beating on them this month? Is it not fashionable to "hammer" on any other retailer that's doing the exact same thing? Why aren't you hammering on Home Depot?
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noseatbelt
Champion Author Indiana

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2013 7:52:10 PM

not worried about them, I just think it's funny how they try to make it sound like they represent such a huge slice of the labor market. I was off a bit, the number of workers in unions, is 6.7%
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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Sep 12, 2013 8:48:13 AM

We sell a mix of U.S. made and imported products.

The origin of our products has nothing to do with how much our workers are paid.

They're paid based on performance, value, supply, demand, what the market will support etc.

Cheaper imported products allow us to sell more products, win more competitive bids, mark-up parts substantially higher, make much more profit etc, so our workers have more work, or can keep their jobs.

Generally speaking - the lower the price of hardware, automotive, plumbing, heating, cooling, refrigeration parts, the more you can mark them up and the more jobs you'll land due to the lower prices.
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 11:05:50 PM

Of course there's no quote.

What I have been accused of is imaginary.

Name-calling now?

SMH

Let's try a different approach here.

Can anybody show us how big box marketing of cheap foreign labor imports has -raised- US wages?

This should be good.

I can hear the silence now.
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mudtoe
Champion Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 2:26:39 PM

ud: " There's ample examples that any rational viewer can see almost daily."


You've got that right. The left's economics have failed everywhere it's been tried. Heck, it can't even work in a place like Europe where the U.S. is pumping billions and billions into their economies every year in the form of providing for their defense; and even with a constant cash infusion courtesy of capitalism the left's socialist economics still can't work. Right here at home just go into any big city where democrats have ruled for decades and survey the economic wasteland. We just had a perfect example of how the political leaders of a blighted area in D.C. chased away a Walmart and all the jobs it would have provided. Witness the exodus of population from the cities to the burbs, and the blue states to the red states. What do all these exoduses have in common? It's people who work and pay taxes running as fast as they can away from liberal economic policies.


mudtoe
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urban_dweller
Champion Author Orlando

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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 1:39:41 AM

I feel no need to play Socialist Steve's game of "find a quote". There's ample examples that any rational viewer can see almost daily.

Ac-302, speaking of import-exports; we all should know of the multitude of products that China exports to the SSA, but do you know what the top exports are from the SSA to China? Waste paper and scrap metal.
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AC-302
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 11, 2013 1:17:15 AM

SemiSteve gloated: "And I see nobody can dispute my assertion that this constant import of cheaply manufactured foreign goods is gradually draining our economy dry"

--You might find it interesting to note that I agree that the outflow of money IS a problem for our economy on many levels. However, go back to my laundry basket example. If it makes more sense to manufacture laundry baskets of absolutely equal quality in Mexico or China than the US, and it can be done for less, then it makes perfect sense to do so. Ditto cheap steel (of which Russia, China and India are the "heavy hitters" anymore.

So what is the answer? That's an easy one. We need to replace the manufacture of cheap, low skilled goods with the manufacture of high-tech ones. The US needs to expand on technology, not "dumb down" and make molded laundry baskets. Better that we make computer chips - better and faster and higher quality, than anyone else. High tech is the future, not low tech. But I get it that the low-skilled labor jobs are what you seem to want to promote. That may be where the future of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma and Burundi lay, but not of America.
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mudtoe
Champion Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 6:30:44 PM

ss: "Game-changer."


I'm sure if it stands in the Indiana Supreme Court, which I suspect is unlikely, the voters will simply change the state Constitution to fix any conflict with federal law. Otherwise that giant sucking sound people in Indiana will start hearing will be their jobs leaving to other nearby right to work states.


mudtoe
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MiddletownMarty
Champion Author Connecticut

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 3:45:55 PM

If only 6% of workers are in unions (and I'm not saying they are) why are you so worried about them?

[Edited by: MiddletownMarty at 9/10/2013 3:46:50 PM EST]
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noseatbelt
Champion Author Indiana

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 3:25:15 PM

victory for labor, which labor, the 6% percent of workers that are in unions?
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 2:45:51 PM

Wow, that's huge, jayrad.

Right-To-Work ruled unconstitutional.

Wo.

Game-changer.
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jayrad1957
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 2:35:54 PM

Beginning of the end for "right to work"?
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SemiSteve
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 11:21:56 AM

Got any quotes there, urb?

Didn't think so.

Imagination runnin wald.

What a show.

***

Very interesting, MJ.

Thanks for posting that!

***

And I see nobody can dispute my assertion that this constant import of cheaply manufactured foreign goods is gradually draining our economy dry.

How are American wages supposed to keep up when we are in a race to the bottom with impoverished desperate foreign workers who will work for next to nothing?

Something needs to be done.

And I can tell you this. The TPP ain't it!
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mudtoe
Champion Author Cincinnati

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 11:11:49 AM

SS: "IOW, Quote me saying what you claim or live in your own defame."


I leave it to the other readers of this forum to decide for themselves whether I've hit the mark.


mudtoe

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MarkJames
Champion Author Albany

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 9:30:29 AM

So far I've asked about a dozen big box workers if they feel they can live for less due to lower priced products and/or employee discounts.

None feel they can live for less.

Oddly enough most don't buy many products from their employers as the products are unnecessary, or too expensive.

Many also do most of their shopping at other businesses, or online.

Real inflation - rents, property taxes, heating fuels, motor fuels, home/vehicle payments/maintenance, insurance, food, professional services, daycare have increased substantially, so they definitely don't have a perception that they can live for less.
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urban_dweller
Champion Author Orlando

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Message Posted: Sep 10, 2013 5:02:03 AM

Spot on, Mudtoe.
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