Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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And People Like This Vote!

Yesterday, one of the stops Lisa and I made while shopping in Reno was at a Savers thrift store, where she was looking for some blue jeans to use when working around the house, on cars, etc. After picking out a few that fit, we examined their used books. (I've been buying fat history books as reading material for my working trips to the Bay Area.) We ended up encountering an man in his 70s who spouted off some ideas that he sincerely holds but that boggled us.

In response to him saying something about how something was really cheap at Wal-Mart, I told him, "We never shop at Wal-Mart. It destroys the towns where it opens, and I'd rather not shop at a store that depends upon using my tax money to subsidize their employees."

He said, "Well, you have to shop there. They're the only place you can buy most things."

Both Lisa and I rejected that statement, and when he gave examples, we told him of other stores where all of the things he mentioned could be purchased.

He then said, "Well, they're all owned by the government anyway."

Say what?

He insisted that Wal-Mart was owned by the government, "Because only the government could have enough money to open that many stores all over the world. That's why everyone has to shop there."

I rather pithily said, "No, Wal-Mart isn't owned by the government; the government is owned by Wal-Mart."

I meant that as "The billionaires control so many levers of government power," but the statement sailed right over the guy's head, and he took it as meaning the exact same thing as what he'd said, and he complained, "We're living in a Communist country now!"

I said, "No, Wal-Mart is not a government-owned company."

He insisted that it was, "Just like GM." I pointed out that while the government effectively nationalized General Motors when it went bankrupt, the government then later sold the shares of the reorganized company and no longer owns the company. (He apparently didn't believe that.) I said, "GM is just like Conrail."

He said, "I used to work for Conrail, back in the 1980's!"

I explained, "Well, then you should obviously know that Conrail was formed as a government-owned corporation to bail out the railroads, like GM, and that eventually the US government sold its shares in the corporation back to the public, and that eventually Norfolk Southern and CSX bought Conrail and divided it up between them." He looked blankly at me. He knew none of that. He didn't know it was a government-owned corporation. He rejected the idea entirely. The vast irony of him complaining about the evils of Communism and railing against government monopoly ownership of Wal-Mart while he himself was an employee of a government-owned company and (based on his age and employment background) probably collects a partially-government-funded pension (Railroad Retirement) is utterly lost upon him.

I have no love for Wal-Mart, and there is no doubt in my mind but that it benefits significantly from a large number of indirect government subsidies, but it's not government-owned, and the USA is not a Communist country. I gave up on the guy and walked away from the conversation.

Unfortunately, angry and ill-informed people convinced that they are living under a Communist dictatorship evidence the kind of ignorance and hate into which demagogues readily tap, as we see in the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.
Tags: politics

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