Monday, October 29, 2007

Realist or Hypocrite?

A guest post by Andrew ----

I always celebrate when I see local protests against Wal-Mart. The protestors always make the point, a point with which I wholly agree, that Wal-Mart and its imitators have destroyed much of the local flavor and life of American towns and cities. I concur and then heartily proclaim “stick it to the man!”

I am always upset when I see another huge Wal-Mart pimple being constructed in a city. I always think, “ughhh, what are we doing!?” I do the same thing, in fact, when I see a new shopping center built with the typical slew of chain restaurants: Chili’s, Olive Garden, Outback, Starbucks, Ruby Tuesday’s, McD’s, etc... Those who know me will also attest to my undying dislike of freeways and their by-product, suburban sprawl. I will repeat, ad nauseum, to anyone and everyone how much better high-density, urban cities are to the suburban mediocrity of most American cities. I will then pontificate about how much we have lost in the past fifty years due to our over-consuming, over-convenient way of life.

I am, however, a horrible hypocrite. Every morning on my way to work I stop and buy a cup of coffee. I have two options every morning: the local mom-and-pop coffee shop or McDonalds. Without fail, every morning, I look at the mom-and-pop and I think “I should go there.” I never do. The reason is that every time I have gone there, the service is slow and the coffee is no better than McDonalds. It’s not worse but it isn’t better. The Mom-and-Pop doesn’t have much business, I think, because most everyone has made the assessment I have: it’s no better and it is less convenient. So McD’s will win and I will build up the very thing which I scour.

So as Don Corleone says in Godfather II: “Senator, we’re all part of the same hypocrisy”


Francis Shivone said...

Americans have 350 years of distrusting powerful governments and business interests, while at the same "inventing" mass production and modern economics practice. It's an odd dichotomy that you, Jeromey and I toss around from different perspectives. Of course, my view is the correct view. ;)

jeromey said...

here, here!

i agree with both of you. while i do actually try to be more "local", i am in the sad situation of being part-owner of a corporation. (of course, i agreed to form the co. in that manner because i didn't think it was evil at the time, and it made the best "business sense")

my family still sometimes also shops at wal-mart (mostly my wife - i *hate* to go there). if we do go "big-box" i prefer target, although i realize that there is really no difference. all large corporations are inherently out to destroy the small businesses because they build on the "bigger volume, lower prices" mentality.

we (people in the US) have really got to think about and act to reduce our waste and consumption before we "consume ourselves".

btw, francis, i hope you're taking your own thermal mug to get your mcdonalds coffee daily. that styrofoam cup and lid per day adds up, you know? ;) besides, they charge less for "refills."

...oh - and did i mention you should be roasting and brewing your own coffee, anyway? double-wink ;)

much respect to you both for even thinking about these items. i think it takes real honesty, respect for others, and respect for the environment to force yourself to evaluate your beliefs and actions realistically!

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks Jeromey -- btw Battlestar Season 1 disc 1. Big thumbs up so far. More to come on that.