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Category Archives: capitalism

Entitlement Mentality

Recently Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat down with Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program Executive Director Abigail Golden-Vazquez for a chat about civic engagement, Latinos, and opportunities. I will say I agree with her on the importance of education and civic engagement – not just for Latinos, but for everyone! The issues she discussed aren’t endemic to just Latinos. When she says, “None of us can afford to be bystanders in life. We create our community, and we create it by being active participants in our community,” it shouldn’t be limited to Latinos, or to anyone of a particular ethnicity, religious affiliation or lack thereof.

A lot of the challenges with a lack of civic participation are not limited to Latinos. When Sotomayor says, “If you’re working 14 hours a day at your job, it is hard to make time for civic participation. And for many Latinos, that’s the quality of their life. We have to engage with that reality,” this is not an insurmountable problem faced only by Latinos. It’s one that plagues much of the working class. Latinos aren’t the only ones working multiple jobs more than 14 hours per day and the weekends. But we make time, and we do what we can. And sometimes we don’t get a lot of sleep. And many times we don’t have free time on the weekends. That’s just the way it is, but we sacrifice for the things that are important. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

And no, it’s not fair that some people inherit immense wealth, giving them opportunities to attend the best schools without accruing massive debt.

And no, it’s not fair that some kids get to grow up without ever worrying about how much something costs, while others – that’s their first concern.

And no, it’s not fair that some kids grow up in cramped apartments, while others live in opulent mansions.

There are a lot of things that aren’t fair. Life isn’t fair. And yet, we all work to make our own opportunities.

Which is why this bit from Sotomayor’s conversation galled me.

“There’s a continuing tension in America between the image of the person who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps, and the person who believes that you need a lift to get up sometimes,” Sotomayor told the program’s executive director, Abigail Golden-Vazquez. “Those people who believe that everyone must pull themselves up ― they don’t believe that people are entitled to help.”

“For those of us who understand that sometimes no matter how tall the heel on your boot is, the barrier is so high that you need a small lift to help you get over it ― they will understand that the inequalities in society build that barrier so high,” she continued. “Unless you do something to knock it down or help that person up, they will never have a chance. I had those things. I had a unique mother who was able to understand the benefits of education and encouraged me to use education as my liftoff. But not everyone knows that.”

For a jurist on the nation’s highest court, perhaps she needs a lesson in English.

It’s not that we don’t believe in help. I’m more than happy to help – whether it’s by donating time or money – those who are in need. But there’s a difference between asking for help and being entitled to it.

The definition of “entitled” is: believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Sorry, but this is where she lost me.

No one is ENTITLED to my help.

No one is ENTITLED to the fruits of my labor.

No one is ENTITLED to what I earn – to assets that should be going, first and foremost, to help me and my family – simply because they consider themselves deserving of said assets.

Need is not a claim check.

It’s not a claim check to my work. It’s not a claim check to the fruits of my efforts. It’s not a claim check to my sympathies.

No one is entitled to anything produced by another person without that person’s willingness to give it. The value people get in exchange for helping others is determined by that person alone – whether it’s the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being, or a promise of repayment or work – and not by politicians in power who think that forcing people to give up their earnings to “help,” which usually comes in the form of a handout that keeps people dependent or a bureaucracy that does squat, is the way to get those greedy rich people to contribute.

Everyone understands that sometimes people need a hand. It’s just that we also understand that undermining others to level the playing field is not really leveling the playing field, but crippling others so everyone exists on the same field of misery. That’s not helping those who need help. It’s merely crippling the competition, and negating the need for the person to put forth effort to help themselves.

That’s what I think about when I see this graphic.

It’s not just taking away two boxes from the tall person, who can see over the fence. What Sotomayor and other statist politicians want is to cripple the tall person, so they can’t stand to see at all. They want equality of outcome at any cost – even at the cost of crippling those they consider privileged.

Equality of opportunity is equality before the law. It’s the understanding that you will not be prevented by those in power from pursuing your goals, whether they’re educational, professional, or personal.

The graphic depicts equality of outcome, which looks really good in that little picture, but assumes silliness, such as 1) the tall person needs the box to see in the first place 2) there exists an equal number of boxes 3) the tall person wouldn’t willingly give up the box they don’t need to help out the short person, and 4) the means to sustain your family, the fruits of your labor, the value of your work, the results of your achievements are somehow identical to a fucking box!

You take away a box from the tall guy in that graphic, the worst that will happen is he won’t see a baseball game.

You disadvantage a kid because you feel he’s too privileged by giving away an educational opportunity to someone you consider underprivileged, but who may not have earned it, and you have just figuratively crippled him.

You reject a college applicant, who may have higher grades, who may have worked harder, and who may have participated in more extracurricular activities in favor of a poor kid, who may have had to work after school to help support his family, or just didn’t have the talent or the drive to get the grades, and all you’ve done is taken away an opportunity from one human being and handed it to another, with the government as the arbiter of who is more deserving, rather than objective achievement.

You deny a job to an applicant with superior skills, because said applicant happens to be white/cis/male/*insert privilege here*, and you’ve just screwed a superior applicant AND your company, or worse yet, you’ve allowed the government to do it for you – to pick a winner and loser based on arbitrary politicians’ whims.

You take earnings away from one family to feed/clothe/educate another – even though may be a noble goal – and that’s that much less that family has to spend on their own food, on their own sick kids, on their ailing parents, on their leaking roof, or their car repairs.

Helping a person up does not and should not mean, crippling another to “level the playing field.”

And yes, sometimes life is unfair. Yes, some people are more fortunate than others. But to people like Sotomayor, “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps” is somehow a negative thing, because we won’t always be successful, and because we have to work harder than some others to succeed. She assumes that certain demographics simply CAN’T succeed and achieve without government force giving them an advantage.

I find that to be an abhorrent prejudice against said demographics. Fact is they can and do succeed. You can’t tell me that Do Won Chang, who started Forever 21 after immigrating to the United States from South Korea, in 1981 and worked three jobs simultaneously, as a gas station clerk, a janitor and a coffee shop employee had a level playing field. No, he simply worked harder, even though he started out penniless, without much English, and without a college degree.

My own parents came to this country without English, and with $300 in their pockets, and they are now comfortably retired – without ever having asked the government for a hand up, because they didn’t feel they were entitled to it.

People can and do succeed, even without the advantage of starting out rich. To claim they cannot, because they have brown or black skin, and therefore are in more need of help than others, is a pernicious, racist lie.

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Outrage of the Day

Some friends shared yesterday’s blog entry about immigration. Of course, there was screeching outrageary on both sides. Here’s how the day went.

Friend was debating leftard on some immigration thread. Cites my blog – since I’m an immigrant and all , and I work in national security, so I might know a little about it.

Leftard: that site is BS!

Friend: did you read the article?

Leftard: …

Cretin automatically assumed that since my friend did not agree with her refugee stance and cited my blog to support her contention, that the site was bullshit.

Later today.

Another friend shared my blog on her page. The link previews the first couple of sentences.

As many of you know, I’m an immigrant. My parents and I came here as refugees from the Soviet Union in 1980, so this weekend’s Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” hits close to home.

Trumpanzee: Legally, I assume. Again, I’m all for LEGAL immigration. But why should we continue to look the other way at ILLEGAL immigration?

Me: You obviously haven’t read the piece. It has nothing to do with illegal immigration.

Because my immigration status has anything to do with whether or not the piece has merit, right?

And even later today.

Follower shares blog entry on Twitter.

Retard replies with the following:

Another one who obviously hasn’t read the blog, but decided that since I’m an immigrant, I must be a proponent of a flood of radical Islamist illegals coming into our country!

People are idiots.

So as I was trying to figure out what to write about today, I came across this little tidbit from Starbucks – an announcement that Starbucks would hire 10,000 refugees.

There was immediate outrage from my conservative friends that ranged from scoffing and ridicule to promises never to buy Starbucks again. Why?

They obviously didn’t read the release.

Hiring Refugees: We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world. This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination.  There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business.  And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.

starbucksThey’re not defying the law. They’re not hiring refugees, while discriminating against others. Ten thousand over five years in 75 countries is not all that many. And here in the United States, they’re focusing on deserving people who are here legally, and who have helped the U.S. military during our missions worldwide.

This is what you’re protesting?

This is what you’re condemning?

This is why you’re boycotting the company?

Because they dared to say they will be providing opportunities to people who have escaped death and destruction, who have been granted refugee status, and who have provided support to our troops?

What the fuck is wrong with some people? I guess they’d rather have these people, who in many cases have helped our service members, sitting around their apartments, sucking on the government’s teat, and getting bennies at taxpayer expense, than see them get decent pay in exchange for providing a service?

This is not a reason to boycott Starbucks.

Do I agree with all their policies? It doesn’t matter. Yes, they provide health care to their employees. Yes, they support ObamaCare. Yes, they plan on continuing doing business in Mexico, where they have a ton of business. Yes, they support illegal immigrants who were brought here as young kids by reimbursing them for the biennial fee they must pay to stay in the program.

It doesn’t matter if I agree with them or not. It’s their business and they obviously do well with it. Their business is none of mine.

Am I going to get upset or boycott them because they have stated that they will work to hire people here legally who have helped American service members? Sorry, I’m just not that much of an asshole.

But I guess some people will get outraged at anything, even a stupid cup.

Open Letter to the Cabbies in DC

Dear Cabbies –

I have used your services on many occasions… well, if you can call the malodorous, third-world careening through the streets of DC and Northern Virginia a “service.”

Yeah, I’m talking to you idiots, who can’t be bothered to use deodorant on a 100+ degree day, who drive around with the windows closed all day, blasting some savage ululation that passes for music in your world, and who take the longest way possible to get me where I’m going – whether because you want to charge me as much as possible, or you’re just too stupid to pull out your goddamn Google Maps on your phone. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

Today you decided that you would protest. You didn’t protest any infringement on your rights. You didn’t protest injustice.

No, you’re much more noxious and evil than that, you pernicious cockgobblers.

You protested innovation. You protested competition. You protested choice – the ability of your customers to choose the service that best suits their needs. You, in fact, protested freedom – the freedom your customers are entitled to – the freedom to choose with whom they want to do business.

You pitched a hissy fit, because you couldn’t compete with companies like Uber and Lyft. Your noxious, gag-inducing jalopies and your lack of knowledge of the environs, and your inability to abide by the traffic laws, which you apparently just take as nothing but suggestions, and your nauseating lack of regard for other drivers as you lurch in and out of traffic on the local roads, couldn’t possibly compete with the clean, polite, accommodating Uber, whose well-dressed, eloquent drivers are there within minutes, know the area, and get you where you need to go quickly and without drama.

So instead of improving your services, learning how to drive and taking a goddamn shower, you protest the very existence of the competition and try to destroy it.

taxi

And in the process you cause gridlock in what already is the most gridlocked city in the nation, you assholes!

You think that endears you to us?

You think that will make us, the customers, use your services – force us to conform to your mediocrity?

No. Ain’t happening.

You certainly will not hold us hostage to your pathetic inability to provide a quality service.

What you will do is piss us off and ensure we will never use you again. I, for one, will make damn sure that if I need a ride, I will call Uber or Lyft. I will make damn sure that none of you pernicious dickwaffles ever get my business again.

Others feel the same way I do, apparently.

You offer shitty, overpriced non-service. You stink. You drive like monkeys on meth. And instead of improving your service to compete with these other organizations, you union thugs want to hold us hostage by tying up traffic in what is arguably the most gridlocked city in the United States?

Screw you!

Here’s hoping  your worthless asses go broke.

If one of you worthless shitslurpers ever offers me a ride, all you will get is a big, fat finger.

Bushmaster CEO Speaks on Newtown

Six months ago, America was horrified by the wholesale slaughter of little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a deranged loser names Adam Lanza. Lanza was, by all accounts, insane. He stole his mother’s guns. He stole her car. He drove to the school. He began shooting. No background check was going to stop him, and holding the manufacturer of the firearm responsible for the slaughter is no more logical than holding the manufacturer of the car that Lanza drove to the school accountable for enabling the massacre.

Despite these facts, some agenda-driven, hysterical hoplophobes and their compliant politician lapdogs insisted on blaming everyone from the firearms manufacturer to gun show “loopholes” (Dog only knows how the hell that works, since the guns were stolen from a citizen who legally purchased them) for the massacre.

The CEO of Bushmaster, the company that manufactured the AR-15-style, semi-automatic rifle Lanza used in Newtown, has kept silent, even as he was vilified and blamed for the bloodshed by the likes of Lawrence O’Donnell and the New York Timesuntil now.

“It’s very easy to blame an inanimate object. Any kind of instrument in the wrong hands can be put to evil use. This comes down to intent — criminal behavior, accountability and responsibility,” Mr. Kollitides said in an exclusive interview last week. The killer’s mother, Nancy Lanza, taught her son to shoot and is said to have given him access to the gun safes.

“He killed the gun’s owner, stole her car, stole her gun and then went to a school and killed innocent kids. No background checks could have prevented that. He illegally obtained the guns,” he told me in his small New York office. “Only two things could have potentially stopped him: his mother locking up her guns and an armed guard. Even then, he could have driven his stolen car into a playground full of kids. He was intent on killing, which we know is already illegal.

Enough is enough!

Blaming the implement is, indeed, easy.

The gun can’t speak back or defend itself.

Blaming the head of the company is easy as well. He’s vilified and demonized by so many, that it becomes almost gauche to fight back.  It’s easy to slap someone who is loath to slap back. It’s easy to slap someone who isn’t painted as a victim or simply as an ill person by mental health advocates. He makes a profit. His company makes a product that is in demand and sells it to those who have the means to purchase it. In today’s “profits are evil” environment, it’s difficult to speak up, and you’re expected – as the strong and able – to take the hit for everyone else.

The mentally ill are weak. They need help. It’s not their fault they’re mentally ill. It’s a sickness, and we should treat it as such.

Meanwhile heads of firearms companies are rich. They’re strong. They’re to be vilified.

To me, this is just another means to kick capitalism in the family jewels – to demonize those who make a profit, and who are strong and able enough to lead a company to success, manufacturing goods that are in demand, and for which others are willing to pay.

It seems less mean to demonize them than it is to point the blame where it belongs.

Emily Miller has the rest of the interview in the link above. Read it.

New York & Company – another company that doesn’t know the meaning of customer service

I’ve been a fan of New York & Company for a long time. I freely admit I probably bought several thousand dollars’ worth of clothes from this company – both online and in various stores. The clothes are fairly well made and inexpensive, as well as nicely suited for office wear.

That’s why I’m supremely disappointed to report that New York & Company will not see a penny more of my money. Ever. Again.

I don’t know what it is with modern companies that don’t understand the meaning of customer service, but as far as I’m concerned, this is getting old. My one resolution for the new year is to ensure that I only shop at places that understand and honor that concept, and that I expose every last crappy company that doesn’t.

New York & Company is one of those.

On Black Friday, Teeny and Redhead decided to head to New York & Company at Tyson’s Corner to pick up a few gifts. I won’t even get into the shitstorm this caused, as they decided to head out at 0300 hrs. without mentioning it to mom. Beside the point…

After having bought some Christmas gifts and unpacking their bags, they realized that not only had the New York & Company sales associate forgotten to remove a security tag from one of Teeny’s purchases, but also that a $50 gift card that they bought and paid for was completely missing from the bag.

They realized it was Black Friday at 3 am, and the sales person was obviously tired, as she had given them the wrong change as well at the time of the purchase, so they weren’t too upset.  They just figured they would stop by and get another card.

A couple of weeks later, we stopped by the store together. Teeny explained the situation and presented her receipt. The security tag was removed. However, it appeared that the manager either didn’t know how to trace the gift card, or just didn’t believe my daughter when she said she never received the card! She told her she would look into the situation and to contact her in two days.

It has now been more than a month, and she STILL hasn’t gotten a new card or her money back! How difficult is it to trace a gift card and see if it was used – especially since she has the receipt and knows exactly when the purchase was made??? She called the store and was informed that they have no other information for her.

Essentially, she lost that money thanks to a tired or incompetent sales clerk, and nothing has been done about it to date!

This is appalling in any case, but even more unconscionable in this one, since Teeny is a minor and has a part time job where she works very hard. This was the first time she was able to buy presents for her family with her own money – money that she has earned, and thanks to this incompetence, she essentially LOST $50!

I emailed the above story to customer service as well as the comments section on NY&C’s website.

I got two replies – one asking for the sales receipt number, transaction number, etc. – information that the incompetent manager at the store already had, because she allegedly photocopied Teeny’s receipt – and the following from their customer service monkeys:

On Dec 22, 2012, at 18:16, “Michael Z.” <service@nyandcompany.com> wrote:

Dear Nicki,

Thank you for contacting http://www.nyandcompany.com.

We greatly appreciate your feedback.  We strive to provide an excellent shopping experience for each customer and constantly look for ways to improve.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and have forwarded your concern to our Retail Customer Service Department.  If you prefer to talk to someone in that department, please call (800) 723-5333.  You will need to choose option 2, then option 2.

You’ll find we’re always adding new products and offers, so please stop by http://www.nyandcompany.com again soon.  We appreciate your patronage.

Sincerely,

JoHari

NY&CO Customer Service
1-800-961-9906

Yeah, I’m thinking your appreciation of my “patronage” ain’t all that hot after this fiasco, but I decided to wait and see. After a few days of complete inaction, I sent them this:

— Original Message —
From: Nicki Fellenzer <n****@comcast.net>
Received: 12/24/12 6:51:17 PM EST
To: “Michael Z.” <service@nyandcompany.com>
Subject: Re: gift card

Well. It’s Christmas tomorrow and my daughter had to go out and buy another gift card just to make up for this screw up. She lost $50 thanks to this, and all I’ve gotten so far is a runaround including having to give information I have already provided about the receipt, which the manager of the store supposedly made a photocopy of.

This is absolutely inexcusable!

All those thousands I’ve spent at your stores and online? They will be spent elsewhere. I’m absolutely disgusted with the lack of action on this.

The “customer service” monkeys are obviously illiterate, or are trained to reply to every mail in the same manner:

Dear Nicki,

Thank you for contacting http://www.nyandcompany.com.

We greatly appreciate your feedback.  We strive to provide an excellent shopping experience for each customer and constantly look for ways to improve.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and have forwarded your concern to our Retail Customer Service Department.  Please allow additional time for a response.

You’ll find we’re always adding new products and offers, so please stop by http://www.nyandcompany.com again soon.  We appreciate your patronage.

Sincerely,
Lakeya

NY&CO Customer Service
1-800-961-9906

You appreciate my patronage, eh? Well, if you do, you’ve just lost it jackasses. After allowing for “additional time,” my final response to them was the following today:

As of today, I still have not heard anything about this gift card.

This was the store’s mistake. They failed to put the card in the bag at the time of purchase, and that was just ONE of the errors that was committed that day!

And yet, I have to go through all this rigamarole just to get a new card?

I am done with you. I am done with your company. And I promise you I will ensure that everyone I know, as well as all my blog readers are made aware of this issue!

You have lost a loyal customer. I hope you’re happy.

So here’s my advice to you: Shop elsewhere. This company obviously doesn’t give a damn about its customers, and while $50 is probably not a whole lot to them, it’s quite a bit to my daughter, who earned it, and for the first time in her life was able to get gifts for her loved ones with money she earned herself.

I’m sure New York & Company won’t go bankrupt from my publicizing this sole incident, but I can certainly ensure that everyone I know makes an informed choice about where to spend their hard-earned dollars.

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