Monthly Archives: May 2013

JapanFortune

7 Tips to Navigate Nightlife in Tokyo, Japan

If you are in Tokyo for the first time I think it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s crowded, you are basically illiterate, and for the most part you don’t know the “rules”. That shouldn’t stop you from having a good time though. Overall, Tokyo and its people are pretty laid back and ready to have a good time. So here are a few tips that should help you successfully navigate Tokyo’s nightlife.

1. Public Transportation Stops at 11:00pm
If you are relying on public transportation to get around in Tokyo be aware that trains stop running around 11:00pm. That means you have to make a critical decision when you are going out. Do you party all night long or leave at 11:00pm?

I chose to party all night long twice while I was in Japan. Both times I was afraid that by 3am I would be regretting my decision and begging to pay a cab $100 to take me home to my nice warm bed. That didn’t happen though. The energy is so high, the clubs so crowded, and the drinks so delicious that before you know it you will have time traveled to morning.

Pulling an all-nighter is a rite of passage when it comes to nightlife in Tokyo so if you are planning a visit – plan to stay out all night at least once. It’s worth the experience.

2. People speak English
If you don’t speak Japanese, don’t worry. Almost everyone speaks at least some English. Most people are probably fluent.

If you need directions, want to start a conversation, or are just feeling chatting don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Just be polite.

3. Roppongi
Roppongi is known as the clubbing district around Tokyo. If you are planning to pull that all-nighter this is a great place to do it. Choosing a place to go isn’t hard either, just look for the crowd and go.

4. English Friendly Bars
If you are feeling a little skittish about going to a random bar there are several “English Friendly” pub style bars floating around. The most popular of those bars is probably the HUB.

The HUB is modeled after a British drinking pub. You will find a lot of English speakers from around the world as well as a decent drink selection and bar tenders that are completely fluent in English.

I dropped by and was delighted to find the range of countries represented. There were people from all around Europe and the US hanging out – which was awesome.

5. Avoid Nigerians
There isn’t much crime in Japan, but there are one group of people that like to pray on tourists. Nigerians. They are easy to spot as they will be the only black guys bugging you on the streets of Tokyo. If they try to talk to you just say “no thanks” and walk away.

There are a lot of horror stories about these guys ripping tourists off and stealing from them. I assume these are probably the same Nigerians that spam your email.

6. Smut Culture
Japanese culture is very conservative, but smutty. You will find a wide variety of sex shops, “massage” parlors, and peep shows as you walk through the city. I did not personally partake in any of these activities, but overall most of these establishments, while creepy, seem completely safe. Use your judgement.

7. The Pregame
One thing I had no idea about in Tokyo is that you can drink on the streets. You can go right in a convenient store and grab and alcoholic beverage and enjoy while walking to the next bar.

Since Japan is so expensive we found that having a few drinks before arriving at the bars was a great way to keep our bank accounts happy. If you are wondering what to buy try a Chuahai.

A Chuahai is about 10% alcohol, but tastes a lot like carbonated lemonade. Beware – these things are a lot more powerful than they look/taste.

Image the media ignores.

Trayvon Martin and Media Bias

I wrote an article about Trayvon Martin a while back. In the article I pointed out that the media was painting a innacurate picture of both Martin and Zimmerman. It was an obvious media bloodbath aimed at demonizing guns and subsequently Zimmerman.

New details have emerged confirming everything I said. Trayvon wasn’t a baby-faced kid. He was a man prone to disciplinary problems, drug use, and perhaps even violence. I’m not saying getting into a little trouble and smoking a little weed makes you evil, but it’s certainly a stark contrast to the innocent 12 year old news outlets showed us immediately following the shooting.

I think the interesting thing about this case is less about if Zimmerman is guilty, gun laws, or even civil rights. The interesting part is the glaring issue of media bias and the media’s ability to drastically affect public opinion. The media painted Zimmerman as a racist murderer, guns as the enemy, and Martin as an innocent boy – all before a shred of evidence had been gathered – most people bought every word without question.

Tijuana Border

Exploring Tijuana, Mexico

Tijuana, Mexico is quite literally the place of legends. When I told friends and collegues I was planning a trip across the border during my stay in San Diego responses ranged from “You’re going to get your head chopped off” to “They have the best hookers on the planet!”.

Tijuana Border

The same information was presented on the internet. There were two extremes – brave travelers singing the praises of wild Tijuana or conservative vacationers giving dire warnings of entering the third world. So – if you are considering a trip to Tijuana here are a few pieces of advice I learned during my stay.

1. Getting From San Diego to Tijuana

The good news is getting from San Diego to Tijuana is simple and inexpensive. For around $5 you can easily get from the airport to the border. Simply take the 992 (bus) to America Plaza Station. At America Plaza take the Blue line (Trolley) to the border. The last stop is San Ysidro transit station. You can walk across the border from there – just follow the Mexicans across the border. (Airport to Border = 1 hour commute)

Getting across the border is as easy as walking across. There is no one there checking paperwork or so much as guarding the entrance. However; to get back across you will need your US passport. (We’ll talk more about that later.)

2. You’re in Tijuana. Now What?

Once you’re in Tijuana you can find almost anything in this world that your heart desires. That’s both good and bad. You can purchase a women for the night, gorge yourself on cheap tacos and $2 beers, or simply enjoy the Mexican culture and buy a few trinkets from the local shops. Depending on the kind of entertainment you’re looking for – the night is yours.

Negotiating: Please buy my Shit!

No matter what you want to do plan on people soliciting you at every turn. Remember – you are a gringo. You are they kind of person that comes across the border and buys stuff. You buy trinkets, you buy food, you buy alcohol, and you have US dollars in your pocket. These shop owners and local business people will hound you relentlessly in effort to part you from your all-mighty dollar. This isn’t a bad thing just know how to deal with it.

One trick of the trade is be sure to negotiate prices. It doesn’t matter if you are buying a trinket in a shop or haggling entrance prices at a club. I found that if you are at a shop aim for 60% their asking price. Be prepared to walk away and negotiations will almost always be in your favor.

Water and Air Quality

Do not drink the water unless you want to shit yourself for the next few days. Any water that goes in your mouth should be from a bottle – this includes brushing your teeth, washing your food, and ice. When in doubt don’t eat or drink anything suspect.

Also, the air quality is horrible. For some reason the people of Central and South America refuse to keep a car with a cadalytic converter. Mexicans seem to remove this part like it’s cancer. For this reason people with asthma or allergies might want to pack an inhaler.

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Women, Drugs, and Nightlife

Everything you’ve heard about Tijuana is true. Hookers are cheap, strippers are cheaper, and the beer is almost free. My advice – stick to the beer.

However, since you aren’t going to use my advice here’s some information. The strippers in Tijuana are much more forward than those in America. $5 is likely to get you more than you expected and touching seems to be encouraged. If you go to a strip club expect to be continuously solicited, groped, and harassed by naked Latin women.

Beer should cost you about $2 a piece and Tequilla around $3. If you are paying more than that find another place. Settle on prices for EVERYTHING in advance – this will help you avoid the Gringo tax. If you can, try to pay for each drink as you go or do a really good job of keeping up with your tab. A common scheme is to over charge drunken Gringos at the end of the night.

Avoid hookers and drugs. Nothing good can come from that. Most stories of murder and robberies involve some combination of these two things.

Getting Around

Pretty much everything you want to do in Tijuana is within walking distance. If you must take a cab do not use the guys immediately across the border. Use a random cab in the city (which are everywhere) – they are substantially cheaper. As with everything settle on a price beforehand. Almost everyone speaks English, but this isn’t guaranteed. Learn a few words of Spanish before you go. 

3. Getting Back to the U.S.

Now that you are sufficiently hung over and undoubtedly filthy from a night of legend-making you probably want to come home. What you probably don’t realize is that the U.S./Tijuana border is the busiest border on the planet. Hundreds of thousands of people cross DAILY! Wait times can range from 1 – 3 hours so plan accordingly. (Mornings are usually busiest)

To get back in the country you will need a U.S. passport. Border control will ask you a few questions, check your identification and you’re home free.

Hint: If the line is really long there are guys offering to expedite your trip to the front of the line for $5. They will lead you to a van and take you to the front. Mexican border authorities, who are apparently in on the scheme, will move you to the express lane. I used this option one morning when the line was unmanageable and it took about 30 minutes to cross the border (instead of 3 hours). Please use this option with caution and always be mindful who you are getting in a van with.

Once you get back across the border you can take the Trolley right back to San Diego. The trip takes about 45 minutes and cost $2.50.

Tijuana

The Danger of Religion

I am not anti-religion, but I think that any organization that utilizes power and authority to control thought is dangerous. Especially dangerous when leaders use the supernatural and fear tactics to indoctrinate  Indoctrination prevents young minds from becoming free thinkers and when people lose the ability to think for themselves they become robots. Religion becomes a cult.

This is a Facebook conversation I saw on my wall today. I went to high-school with this guy and it amazes me that he is so blinded by his convictions that he has become part of a religious cult. His ability to think freely is gone. He sees only through a lens fogged by Christian presuppositions.

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People literally pulling their kids out of school, in fear, to further indoctrinate them with religious teachings. This frightens and saddens me. Just think how their poor children will view the world.

baby

I’m going to be a Dad!

All week my wife complains about having sore breasts. No big deal. Boobs get sore, right? She skips her period. Maybe it’s stress. A lot is going on at work for her – the end of the year for teachers can be rough. I’m not taking this seriously – I’ve heard it all before.

It’s Friday night and the wife walks in wearing a skimpy little number. Provoking me. Like an adolecent teen I jump at the chance for some lovin’. Uh, oh – awesome sex during what is supposed to be “that  time of the month”? Okay, I finally admit, this is getting serious.

I’m traveling for the next week. I have to know. Is there a little parasitic person in her belly soaking up nutrients? I WANT TO KNOW! This leads us to the midnight trip for pregnancy tests.

We read the instructions carefully. Too carefully. So carefully that it starts to seem complicated. We throw the instructions away. Pee on a stick – easy enough. Wait two minutes.

“Holy Shit, is that two pink lines?”

Buy second test – this time digital.

“Holy Shit! Is that a YES?”

Second test confirms pregnancy. Wow. I mean WOW. I’m going to be a Dad!

Game Changer

As you can imagine, I have a whole lot to talk about. Coming soon.

face

Big Government Part 2: The Thought Police

Nintey percent (90%) of all media we consume is controlled by six corporations. Six. These media outlets have the ability to manipulate the thoughts and opinions of the public, disseminate information, and frame situations and news items to fit their perspective agenda. There is evidence is happening.

The 2012 Election

In 2012 I closely followed media statistics and how they were effecting the presidential race.

One of the best sources of raw data was the Pew Research Center for media. The data was pretty clear and I found a few points worth noting.

1. During the Republican primaries Mitt Romney received debate time than any other candidate (50% more per debate than the 2nd most time, and twice as much as everyone else per debate)
2. During the Republican primaries Mitt Romney received more media coverage than any other candidate.
3. After the Republican primaries Barrack Obama immediately received more coverage than Mitt Romney. (almost twice as much)
4. Media and communication companies donated almost three as much to Obama as Romney.

In the end Obama won the election by a landslide. I wonder how much influence the volume and positive portrayal of Obama in the media had to do with voter’s opinion?

The Media Pushes Agenda

The media pushes an agenda for political purpose. This is no clearer than with the recent events and trial that is taking place surrounding the Benghazi consulate attack. While I will not focus on my personal opinion of what happened there I would like to focus on the media’s treatment of the event.

Conservative media (i.e., Fox News) is in outrage. They point out that orders for military personnel to stand down were given twice. This lead to the death of four Americans. After the event the white house issued a false statement saying that it was a riot inisiated by a YouTube video slamming Islam. It has recently been revealed that those talking points were manufactured and that key officials were ordered not to cooperate with the investigation. All this happening, Conservatives point out, only 2 months prior to Obama’s election.

Left wingers (i.e., MSNBC, ABC) say that this is a non-event that is being amplified by conservatives in a careful ploy to attack the Obama administration and, more specifically, Hilary Clinton.

So why are the two sides so far apart on an issue? The answer is obvious: Each side has their own Political Agenda. So why do we let media outlets get away with it during election time? And is it fair that media presents opinions as fact? I don’t think it is.

Media Interest, Advertising, and Corporate Ties

The problem isn’t with media sharing an opinion though. The problem is that popular media has a direct conflict of interest when it comes to presenting balanced and honest news. Why? Because the worst violators write their paycheck!

This is how it happens: ABC advertiser writes a million dollar check to XYZ media. Three months later XYZ media comes across a story where ABC advertiser was poisoning patients with bad pharmaceutics. ABC advertiser threatens to pull its million dollar advertising contract if XYZ media runs the story. Thus, XYZ media smiles and turns the other way. In fact, if ABC agrees to make that check 2 million dollars they will even put a positive spin on it. So in the end – the media company gets rich and the rest of us are fucked. This happens everyday.

If you don’t believe me ask yourself if you recognize any of these: The Stock Act, Monsanto Protection Act, CISPA, or National Security Letters, just to name a few.

My Point?

Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

Featured image photo credit.

Big Government Part 1: Privacy vs. Security

On September 11, 2001 at 8:46am Flight 11 was rammed into WTC 1 at 446 mph. At that moment everything changed for America. The great nation and we people contemplated our own vulnerability. We were afraid. We were angry. We never wanted something like this to happen again.

Just over a month later on October 26, 2001 the Bush Administration exploited the fear and confusion among the American people to pass the most privacy-intrusive legislation in world history: The Patriot Act of 2001. Which begs a second question: How did they write AND pass such a comprehensive piece of legislation so quickly? (But maybe that’s another discussion.)

Surveillance State

Since 2001 it has become “common sense” that Americans will have to give up a piece of their privacy for the sake of “National Security”. The Government has since then installed at least 30 million surveillance cameras, built the largest spy data center on the planet, purchased a number of aerial surveillance drones, and more.

It is now fact that all of our emails, our voice conversations, and public actions are logged, tracked, and archived.

And in spite of Government surveillance capability tragedies such as the Sandy Hook and Auaura, Colorado shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. But instead of questioning the effectiveness of privacy related policy most popular media sources have demanded more surveillance.

Safety vs. Big Brother

I am not an advocate of the “Government is out to get you” school of thought, but I do question the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Government’s public safety tactics and installation Orwellian Big Brother style society. And while I do not foresee the Government becoming a Stalinist dictatorship (and least not anytime soon) – I do see a cultural shift of Government reliance – which I think is detrimental and dangerous.

For example, after the Boston Marathon Bombings local and federal authorities used the security cameras and surveillance data to identify and locate Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. In some ways this was proof positive that surveillance brings justice – but did it?

After the initial bombing Boston was shut down for nearly a week. Businesses closed, people were not allowed to leave their homes, and police were searching private homes at will for the suspects. People lived in a police state for days AND it cost the city billions.

So which was worse for Boston – the bombing or what followed? I would argue that the terrorist tactic wasn’t to blow up as many people as possible (the bomb was light for terrorist standards), but to exploit the Government’s security tactics in effort to disrupt society and cost them a lot of money. If so, it work.

I’m honestly happy we caught the terrorists, but when we deal with situations in such a manner the terrorist accomplish their goal – MAYHAM. Hardly anyone wants to discuss this though.

Big Data

Another problem with all of this surveillance is management.

I have worked as an IT security consultant for the last five years and I have experienced first hand the challenges of big data. There are various security and access concerns, storage issues, questions about how to mine, sort, and search data – and it’s all very, very expensive.

The amount of data the Government is allowed to collect is an immediate red flag. Who is accessing my data? What are they doing with it? How do we know China isn’t stealing it? Why are they allowed to have my data? Who is checking up on the Government? And how much is it costing the tax payer? And is it worth it?

Why We Need Privacy

Do you remember when you were a kid and you wanted nothing more than to go in your room and shut the door? Every now and again your Mom would walk in unannounced and you would shout “Knock first!”

What about if you found out your parents were listening in on your phone calls or reading your texts? I cringe just thinking about it.

Were you plotting little terrorist attacks or rubbing paint all over the carpet? Probably not. You probably weren’t doing anything wrong, but the idea of someone eavesdropping on your private life seemed awful.

Similarly, all of America deserves its privacy. We want privacy because there are certain aspects of our personal lives that belong to us. There are certain aspects of being free that include no one knowing about it. It is a fundamental part of humanity. A part of humanity that if ignored will lead to hostility and resentment.

That’s part of the problem with Big, Intrusive, Governments.

Featured Image Photo Credit

NOLA

This is New Orleans

How is it that the guys can love a dirty disgusting city so much? As you drive into the God-forsaken town you immediately notice how dirty it is. The streets are lined with houses that should have been condemned and bulldozed years ago after hurricane Katrina.

There is a contrast – a distinct smell of tourist piss and vomit on many corners of the French Quarter, but a block over a tear may come to your eye from amazement of all the local culture and art.

NOLA

Many parts of the town reek of tourist hell. Areas like Bourbon Street are so dirty and disgusting that the city has to literally wash the streets with soap and water every mornting – what else can they do when every tourist takes a giant metaphorical (sometimes literal) dump on the city in an alcohol induced rage until 4am before finally packing their bags and heading home?

I think that’s all part of the glorious dichotomy that is NOLA. It’s dirty, grimy, trashy, largely broken, touristy, but amazing. We still love New Orleans like almost no other place – and you should too!

It really is a unique experience to walk down a street and witness a full-grown man singing his heart out like no one but God himself is listening. Then there are the local bakeries and eateries – the local bakers and cooks gossiping in a southern/Cajun twang making it uniquely New Orleans. Everyone loves their craft and the tourist just pass through on their way to Bourbon street sometimes giving little recognition.

It’s the bartender who has lived in the city his entire life and can handle anything a drunken tourist can throw his way. It’s the artist that should have their art in a museum, but sells it on the street because that’s just what they do. It’s the conglomerate of artists, tourists, and a city of poverty and opportunity all living and working together – one barely acknowledging the other’s existence.

Tips to Avoid being just another tourist

I won’t lie or pretend that drinking, enjoying the sites, and gawking at street performers isn’t all part of the experience, but there are a few things you can do to make your trip to NOLA all the more satisfying – and maybe even absorbing a little extra culture along the way.

1. Absorb the local art

The local art may be my single favorite part of New Orleans. I may even go as far as to say that the French quarter and surrounding area might be the most artistic place in the United States per square foot. If you are a smart tourist you will kindly purchase an authentic piece of street art (for pennies compared to department store prices)!

The best place to buy an authentic piece of street art is off Jackson square. There are literally dozens of people sitting around selling their works. The best part is that most of the art is extremely affordable and high quality.

Helpful tip: generally, avoid the art shops off Royal Street. The art is essentially the same as what is in Jackson square, but with “you didn’t buy it on the street” prices. Most of the shops commission the local artists to put their work in the shops anyways. So it really is the same thing, just in a setting for rich people with too much cash.

2. Street Performers

Maybe this tip is a little cliché and not a best kept secret, but the street performers during the day on Royal Street are amazing. If you are lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of a wedding procession coming through too.

Royal Street is expensive, so keep your cash in hand and spend it a little further out like on Frenchmen St. where the atmosphere is a bit more authentic and affordable.

3. Find some Authentic NOLA style cuisine

For a place with such good food I don’t think I have ever had such a hard time finding a decent restaurant. Most of the places around the French quarter come right out of tourist trap hell with tourist trap prices to boot. In general, avoid most of them.

A good rule of thumb is the further you get from Bourbon Street the more authentic and less expensive the food becomes. Shane and I found a couple of great restaurants on Frenchman street called Maison, and The Praline Connection, and another across the river in Algiers called the Dry Dock Cafe (take the free fairy across the river).

4. Get Wasted, Responsibly

If you came to New Orleans to party – you came to the right place. Sheer supply and demand has driven prices down on drinks. You can generally get a “Huge Ass Beer”, Hurricane, or hand grenade almost anywhere. Don’t forget to try a Bloody Mary and the local beer too. If you are looking to party, of course the best place to do that is on Bourbon Street.

Be prepared, however, for belligerence, nudity, vomit, and crowds. This is not a street that you would like to take your family to – not at any time or any day. There are a plethora of strip clubs, intoxicated tourists, and women willing to expose their breast for the mere cost of a string of beads. If you aren’t looking to binge drink or if you are looking for the “real” New Orleans – then you probably want to stay clear of Bourbon Street. You have been forewarned!

Guatemala

Question: Do we control our own fate?

Holden and I had a long conversation about our lives the other day. We discussed the many decisions we’ve made over the years and how each of them has led us down the path to where we are today. The question came up: Do we control our own fate?

Holden was of the opinion that much of what happens to us is the result of “right place, right time” (he estimated 20%).  For example, the new job I recently landed, he argued, was largely due to being at the right place at the right time to be given the opportunity. I disagreed almost completely.

We control our own destiny, damn it!

In my experience we control our own destiny – not dumb luck or chance. Sure we encounter obstacles along the way, but over the long haul our success ultimately hinges on how we respond to them. Take Holden’s example of my new job. I would argue I was given the opportunity based on a lifetime of good decisions.

I developed leadership skills by putting myself in positions to learn them, I chose the right degree path in college based on employment outlook, I attended a reputable university, and I chose a career with a fair number of opportunities. Even with the many, many mistakes along the way the overall result of these decisions put me in a position to get the job – not chance.

Holden then brought up a good point. What about instances of pure bad luck that is out of your control like a serious injury or illness?

I concede that these obstacles do present a distinct challenge in life, but in most cases they are simply another challenge that can be overcome.

Attitude Conquers ALL

One example sticks out.

I know two individuals who were put in a wheel-chair due to the uncontrollable actions of someone else. One is my close friend’s wife. She was put in a wheel chair after being shot in the back while out to lunch. The act was completely random. In fact she had just started the career of her dreams and she was out with co-workers (a result of her good decisions, ironically).

The second person I know in a wheel chair is my mother. My mother was hit by a drunk driver and paralyzed for life.

These two women both faced life altering circumstance, but their response and subsequent lives couldn’t be more different. The young women who was shot has continued her life, is excelling in her career, and is leading a very happy life.

My Mother – well – she is not.

The difference? The character and attitude of these two individuals. This leads me to believe that while life can be difficult – ultimately it is up to you to succeed.

Am I Wrong?

But perhaps I am over-simplifying.

Their circumstances were not equal. No one’s are. The young women who was shot had an excellent home life. She was brought up with self confidence and love. Her support group was vast. Perhaps this gave her the tools she needed to succeed?

My mother was abused. She didn’t ask for it. She was taught to be self conscious and insecure.

Neither of these women chose their parents – that was dumb luck. Does our control end at our circumstances? Can we control the mental habits we are born with or that we are trained with as a child? Am I wrong?

What about people born in Somalia or other war-torn and third-world countries? I’m quite sure a great attitude will not conquer all if there is nothing to eat.

Which is it?

So which is it? Is it chance or do we control our own destiny? Maybe it’s some combination of both? Maybe Holden is a little smarter than I thought and maybe I’m just a little bit afraid to admit some things really are out of my control.

Wal-Mart

Is Wal-Mart as evil as they say?

Yesterday I was on a long commute from Atlanta, GA to Jacksonville, FL. On the radio was conservative political personality Sean Hannity. At one point during the show Sean Hannity had about an hour long interview with Wal-Mart CEO, Bill Simon. During the entire interview Sean Hannity lobbed soft-ball questions Simon’s way (because they were so easy to knock out of the park). Frankly the entire interview was disgusting and at one point Sean Hannity even said, “You guys should be advertising with us, we are huge supporters… I mean, I’m a Wal-Mart guy.” At that point I decided pull over and vomit.

The majority of the interview focused on two key things:

1. the fact that Wal-Mart employed around 100,000 veterans and a slew of elderly people, and
2. a barrage of criticism of anyone who has bad things to say about Wal-Mart

Sean Hannity basically slobbered all over Bill Simon’s metaphorical nether-region then praised him for being a true patriot and job creator. That got me thinking: Is Wal-Mart as bad as they say?

How Bad/Good is Wal-Mart, Really?

Like almost anything Wal-Mart is a mixed bag. They do create millions of jobs for people across America and they offer affordable prices. Their business model is perfectly legal and frankly a pretty good example of free-market capitalism. They found a niche (cheap retail) and used good business sense and leverage their size and power to capitalize on opportunities. Can I really complain about that? No, not really.

But let’s be honest. Wal-Mart is not the most considerate company either and that’s where I think they deserve some critique. And if Hannity wasn’t too busy massaging Bill Simon’s….ahem…ego in hopes of a little ad revenue perhaps he would have made this point too.

While Wal-Mart does provide a lot of jobs their overall business model has led to a corporate culture that is less than savory. Their retail employees are generally low paid  and Wal-Mart corporate is notoriously difficult to deal with. I would even argue that this strategy will eventually lead to their own demise. Let’s examine.

For one thing I know of almost no one who thinks positively about Wal-Mart. Most people think of the less-than-pleasant atmosphere, their relatively rude and unpleasant staff, and the if you’ve dealt with them professionally – their corporate bully tactics. All of this culminates to a bucket full of ill will and general distaste. I, for one, would rather pay the Costco membership fee than go to Wal-Mart and I think more and more households are making that choice too.

Another issue I have with Wal-Mart is their overall lack of generosity. Sure their employees are relatively unskilled labor, but why not pay them a bit better to attract better talent? In fact, the head of Wal-Mart’s food chain sports a number of billionaire’s. Who needs a billion dollars and why not spread the wealth? I’m all for capitalism and reaping the rewards of hard work, but what does it say about the upper management of Wal-Mart that doesn’t spread the wealth voluntarily?

I look at Costco’s CEO, for example, who takes a salary of $500,000 a year. The rest is spread to employees of the company who all work full time jobs that pay a good wage with benefits. The result is great customer service, a nice shopping atmosphere, and even (in my opinion) better customers.

What I’m saying is…

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can’t knock Wal-Mart for being hard-core capitalist predators. I can’t say bad things about the number of jobs they provide, their low prices, or even their no-nonsense business practices. I guess that is what a business does. They are responsible to their shareholders for growth.

BUT what I can critique is their leader’s refusal to give up a little of their own wealth and success willingly to promote a little corporate consciousness. In the long run, I would argue, it would actually help their brand.

I also think this is a good example of why you can’t listen to anyone in the media. They are too concerned with ad dollars and not concerned enough with asking good questions.