A cookie of your own dough

Here we go again: yet another musicians needs money, had a stroke, crowdfunding started. But wait, didn’t he just buy a brand new Samsung Galaxy S8? More importantly, he has not been shy about supporting Trump, and that means every man for himself right? Safety net? NO: personal responsibility is the Republican mantra, right? On top of that, this guy was always bragging he didn’t pay taxes, never paid taxes. He couldn’t sign up for the evil Obamacare because he didn’t pay taxes. So, he chose to give a big fuck you to all around him, from my perspective, chose to think only about himself and now he’s fucked. Should there not be a consequence for that?

It’s a very very hard situation; at what point does that kind of mentality and condition become an illness? We can’t hold a crazy person responsible for not fitting in to society, can we? Collectively we’ve created the system, but nobody signed up to live in it. This is exactly why modern humans have designed and created a social safety net. The guy in question  does have some family, but what if you don’t? A compassionate person believe in not letting people become homeless, in my opinion. Even someone like the guy in question, who’s so fat he can barely stand anymore, has not taken care of himself, and has proven to be quite selfish in his view of the world; even though he probably didn’t vote, he’s responsible for helping spread the nonsense about Hillary, in order to promote the Donald he likes, directly resulting in breaking down the relatively small safety net this country has. In a literal translation from on old Dutch saying: he got a cookie of his own dough.

Google Customer Service

For the first however many years, regular folks like you and me were not customers of Google’s; we certainly used their products, Maps, Gmail, Search, but like in any situation where advertising pays the bills, we were the product, lured in by good stuff, which was then sold to the advertisers. More precisely, our ‘attention’ was and is being sold, the chance to put something in our minds, for however short a period of time. Even Android was in effect free for consumers.

These days the Big G actually sells directly to us, from Cloud storage to music and movies, but even cellular service with Project Fi, which I subscribed to almost a year ago. Last Wednesday, my beloved Nexus 5X started acting up: fingerprint reader stopped working and it started rebooting on its own. I tried a factory reset which failed the first time, but completed the second. Once everything was back up it mostly worked, but once in a while would reboot. Clearly, it needed to be replaced and was still under warranty so I started a support chat with Google at 2AM. The customer service rep was quick, asked me about my problems, made sure I had d0ne a full reset (she knew what she was talking about!) and did not make me repeat all the steps because it’s on the script (!*&!*&*@&), and then told me a replacement would be shipped out Fedex NextDay at no cost to me! “You deserve a working device” was the line she used. This morning, less than 36 hours after initiating the chat, I got it! It said refurbished, but this is a brand new looking Nexus 5X!

So there it is: as good an experience as one can expect, with a carrier that’s perhaps the most inexpensive of all by the way! My monthly bill has gone from $70 with T-Mobile (albeit with more data) to $35 or $40, with better reception, a free second Data SIM for my backup phone, ability to text, call and check voicemail from my computer or any browser for that matter. Plus, I can now call my friends in Holland on their cell phones for 4 cents a minute, from my mobile! I can make calls from just about anywhere in the world for 20 cents a minute, texting from and to anywhere is free. That’s right, I can be in Ukraine texting someone in South Africa for free.

About that second free SIM card: I have it in my Honor 5X, an inexpensive Huawei (I paid $170, 5.5″ screen, 2GB RAM, uSD slot) with dual SIM capabilities that I use to hold my old landline number that I ported to H2O wireless on a $9 every 3 months plan (that’s right, I can keep my number for $36 per year). It means that I can tap into the same $10/GB supply on my Project Fi account to keep that phone online, and since Hangouts doesn’t care which device it’s on, texts and voicemails to my main number show up on the Huawei as well! In this case I was still able to use my Nexus, but if I ever lost it or it would stop working altogether, I’d never be without being reachable on my main phone number, or without the ability to use maps, airline apps etc. etc. It’s simply brilliant!

Trumpcare

And there it was: the first concrete example of what a Trump government would like to implement as a replacement for the ACA. And, unfortunately, it’s just about as bad as was predicted. Gone is the individual mandate, subsidies are not done away with completely I guess, but are replaced by what is effectively a tax cut for households making over $250k per year. Of course it came with no estimation of its effect on the nation whatsoever! People in the know are saying it would means millions will lose coverage, and that elderly and the poor will pay for a nice bump in the wallets of the well-off. It goes against everything the Donald has promised, apparently without him even noticing as he has described it as great.

Fresh of the press, all the details haven’t been completely analyzed, but it does look like even the way preexisting conditions are handled will change in a somewhat sneaky way. Insurers still won’t be able to turn anyone down based on their existence, but they might be able to offer different levels and types of coverage, leading back to the situation we had before in which some plans were nothing more than disaster coverage, not the type of healthcare system a modern nation should have. Of course Planned Parenthood will be defunded, and the list goes on.

To all of you out there urging others to “give Trump a chance!”: what will it take for you to see he’s not going to do as he says? Do you realize exactly what kind of government you’re supporting here? Donald is an alpha male, no doubt about it, but compared to the established system he’s nothing, and whatever amount of money he has, whatever amount of success he’s had, it means squat. He will have to play along with the GOP or risk complete chaos, which might be a result we do get by the way. Unfortunately for his fans, he’s simply not smart enough to effectively use the power he does have, in my opinion. He’s being used by the GOP establishment on the one side and Bannon and Co. on the other. Crazy times….

What is the Donald doing?

There was surprising

ly little prediction of what he would do, but now that Trump has been the boss for a few weeks, let’s see what he has done or has started to do. First and foremost, he has not drained the swamp: his cabinet consists of multiple former Goldman-Sachs execs, multiple Generals (although we did lose one…), and various other very established Republicans. There are a couple of outliers, non-native species to the swamp if you will, most notably Bannon. In my opinion, it would be easy to underestimate his importance in this ensemble, but how much he and the Donald can withstand the establishment remains to be seen.

Secondly, he has found out that fixing Obamacare is not that simple, if not in the least because it has many great features and has increased the number of insured in the US greatly. We have found out that there were many voters who didn’t realize that Obamacare is the ACA, and that their opposition was merely induced by rhetoric from opponents of the legislation, endless propaganda denouncing it. Republicans voted time and time again, for 8 years, to repeal the ACA; supposedly they could come up with something better, especially because it was so incredibly awful. So where is the replacement plan? I think it has become clear that what they intended to do, will not fly with Trump! In this case I do believe he will demand something that is not regressive and be on the side of the people. Whether he’s strong enough to see this fight to the end is anyone’s guess. With the limited proposals we do have on the table, if for whatever reason Donald is gone, a Pence White House would be swift in implementing them, cutting Medicaid, giving Tax Credits based on age alone which equals tax cuts for the rich etc. etc.

Thirdly, those things he said about deporting illegals? He meant them! He’s certainly been examining the limits of his power, and with Bannon by his side, he will continue to do so. I’m sure there will be some wall-building in the future, but it’s so unrealistic to truly close off the border that a business man like him would never blow that much dough on something as useless. In my opinion, removing illegals in the way he wants to do, and especially to the extent Bannon and others want, is not smart for various reasons. First of, I don’t believe there is even a net negative contribution; many of them pay income taxes anyway, they certainly buy food, clothes, TVs, cars, even houses in many places. I don’t care what anybody says, removing even 10 million people from an economy with 320 million will cause a recession. Of course in the long run it could be beneficial, but I believe most illegals here are simple hard working folks; if you believe in natural selection, you could argue they’re some of the stronger ones, they made it here, and kept themselves alive.  Removing the criminal ones is something that’s always happened! Obama deported quite a few as a matter of fact. The danger with rounding folks up, holding workplace raids and checkpoints, and most importantly forcing local police to enforce immigration status is creating an atmosphere of fear, and fear leads to escalation and violence.

Fourthly: regulations, regulations, regulations! Trump railed against them during his campaign, although he did show a few moments of clarity in which he called some of them beneficial. He most certainly put a man, who wanted to dismantle the agency,  in charge of the EPA! He just signed an executive order to overturn Obama’s “horrible clean water rules“. As a side note, how someone who identifies as a “Conservative” can be against protecting the environment is just as baffling as someone identifying as “Pro Life” being vigorously in favor of the death penalty, but I digress. So far we’ve seen very little from Trump to lead us to believe he will be against the typical Republican agenda: removal of barriers for business, with less regard to long term effects.

Lastly, in international relations we’ve seen a president who ignores conventions, or perhaps isn’t informed. It’s too early to tell how this will pan out, but fact is that respect for the US has tanked, compared to when Obama was in charge. The uncertainty has increased fear, and Trump’s macho BS, and typical Alpha Male behavior is seen as a problem. So far we haven’t seen any escalation in this world but I don’t feel it’s become more stable.

One more thing, what’s most disturbing is the divide within the American people. When one side now points out the great chasm Trump is creating, the other says it was already there, and that Obama was the one who started it! it’s a real problem though and one that needs to be resolved if we want to have a good place to live. There is clearly a large part of the population who felt ridiculed by the elite; mindless jobs at big corporations are in interesting clue in this situation. It’s a subject for another time….

E-verify

Riddle me this: why oh why does the US not fully implement its E-verify program? Why aren’t employers punished for knowingly or ignorantly hiring illegals? I mean, every US citizen has a Social Security number and with today’s technology, implementing a fairly reliable system of determining someone’s legal status should be trivial.

Answer: because Republicans don’t WANT to stop the influx of cheap labor! Nothing puts more money in the pockets of the bosses than a workforce that is afraid to speak up for fear of deportation! Come on already, it’s so damn obvious. In the few instances in which stemming the flow was tried, business suffered. In addition, the basic mantra has been to grow the economy and top Republicans know that the net effect of illegal immigration is actually positive. The little money they do get gets put right back into the system, paying rent, buying food and TVs. So, who the hell actually thinks any of the politicians that Trump is installing in his cabinet actually want to build that secure border?

Sock Puppet

Read an interesting article in De Volkrant today about Trump, who live-tweeted in response to Anderson Cooper’s show. He’s always bragged about only sleeping 4 hours a day, and his middle-of-the-night tweetathons are proof. Most would agree that that’s not a sufficient amount for a person holding a high office, but more importantly, it is not supportive of a solid attention span. The Washington Post recently reported that he has been “turning away intelligence briefers since election win”. He makes plenty of time to scrutinize what reporters say about him on many a show, but not for becoming informed about matters important to his upcoming job; you know, the one he’s less qualified to do than perhaps any of his predecessors. It does make perfect sense in light of the cabinet he’s surrounding himself with: these are folks who know how the country is run. Would it be premature to assume that by and large, the US will be run exactly by the playbook of the Republican party? Is it really that simple?

As I got in my rental car this afternoon, and drove through literally the first street west to the one I live on, I saw a house plastered with Trump/Pence signs. This is on a road where multiple people live who do not want my kind to park on their street, putting notes on cars etc. When I had it out with one once, I tried to explain that it is a public street, that anyone can park a car there for up to 72 hours, that I lived in the neighborhood! I was told: “You don’t live here! You’re a RENTER!”  As we say in Holland: there comes the monkey out of the sleeve! I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 13 years, always paid my rent on time, helped out the neighbors, spend my money, some of it from far away brought to this place; but the ones who own these parts, do not consider me a part of their community.

But I digress…..to me it looks more and more like Trump will be just like Bush, jr: a figurehead, albeit one who has a lot more opinions. He’s already rolled back many of his big promises; in the end it’ll be the people in the background running the show, just like Cheney and Rumsfeld did. That does mean that there will be no huge chances, although we will see an increase in the surveillance apparatus and law and order most likely. At the same time, I think even Republicans now see that we can’t keep putting more people in jail; at some point it becomes fiscally impossible. Donald’s administration will inherit a stable, growing economy, perhaps about to really take off if we look at the latest number. If we get enough growth it’ll mask the increasing income inequality gap. Maybe Trump will latch onto at least one good thing like a living wage for all, and like the pitbull that he is, not let go. We can dream, can’t we?

Of strength and vulnerability

All this renewed talk about the ‘alt-right’ and fascism has had me thinking about strength and where it is found in this universe. The biggest fallacy of Nazis and the like is that a genetically pure people is a strong people, and that just doesn’t mesh with the way the universe works. Just look at the difference between pure-bred dogs and mutts: genetic diseases are more common in the former. Similarly, in the world of finance, the most robust investment portfolio is a diversified one. We don’t have the saying “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket” for nothing, do we? In my opinion it resonates in just about all situations and I have made redundancy one of my main objectives regarding everything that matters: I’d rather have 2 computers than one, even if that means getting less fancy ones perhaps, I have accounts with multiple banks, bought 2 of just about everything that my life depends on. What it means is that half the stuff I own could get stolen and I would hardly be affected! The peace of mind that comes from that position, especially put against the increasing fear I see in others concerning the possessions, is truly priceless. What’s strange is how few people seem to understand it at all…..

Looking forward, digital security and strength is becoming more and more important. In my opinion, trusting one company with your entire digital life is beyond foolish, especially in such a fast-changing world. We’re seeing more and more hacking of digital systems and it’s probably only a matter of time before a major bank will have its systems so compromised that it will become inoperable, at least temporarily. Think about that for a moment, if your checking account is unusable, what does that mean for your day to day life? Do you really want to be late on your mortgage due to no fault of your own? It might sound dramatic, but really we have no way of predicting what’s gonna happen. What we do know is that as everything gets more and more connected, bigger and bigger damage could be inflicted by smaller and smaller groups of people. Just this last weekend hackers broke into a California transit system and allowed everyone to travel for free, demanding a ransom to undo the hack. In this case the IT department was able to fix the system, but in others, notably a hospital here, huge ransoms have been paid. The bottom line is we don’t even know how vulnerable we are! As we move away from cash, multiple credit cards, and even a couple of checking accounts, in SEPARATE banks are the best hedge.

Another example is cellphones! We’ve all seen how people freak out at even just the thought of losing their iPhone or Galaxy; it’s about the $800 they paid for it, but also at the thought of being unable to communicate. Project Fi is just awesome in that regard, as they will give you a second data-only SIM for free, you just pay for the data you actually use. It’s allowed me to get a secondary phone, a Honor 5X I picked up for $170 BTW, which has my business number in it and a slot for a second SIM! Now I can get my texts, voice-mail and data access from my main account on a second device. I can even make and receive calls from my main number on it through Hangouts. Losing two phones is so much more unlikely than losing just one, isn’t it? Result: peace of mind.

The final example I want to bring up is food. Imagine a world in which every single person ate rice from the same patty; and now imagine there’s some kind of deadly contamination of said patty. You get the idea, everybody would die! Diversification is especially important when it comes to nourishment, on ALL levels. When you think about nutrition, the most effective way to make sure you get all the various nutrients you need is to eat a wildly diverse diet. Conversely, the best way to make sure you get deficient in something is to limit your diet to a few sources. We live in times where we have access to more different foods than ever before; for goodness’ sake, ENJOY IT! Because not only is a varied diet the healthiest, it’s the most exciting and interesting, isn’t it? It pains me when I see so many around here, the capital of eating disorders, consuming nothing but salads and chicken breast, while under the impression that they’re being ‘healthy’. And yes, even McDonald’s can be part of a healthy diet.

What the Donald will DO?

In all the endless discussions before election days, very few actually had predictions for what Trump would actually do when elected; half the country thought it would a be great, a wrench in the system, finally someone looking out for the little guy, the other half was just plain worried, seeing him as so unpredictable that it would be impossible to know what he was going to do. In his own words, he was going to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington DC, clean the system from its establishment and corruption. Also, ‘tax cuts for the middle class’!

So what are we seeing? So much for the drainage: just about all his picks for cabinet so far are very, very much insiders! As a matter of fact, it looks like a text book Republican government, doesn’t it? I mean, even Mitt Romney is now in the running for a very high position! Didn’t he denounce Donald every chance he had? Where is that wrench? Trump has already significantly rolled back on so many of his key promises: prosecuting Clinton, repealing Obamacare immediately etc. etc.

Here’s what it looks like to me: we’re gonna get a Republican’s wet dream of a government, with tax cuts for the top 1% far in excess of what some middle class Americans might get, and as it stands now, an actual tax increase for a substantial number of them. And just like what happened when Reagan and Bush did the same is accelerating deficits and a further squeezing of the little guy. We’ll see if they can come up with something to control costs in healthcare, but short of single-payer I don’t see how they can do it. The bottom line is that these types of policies are exactly why we’re in the situation we’re in, with the rich doing increasingly well, while the working class gets squeezed and squeezed, left out of the spoils of the increased productivity we’ve experienced in the last 30 years. The most mind-blowing thing to me is that so many folks still believe the Republican myth that tax cuts for the rich benefit the little guy; it has to have to do with the fact that the latter keeps dreaming he will be rich one day, doesn’t it?

The part that scares me most is the rhetoric concerning public safety. Fact is that we are living in some of the safest times in the history of mankind, contrary to popular belief. Even in the 24 years I’ve lived in the US crime has gone down and down and down. No matter how much people focus on terrorism, it’s not a factor in our day-to-day safety. BUT, this fear will be exploited, and Trump has and will be doing it. He’s stated over and over that he wants to shrink the government, but that would mean increasing unemployment, and what better way to make up for that than hiring more police to ‘restore law and order’? Much like the TSA became an enormous jobs program! The chain keeps going: more arrests, more jails-> more jobs. Combine that with Donald’s jokes about killing journalists, and his bizarre way of dealing with the press, and we’re seeing some kind of banana republic taking shape. I’ve talked a lot on these pages about the seemingly never-ending campaign to discredit just about all media we’ve experienced in the last 10 or 15 years and now it seems there are some willing to jump in and take advantage of the public’s mistrust.  This is the most dangerous of all and we cannot let Trump block the media from being our eyes and ears in the government.

Will he bring manufacturing back to the US? Maybe, through tariffs and other means that are probably not good for this country in the long run, but will that mean the jobs are coming back? No way, because the only way companies would build stuff here again, is if they can do it with just about no people. Dutch giant Phillips brought back manufacturing of some high end electric shavers to Holland; almost the entire factory is fully automated. That means more money for the boss, and less for the people.

Finally, we might get a infrastructure program with big investments from the Federal Government, ironically exactly what Obama was going for when first elected, but fought against tooth and nail by the RNC. This of course would stimulate the economy and bring real jobs and money to regular folks. Where Trump would find the money to do it is of course the trillion dollar question. Will all his railing against the powers that be mean he will shrink the military, one of the biggest expenses of the USA? No way, because the fully Republican house and senate would never let him do that.

So there we have it, and it’s not looking good. Unfortunately I don’t see how those who were mad enough at the system to vote for the unqualified, rude, sexist blowhard, will realize that they made a mistake. That would mean having to admit that the ‘elite’ they were so pissed at were right. They will most likely come up with more misinformation to blame the ‘system’, the media, the ‘libtards’. One thing is for sure: these are interesting and important times!

Alt Right

Everyone has an opinion on everything these days, that’s for sure! We all ‘know’ that Breitbart is a source of dangerous propaganda…. or do we? How many folks out there have actually read any substantial amount of writings published through its channels? My guess is not very many! So what exactly is the American “Alt-Right”movement and what does it stand for? How about we let Breitbart itself define it, in its establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right.

There’s a LOT of information in there, mostly quite well articulated actually. Early on it describes how it differs from skinheads: those are a lacking the high level intelligence that’s present now: “The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.” It describes the views of Gay masculinist author Jack Donovan, about how man is losing manliness, “reduced to craven creatures who crawl across the globe competing for money, who spend their nights dreaming up new ways to swindle each other.”

Most important I think is the description of the ‘natural conservative’: “For natural conservatives, culture, not economic efficiency, is the paramount value. More specifically, they value the greatest cultural expressions of their tribe. Their perfect society does not necessarily produce a soaring GDP, but it does produce symphonies, basilicas and Old Masters. The natural conservative tendency within the alt-right points to these apotheoses of western European culture and declares them valuable and worth preserving and protecting.

And there it is: “The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race. The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.” And: “For decades, the concerns of those who cherish western culture have been openly ridiculed and dismissed as racist. The alt-right is the inevitable result.

It then goes on to describe a “young, rebellious contingent who feel a mischievous urge to blaspheme, break all the rules, and say the unsayable. Why? Because it’s funny!“, and compares it to metalheads: “Are they actually bigots? No more than death metal devotees in the 80s were actually Satanists.

Then there’s this: “Anything associated as closely with racism and bigotry as the alternative right will inevitably attract real racists and bigots. Calmer members of the alternative right refer darkly to these people as the 1488er”, if I understand correctly the folks advocating anarchy and fighting against the others, not just focusing on promoting one’s own. The origin of the name is certainly frightening: “It’s a reference to two well-known Neo Nazi slogans, the first being the so-called 14 Words: “We Must Secure The Existence Of Our People And A Future For White Children.” The second part of the number, 88, is a reference to the 8th letter of the alphabet – H. Thus, “88” becomes “HH” which becomes “Heil Hitler.”

Close to the end we get to the heart of the matter: “Should the liberal tribe (and let’s not deny it any longer – that’s both the Democratic and GOP Establishments these days) do business with them? Well, the risk otherwise is that the 1488ers start persuading people that their solution to natural conservatives’ problems is the only viable one. The bulk of their demands, after all, are not so audacious: they want their own communities, populated by their own people, and governed by their own values.

In short, they want what every people fighting for self-determination in history have ever wanted, and what progressives are always telling us people should be allowed — unless those people are white. This hypocrisy is what has led so many Trump voters — groups who have in many cases not voted since the 1970s or 80s — to come out of the woodwork and stand up for their values and culture.”

In my opinion this is nonsense: in our modern intermingled world we CANNOT go back, we cannot build communities populated by our ‘own’ people anymore. It’s wrong to now kick out some of the folks that helped build what we already have, and it’s simply impossible to have so much more than your neighbors. For  people with a claim of ‘naturalism’ the concept of forces has to be apparent. When a country has SO much more than its neighbors, it has to share, or expect pressure. Think of osmosis, the law of action and reaction, voltage and current, potential energy. I have to think about this more…..

 

“The System”

You hear it all the time these days: “The system is fucked up, broken, corrupted…” Let’s forget for a moment that quite often this statement comes from someone who can’t even keep his or her credit score above 700, someone who hasn’t ever designed a system of his or her own. Somehow it became completely acceptable for people who don’t even do their own taxes, to criticize the tax code! I’ve done my own for more than 20 years now, self-employed and all, publishing, royalties, international bank account…never been audited by the way… yet any knucklehead who has someone else doing his taxes and can’t even tell me what’s in his own return, is going to tell me about the tax code?

But today I want to talk about the system, our system. The term gets thrown around without specification so I’ll try to define what I think most are talking about: it’s the collection of rules and regulations, and the institutions that make and enforce them; so, government, courts and perhaps even businesses. So many are ready to throw it all out, without even the slightest idea of how to make a better one. But how bad is it really? Does it really screw over the little guy and only benefit the top 1%? I beg to differ, not based on rhetoric or speculation, not based on feelings about how we all “deserve” better, but on history.

We don’t have to go back very far to find times during which the little guy was not very well off. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not an elitist, that I give a damn about the little guy, but whenever I hear a bartender with an $800 iPhone complaining about The System, I wonder if he realizes where slinging drinks would’ve gotten him in 1476, or even 1876. Now it’s important for me to mention that I believe that proper distribution of wealth created by a society is a crucial part of creating a healthy one, something that Jesus has been trying to teach us for a couple of millennia as far as I can tell. I believe that a living wage, when there’s enough resources to go around, is only common sense. BUT, we all should be thankful for the system we have! It surely can be improved, but we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!

Money has tremendous power, but much more so if the people are for sale. Think about that one for a second. My view on the whole thing is that, much more than the system, the people are the ones that need fixing; more specifically, our culture. If you have a population that votes based on ideas and content, you can buy all the TV ads in the world, bullshit will not sway them. And no, it’s not “the media’s” fault: if you rely only on media to educate your society has a structural fault. Critical thinking starts at home, and in the schools you create and pick. In a culture where women wear so much makeup every day that you can’t even really tell what they look like anymore, where a 40 year old man gets carded before he can buy beer, a culture in which laugh tracks and phony people are the norm, can you really be upset by lying politicians? If your boobs are fake, your smile, you cheat on your spouse, can you really condemn politicians for skirting the truth? If that Apple logo is so important to you that every case you buy for that next iProduct has a piece cut out so the Fruit is clearly displayed to the poor sucker that can’t afford one, can you really blame big companies for trying to make as much money as possible without regard for their employees? If you go to Walmart or Best Buy, instead of your local small shop, to save $25 on a $300 item, should you really be upset that the big stored don’t have a single person that knows anything working there? Or even that they pay close to minimum wage?