Category Archives: American Politics

My Story Is Spelled My.Stery

“Deja vu” is the mind affirming a familiarity with a circumstance. Was it a dream or a coincidence? That moment that causes us to stop and question ourselves, when we look around and know that somehow we’ve been here before–that is the moment that we realize that there’s a higher consciousness and a heightened sense or awareness.

We are leaving clues for our future selves intermittently. Pictures, mementos, and miscellaneous scribblings that capture something meaningful are unimportant at any given point in time except for the one moment that means everything.

Our mental health is gauged not only by how we interact with the world, but also by how we manage our own thoughts and feelings. A person who collects things assigns meaning to each souvenir. Awards and trophies are merely framed papers or inscribed tin fastened to molded plastic or crafted bark. The more important, the more likely we display these artifacts to the world. And what the world honors, we covet.

We are proud of those things that we’ve been taught are valuable. Yet we treasure most those things we’ve come to craft and mold on our own. Our creativity spawns all kinds of ideas. From our flesh comes offspring, and from our conceptions come legacy. Any deviation is an opportunity for evolution. And as convoluted as this may seem, we all have that moment when we hear a familiar sound or whiff an almost forgotten aroma. It triggers memory. It’s at that moment that we question our being and recognize that we are not just present in that moment, but we’ve become increasingly aware more than we once were.

Wise men don’t know everything. But they earn wisdom from learning that they can not know everything. There’s a calmness from surrendering a need to have more, to know more, or to understand everything. Some call it bliss in ignorance. Others call it letting go to let God.

That higher consciousness is merely a lack of consciousness. An unknowing, un-relentless, unfamiliar mystery for which the end is neither foreseen nor aforementioned…

This is where we are right now. Only a fool would assure us otherwise. The clues we leave are the clues we find later… and this prescription for fulfillment is what we call happiness. Because in that moment, we believe that things happen for a reason.

Until we are again clueless…

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Birds Singing

For most of my life, I’ve lived in the midst of the woodlands. I was never far from the sound of traffic though. Rarely do I get to sit and watch people go by because we are all in a hurry to get somewhere.

Dogs bark and birds tweet, but I’m rarely able to get past the gossip hounds or the twitter rants. The coffee is never fresh brewed and the tea is always cold. I’m living in excess, but my needs are barely met.

I suppose my reflection has once again prompted my personal call-to-action. I WILL (for a moment) put down the phone. I will brew a fresh cup of java; even though it will surely make me sleepy. I will donate the things that I don’t need; and want a little less.

I won’t contemplate the lies I hear; I’ll be listening less. I won’t turn on the news because it’s usually the same old things expressed… differently.

I will ignore the news that the president’s spokesperson has retired her voice; even though I am entertained at the thought that the president will resume speaking for himself.

I will ignore that another black man was shot by police in the Deep South; even though it will be characterized as a righteous kill.

I will ignore that my clients make transactions right before my eyes. The battered doors and smashed windows weren’t warning enough for me.

I’ll ignore the bloated bank account because I remember that last week’s debits were overdrawn. The gas bill is low this week, but the electric bill is rising.

I’m just going to park the car, lock up the bike, and walk

Down the street

Watching

People go by.

I’m Retiring

The time has come for me to face facts. Retirement, as we’ve come to know it, has changed. Many of us sought out careers that would assure present security and future potential.

We may have accepted the agreement that our employers promised–hard work now with a pension or retirement benefit at the end of our career. But it was a lie. I haven’t decided yet whether the lie was intentional or simply a result of mis-planning. Either way, there wasn’t enough good faith investment in our future to insure that it will exist (the way our younger selves envisioned it).

The Promise

The promise was that if you accepted a career in public service, you’d have stability, decent fringe benefits, and a pension after at least ten years of service. Retirement age was contingent on your years of service and a vested pension. But these promises are dissipating before our own eyes. As worker bees, we’ve come to work daily, progressed towards our objective, and endured policy changes and threats of diminished contracts when we renegotiate.

For employees in the private sector, the promise of promotion in exchange for hard work and allegiance to the corporate goal motivates us towards a promising future. Retirement age depended on how soon your 401k (or other investment package) would mature, your level of risk, and your retirement goal. Will you be able to afford to live comfortably after you retire? Who knows?

We are hoping for stability in a still-unstable economy. So we begin to conclude that the promises made to us were built on infertile foundations. Our hopes sink on sinking sand. Our dreams fail to grown where our seeds were planted.

The managers who work within the confines of our annual budgets see the writing on the wall. They are reluctant to speak on it, for they have a much clearer view of the inevitable. I’ve stopped asking my managers questions because I can not trust them with my livelihood. Their objective is not aligned with ours. Managers do not enjoy the due process and semi-stability that the worker bees posses. Instead they have knowledge of the impending doom; and they adjust accordingly.

Instead of hope to gleaning a glimpse of the internal workings of our employers’ mechanism, WATCH the managers. If they are behaving as if their job is secure, know that they are acting with the knowledge that things are going well and will continue to do so. However, if they are using their vacation time (and not actually going on vacation), if they are bitter in their delegation of responsibilities or unwilling to engage in team problem-solving; it may be a sign that they are planning an exit.

When the captain of the ship is the first on the emergency escape boats, ask yourself why?

They aren’t worried about pensions and fringe-benefits. A managers salary often exceeds their responsibility. We know this as worker bees. How many times have you said, “I can easily do my bosses job,” because you know you can. You’re already doing it!!

Managers worry about their exit plan because they lack loyalty. They’ve “put in their time” and feel even MORE entitled than the worker bees.

How much longer will you allow your manager to delegate their responsibilities to you and your colleagues while they take larger salaries with minimal commitment? For that matter, why don’t we start running our own lives?!?

For those of us who allow our professional lives to infiltrate our personal lives; and our spiritual lives to infiltrate our professional lives (you know that you do this when you choose the high road instead of cursing your boss out like a heathen), it may be time to consider an alternative. It may be time to retire.

After all, what is retirement?? Nowadays, who do you know that REALLY retires? Retirement really means career shift. I can’t think of many retirees who simple stay at home and avoid any work or civic responsibility. Let’s keep it real! I’d happily volunteer my time if I could find a way to pay my living expenses. So there really is no retirement like we were promised there’d be.

Who retires the old-fashioned way? Politicians who collect multiple pensions, lawyers who negotiate huge settlements even when they loose the big case, and doctors who received commissions on peddling treatment instead of cures–they can retire. Hmmmm. Are you one of these? Me neither.

I spent enough time as a politician to know that public policy rarely serves the public. My time as an educator has proven to me that managers are more concerned with the appearance of “collective success” rather than individual growth. And sadly my time as a social worker has left me feeling that (1) the work is never done, and (2) the policies favor the organization over the human being needing the support.

I share my perspective with you because I believe that once you look inside yourselves and develop a better sense of worth, you may agree with some of my points. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! The illusion of working to 55 or 60 with 3/4 of your salary to live the rest of your life is a LIE. The bankers have already collected the commissions on your investments. The politicians have already spent their mandatory contributions to your pensions! The lawyers get paid to fight this fight for us, even when they loose. And they will loose–because the money is all gone.

Who is going to replace those investments? The younger generations?!? Never that! They are too busy re-imagining a world without trust, a world without hope, and a world where they KNOW they can only count on themselves.

We need a new plan. We need innovation. We must do it now and for the humanity that is fading away. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

The innovators are not planning for the far-off future. They are creating in the NOW. The hope for what is to come is bleaker than ever. But don’t be discouraged. Be inspired! It is because of the lack of innovation that anyone with an idea can become a hero to mankind.

And so I am retiring. Or I should say instead that I am re-inventing this world that I know. My pension is not promised. It’s barely there. My retirement investments evaporate the moment I deposit them (and my investments were LOW RISK). My mandatory retirement age has been arbitrarily prolonged another FIVE (to TEN) years–pronounced like a prison sentence. I’m not waiting to be eligible for “parole”. My retirement will be pronounced E S C A P E.

So who is coming with me? I’m seeking collaborators and innovators with no promises and no hope of a destination. We are planning a new route instead. The journey begins here…and never ends.

Sweeping Indictments

Tomorrow is just another Tuesday, but for the registered voters in New Jersey, California, New Mexico, Montanna, North Dakota, and South Dakota it is Election Day. You can tell who the democrats are by their level of enthusiasm. This is an anticlimactic time for the conservatives because their hero has already won by default. Even those who dislike the fact that Trump will be the republican candidate have long since quieted down.  

Who would have thought (even a year ago), that our nation would be at such a political impass? One thing is for certain. Regardless of how uniformed the voting public may be, everyone knows that the American standard is about to change.  Even the unregistered, non-citizens, and underage residents of our nation long to be a part of the conversation.  This will be an election year like no other.  EVERYone will have an opinion–and most of them will stink.  

There’s going to be a lot of shit-slinging.  And when the fight is over, we will all be covered.  

This is a time to watch the signs.  The decline of a nation (or even a civilization) will not be a sudden occurrence.  We watched it decline began hundreds of years ago. It is the rate by which we exchange information that makes this an interesting time to be involved.  

Social unrest, moral decay, hypocracy, economic injustice has reached intolerable levels.  This is not the time to be in power.  There will be no “sudden shift” like the politicos are forcasting. However, this will mark the end of an era. 

The ideas of obsconding to foreign lands were revisited when very few countries opened their borders to Syrian refugees.  They were being terrorized in their home land by extremist.  And still they received little empathy.  You think American defectors stand a chance in the eyes of the United Nations?  

Suddenly places like Russia and Western Europe seem mildly appealing. It’s time to start traveling–before U.S. passports become valueless.  It may time to visit the places that Bernie references (like Finland).   It’s not such a grand idea however to make reservations in places like Isreal or China.  The close proximity to Iraq and Afganistan does not make Americans any more welcome. The changing faces of American money (alone) is enough to be indicted for Western arrogance. It’s simply not a good look. 

Our entire political system has attention deficit disorder. Politics creeps their way into religious sanctuaries as pastors struggle to refrain from interjecting their personal beliefs. 

Who would Jesus vote for?  Clearly not the same candidate as Muhammad.  The social climate is no longer discrete.  Americans have become very vocal about their distastes and personal dogmas.  Feelings are getting hurt as everyone is openly professing their biases (and constitutional right to be a bigot).  Entitlement is at an all time high, but determination to thrive is at an all time low.  Who wants to be responsible for a nation of gluttons and theives?   For surely if this is the case, the Donald has already won.  

Why didn’t Bernie run for president in the 80s?  Was Carter so bad that the Democratic Party lost the confidence of the majority.  Where was the civil rights movement in the 70s?  Were the hippies too hung over on the gonja, or did they have a severe case of dance fever?  It seems that once we got some semblance of  what we wanted, we became complacent.  The yuppies and the buppies (Black Upwardly-Mobile Professionals) had enough easy access to timeshares, BMW’s, real estate, and education that the struggle dissipated. 

Now the struggle is real, and there are no more heros.  The private interest has gotten very clever in rallying public support. The mules keep hoping to get fed off of the excess wealth that was carved away from the American infrastructure.  The public didn’t even see it coming.  The few that did were deemed fanatics, socialist, and “liberals.”   

Conspiracies are real when they are FACT. Zealots warn of “the machine” just as the Panthers warned of “the man” but the status quo was acceptable to society as a whole. 

Tomorrow is Election Day and the fate of America is not sealed. In fact, the republicans who don’t vote tomorrow are also living on borrowed time.  How quickly can you change your party affiliation?  Quicker than you can sell your home and run away. That’s for sure!

Don’t give up, America!  We created this problem, but it’s not too late to fix it. We can take responsibility.  We can right the wrongs if only we recognize what we’ve allowed this to happen.  This IS your land.  This IS my land (too).  Let’s not run for the border; because no other nation wants to be contaminated either. 

Vote!

Seeking the Presidency

Consider for a moment the groundwork the 2016 electoral process has layed.
We now know that a celebrity can be the president.  George Clooney says no;  but it’s certainly possible. Recall the Reagan Administration.  If Charlton Heston can be the leader of the NRA, why can’t Jay Z be the spokesperson for the NAACP?


Why stop there?  Why not seize the presidency?  More rappers have visited the White House in the last seven years than EVER before.  And it’s not to perform for POTUS.  Common the rapper mentioned just last night as he posted to FB Live that although this is his first time going to the White House, it may be the last time the opportunity is extended.

Unless…

What if Beyoncé became the First Lady?  Once we accept that politics is merely political showboating, we can better understand that her recent release LEMONADE was merely a brilliantly executed marketing scheme to draw attention to a musical dynasty that holds more importance than any presidential campaign.

That weekend it was released was one of the first that the media didn’t lead their newscasts with something stupid that Trump had uttered.  It took a disgusting Cinco De Mayo tweet to get America’s attention back on “what’s really important!”

We are so easily manipulated and distracted that we still accept major events in our contemporary history (such as 911, and Benghazi) at face value. How can an email scandal trump countless corporate bankruptcies and a refusal to release tax returns.  Wake Up!  Meanwhile amidst the bickering, a career-socialist democrat stole America’s heart!  Bernie’s likeliness to win the democratic nomination is contingent on how well the media is able to rob him of the needed attention. Will the media keep him from mobilizing a nation of free thinkers.  It is the imbeciles that are still embracing the electoral process–a process that relies on party delegates in leui of an electoral college, and a non-popular vote to elect a president.

Keep them subdued and blind, and the general public will believe anything.

Jay Z for President

Let’s consider the qualifications.  He is an American citizen.  So no one will question his birth certificate.  He was born here in the United States to American parents (that he keeps OUT of the spot light).  He makes no excuses for his urban upbringing and will never need to deny his relationship with drugs.

He’s over the age of 35, but has a huge demographically charged following.  Imagine getting head-bopping tweens to canvas their neighborhood encouraging their teachers and bus drivers to register to vote. He’ll have seniors leaving their 55+ Communities to vote for Hov!

Backwards thinking?!?   Not at all!

What’s the last qualifier?  Nobody remembers.  No one cares. As a nation we’ve tuned in to debate after debate.  The ratings for these televised events surpass American Idol. And even the mayor of Paris has partnered with the new Muslim mayor of London in calling the leading American presidential candidate a fool.

But Jay Z is known worldwide too!  He’s circumnavigated the globe more times than a TWA pilot. He’s got more people wearing blue than the Yankees do!  He could even get the Crips to stop battling the Bloods long enough to be challengers at the polls.  When you are both gang affiliated AND a Illuminati Icon, there’s no need for a national guard.  Do you get it?!?  He’s CONNECTED!  And his access to the White House is unlimited.

We joke that there’d never be a Lewinksky-esque scandal on Michelle’s watch, but Barrack can get dangerously close to the Queen of R & B.  And who would be the wiser?  After all, Kennedy was the sitting president during the Civil Rights Movement and a hero to many. Marilyn worked out this kinks, we learned later.

But the traditional misogynistic appeal of hip hop has given way to a larger social conscientiousness, and the rappers have grown up to be sitcom stars, movie producers, and political activists.


R & B / Hip Hop no longer accepts social norms that degrade our people.  Well, there’s a few rappers whose lyrics we can’t make sense of, but we’ll revisit them in a few years after their speech therapy and they’re WOKE.

We’ve raised the standard, and we want more. Obama was the first, not the last.  We want him to be able to run for s third term, but the Constitution won’t allow it.  We recognize that we must be the change we want to see.  Who better to bring it than an icon we all trust?

Heck with it!   Beyoncé for PRESIDENT!  Why not make the POTUS and FLOTUS the same person and the make Jay Z the chief of the SCOTUS?!?

When Black Becomes White

Every time I hear a report of an egregious crime, I cringe. All crime is bad, but crimes against humanity get my attention.  Cruelty, violence, and social injustice fuel my curiously.  I’m not the only one.  These are the ingredients for most television crime dramas.  But the reality sets in when a public figure, celebrity, or ANY person I may have held in high regard has been alleged.  


Social injustice though?  This is an interesting twist. Who commits these crimes?  And who are the victims. Crimes against humanity have  numerous victims. The punishment never fits the crime.  The damage is immeasurable and confidence is lost. 

Active shooters and serial rapists trump fraud and imbezzlement (which are also crimes against humanity).  How many Americans will truly recover from preditory loans, pension scandals, retirement fund fraud?  But these are not juicy enough to hold our attention unless it becomes a personal loss.  There’s this old adage:  if it bleeds it leads!  The first 10 minutes of the nightly news proves this.  Politics encompasses the second third of the news, leaving the final portion to public interest “feel good” stories for which no one stays tuned.  

We are driven by fear.  Our culture feeds on the angst.  We are anxious for everything.  And    we panic over a lot of what we digest from the news.  But the news is spoon-fed to us based on our steady diet of sensationalism.  They sell what we are buying.  


We are offered few choices.  We have liberal news or conservative politics.  The truth is slanted and the viewing public doesn’t ask enough questions.  There’s no major media outlet for the conspiracy theorists, leaving the an entire market ripe for the picking.  Underground reporting, research, and responses to legitimate concerns are only slowly surfacing.  YouTube and Facebook are the primary source for so many Americans only because the information flows at a steady stream (and the palm-held technology is already providing an endless timeline of informal content).  

“Snopes” and other fact checking sources are no more reliable than Asking Geeves (ask.com).  Our search for information is abbreviated the moment Google tells us just how quickly it gathered 2 million results on any given topic.  

Sensationalism

There are certain types of criminal events that recurr, however.  And we rarely question their validity.  Human interests in a socially sensitive climate, race-related and gender bias stories lead.  I don’t think I’m lending a bias when I suggest that our socio-political climate lends itself to crimes against humanity.  The abrasive comments that the political leaders, presidential candidates, and their media correspondents spews are the biggest crimes committed in the past 8 months.  These are the train wrecks that we can’t look away from.  

There’s another crime against humanity that holds our attention just a tad longer.  It’s sad really because this type of social behavior has no solution and yet ties up our judicial system and challenges our community resources far greater than any (ignorable) election.  


Cruelty Through Violence

Rape, molestation, serial crimes…  Are these crimes more rampant or are they simply reported more frequently?  The perpetrators are looking less and less familiar.  Or are they?  A certain demographic seems to be the audience for these news events. 

The New Jim Crow suggests that for decades a systematic injustice has been perpetuated to jail black men.  The war on drugs has yielded prison over-crowding and a renewed fear of the black community. And these manipulations and untruths have perpetuated a mistrust of law enforcement in many “ethnic communities.”

Now through mass media, we are learning about crimes that are committed by ethnic minorities.  When allegations are made against black celebrities like Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson, America cringes. We begin to accept that no one is above the law.

We’ve witnessed that a nation of oppressed minorities can become a powerful force that can seize authority and change the cultural landscape–politically, socially, and economically. Conversely, powerplays can expose white America to a new kind of hatred and fear of anything non-white. The tables have turned, and the word minority no longer has the same meaning.  Term such as “urban” and “economically disadvantaged” were coined to disguise a demographic that was once black, but is now simply poor.  When we speak less of race and more of class, what we are really talking about is wealth and power. 


And what we are learning is that although the wealthy and the popular have the means to escape penalties, no amount of celebrity can cloak public opinion.  Our society condemns more now than it ever did during the conservative “good old days”.  There’s no escape.  

Will we see more bankers, CEOs and corporate managers go to jail for their misdeeds?  Not likely.  Celebrities however are more likely to endure the wrath of the justice system.  Wesley Snipes or Martha Stewart–neither could escape.  Juicier crimes like sexual molestation, sexual assault, or murder will offer the viewing public the opportunity to play judge AND jury. 

When the public reacts to tabloid journalism, we can not at all be surprised that we have a presidential candidate whose former career was in business fraud and reality television.  


 Afrika Bambaataa Victims will tell their story. The media will exploit them. Hip Hop music will get a black eye (no pun intended); and the news-makers will suggest that if “they” could do it, no one is beyond reproach.  
Put on your seatbelt America!  As African Americans embrace the kingdom that was always denied them, there will be a recognizable force that will shine a spotlight on the indecency of our actions (while demonstrating indifference to its own injustices). 

But don’t believe me. Click here for more.

Decent Living Wage

imageAfter plenty of debate and threats that law-makers will raise the minimum wage, employers have decided on their own to take responsibility for the well-being of their staff. Fortune 500 companies, national franchises, and domestic industries are leading local businesses in this endeavor. Ensuring that their employees will be able to live within their means has become a priority.  Could this be the beginning of a new competitive streak to determine which employers take the best care of their staff?  Or is this a ploy to show a good-faith effort before the fed makes unrealistic mandates?  Who will be the last to succumb to the pressures?

But there is still heavy debate.  Opposition to raising wages comes from a certain class of individuals.  They warn that offering a higher quality of life for everyone threatens their own livelihood.  This is a bold statement, but it’s not too far from the truth.  Very few people who have worked hard to earn a decent wage (through training schools, colleges, or job experience) want to see someone less qualified offered a comparable wage.  As for the elite, there’s a kind of wealth that causes a sub-class division. Even the rich compete with each other to establish a hierarchy. We are a society of “haters”.  We hate it when someone either has more than us OR if they get theirs easier.  

In a capitalist society, there’s a premise that hard work (and innovative ideas) are rewarded with profits.  These profits, if managed properly will distinguish competitors and drive the economy.  Those who don’t work hard, won’t succeed in business. That’s the belief.  But good businesses fail all the time, mostly because of their inability to adapt in an ever-changing economy. Quick example:  General Motors lost major profits to Toyota because of its reluctance to pursue energy efficient innovations.  Now all auto industrialists are taking notes from Elon Musk’s Tesla!   Adaption is the true requirement for success.

Our legislatures offer a great deal of faith and favor to industries that can generate profits in a variety of ways. The profitability is recognized but not taxed. Instead we hope that  successful companies will be decent enough to offer jobs, pay decent wages, and provide stability for the regions they occupy.  

These same companies tend to capitalize from international labor exploitation.  Those companies that remain loyal to the United States still find ways to exploit the laborers, business professionals, and even stockholders for the sake of profits.  There’s no class warfare in that–everyone is invalidated.  Another bold interpretation.

With raising the minimum wage, there is a fear that prices will increase substantially. This is not a prerequisite to inflation.  Some argue that increasing any expense for the employer causes a domino effect which is eventually offset by the consumer.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, it shouldn’t!

In can be quite the opposite.  This creates an opportunity to equalize business expenses instead of passing this “additional cost” off to the consumer.  These same companies report huge gains, for which their tax burdens are reduced because they are in the viable position. They can create positive change in our economy, right?

Here’s the rub though. Creating jobs is not the only way to stimulate the economy, nor is it the only expectation of industry.  Providing sustainable goods and valuable services through a productive (and eager) work force yields the highest profits–both financially and intrinsically. There’s value in giving back.

CEO’s and shareholders who refuse to see the inherent good in stabilizing their businesses by distributing the resources between profits, capital, and employee benefits are unwilling to adapt. Society accepts the fact that change is a constant force, but our culture is unwilling to adapt.  Nature, however, is a stronger force than our own free will.  We will adapt–by nature or by choice!

And even giving back to the community is a tax-deductible asset!

We’ve gotten into this terrible habit of praising anyone who can positively impact on our society.  So much so that we’ve mistakenly offered incentives and rewards to entities that don’t deserve it. When Wall Street tycoons warned of a collapsing economy in 2008, the government tightened budgets so that they could give low interest loans and grants. These were later translated into bonuses (and golden parachutes) for CEO’s who later kept that money or invested it over seas.  Those tightened budgets robbed the tax payer coffers of money for education, social programs, and much needed infrastructure repairs. Nearly ten years later, we are worse for the wear and tear.  THIS was done to keep corporations happy.  Where’s the return?

image

More importantly, what’s the real incentive?

There’s an agenda to diminish the value of labor  while giving the appearance that the product (or service) is worth more.  Worth more to whom?  We need to make a distinction between who the customer is.  Just as important, we must identify who is marketing the idea or product.  Does raising the wage send a message to the consumers or to the employees?  Here a hint:  “Don’t strike!”

Employers recognize the awesome power of organized labor.  Non-Union employees hope to capture a taste of the enumerable perks of negotiating contracts and ensuring safety conditions. The labor landscape is evolving.  Business owners as well as industries MUST adapt.  But this may simply be a short cut.

An increased minimum wage is a short term win.  Wage adjustments do not prevent reduced shifts or deminished working conditions.  Cut hours and layoffs are on the other side of added employer expenses. Employees are still exposed to what would otherwise be considered unfair labor practices.

Here’s a question:

Do foreign consumers of American goods value our products for their quality, their durability, or for their support of an American-made consumable?  None of the above!  American exports are at an all-time low!   Even novelties like American flags have no value beyond our boarders.  Retailers mark down items to blow out inventory, but what comes of those products that can’t be sold?  Trash!  When even our citizens will not consume the only affordable, only available goods, we are left with a diminished value and a voided return.

Wages have increased.  Products and services are being marketed. But who is buying?