There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
--For What it's Worth,
Round and round it goes,
where it stops, nobody knows
--Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour
And somewhere men are laughing,
and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville -
mighty Casey has struck out
--Casey at the Bat, Ernest Thayer
This was written with the last pen sold by our now-defunct Borders Bookstore. The pen was made in China; it ran out of ink by day two.
Back in the halcyon days of 20th century United States, mystery writer John D. McDonald authored the Travis McGee series, an easygoing character who lived on a boat. In order to wrangle favorable book deals from his publisher, McDonald would say that he had the final installment in the bag: A Black Border for McGee; in other words, he would kill off the cash cow if they were niggardly in their negotiations.
Mr. McDonald, former OSS member (R.I.P), could not have known there would soon be a Black Border for America. The closure of the Borders bookstore chain signifies many things. Most obviously, the loss of 19,000 more jobs on September 1. They will soon be joined by the losses incurred from the closure of 1,300 post offices. Congressman Darrell Issa projects 200,000
While our government diddles over budget caps and defaults the everyday lives of our middle and lower classes are slowly fading to black, because the things not counted in the cost of living index -- things like gas and food -- are the mainstays of their lives. How is it we can have a rosy uptick in consumer purchasing? Because the wealthiest 5-20% are back to purchasing top drawer items at full price, because they know there will always be more for them (Sales of Luxury Goods are Recovering Strongly.)
Meanwhile, dollar stores are failing to make their quotas or have an extremely thin profit margin because their denizens are cutting back to the bare essentials, cutting out "discretionary" purchases like hand lotions. A Dollar Store manager said apologetically in a NYT article, "it may sound ridiculous", but the stores will often not raise popular items by 10 cents as that would have a significant impact upon their client base.
Back to the pen: Ranger has a handsome wooden Hallmark pen for which he cannot obtain refills; we are no longer manufacturing them. The only hope for using the refillable pen is to find unused ones on eBay when stationary stores close out, or to order an adapter provided by Hallmark Canada to allow the use of other refill cartridges. Ranger finds himself like the Road Warrior, searching the parched landscape for niceties that one were.
It seems Americans would rather buy 50-pks at Costco of cheapo Chinese pens rather than taking the time to actually keep track of and dissemble a pen for refilling. More trash, less value, the appearance of value, less manufacturing in the USA.
Meanwhile, Fla-duh Governor Rick "Pink Slip" Scott calls for ever more students to become engineers, scientists and mathematicians, without specifying where these people will work. But some people will surely benefit: The community college system, which will run under-prepared applicants through the remediation mill for several terms, and all the support associated with that. Surely every government agency involved with placing, training and benefits for people mismatched to field. Failure and sickness is becoming big business in the U.S. Rick Scott would know this from his holdings in the health care field.
And maybe, when these poor schlumps find no jobs, they can rock their basic math skills by being able to subtract the receipt total from funds given at the burgeoning Dollar Stores without dumbly staring at the register and being flummoxed by the offer of an extra penny to avoid getting four back. Surely the tabs will never be too high to compute, and dollar type stores are a growth area. It's something.
The economic climate of America is not going to improve for the masses anytime soon.