Oceans of Opportunity

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shopping at ‘Price Rite’ | an illustration of where we are going wrong

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiAfter a leisurely holiday week spent relaxing with the fam, today marked the official start of getting back to the program. Among the many chores I assumed for the day was grocery shopping. For nearly a decade now, I have been quite favorably shopping at a chain of grocery stores called ‘Price Rite’. The store prides itself on offering markedly lower prices than other stores due to its lack of advertising, minimizing in-store display organization, and in some cases, offering a slightly lesser variety of brand names to choose from. The result is a near 30% savings on my weekly shop. Makes good sense, yes?

My shop today was met with some frustration. Not being a day in the field, I was able to get away from the ‘office’ about mid-day for a much needed break and head to Price Rite. My first realization was the amount of traffic on the streets…in the middle of the day! Surely this many people can’t be self-employed and have the freedoms of breaking up their day, I thought? As I entered Price Rite, I was overwhelmed by how crowded the store was. I hustled through, ducking and dodging the masses that seem to congregate in the ethnic food aisles at this store. My shop was quick and productive, and met with an interesting comment by the guy checking me out at the register. He said (sarcastically), “you picked a great day to go shopping, huh”. He hit that right…the store was nuts from a capacity standpoint. He further commented “it’s the 3rd of the month…food stamps“. And so it all made sense…

Because of the extremely slashed prices at this store, it tends to serve the demographic that is on a tighter budget than many of the rest of us – who, due to the need to buy in to the brand name show that defines America, tend to frequent the Super Stop & Shops (as an example) of the world. So, as one might expect, food stamp day draws quite the crowd.

There were a number of bothersome points about this whole experience. First, was the shear numbers of people, who were clearly there using their food stamps, and allegedly not working during the day. I am not pointing fingers to make this unemployment anyone’s fault, but the fact that SO MANY people were out and about leads me to believe that the numbers of unemployment are staggering, and much worse than the stats we see accounted for by our state and federal government. Second is the fact that all of these food stamp dependent people are being supported by our tax dollars. Third, and this is a consistent observation when shopping there on any day or at any time of day, is that the demographic most often observed to frequent Price Rite is the middle to lower classes. Does saving 30-40% of one’s grocery bill not appeal to the rest of the world?

This is where we are going wrong folks. In nearly every country except the US, grocery stores and markets lack brand name variety, hence advertising wars are kept to a minimum, which means lower prices for all. These nations are producers, that is their objective is to be productive. Here, we are consumers, and it is going to be our nation’s downfall unless we can turn around the big picture. We work hard to buy the brand name peanut butter or yogurt because it is a status symbol, and we really do care what people think about it. It’s sick. Because of this consumer based psychology, the company that produces the best advertising campaign will win the consumer battle, and at our expense – believe me, corporate America isn’t taking the loss here folks.

My point is this – we, as a nation, need to start thinking about being productive again. But, the challenge is in identifying what we can produce. We manufacture in China, have IT support in India, import oil from the Middle East, and import vehicles from Europe. What exactly is it that we do, do? Well, to-date, what we do is place bets on the perceived value of bogus stocks and bonds, and use funny money to do the gambling…it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

What we need is a revolution. We need to start over with a new fundamental balance of law and order. What better place to take this on than our last frontier – Oceanus. It’s there for the taking, and has the cleanest slate this country has seen since Lewis & Clark staked claims in the West.

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