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America 2.0: Chapter Nine

"What are they?"


"Gamblers? I never heard of them".

"They are made in Alabama, Sophie. I friend of mine just opened a new store which is carrying them"

"I wanted Lucky's. Why can't I have those?"

"Lucky Jeans was part of Liz Claiborn. The Chinese got that company as part of the debt settlement. Luckys are made in China now, so we don't buy them"

"But Gamblers? That's a lame name, mom".

"They are the same as Lucky jeans Sophie. The factory used the same design and materials that Lucky's used to made out of. Only they make them in Alabama at a spec shop and so we can't call them Lucky's. That's the only difference."

"What's a spack shop?"

"Spec shop. It's a small factory that makes things according to specifications. The military gives the specifications to anyone who wants them. Someone downloads the specifications and designs for something. Then they buy the materials and machinery needed to make something. Then they hire people to do the work"

"I look like a dork. 'Here I am in my Gambler pants!'"

"Do you want to go around naked, Sophie? I think I will take them back."

"No, no. I want them. Maybe I can hide the label or something."

"Sometimes you can act like a real brat, Sophie. Be lucky you have anything to wear."

My mom laughed at her little pun and went back to the front of the motorhome and her work table.

General Electric. Pepsi. Johnson and Johnson. Levi Strauss.

The Chinese own every one of these brands. The military traded these and thousands of other brand names and their intellectual property (that's code for "the stuff we own") to the Chinese as our debt settlement. Other countries like the Republic of Britain, Japan and Saudi Arabia got other stuff. But the Chinese made out like bandits.

Or so they thought. The military pulled a fast one once the debts were off the book. They took all the specifications and patents for all of the brands and put them on a website anyone can access.

Want to make your own Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo? The formula is up there.
How about a pair of Lucky jeans? It's all there.

And there are no rules. So anyone can start a company, download the plans, make their own and sell it online, in a store or at the flea market.

Even companies like Johnson and Johnson are back in business. After they declared bankruptcy and had their patents and intellectual property bartered off, they simply reformed as The J&J Company and went back to work.

When the Chinese found out, they said we were "pirating stolen materials" and it would cost Chinese jobs. My dad said that was an example of irony at its highest form.

I wore my new Gambler jeans to school the next day and was not the only one. Gamblers became real popular until the next year when the Strauss 606 jeans came out.

The Chinese could not sell anything in the US. They charged too much. A pair of Levi 505 cost twice what a pair of California produced Strauss 606 jeans cost even with the 20% commodity tax to the manufacturer and the 5% finished good tax to the buyer.

The Chinese said that Gambler pants were an infringement on their patents for Lucky Jeans. The military shrugged and went back to watching the border and protecting commodities.

Spec shops were popping up everywhere. Small factories making goods previously made elsewhere, but now made in the US again. The work rules were different. People got paid for work. Spec shops did not have unions, insurance, pensions or set rates. Rather, then put an ad online saying which jobs they had open, how much they paid. More exact jobs like machine work paid more money. Simple assembly jobs paid less.

Mom also had a new line of work. With the change, a bunch of government programs and funding went away. If you were a zoo, an art museum or charity, you could not longer get grants from the government.

At the time, mom still worked banquets downtown. There were fewer these days because there were fewer rich people to go to them. But a fair number of rich people survived the change because they got their money out early, had a bunch of cash and had no debt. Some rich people took advantage of the rule changes to figure out big ways to make more money.

Long story short, mom was working a banquet for some charity. The turn out was not great and the woman running it only raised a few thousand NuBux. Mom went up to her afterwards.

"I used to plan social and charity events for a large telecom company here in town."

"I am sorry, but I am not hiring anyone. Thanks."

"That's nice, umm, Heidi, but I am not looking for a job. I still have my list. If you are interested, I will be happy to help plan and coordinate your next event. By the looks of the turnout and donations, you need the help."

"Why don't you give me a copy of your list and we can work something out?"

"Yeah, I have tables to bus. Toodles."

"OK, ok. What do you charge?"

"Ten percent of the take at the end of the night. Donations only, I take nothing at the door. Deal?"

"Deal. Here's my contact information."

Mom spent the next month organizing and contacting people on her list. About a third were off the radar which means they were broke or left the country. The rest were good to go.

The event was a success. The charity raised over fifteen thousand NuBux in donations. Mom had found a lawyer online who wrote a professional bill and invoice to the Heidi the charity lady. Heidi called my mom for a meeting and to pick up her check.

"Barbara, that was a huge success! I am so glad we were able to put our heads together and make it work!"

"Sure, keep me in mind the next time you have something going on. Do you have my payment?"

"Of course, dear. Now here is my check.."

"Um, my invoice requested guranteed funds. That would be a cashiers check, money order or cash. Did you want to run by your bank?"

"Oh, I didn't realize you were going to be that way. Let me see if I have all of it in cash.. I only have about half, let me get my purse."

"Hold on. I will take half of my money and one more thing and we call it even."

"Really? What did you want?"

"Your list of donors from previous events and a list of how much each donor gave. Give me that and half my payment and we wil call it even. Deal?"

"Deal. Here's the money, let me get the list together..."

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