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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..."

America 2.0: Chapter Eight

The Wheat Dollar. The Gold Dollar. The Steel Dollar. They had lots of names for money, but everyone called them NewBucks or NuBux.

A week after the General came on tv, the new money came out. You had to bring in your old dollars, the green ones, and you would get some of the new money. It was different colors so there would be no confusion. Wheat Dollars were this really pretty shade of yellow. Steel Dollars were blue.

You got so many NuBux for old money. Ten green dollars got you one NuBux. Dad was mad about it, but he didn't understand how things worked at first. William and I learned about it when the schools reopened. It was the first thing they told us about.

The second thing they told us at school was how we were supposed to pay for our education. The teacher (who was new) said that parents had to pay for school directly now. There was not a tax base to support all of the public schools so if you went to school, you paid for it. Also, our parents had mandatory hours they had to work at the school. Lunch room duty, library duty, clean up and so on.

Old people and those who did not have kids in school did not have to pay for it anymore. If you did not want to pay for school or couldn't you could home school, but you had to register. A bunch of people got mad the the government would not teach their kids or that the government made them work at their kids school. They pulled their kids and tried to homeschool them, but most gave up after a month or so.

Mom and dad also have to come to the school once a month for a one on one talk with our teachers. If we are falling behind in school, there is a work plan all of us have to agree to follow. Its in the contract parents, kids and schools have to sign now.

If a kid fails out, the parents have to find another school that will take them. It's not too hard because every school is independent now. William's and my school has a manager who runs the place. The teachers are hired by her and get paid for doing their jobs. If the teacher is not doing his or her job they get the boot.

NuBux are stronger than the old dollars. That is what we learned on day one. NuBux are based upon commodities. That is the word for real stuff the United States produces. The top commodity is food. The United States could feed the world with one hand behind its back if it wanted to and I am pretty proud about that fact. I never knew that before. I thought all we made were music videos and cell phones.

The value of a NuBux depends upon the value of a commodity on any given day. Right now, our money is pretty strong because of the world demand for food, energy and refined goods like steel and gasoline. The rest of the world is still limping along using money that their government tells them is worth something when actually it is worth nothing.

Dad said people wanted money based upon gold like they used to. I explained to him that there was not enough gold in the world to finance our economy, not unless we wanted an ounce of gold to be worth a million dollars or something. Instead, we use all of our nation's real assets to value our money. Everyone is part of the process.

The rest of the world was worse off than we were. Some of them got really mad at the US for changing the rules and breaking everything. The Chinese were really angry at the US.

We fixed them.

America 2.0: Chapter Seven

"My fellow Americans. My name is General Andrew Preston of the United States Army. At 5PM, East Coast Time, the combined military services of the United States, assumed command of all government operations within our borders.

Our domestic financial situation has deteriorated enough to make this temporary emergency action necessary to maintain the security of our nation and its people.

The previous civilian leadership has been asked to step down and the United States Congress suspended for the time being. I am happy to report that both have agreed to cooperate entirely with this request.

You are probably asking, "What does this mean?"

First, your country is still functioning. The water and electricity will remain on regardless of the ability to pay. Phone service will still work. The roads and mass transportation will be safe to use.

(The word Infrastructure appeared on the screen below General Preston)

Second, basic necessities will remain available at your local stores and markets. Food and other goods will be securely transported from their point of origin to where they will be made available in the normal manner we have all been accustomed to.

(The words Food and Necessities appeared on the screen).

Third, our society and our country will remain safe. The laws on the books along with other new temporary security measures will be enforced. The random lawlessness, rioting, looting and other destruction which has occurred lately will no longer be tolerated in any way. Members of the military have been authorized to use deadly force to end any domestic disturbances.

(The word Security appeared on the screen).

In order to centralize activity, by executive order, all law enforcement, at the city, county and state level will now be under the direct command of the United States military. All first responders and correction facilities are also under military control. Civilian leadership for other city and state functions will remain, however, there will be some reorganization during this period of crisis.

Courts will suspend activities for 30 days until new military tribunal oversight can be put in place.

The borders of the United States are now closed to incoming traffic with the exception of returning U.S. civilians and government employees. All foreign originating air and sea traffic will be rerouted through six central locations for the duration. All domestic air travel, with the exception of approved military flights, are suspended.

Three weeks ago, the United States military began a coordinated return of our military forces overseas. All returning forces will be deployed for domestic duty and border security.

A number of federal functions American citizens have grown accustomed to will be altered and others ended in the coming months. You will be kept apprised of these developments as they occur.

Martial law and curfews will not be put in place except for scattered areas where lawlessness demands strict response. Citizens have no reason to fear or avoid the military as we are here to ensure your safety.

The banks will remain closed for the next five days and will then reopen for withdrawals and other banking functions available as before.

All foreclosures of business and personal property are hereby suspended for 90 days. All collections activities on unsecured debts will be suspended for 90 days.

A new stable form of currency will go into effect next week when the banks reopen. Do not be alarmed. You cash in hand will be redeemed and balances in savings and checking accounts automatically transferred.

A new system of emergency aid is going into effect this week. If you need food or medication, these things will be available, in certain amounts, free of charge to American citizens until the new banking system is in place. Local broadcasters will provide locations in your area. Legal identification is required to receive assistance.

To all foreign citizens, both legal and illegally, in our country. The United States government will not hinder your ability to return home. Please call the toll free number at the bottom of this screen or visit the website address displayed for more information.

The border of the United States will be strictly enforced by the US military.

To our international friends. The United States is going through an long overdue period of internal assessment and transformation. We will remain the shining light of liberty and democracy. However, during this time, please understand that the needs and security of our own nation come first. Afterwards, the United States will return stronger and more responsible than before.

To those in the world who wish to do harm to this nation and its people. Be on notice. Your days are numbered. The United States military will respond, with haste, to any threat with extreme prejudice.

I ask that all Americans please put aside their differences and previous affiliations and join together now as we repair the damage to our great nation. The future will be better and brighter than before and it starts today.

Thank you and God bless you and God bless the United States of America".

"What does that mean?" I asked.