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Midnight Shopping – The New Normal

Midnight Shopping – The New Normal

Associated Press reporters out of Fredericksburg, Va. reported that, ” a month, just after midnight, the beeping checkout scanners at a Wal-Mart just off Interstate 95 come alive in a chorus of financial and at grocery stores across the country, the chimes come just after food stamps and other monthly government benefits drop into the accounts of shoppers who have rationed things like milk, ground beef and toilet paper and can finally stock up again.”

The report refers to those who are shopping just prior to the midnight hour when their food stamp rations will be deposited electronically onto debit cards for the next month. The entire scenario sounds much like the food rationing lines of decades past – only based on the high-tech, electronic system of the 21st century. Problem is, hunger in 2010 is the same as hunger in the 1900’s.

Some shoppers have children in tow and others leave them sleeping at home – alone – in this midnight hour. Empty stomachs await midnight treats. Sounds like Christmas. But it’s not Christmas at all. In fact, it is far from a holiday.

One father stated to the reporter that, “The kids are sleeping, so we go do what we’ve gotta do. Money is tight,” And they needed the food stamps because, “his job as a restaurant server doesn’t quite cover expenses for their five children.” “We try to get here between 10:30 and 11 because we know we’ve got a lot of stuff to get. That way by 12 o’clock we’re at the line cashing out and done,” he said.

This is not a third world country. This is happening now in the United States. The jobless rate is stuck at 9.6%, one and two parent households (41 million total) are shopping with food stamps at midnight on the last day of the month, children are going to bed hungry, 1 in 7 Americans are now living in poverty, and Richard Hastings, macro and consumer strategist with Global Hunter Securities. “This is going to be like this for many years to come.” And further stated that this is “the new normal”.

And yet, with all of this doom and gloom, people still refuse to look for alternative sources of income. These same people continue to turn up their noses at home based business opportunities that are working to assist Americans by supplementing their household income. I even personally spoke to someone who would not consider a home business because it would interfere with their unemployment benefits; even though the potential was clearly there for her to exceed what the benefits were paying. Does this mean that there simply is no hope for the majority, because they refuse to recognize there has been a paradigm shift in this country. It is, in fact, the very same shift that has taken people out of food lines and ‘shifted’ them to electronic debit cards. E-commerce is not the future – it is the ‘now’. And it will be the strong, those with a vision and the creative who will survive this storm. And for those who continue to dismiss the possibilities, I wonder; don’t they have a responsibility to show their children a new and different way – as well as feeding them in the midnight hour? What could they learn by watching their parent(s) turn their circumstances around by turning themselves around?