A virtual oligopoly of corporate interests has created financial repression in the form of high ‘real’ unemployment and historically low wages and wage growth across a large swathe of American society. For much of the US workforce today, only near minimum wages are obtainable. A married couple with two kids in a typical American town, both working at or near minimum wage, must work a total of at least 100 hours per week just to survive, with no frills, fully dependent on public schooling and Federal food stamp assistance.

In the aggregate, national income has declined nearly 10% since its peak in 2001, while the 1980s-based real inflation rate has hovered around 10% since 2009, until the past year’s collapse in commodity prices dropped this alternate measure of annual inflation to the 7.5% area, versus the currently flat-lined headline CPI rate. If you are left wondering how reported GDP growth can still be positive (well, only by 0.1% at this point, according to the Fed’s own model) when the consumer accounts for a full two-thirds of GDP, look no further than Federal funding for foreign wars/ISIS, abroad, and Obamacare, here at home (and we know that global war and higher health care costs do nothing good for the American family).marijuana_usa

Thus, in the Great Recession, American families have lost trust in the system. Both parents must work full time every weekday and at least one day on the weekend, splitting up the family unit over the entire week and greatly reducing the time allowed to instill positive values in our youth. With women required in the full-time work force essentially ever since WWII, motherhood and focused child rearing has become virtually taboo in America, threatening traditional family values. Enter the cannabis economy with its unique promise of new higher paying jobs in a high growth, high margin business, and, poof, financial security and family values could be restored virtually overnight. Trust can be restored.

I can’t stay much longer, Melinda. The sun is getting high. I can’t help you with your troubles if you won’t help with mine. I gotta get down, I gotta get down. Got to get down to the mine.                   — Robert  Hunter

While 2012 statistics reported by the BLS, an Orwellian-like Ministry of Truth, say that only 3% of workers over 25 make the minimum wage or less, a quick survey of Main Street America reveals that percentage to be far higher if we also include wages set minimally above the statutory minimum wage level. Why? Most entry-level wages, particularly at the Walmarts and Krogers of the world, cleverly start at five cents or slightly more above the minimum, a mere rounding error, of course. In this way, their slave labor wages conveniently escape BLS reporting. Further, Big Business generally caps raises for their indentured servants at a meaningless five cents per six month period, and unions at 25 cents the first raise, then 15 cents, then five cents, like the oppressive employer. The only slave labor corporation to raise its minimum wage in the recent past is Walmart, whose nine dollar minimum introduced this year has destroyed its razor thin margins and passed the loss onto its vendors, who are consequently compelled to lay off more Americans, while Walmart itself closes six stores and lays off 10,000 employees for at least six months, due to “plumbing issues” at six geographically disparate stores, and leaves zero evidence that Big Boss Man is doing anything to fix his toilets and other plumbing.

Although we cannot quantify how many Americans make only 10% above minimum wage, for instance, since the BLS will not make the information available in this way, we all have access to anecdotal evidence in our communities revealing the surge in near minimum wage job dependency over the past seven years. Further, wages for the bottom 80 percentile of workers, “Production and Non-Supervisory Workers,” as the BLS calls them, have been crashing for the past nine months to their lowest levels since 2008, while wages of “Supervisory Employees,” the top 20 percentile, are surging. Indeed, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, now more than ever.

In addition to the problem of falling or stagnant wages, the real unemployment rate is at Great Depression levels, in contrast to the full employment picture espoused by Wall Street and the mainstream media. Indeed, in 2008-2009, the real unemployment rate – as calculated pre-1994, before unemployment became a political liability – surged to the 20-23% range, versus 25% at the peak in 1933. A legalized cannabis nation would drive the 23% real unemployment rate significantly lower, especially if the miracle crop of industrial hemp is embraced.

You keep me up just one more -night. I can’t sleep here no more. Little Ben clock says quarter to eight. You kept me up till four. I gotta get down, I gotta get down. Or I can’t work there no more.

Such wage-related financial repression is not strictly reserved for the blue collar workforce and suburban youth, as the corporate-controlled media would have us believe. With so many middle and upper-middle class workers displaced from their once high paying careers, they have nowhere to go, once their savings begin to dwindle, other than near-minimum wage jobs, until they can reestablish themselves in their former work for which they have been educated and trained all of their careers.

Absent The Cannabis Economy, thanks to Keynesian cheerleaders and their propaganda, wages will Hemp Fieldremain depressed in order to boost profitability for Big Business and multinationals. For instance, James Sherk, labor economist at the Heritage Foundation, has apparently made a career of helping to maintain both government and private minimum wages at their miserly low levels. Poetic justice would probably be for James Sherk to lose his gig at his corporate-controlled think-tank employer and be required to support his family on a near-minimum wage salary, with a heretofore spoilt wife unwilling to contribute to the mandatory 100 hours worked per week in that family.

Lotta poor man make a five dollar bill. Keep him happy all the time. Some other fellow making  nothing at all. And you can hear him cryin…”Can I go buddy, can I go down, take your shift at the mine?”

Despite a system seemingly hell bent on collapsing the American economy, help is on the way in the form of cannabis legalization state-by-state, according to a 6th November 2014 Bloomberg article entitled “Legal Marijuana Help is Wanted, Budtenders to Accountants”. In contrast to the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, entry level cannabis jobs pay $10 per hour and swiftly rise to $14 and higher with advancement. With these kinds of wages, more time can be devoted to the family, perhaps freeing the wife up to rear the children some, if she so chooses and if this is still important in America. Wages for skilled jobs, like accountants, lawyers, marketers, and agricultural specialists, start much higher. Once barriers to the Hemp Economy are overcome and necessary R&D work has been accomplished, we will see a surge in similar pay opportunities in the industrial hemp space, which promises to be much larger given that most of what you see around you can be more efficiently produced with hemp.

Got to get down to the Cumberland mine. That’s where I mainly spend my time. Make good money/five dollars a day. Made any more I might move away.

Even once Big Business and its national and local plutocracies do rear their ugly heads in the cannabis business more widely – as has already happened to the MMJ space in the Northeast and is threatening to happen in Ohio’s soon-to-develop recreational MJ market – grass-roots businesses will always hold a large market share of The Cannabis Economy. Why? Cannabis consumers are far more knowledgeable than the average consumer of how Big Business contaminates its products, which will soon include legal marijuana and hemp. At the moment, cannabis is naturally produced but so too were fruits and vegetables before Big Business genetically modified and introduced toxins to virtually all of our produce.

Lotta poor man got the Cumberland Blues. He can’t win for losin. Lotta poor man got to walk the line
Just to pay his union dues.

Pot and hemp consumers will only allow a portion of the production to run through Big Business, whether organic-labeled or not. Not only is the quality of Big Business production in question, but its cronyism leads to a bad deal all around. I will illustrate with the example of your local corporate-controlled produce operation, which is an ideal comparison because several states are already trying to regulate marijuana and hemp like vegetables and produce, which cannabis indeed is.  As controller of your food source in its reach for maximum profits, the produce manager is just as conflicted against your deep vested interests as your broker is. For instance, the produce manager can only meet or exceed profit targets if he or she sells you the least-fresh, marked-down produce from wholesalers, while he tells you that it is “all fresh.” The margin is so much greater in half-rotten fruits and legumes that the manager will even forego stock-out costs in order to time the replenishment of his inventory for when he gets the best discounts on older food.

To bolster his bonus, the cleverer produce department heads can work the system to skim from customers, say, not honoring advertised sales prices at the register, via PLU recoding, for unsuspecting consumers, which is virtually all of them, given the widespread trust that the corporate grocer has built in its brand over time. To not exceed the allotted work hours for his department that week, he will always compromise safety and quality before profit. Meanwhile, virtually everything that he is selling you is GMO and full of pesticides and other toxins, excepting roughly half of the few organic choices, which are the least fresh, on average, due to the particularly heavy discounting for stale organic produce. Finally, very little, if any of his produce offering, is locally grown because this is typically a costlier route for the corporate grocer. Such corporate grocer cronyism even occurs in swiftly growing communities where the favorable demographics from, say an influx of retiree migration, push sales volumes higher month after month, even absent cronyism.

Indeed, given the reality of short cuts taken by corporate grocers, the smarter produce consumers gravitate to local produce stands when possible, and independent grocers competing on quality (typically at higher prices), like Zabar’s and Eli’s in Manhattan, at the extreme. After all, we are what we eat.

I don’t know now, I just don’t know if I’m goin back again. I don’t know now, I just don’t know
if I’m goin back again.

As weed and hemp consumers generally appreciate the unique natural or organic nature of cannabis and are increasingly awake to unadvertised corporate cronyism in its various forms, for instance Monsanto and GMOs, they will demand untainted cannabis product from non-corporate, independent retailers, who will, in turn, deal strictly with non-corporate wholesalers and producers. Thus, fair wages will prevail in much of the cannabis industry for a while, at least as long as it takes for the initial entrants to establish a career track and elevate their wages significantly.

In sum, the emerging Cannabis Economy is the panacea for the deteriorating financial conditions and quality of life in America today. High margins – particularly in the initial days, before retail marijuana prices drop by at least half – enable cannabis businesses to pay fairer wages at all levels. Outside of the scope of this article’s focus on wages and employment, financial benefits accrue to the entire community, through bolstered fiscal coffers and increased tourism traffic, for example. Indeed, the legal Cannabis Economy is our opportunity to immediately improve quality of life and family values in America, and minimize the impact of the encroaching unannounced indenturing of our population. May it be fully legalized, taxed and regulated, already, right!


By Robert Brand