Category: Consumers

For some time now users of face book have complained of subtle moves which amount to a betraying of their privacy and individual netiquette rights. Today, Friday May 18, the availability of face book IPO on the market is a most ominous wake up call for the average Joe using the application.

The company is now being valued at some one hundred and four billion US dollars. But face book only makes about $5 profit according to recent public figures on its past profitability per user. But of grave concern is the status of the user-generated content.

I think the open secret which made face book soar to unprecedented viral zones was the simple truth that “friends” were looking for a safe and confidential place and means to store and share what matter most to them. Face book was a well-loved niche which allowed each user to feel a sense of ownership and ensured online security with their private lives.

The incredible data which the accumulated users of face book has stored on it deserve to be legally protected for the sake of innocent persons who just want to share and connect with friends and loved ones.

Face book is going public with people’s private lives and events which were never meant to be treated as a product in the market place. How can you assign a dollar value to a priceless memory or friendship spanning decades?

But it is time for the average user to take some steps to safeguard their own privacy and attempt at this midnight hour to maintain some control over their information on the world’s social sharing giant. One recommendation is to desist from posting your classic photos, especially those which show a clear identification of your face. I mean, who is to tell what the shareholders new policies and directions would be?

Even experts in the market place are suggesting that teh poor start of trading on day one is a sign that face book has an uphill fight ahead. The thing is that to survive now as a public company, the face book train must make good on its itinerary to deliver money to its shareholders. That is where I believe the loophole is now that will cause all face book users material to be at the mercy of total strangers, alienated from any sensitivity to the data.

Now is an opportune time to rally all face book users to demand to know what is the cost of being a “friend” of face book. Shareholders are making litrally millions, even billions, from our personal sweat and blood, but users are gaining no such financial rewards. Something is wrong with that.

But who knows? An online social super hero might very well be right now in the making. Don’t be surprised if users start breaking up their friendship with face book for a new relationship that guarantees the confidential security of personal information that face book is spurning more and more these days.


The way we celebrate Christmas has been changing quite a bit over the last decade or two. The older citizens would tell us of their days of serenading during the night’s cold hours. Sleeping families would be awaken by a chorus of voices echoing Christmas songs in the lonely and otherwise quiet night.

The use of spirited alcohol has continued to be a favourite drinking choice during this season. So, too, have the traditional black cake and home made bread remained with us. Those of us who grew up in the 20th century would have looked forward to playing with our toy guns. After lunch on Christmas Day, it would have been much “popping” of gun shots among the village boys as they played Shooting.

Of course, toy guns have since been banned after it became clear that the real guns were being heard more than the toys.

A recent addition to Christmas now is the opening up of the stores on Sunday afternoons for shoppers. At first it was a rather relaxing new experience to go into town on a Sunday with one’s family or just to take in the quiet scenes. But now Sunday afternoon shopping has more crowds than even the national Carnival held in the city each year.

It has become a definite boom for the commercial sector. But it also shows that for many people, the importance of Christmas is directly linked to commercial spending and not on heavenly blessings. As the world’s economy finds it harder to keep money in the pockets of the consumer it is safe to predict that Christmas as we know it today is dying a commercial death.

Because Christmas means buying and getting all things physical and new,   when money is hard to come by then persons will not  be able to “celebrate” Christmas any more.

It is then up to those of us who know what Christmas is all about to celebrate Jesus all year round. Our commemoration of His birth in December must never be left to the business community’s ability to afford some sales promotions.


It is the stuff that movies are made of. A scientist secludes himself in a mysterious lab and comes up with the formula that makes a non living thing come alive. But for the scientists and researchers at the Scripps Research Institute (SRI) that possibility is no longer a figment of the imagination.

For some time now the world has been aware of the scientific process of cloning; producing an animal or part thereof has been the moot for much sociopolitical and ethical debates. Now, the pioneering gurus at SRI are claiming that they are making almost daily progress in crossing the Rubicon between the inanimate and the animate. Using their test tubes, the scientists have been able to produce living organisms that are capable of exponential reproduction and therefore sustain its species.

Although the lab professors have to provide very meticulously controlled environment for the molecular life processes to survive, Dr Gerald Joyce is more than confident that as long as they continue working it is really just a matter of time before the world has its own actively living, self reproductive life form that has man as its creator. That invokes certain feelings of condemnation, particularly among many persons who do believe that humans are trying to become like God Himself by attempting to create life.

And that might be a solid ground for a critical decision; after all, man had to leave Eden because he wanted to “become like God” and so ate of the forbidden fruit. Is it a fair statement to say that man even today has not given up the gambling quest to become as knowledgeable as God?

There are some educators who believe that the folks at SRI have already created life already; however, Dr Joyce is of the modest view that because the only form of life that we know is what we see on Earth then more work has to be put into the ongoing synthesizing of the inanimate so that whenever the official pronouncement is given, there will be no fashionable grounds for doubt or disbelief.

I suspect that the moment that the final breakthrough comes will not be made public right away. Obviously, the realization that man has created a living being that is able to exist on its own in a normal earthly environment is going to have never seen implications for the way that all seven billion people live on this earth. Like so many other breakthroughs that possess almost infinite socio-economic and political ramifications all the nations of the world would want to have the ability to create new life in their own corner. If these procedures and PR are not handled properly, the stage may be setting for a new age war of deadly proportions.

As it is now, many of us less scientifically endowed and knowledgeable persons are interacting with genetically modified edible goods and we don’t even know it. When we attempt to ascertain the organic nature of a lot of things that we import and use in our kitchens, it is often very difficult to  come to a definite conclusion. It is not just the pursuit of life within a lab that is the moot here. The larger, and probably more consequential, issue is the boundary that our scientists will draw the line at and say beyond this accomplishment we will not pursue any more discoveries.

Finally, in every instance where a life-changing discovery, invention or breakthrough is made, for whatever noble purpose, there is always another human being lurking in the shadows of the good guys to usurp and manipulate the item by putting it to a negative use. These are considerations that we must take seriously now and insist that those who lead and make decisions look into with all immediate transparency and accountability.

Will history say that it was under the presidency of a black man that the US lost its risk-free borrowing status?

Barack Obama has made headlines around the world since his sudden rise to the office of the most powerful man on the planet. He is the first black person to be elected to the office of President of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, the sole superpower and the largest economy.

In 2010 he made sweeping changes to the health policies and frame-work of the USA. That was indeed another history making moment. There were of course those who felt the “Yes we can!” changes were too many and too fast. In fact, some Republicans vowed to repeal what they called  “Obama Healthcare.” Yet, the purposeful President has laboured on. He intends to leave his footprint and fingerprints on Washington’s political dynasty.

Then last May. the world stood still as it tried to absorb the incredible news that Barack Obama sent a specially trained navy Seals team deep into the Pakistani territory to find and kill the ever elusive Osama Bin Laden.

Obama killed Osama!

That again cemented Obama into political elitism and unparalleled history. He accomplished what two previous presidents, each serving a two term presidency, failed to do. All the world congratulated the US President as they felt that finally the 3000 or so souls whose blood was shed on September 11, 2001,  could rest in peace as their killer was shown the bullets of an American soldier. And his remains dumped into the Northern Arabian Sea.

But a few hours ago Barack Obama was receiving the news that The USA’s credit rating has been down graded from a AAA to AA+.

This is also a history making event. Ever since the S&P ratings was being used, America was always at the triple A status. that has been so since 1917.

The AAA means that the country is well able to pay its creditors and so it is seen as a safe risk for lending money to. But with the political wranglings and stalemate in Congress over the  last few weeks as the nation struggled to enact laws that will increase its credit limit the US economy seemed to have gone into cardiac arrest.

It will be important to hear how President Obama responds to this development. Obviously, he is being seen now as the first US president to allow the country’s economic rating to fall from a triple rating. But was this totally Obama’s fault? While he may not be solely responsible, as he seeks re-election next year, it is something that the electorate and his opposition will throw in his face.

One of the sad realities, too, of this is that because President Obama is a black man, racial pundits will probably start sending the message to the black community that they are really inferior or unable to measure up to quality accomplishments, after all  we put a black man in the white house and what happens? We lose our safety credit rating!

Already, the Republicans are saying this downgrading of the US economy is another sign of the “failed leadership’ of Barack Obama. Nonetheless, this historic development is a sign that all the world finances are in possible jeopardy and individuals and governments alike must start to take a serious look at how they spend, invest or manage their money. I will like you to please read my earlier post “Your money–is it fulfilling someone else’s dream?”

We cannot just continue to spend money like our treasury is what Jesus has in heaven. Let us all go back to the simple rule of living within our means and being satisfied with a present temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement in the future.

There are few super heroes known around the world. All of them are white people. Think of Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Hulk and the Fantastic Four. Well, there is a super hero now who is a black skin person.

Since Spiderman was introduced to the world though  Marvel Comics he has always been Peter Parker, a white young man, bitten by a rare spider and so evolved into the web-throwing hero. But Marvel Comics have killed Peter in the last season edition of Spiderman. And now the character is owned by Miles Morales a real creole offspring of the latino and African interconnection.

Marvel comics announced that the change in the identity of Spiderman is to reflect the change in the real world where the black and other minority groups are growing in numbers and occupying offices of high decision-making. No doubt, the 2008 election of Barack Obama has helped to fashion this decision.

But the decision is being met with a mixture of acceptance and rejection, with  some racial disapproval in between. Some Spiderman fans think that the sales of the Spiderman series will start to wane because of a black person playing the hero. Others seem willing to go along with the decision in the interest of cultural diversity and equal power sharing.

Everyone will now be looking to Hollywood to see which actor will be wearing the mask of Spiderman in the next movie. Toby McGuire has played the role in the movies within recent years.

Miles Morales, the new Spiderman



Life is a cycle. We move from infancy to senescence or old age. Then it is over. Your money is also being spent in a cyclical manner. It funds your education, it purchases your immediate wants and needs such as food. It also is used to acquire some luxurious commodities such as a vehicle, your own home or an expensive wedding. Then, it is over. Just as there was a time when your first started earning money, there will also be a time when you  will collect your last paycheck.

My question to you is this: At whatever time you cease to have a regular income, will you be satisfied when you look back that your money was used in the way that YOU really wanted it to be used?

Several months ago I saw a television commercial that had the slogan, “It’s my money and I want it now!” That, as amusing as it may have been developed to be, contains definite sense and is worthy of examination. There are hundreds of things competing for the consumer’s dollar. In our societies, roles and status expectations seemingly drive persons to spend their money on commonly accepted commodities.  After graduating from formal schooling, most persons get busy acquiring  land and house, a vehicle and a family. These are all good and commendable.

But are you consciously making the decision to buy these things because that is what you really want to do, or are you spending on those commodities because it is the norm in your society and you figure you are expected to get those things? The important thing about consumer  spending is that the money is spent the way the consumer wants to spend it. The highly competitive marketing world of consumerism today sees business entities going all out to convince you to buy what you may not really need.

The businesses have already set out their marketing objectives and strategies to do their best to relieve you of your  money. Don’t be fooled. No thriving company exists  where the owners and employers just put on their clothes and go into town to open the business and sit and watch to see if anybody will come in on the business day to buy something.

Yet, most of us consumers walk into the commercial centres with money in our pockets and no plans or objectives whatsoever in our heads as to what we are going to buy, why we are going to buy it, how much we are going to buy it for and what we are going to get from buying it.

I am seeing on the international scene that just spending as a sign of having money that can’t run out is no longer guaranteeing a secure financial future. The US economy, the largest in the world, had to have hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out its banks and businesses. Within the last few days the world has watched with nail-biting nervousness as America struggled with raising its debt limit.

We all have had the idea of America as the land flowing with milk and honey. Money to infinity. Now,  America has borrowed all that it can. It has literally used up all its credit. And most of us working people use America as the standard of what success is. I hope we are learning that spending like there is no tomorrow, or spending just because you have it, isn’t necessarily in your best financial interest.

Because of the financial complications of wanton spending in times past our consumer price index is on the rise; inflation seems to be getting healthier each business day. The consumer’s spending power is quickly diminishing. It is amazing that when you break a $100 before you know it, you have like a few dollars remaining. And we have developed a lifestyle that is dependent on a lot of luxuries and imported commodities or services. The production costs of supplying these products, coupled with the speculators call on their “futures” are quickly pushing many of these items out of reach of the average consumer.

By the way things are shaping up, just now the average consumer will be the poor consumer. The basic items such as LPG gas, grocery, electricity, public transportation and communication seem to be on board the space shuttle en route to another galaxy.

And many  people who are working or are the middle class are having a hard time making ends meet; in fact, the middle seems to be dropping out as we try to make the ends meet.

It is important now that each consumer takes charge of his or her personal spending. Write down some short-term and some long-term goals that you want your money to accomplish. No longer should you just get the hire purchase, the credit card, the quick cash or the loans just because the financial institutions or the business place appeal to your desire to spend. Remember, at the end of your life you will want to look back and know that you have not just worked for the creditors or to put money into the business owner’s pockets.

Decide not to buy anything on impulse anymore. Do not leave home without a specific shopping list. Find simple ways of reusing or extending the use of products that you have. Focus on savings. I shall always remember a friend I acquired in Grenada who said that when he started working as a young adult, his monthly income was $30  but his rent was $25. He deposited each month into his savings an average of 5 or ten cents. Today, years later, he owns several properties, antique vehicles, and he travels to Canada every month to see his wife and child.

As a consumer, all of us have to learn the discipline of giving up certain things we can enjoy today in order to achieve future goals. It is the classic case of now or later. Our society constantly shoves  instant gratification down our throats. I want to urge you, however, to move from instant gratification to delayed gratification. The future you will thank you for it.

I am saddened when I hear public servants and others who worked long and hard complain that they are not getting their retirement monies or that the roof of their house now needs repair. The roof is the most expensive part of the house. That means the life money done. I don’t think the current labour force hears from our current retirees about how they are able or not able to continue their standard of living.

Another concern you should have is that population growth means that your pension and gratuity have to be spread among more persons: “more mouths to feed.” You must begin to think of making your money work for you, not just you working for money. Also, start familiarizing yourself with producer goods–not just consumer goods. You see, consumer goods generally end up being an expense. For example, I am realizing now that given my circumstances, keeping a vehicle is not in my financial profitability. While a vehicle is a great time convenience, the recurring costs of insurance, increasing licenses, servicing costs, the unending potholes across the country and the single road network are all things I can do well without right now. Oooh-la-la-la-la, don’t even talk about the rising price of gasoline. Right now we are paying over $15 a gallon!

That is a decision made as I determine my own financial goals in the long and short-term, preparing to invest in producer goods–items that make back money–I will have ample opportunities to buy another vehicle be it in this country or abroad, where even wider, straighter, smoother and a more comprehensive road network exists.

Similarly, you must be the one to determine how your money is to be spent. Do not allow the common spending pattern to spend your money for you. Do not be intimidated. Sure, you might be somewhat inconvenienced now, but in the future the tables will turn.

Start taking charge of your finances today. Chart your own course. Not because your neighbours have a good house means that you must buy a house. There might be other factors to consider. I recall a doctor saying to me that he built his huge house to reflect a “doctor’s image”; however, he and his wife and two children are not enough to fill the house. Soon his children will be on their own. And of course, the mortgage payments leave precious little from their salaries.

Whatever you spend you money on, be sure it is what you really want to do. And if you are not sure what to spend money on–save  your money.

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