In this globalized world of consumption we live in, rarely do we stop to think about where our goods actually come from, who cultivated them or what life is like for the people at the beginning of the production chain. When you open a pack of sugar and empty it into your tea or coffee, do you ever consider the process of how that sugar ended up on your table? Do you ever think about what the people are like at each step of the production: the cultivators of the fields, the owners of the land, the processing plant workers, the packaging designers, the marketing team, the distributors, the transporters, the wholesalers, the retailers, and ultimately you, the consumer? I do all the time, to the point where I make up complete stories in my mind that could turn into a screenplay.
There was a bit of good news from Europe last week. Two of the nations that desperately need some respite from austerity essentially told German Chancellor Merkel to stuff it. France, under pressure from Germany and the European Union to meet the E.U.'s straightjacket requirement of deficits of no more than three percent of GDP (whether or not depression looms) informed the E.U. that they will not hit this target until 2017. The government of President Francois Hollande, under fire for failing to ignite a recovery, now plans economic stimulus measures -- and the target be damned. Under E.U. rules, France can be fined up to 0.2 percent of its GDP. The French seem to be saying, 'So sue us!'