(REAL TIMES MEDIA)—The economy is pretty lousy for most Americans right now. Anything from 9.1 to a hidden 15 percent of us are out of work, or have work situations that are so tenuous that we might as well not have jobs. People all over the country are desperate for any way to get by and are selling just about anything they can get their hands on that might be of value. Five years ago it was sell your gold but that’s already exhausted (notice how few of those commercials come on now?) networking marketing programs like ANC or Pre-Paid legal are only going to take you so far, so what’s left for someone to sell when buyers are scarce? Apparently some people believe that babies are the way to go.
Jessica Mickles (or Jessica Marie Beers in some stories) was caught trying to sell her son for $2,000 last week in a crime that is both disturbing and oddly an indicator of just how difficult things have become for Americans in the “Great Recession”. Mickles of Pinellas County, Fla. has been ensnared in an elaborate plan hatched by herself, her child’s father and possibly grandfather to sell her 5-year-old child to a couple she met at church for $2,000. The potential couple instead reported her to the police and now the mother sits in jail awaiting a trial that will no doubt become a ratings booster for what’s left of Court TV’s daily line-up. In and of itself this is a sad story but usually not to strange, Mickles is suspected of being a drug addict and addicts are known to sell just about anything they can get their hands on for a new fix, but whereas once this seemed like a bizarre and out of place crime, instances of baby selling seem to be popping up more and more across the nation.
In July Heidi Knowles Gasaway was caught trying to sell her child outside of a Taco Bell for $500.00; Stephanie Bigbee Flemming was caught up in a sting to sell her 12 week old child last fall for a new car payment and Patrick Fousek tried to beat Wal-Mart’s price cutting by selling his child for $25.00 in the parking lot to unwilling buyers last fall as well. And these are simply the stories we’re hearing about in the news. Child Trafficking is usually for the sex trade, where young women and men are often kidnapped, bought and sold across the United States and the World for willing pedophiles and other lowlifes. But these are organized criminal empires that the FBI actually track and look after. Even the shady foreign market for babies that has grown in places like China and Eastern Europe where rich White couples pay thousands for a healthy White looking baby is actually considered problematic by international authorities and is illegal in most cases. But random folks on the street who are so poor or so strung out on drugs that they’re willing to sell babies, who can’t read, write, talk or even be used for sexual or criminal activities is a disturbing trend that has been increasing as the depths and length of this recession continue.
Sadly enough the reason this is occurring is because the traditional ways in which people buried their fears and pains during a recession have actually taken a major hit. Usually the “Vice Economy”, drugs, booze, cigarettes and the sex trade maintain their equilibrium or actually thrive during recessions as people attempt to “…take a break for all your worries…” However this recession has gone on so long that the sex industry has taken a beating in sales, pornography, strip clubs and even prostitution have all seen profits plummet as people find other, and perhaps cheaper ways to get a quick fix. Only alcohol and cigarette sales have remained steady or improved and that is in large part because of foreign sales.
Sadly enough in past economic downturns men and women would turn to selling their own bodies to make ends meet, or meet some narcotic craving, but the sex market seems to priced out it’s main consumers. Now we’re left with men and women so desperate that the only thing they can afford is drugs and the only way they can satisfy a habit is by trying to sell off the only commodity that human beings can still produce with little or no cost. I just hope that as this recession continues we don’t find more people so desperate that they’ll sell something more than a human life, because that’s already putting one’s own humanity up for sale.
(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor at Hiram College in Ohio.)