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How much you owe on National Debt

This’ll make you think — National debt numbers, as of Wednesday:

U.S. National Debt ... $21,127,345,356,599

U.S. National Debt per citizen ..... $64,510

U.S. National Debt per taxpayer ... $174,188

Social Security liability ........ $16,891,571,273,604788

U.S. federal budget deficit ... $6,002,517,462,993

• • •

Julie, a checker at Save Mart on Howard Road, gave herself and a customer a slight shock Tuesday when she rang up a small basket of groceries. The cost: $30,922.

“That’s a little high” said the customer, who was pretty sure she wouldn’t have to pay all that.

“Oh, dear,” said Julie. “I didn’t mean to do that. You won’t have to pay that much.”

“It won”t be a penny over $29,500,” said a wise guy in the grocery line.

Everybody in the line had a good chuckle. Julie re-rang the groceries and the total was $24 and change.

• • •

Human trafficking — the practice of virtually kidnapping young women and forcing them to work in houses of prostitution — is still a big-money business in Madera, City Council Member Charles Rigby told a meeting on Wednesday of the Madera Housing Authority, of which he is a member.

“We are the fifth-largest city in California in regard to human trafficking.

“Drugs don’t make money any more,” he said. “People make money.”

A series published last year in The Madera Tribune told of the trafficking locally, and how pimps treat the young women as they would slaves, not letting them leave the houses where they work, not paying them.

Reporter Donald Promnitz wrote about why Madera has become a hot spot of sorts for the prostitution business:

“In Madera alone, you will find at least 20 to 40 prostitutes walking the streets,” said Madera Police Sgt. Daniel Foss on the issue. “If you go inside the bars, you’re going to find quite a bit more. If you go online, for the Fresno-Madera area, it’s hundreds, if not thousands, every single day (that) are posted.”

According to Foss, Madera, which sits between between the major trafficking and prostitution hubs of Los Angeles and San Francisco, has become a significant spot for prostitution due in part to a lack of resources designed to combat the issue.

“It’s just (seen as) a good home base. We don’t have a whole lot of programs, a whole lot of vice units, or programs like that,” said Foss. “so it’s a good area where you’re going to make okay money, but you’re not going to have the heat on you really bad.”

The primary users of prostitution in Madera are seasonal workers in the fields, but Foss has also stated that the clients can come from all walks of life.

“We’ve seen all manner, including college professors, business owners … Doctors, I’ve seen a medical doctor engaging in prostitution,” Foss said, “so we’ve seen everything.”

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