Friday, August 27, 2010

Signs that the economy is bad, August 27th edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. Sure, anyone can look at the usual indicators such as unemployment, housing markets, etc. The Itinerant Librarian goes out, uses his information systems mastery and his knowledge of information resources to seek out and find those oh-so-subtle clues that the economy is bad. So, sit back and let's have a look at this week's signs that the economy is bad:

  • You know things are bad when you can't even afford your prescriptions,  have to cut pills, or do other stunts just to stay afloat.  According to Consumer Reports blog, "Overall, 27 percent failed to take a drug as prescribed, for example, by not getting a prescription filled (16 percent), taking an expired medication (12 percent), or sharing a prescription with someone else to save money (4 percent)." Oh, and consumers also think that doctors are way too cozy with Big Pharma, but I think that's pretty much a given. (A hat tip to Americablog).
  • Things are so bad that call centers are now returning to the U.S. Remember the days when companies outsourced their call centers to someplace in India? Remember when you could not get someone on the phone who could speak clearly? OK, that may still be happening even with the locals here, but you get the idea. Things are down the crapper when it is cheaper to have your call center here in the U.S. after years of following the mantra of the labor is cheaper overseas. Here is the deal according to the NPR story, "High inflation and double-digit annual raises in some sectors are pushing up the cost of labor in India. At the same time wages in the U.S. are falling and companies are rethinking the trade-offs associated with outsourcing." So do not get too excited. It's not that companies here are suddenly feeling like they have to employ Americans out of some patriotic duty or sense of loyalty to their nation. It's that the Indians and Filipinos are actually asking for higher salaries while the salaries here are dropping. It's once again company greed dictating that it pay the lowest possible wage, as close to slave wage as possible. Let's be honest, there is no altruism here. 
  • Another sign: Jezebel says that "Stripping Pays Off Better Than a Liberal Arts Degree." Unfortunately, I do not have the "bella figura," so please refrain from the obvious joke at the expense of the librarian. The Jezebel piece draws on an article out of The Independent (UK) that says "One in four lap dancers has a degree, study finds."   Apparently the cliche of a woman stripping to pay for her college degree is not just a cliche. What the study the article reports on finds is that "rather than being uneducated young women who have been coerced into the industry, one in four dancers has a degree and has been attracted by the money." Take the study as it comes.
  • Meanwhile, in Cuba, the elderly are losing their subsidized cigarettes. They are not actually losing cigarettes,just the very reduced price they get by virtue of being elderly. According to the BBC, "All Cubans 55 or older are allocated four packs of cigarettes a month for about 25% the normal price, but this privilege is being ended in September." 
  • What's another sign that the economy is bad? When you have to get creative with your political campaign funding. If you think Americans are the experts in political fundraising shenanigans, they have nothing on Venezuelans. According to Reuters, here is a politician who is raffling breast implants to raise money.
  • And speaking of getting creative, Mexico is working to attract more tourists with new "alternative tours." Again, according to Reuters, "innovative tourist agencies offer trips to remote mountain areas home to leftist Zapatista rebels and to the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of Mexico City."

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