Friday, September 24, 2010

Signs that the economy is bad, September 24, 2010 edition

Welcome once more to another edition of the semi-popular (to my three readers), semi-regular (when I feel like doing it or have the time to do it) series "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I scour the world in search for those oh so subtle signs that the economy is bad. Sure, the government and economists can tell you the big signs. But what do they know? A bunch of economists just recently decided that the recession ended. Apparently someone forgot to tell the rest of us who are still broke and trying to make ends meet. And they certainly did not tell the people in our stories for this week:

  • In Mexico, senior citizens who had professional careers have to drive taxis to make ends meet. According to the article from The Christian Science Monitor, " in Mexico City, taxis can be a last grasp at economic life for experienced professionals who have fallen victim to rampant age discrimination and recent economic crises." By the way, this is not just seniors however. The article further states that "workers as young as 35 are shut out of interviews by employers seeking younger, cheaper labor, says Ricardo Bucio, president of Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred)." Ageism is alive and well in Mexico. Actually, it is alive and well here in the U.S, but it tends to be more subtle, along the lines of "we found a candidate whose experience matches the job description better" or some other generic line.
  • Children's allowances are just not the same anymore. According to Reuters, "British children's weekly pocket money has fallen to a seven-year low, in a sign parents are still cutting back on non-essential spending. . . ." That's right, giving little Susie some pocket money is not considered essential. I wonder if there is a similar situation here in the U.S. for children's allowances. Stay tuned, I will keep an eye out for any reports.
  • Community college partners with a beauty products company to open a cosmetology program. See story details at Inside Higher Ed. here.  I have made jokes before and pointed to other, more commercial ways for colleges and educators to raise revenue such as advertising for burrito joints, selling advertising space in classes, and other ways. So, is opening a beauty school and getting a beauty products company to pony up for supplies and equipment really that far fetched? I am thinking that the future of higher education may well get more commercialized. Whether that is good or not is a matter of debate. 
  • And if you want to work for the government, whether in government or as a contractor, things may get tougher. It turns out that if you have a foreclosure or debt in your personal history, you may be denied a security clearance. ProPublica cites a study, which says, "Since the collapse of the housing market in 2008, debt resulting from job losses and home foreclosures have had a devastating effect on people holding national security clearances. That, more than any other factor today, is causing the revocation or denial of security clearances, resulting in the loss of good paying jobs, and putting skilled workers further and further behind in their effort to dig out of debt." So it is a classic Catch-22: you may lose a good job because you are in debt, but without that good job you can't get out of debt or make your mortgage.  
  • Many places have in place assistance for low income people who may need help paying their utilities. Here is the link for information in Texas.  These programs are usually designed to help people maintain things like heat in winter or A/C in the summer (especially crucial here in Texas). You know that things are going down shit's creek when the Queen of England not only asks for assistance with her utilities, but she wants the money to come from the same fund used for the poor. Apparently a 15 million pounds stipend to upkeep the palaces is not enough. (Via AFP). 
That's it for this week's edition of "Signs that the economy is bad." Tune in soon for our next installment, because it does matter what some fancy economists say. The economy is still bad and getting worse. The problem is people can't always tell, and that is where I come in. To help educate and show my three readers the real clues that the economy is bad.

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