Friday, November 19, 2010

Signs that the economy is bad, November 19, 2010 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular feature (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) where I scour the web for those oh-so-subtle signs that the economy is bad. Any pundit can tell you the usual news, but it takes a bit more effort and a keen eye to find the real signs that things are bad. Someone has to do it, and I am happy to do it for my three readers. I do try to keep this series nice and light, but once in a while a bit of seriousness creeps in. Things are going from bad to worse in this nation (and around various parts of the world), in large measure due to selfish mofos who have no concept of the common good. But let us put the ranting aside and have a look at the signs for this week:

  • Top bankers just can't make bonuses like they used to anymore. In a case of "I wish I had his problem," the big honcho of Goldman Sachs actually complained that he was only getting a measly $9 million dollar bonus.According to this article presented in AlterNet, "Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs' boss, was paid a mere $9 million last year, so now he wants that 'sacrifice' made up to him." Yes, the poor crybaby's greed knows no bounds. Everyone has to tighten their belts, but gosh darned it, he wants his money. If you feel a need to shed a tear for the greedy man, he will do ok: "Lest you worry that poor Lloyd's family had to resort to food stamps to make ends meet with that tough $9 million year, note that he had a bit of a cushion, having pocketed a record Wall Street payday of $68 million in 2007 -- even as his the financial condition of his bank was crumbling." Must be nice.
  • For a long time, the ALA (that's the American Library Association to my non-librarian reader) has been trumpeting on and on the myth that there is, or will be coming soon, a shortage of librarians. That malarkey has pretty much been discredited, and librarians in the know like me do find it annoying when ALA tries to push it yet again. However, there are other fields facing a shortage. It turns out that if you are willing to become a Catholic priest, you may have a career as an exorcist. According to this report from Reuters, apparently there has been an increase in demand for exorcisms.  
  • And once again, we have another story on the trend of schools to turn to advertising as a way to make ends meet. According to this story in Time, kids are getting exposed to ads on school grounds more often, and as a captive audience, they can't do much about it.  This is not new. I have pointed to stories about advertising by the teachers (a college professor advertising in his classes for a burrito or the high school teacher for a pizza restaurant for instance).And here is another one story where a beauty school partners with a beauty products maker. What do these stories have in common? Communities that refuse to pay up for the education of their children, then often gripe because the schools have to find ways to make ends meet. I will put this in simple terms: either put your money where your mouth is, pay your taxes, and support your schools so the kids get the best they need, or the schools may have to employ some entrepreneurial spirit, and you may not like how they do it. But guess what? If you choose not to support your local schools, you should get no say when they have to turn to advertising to make ends meet. You anti-tax whiner abdicated that option of complaining when you chose to cut back funding, not vote for that particular school district proposition, or opposed a (probably) modest raise in your property taxes to fund the schools. And let's be honest, do you really want to send your kids to Coca-Cola High School or the Clairol Beauty College? Because that is where things are headed. (Mention of Coke and Clairol in no way implies endorsement. I just picked two brands in the spur of the moment).And in case you are saying, "but hey, that is just getting businesses to partner with schools and help out," here is an example of the real agenda businesspeople have when it comes to placing ads in your schools. From the article, "a Los Angeles—based firm at one point distributed marketing materials touting a 'unique form of advertising' in elementary schools, one that 'caters to a captive audience where the viewer can't 'change the channel' or 'turn the page.'" In other words, your kids are being exploited as a captive audience; they really don't give a crap about your kids or their education.
  • Now you can't even share getting laid. It turns out that swingers parties and clubs are feeling the economic pinch as well. According to this article from the New York Daily News, "a couple lingering near the bar explained that the sluggish economy has thinned out local swinging parties, saying, 'If you want to save money, you can stay home and get laid for free.'" Well, you can if you have someone to share the moment. Then again, as Alvy Singer said in Annie Hall, "Hey, don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love"  

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