Friday, August 05, 2011

Signs that the economy is bad, August 5, 2011 edition

Here we go with another week of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (when I have time and/or feel like it) feature where I scour the news in search of the oh-so-subtle signs that the economy is bad. Because any fancy pants pundit can tell you that the economy is bad, but I look for what the big boys usually miss. This week, for the most part, seems to be a college student edition. College students are just getting hit pretty hard by the bad economy, especially at a time when the U.S. as a nation probably should be investing in better educating its youth. But hey, since the nation as a whole figures it is better to keep shipping jobs overseas and buying cheap stuff from China at Wal-Mart, I guess an educated workforce may not be as necessary, as these stories seem to reveal. And at the end I threw in something a bit lighthearted to balance out.

  • Public colleges have to beg for money from millionaires and other private sources. Another sign that we as a society simply choose not to fund our schools, showing that, in the end, education is not that big of a priority. According to the article, "legislatures are shifting the cost of college to students: public university tuition has nearly doubled nationwide in the past decade."(via The Washington Post).
  • And speaking of education, if you went to college, odds are good you remember all those tables out in the plazas and squares with student peons hawking credit cards to other students. It was quite the racket for credit card companies: get students to sign up for their credit cards with some little trinket thrown in as "incentive,' then hook them in with the high interest rates, so on. Well, I am not sure if this is totally a sign that the economy is bad, or that some credit fairness laws have gotten better, but it appears that less students are signing up for credit cards on campuses these days. (via The Chicago Tribune). 
  • And it is not getting better for college students. According to Moody's, "delinquency rates on student loans have not improved as have the rates for other kinds of consumer loans, raising the prospect that significant numbers of student loan borrowers will be unable to repay their loans in the coming years." In plain English kids, if you choose to go to college, make sure you go into a major that actually makes money and has demand (here is a hint: librarianship and education are not such majors) so you can make money to pay any college loans you take. Otherwise, it will serfdom after you graduate. In some cases, it may be better to simply join the workforce, do an apprenticeship, vocational program, so on. Research your options. (via Inside Higher Ed). 
  • If you are thinking you are just going to graduate school to weather the storm, things are not better there. Even getting a T.A. (teaching assistant) position to do the grunt work of teaching undergraduates is getting harder. (via The New York Times).  
  • The bad news for college students continue. Things are so bad that female students are doing sex work and even looking for sugar daddies (some males try to find a sugar mama, but this seems to be a rarer trend; via AlterNet). Now, personally, I have nothing against sex workers or, for that matter, any sexual business between consenting adults. Having said that, it is a sad commentary, once again, on the fact that society does not place a priority on investing in our youth's education when women feel that they need to do this in order to make ends meet. Now, you know it is getting to be a big deal when even CNN gets in on the story. Granted, they are doing it more from the sensationalist angle, "ooh, sugar daddies: is it prostitution? Must be bad" approach, but the fact they are even doing it is the point here.
  • Finally for now, the news is bad even for little kids. The economy is so bad that even the tooth fairy has had to cut back. Now apparently, the tooth fairy in this story was on the wealthy side because in my day, the going rate was a dollar a tooth, if you were lucky. When the hell did it go up to three bucks? And thus now the forty cents decline causes a furor. Go figure. (via CNN). Even The Colbert Report covered the story. He is suggesting you diversify into tusks, haha. 

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