Friday, November 04, 2011

Signs that the economy is bad, November 4, 2011

And here we go with another week of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. As I have stated before, this feature started out as a lighthearted thing, but it seems events are just getting more and more serious. Still, I scour the Internet and other sources to find those oh-so-subtle signs that things are bad because any pundit can spin numbers, but in the end, it's the little details. I often try to find things like the story I am highlighting this week about the poor and the need for cars, stories about things we often take for granted. As a wise man once told me, and I slightly paraphrase, "there but for (the deity of choice), go I." It is a saying that a lot of people, including a vast majority of the locals here, conveniently tend to forget. Anyhow, here are your signs for this week:

  • I think this story pretty much speaks for itself. A man robs a bank, then he turns himself in. Why? He was homeless, and he needed a place to stay. And hey, in prison they do put a roof over your head and feed you three meals a day (unless it is Texas, in which case they feed  you one meal less on the weekends). Story via Fox News 6. 
  • A college that used to be free is looking into charging tuition. Read the story about Cooper Union, "the New York City college founded in 1859 to provide free education for the working class." Via The New York Times.  
  • This is just wrong. A grocery store refused to let a woman pay a grocery bill in quarters (via KATU).  She was basically in hard straits, and this was the change she had. I think the comment at Jezebel, where I first saw the story, says it all: "It's legal for stores to refuse to accept certain types of payment, but hassling impoverished customers still makes you a jerk." Exactly. The woman did her best to wait until the register was empty, and she gave the cashier the heads up of what she would be doing to pay. Just count the darn quarters and don't make a big deal out of it. Doing so just makes you look, well, like a jerk. And this tough economy, we are probably going to see a lot more people scraping change from under the couches, coffee cans, change jars, etc. who may or not be able to turn it into bills. Anyhow, I don't get the fuss. The Better Half, who works in a restaurant (fast food) says they are always glad when someone brings in change; they can always use change. Sure, they may prefer you don't hold up a line paying, but they will take it. As always in a case when they screw up, the store's higher ups issued the non-apology of "sorry for the inconvenience." No, that is just an inconvenience. You basically chose to humiliate and harass a poor woman for no other reason than some petty policy your peon should have been able to make an exception on for the sake of human decency. 
  • Many folks take for granted the ability to have a car to get to and from work. I am fortunate that, even being in the low 1%, I have a car to get me to work. Many people do not have that, and if you are poor trying to get a job, and you lack a car, the odds are even more against you.  According to the article from the Los Angeles Times, "About 1 in 4 needy U.S. families do not have a car, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That's a serious handicap for the millions of Americans who don't have access to robust mass transit." Maybe if we want to help alleviate poverty, helping those folks get a reliable car to make it to work and back home might be a good way to use some stimulus money. Of course, that would imply having politicians and folks who care about the poor, something seriously lacking these days. 
  • And hey, in Cuba, you will now be able to have private home sales. Details here from the BBC.  However, I first saw the story in El Universal over here (Spanish). Feel free to read the source that works best for you. 
  • Want some Wild West memorabilia and artifacts? It turns out Harrisburg, PA, one of the first places you think of when  you think "Western," is trying to sell off a pretty sizable collection it acquired over the years for a Western museum that never happened. Via Yahoo! News. 

    Photo credit: Photo used by terms of Creative Commons license,via Flickr user Anders Vindegg,

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