Friday, November 01, 2013

Signs that the economy is bad, November 1, 2013 edition

Yes, the economy is still bad. Unfortunately for me, there are not as many "fun" items lately. Things are bad. There is no other way to put it, but people and the press usually pay attention to everything except what actually matters. What else is new? Lucky for my four readers, I scour from one end of the Internet to the other in search of the oh-so-subtle signs that the economy is bad. So, let's see what we have this week:

  • UC Berkeley's Center for Labor and Research Education has a new report out on "Fast Food, Poverty Wages." Companies like Mickey D's and Walmart are notorious for not paying a decent living wage to their employees (you, the guys and gals who actually help them make their fortunes), which means their workers have to end up signing up for food stamps and other government assistance to make ends meet. That is part of what you define as "the working poor." From the report's executive summary: "Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollments in America's major public benefits programs are from working families. But many of them work in jobs that pay wages so low that their paychecks do not generate enough income to provide for life's basic necessities. Low wages paid by employers in the fast-food industry create especially acute problems for the families of workers in this industry." Think about that statement for a moment. Look, this is not really rocket science: you either pay people a decent living wage, or you pay them crap, and they have to rely on public assistance. If you choose the latter option, don't go bitching about how your taxes go pay to help the poor. In reality, you are subsidizing Mickey D's and its slave labor conditions. But hey, as long as that Big Mac is still cheap, right? 
  • Via the U.S. Courts website, highlight of a 2012 report that are MORE repeat bankruptcies. Yes, things are so bad some people go bankrupt more than once. A bit from the article: "Filers had a median average monthly income of $2,743, most filed under chapter 7, and for more debtors in 2012 this was not the first time they had filed for bankruptcy." The report is an annual report required by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005. A link to the full report (in PDF) is available on the site. 
  • Things are also bad for churches. Apparently, according to the Religion News Service, church giving is down, as in way down. I wish it was because people may be finally catching on the con that is religion and putting their money in better options, but that does not seem to be the case. It's probably the bad economy. Of course, the religious organizations worry it is just people are too consumer oriented, and the churches are just not hip enough to get them to part with their money. From the article, “'Is the issue that the church is not providing an authentic alternative to the consumer mindset?' said Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb. 'Over a period of time, if the church isn’t providing more of an authentic alternative, the church will lose.'” Yes, the church just needs to make its image more hip so people will give. The article does not that church memberships overall are down as well. Now, less members would not mean less money by any chance, would it? 
  • However, things are not bad for everyone. The rich continue to make a killing even if everyone else gets exploited. And boy, can they find ways to spend lavishly. Via AlterNet, here are 3 insane things that rich people blow money on. Craving some truffles? You can get a very fancy one for $95,000. Hey, I am not saying if you have the money, don't spend it. Knock yourself out. But me, hoi polloi, I get to shake my head and say, "dude, really? That was the best you could do?" 

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