Friday, February 14, 2014

Signs the Economy is Bad: February 14, 2014 (Valentine's Day) edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.  

Welcome to the 2014 Valentine's Day edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. What? You thought it would all be love and roses because of today? Bad shit does not stop just because some couples are getting all lovey-dovey today on this Hallmark holiday.

  • It turns the bad economy can be bad for your love life. For one, finding love is not as casual and random as it used to be. Less Americans are willing to marry outside their income bracket. So unless you are a hot gal doing a little gold digging, and the old rich man is willing to have his gold dug, odds are good you are not going to be able to marry up (and I am willing to bet you are not going to want to marry down, if at all). As for guys, you are toast (in terms of mate selection) dudes if you are not making good money. Cynical? Probably, but such is life more often than not. On a serious note, according to the article, the rich marry rich, the poor marry poor, and this means a widening of income inequality, which we already know is a big problem in the United States. There is more, but you will have to read the story. The article comes via AlterNet.
  • Part of the reason that the bad economy can ruin your love life is that there is a war on the poor and the middle class. It is a lot harder to make an honest living and remain middle class when the rich plutocrats and politicians they buy make it impossible for the working man and woman to get an even break. And if you are worried over money and scraping a living, maybe looking for a mate is not going to be a priority. And if you are married, and you are both harried trying to scrape out that living, odds are good the love life takes a back seat. You are not going to be thinking about getting laid when you both work like government mules. Robert Reich explains it here, and he does so in only two minutes and 15 seconds or so. Link to short article and video from TruthDig. The video is certainly worth watching as he tells it as it is. The video should be mandatory watching to everyone who votes.
  • Now, are the poor the only ones in a bind? Actually, many falling in a bind are those who used to have good jobs and positions, and they are not part of the "used to haves." These are people who pretty much have never been poor, and they get to learn the hard way to be poor (yes, being poor does entail certain knowledge and even skill sets). Piece via The Huffington Post
  • By the way, care to guess who is the largest group getting food stamps? The working poor. Story via Addicting Info.  By the way, the working poor does include people with college educations.
  • We have spoken before on this blog about the fact that debtor's prisons are alive and well in the United States (see here and here for example). The newer racket now is that if you get sentenced to probation, your probation is supervised by some for-profit vulture that the courts outsourced to that basically exploits people for money. Hundreds of thousands of people with minor misdemeanors put on probation are shuffled off onto private supervision companies that charge all sorts of fees for the probation to the people on probation. Of course, for the Right Wingers who support this, this kind of cruel vindictive penalty is fin; after all, their corporate buddies are making money. And when the people on probation cannot pay, these companies secure their arrests to get them back in jail. I wonder what the odds are that the jail is a private operation too? According to the piece linked, from Human Rights Watch, "in many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services." It's exploitation pure and simple. The HRW article highlights a full report; the link to the full report is included in the site.
  • College students and graduates keep facing poor prospects. According to a recent PEW study, "young people with college degrees have not been big winners in the economy over the last quarter century." Story via Center for Economic Research and Policy. 
  • Now before you graduate, you do have to get that education and go to college. College can be expensive as hell. One big cost? Textbooks, which have gotten so bad that "rising prices continue to hinder students who, in the worst scenarios, are turning down classes because the materials are too expensive." Story via Inside Higher Ed, which highlights (and links to) a report on the topic by the United States Public Interest Research Group. Now, the article does point out that the publishing industry disputes the findings (I can't imagine why), and it includes links to their view. However, as much as the publishers whine and try to spin their racket, you can't argue with something like the nonpartisan General Accountability Office (GAO). "According to a June 2013 Government Accountability Office report, textbook prices rose 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, at three times the rate of inflation." Publishers can make all the claims about more students who rent books, so on, but in the end, they have been jacking up prices pure and simple. 
  • And do we really need to talk yet again about how bad food service waiters are underpaid in the United States? Old story, but yes, we do need to keep talking about it because it is not right their employers can get away with the exploitation wages they do now, not to mention the ways managers often cheat their waiters of what little they make in tips. . As for you person that eats out, either tip well or stay home if you can't or won't tip. Better yet, raise your voices and be willing to pay a bit more if need be so your waiter can actually buy a gallon of milk for his or her family. Story via AlterNet
  • And speaking of taking the family out, want to go to the 9/11 Museum? Story via Esquire. It will cost you more as they quietly raised their fees. You are not paying for art or something like a zoo. You are paying for "to grieve and learn about the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Ground Zero is already a dark tourism site. Now someone's just making a buck off that fact." 
  • Now, come on, it can't be that bad, right? The problem in America is that too many of the 99% whine too much. This is according to the asshat CEO of Nicole Miller, some fancy pants luxury brand "that sells $800 sequined dresses and $250 clutches." He made his odious, clearly out of touch remarks on CNBC, the "wealthy people talking to each other channel," where they naturally were more than happy to defend his stupidity. Must be nice to be rich enough to get away with saying stupid shit that simply proves your lack of humanity.

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