Friday, June 13, 2014

Signs the Economy is Bad: June 13, 2014 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. 

A bit of a lean week this week. Part of the reason is I was not as able to pin stories due to some mofo hackers messing with my preferred feed reader Feedly.  In the list of people who will be getting a very special room in hell are hacker assholes who make a living messing up everyone else's online lives. At any rate, the big theme this week was the resurgence of debtors' prisons in the United States. This is certainly not a new story; it is a topic I have covered here before. It is an issue that is bound to get worse before it gets better, and an illustration of things the government does that probably should not be privatized.

  • So, the pundits say things are getting better? Ha! As if. The catch about poverty and the bad economy is that many of us are one small disaster away from the poor house (or the poor streets if we go homeless). Here are "12 Devastating Testimonials From Americans Who Did Everything Right and Still Fell Into Economic Ruin." Because therein lies the rub: in the United States, you can do everything perfectly right.  You can follow all the rules, including the rules the uber rich skip or simply do not apply to them, and you can still be ruined. The game is very much rigged against the Average Joe and Jane. Story via AlterNet.
  • And as I mentioned, here is the story of the week. American private prisons are an industry that is definitely doing well in the bad economy.  You could say they are making out like thieves in the night. How do they do it? Well, one way is by jailing millions of immigrants and then exploiting them. Story via AlterNet. Another way? By jailing people due to fees the private criminal justice system creates. This is basically predatory exploitation. The people have paid their "debt to society," but then the courts create all sorts of fees, including charging people "room and board" for being imprisoned and in some cases even charging for the public defender. I don't know about you, but I thought "the right to an attorney" and having one appointed for you if you can't pay for one were a big deal. They are not supposed to send you that bill, that is part of the justice system (supposedly). Stephen Colbert, of all people, had one of his best commentaries exploring this topic in a recent segment (from The Colbert Report, video clip).
And we do have something for the uber rich this week. It seems that the terrible disease of affluenza is still running rampant, and it took a billionaire this time:

  • A judge pretty much gave a slap of the wrist to some billionaire child molester. According to the story (via Addicting Info), "SC Johnson, the “family” company’s billionaire heir, Samuel Curtis Johnson III, who confessed to repeatedly sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter has received an outrageous prison sentence of only four months because the judge, Circuit Justice Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, feels that Johnson’s importance to the community is valued much higher than the dignity of his abused step-daughter." Yes, they gave that asshole four months because he is "productive." There is indeed a different "justice" system if you are wealthy in the U.S. 

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