Friday, June 06, 2014

Signs the Economy is Bad: June 6, 2014

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. 

Soldiers move onto Omaha Beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Welcome to the D-Day edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian While we celebrate the heroics and efforts of the great World War II generation (and they certainly deserve it), the war on poverty has pretty much ground to a halt with the bad economy and the robber baron exploitation of today. It's so bad even the Mafia is having a hard time of it, as we will see this week.

  • So, are you listening to pundits that tell you the economy is just fine? that the economy is getting better? So on, and yadda yadda? Well, it seems Americans are not quite buying into it given polls that reveal they are still worried about the economy. According to Gallup at the end of May 2014, "Americans' overall economic confidence is not showing signs of significant upward movement." A hat tip to TruthDig.
  • And there are reasons to worry, especially for the poor. Among other issues, they often have to pay more just to keep a roof over their heads. Story via Poor as Folk, highlighting article from The Wall Street Journal. How bad it is it? Actually, this hits almost everyone. According to the fine folks of the WSJ, "Housing and food expenses absorb more than half of low-income Americans’ annual spending. Even the wealthiest Americans devote a sizable share of their spending to keeping a roof over their heads and food in their refrigerators." 
  • OK, so you figure things are so bad, you may try to supplement your meager food and small items budget with a little dumpster diving. Well, for poor people, it turns out dumpster diving is not as easy as that. Not everyone can afford to dumpster dive. Don't believe me? Check this out, via Poor as Folk.
  • So, got caught by the cops dumpster diving? Maybe the judge was having a mellow day, and he just slaps you with some probation. You think are cool. Well, for some poor folk, think again. Modern debtor's prisons are a topic I have highlighted on the blog before (for example, here. And if you follow that link, you get some more examples). How is this possible? Well, it's the usual privatization drive by right wingers of things that really should not be privatized. In this case, courts are outsourcing probation supervision to for profit vulture companies that tack on all sorts of morally questionable fees to "supervise" someone on probation. That someone is then liable for those fees, and if for some reason they fail to pay, often unaware of the fees until it is too late, well, that someone ends up in prison. The practice seems specially popular in southern states. Story via Yes! magazine.
  • In other news, maybe you are single and interested in dating.  You have heard this newfangled Internet thing is awesome to help you find that special someone. Well, the catch is going the online route is not exactly affordable for many. Learn more about what you really fork out money on when it comes to online dating. Story via The Week.
  • As I write this, the big event this past week or so had been the shooting at UCSB. At the end of this week, we have yet another shooting, this time at Seattle Pacific University (story from USA Today). At the end of the day, something that these events reveal as well as the without fail whining the ammosexuals will do that "guns be fine," blame the problem on made up "issues" (like some assholes do), and "your dead kid don't trump ma' rights," (link from Right Wing Watch, but there are various links to that), is that someone is making money on this. Yes. Someone is making money on these shootings. Who might you ask? Why, the gun industry of course. Via AlterNet, read how they prey on the insecure and the paranoid to keep on selling guns at a time when most people are not buying guns. At least one industry is doing well in the bad economy. 
  • In other news out of Seattle, that city raised the minimum wage this past week to $15 an hour (link to Seattle Times). That sounds like a good start.  However, the fast food industry, in its quest to keep wages low and depressed because heaven forbid they charge a few pennies more for that burger or taco in order to pay a decent living wage, may be looking for options. One possibility? Robots. Via the humor site, Holy Taco (of all places), you can find link to the CNN story as well as additional links and humorous look at what other jobs may be replaced by robots soon. Heck, I may have to worry. If we leave things to certain twopointopian "cool" technolusty librarians, they'd be happy to give our jobs to robots if it meant they could just sit in their offices messing with Facebook and Instagram (on behalf of their libraries, of course) and leave it all to Google and whatever the trendy "discovery engine" du jour is. However, not happening if I have anything to say about it.
  • So, let's go overseas, where there are signs as well the economy is bad. In Italy, things are so bad even the Mafia is encouraging young people to seek a job other than being a mafioso. Yes, collections of protection money are low. You see, when the economy is bad, the businesses that get pinched for protection money can't pay, or can't pay as much, or they just completely go out of business Thus, protection money starts drying up. Being a protection money collector is a starting step often for young mafiosi. But if there is nothing to collect, then there are no jobs. So, how bad is it for the Mafia? According to this article from Bizmology, "Support for families of those in jail is now guaranteed only for senior mobsters. Junior gangsters are being exhorted to 'get a real job' instead of trying to eke out a dishonest living." Tough times indeed.

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