Friday, July 18, 2014

Signs the Economy is Bad: July 18, 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.

Work has kept me busy, and life has tossed me a couple of nasty curve balls in the last couple of weeks, which is why I have not been here to blog the series. So, this week we have a few older items combined with some more recent ones. The news cycle may do its best to tell you that things are not so bad. I beg to differ, and here are this week's Signs the Economy is Bad. As always, comments (within reason) are welcome.

  • Let us start with a bit of analysis and discussion about the definitions of poverty, which we know are woefully out of date and inadequate. Stephen Pimpare looks at some U.S. Census data, and he discusses some patterns. Sure, "generational poverty [is] the exception, not the rule," but we still learn that poverty in the United States is a lot worse than people are willing to admit or consider. As Pimpare writes, "so poverty in the U.S. is, in fact, a much larger problem than we think it is, and it’s one that most Americans will face." Aside from the uber rich, odds are good many people out there may face at least a "small" spell of poverty at some point. This is something for certain folks to consider the next time they want to whine about those "deadbeat takers." As that old wise man once told me, "there but for (insert your deity of choice here), go I." Story via Talk Poverty. A hat tip to 
  • We can add to the story above with a report out of the U.S. Census Bureau that the number of people living in "poverty areas" is up. I guess the uber rich and the self-righteous can find more people to hate. 
  • So, how else does the nation punish the poor? Taking their kids away is certainly an option. And since working the poor takes work and costs money, farm out things like child welfare services to other nonprofits that may be less than scrupulous. Story via Truthout.
  • Then again, hating the poor is often a national pastime in the United States. Kim Redigan , writing for Common Dreams, asks, "Why Do We Hate the Poor?" For some reason, often in this nation, as long as someone is not affected it's pretty much who gives a hoot about the less fortunate. Whether it's Detroit and the water shut offs issue, which Redigan is discussing, or the homeless in our cities, or the recent spat of vitriol over unaccompanied children, many of which are refugees, at the southern border, Americans sure love to hate the poor and less fortunate. Heck, this is so popular a pastime that even public officials get in on demonizing the poor on the Internet with sock puppets. 
  • A common story in the bad economy is the Millennial adults having to live with their parents. Jobs are scarce, and finding, let alone, getting a good job can be quite the odyssey. The New Republic reports that "Yes, Millenials Actually Are Living in their Parents' Basements," and they bring in some numbers to prove it. They are not the only ones saying that. Pew Research makes similar findings available as they report on young adults driving a rise in multi-generational dwellings
  • As if new adults and millennials did not have it bad enough living with their elders, the colleges many of them graduated from have the gall to ask those graduates, poor and very likely unemployed, for donations to the college. I don't know about you, but given my alma maters really did not do that much for me, I am not feeling the mood to give them a penny. Not that I have a penny to give them anyhow. One college graduate decided to send a letter back to his alma mater to tell them what he thought of their fundraising. Found at Blue Nation Review.
  • In the bad economy, some folks do end up homeless. There are many reasons why people end up homeless, but very often they all make their way to one place: their local public library. According to the story, "moving beyond their old-fashioned image as book custodians where librarians shush people for talking too loud, libraries have evolved to serve as community centers, staffed with social workers and offering programs from meals to job counseling."Story via Reuters.
  • And speaking of libraries and programs that promote literacy, another good program has bitten the dust in the bad economy. Via Infodocket, a report that World Book Night suspended its U.S. operations due to lack of funding.
  • A place where they would have you believe that everything is fine is the fine state of Texas. The "Texas miracle" is something that people like their governor love to brag about. However, it's more illusion than actual substance. For instance, as detailed by The Texas Tribune, sure they managed to spark more jobs, but they did so at the expense of things like regulations for job safety. They lead in job fatalities, but hey, what's a few dead workers as long as the economy is moving along, right? So a fertilizer plant blows up because no one was inspecting it to make sure it was safe? Big deal. It's Texas; they do it bigger down there, including killing workers.
  • A place that is not doing so well is Latin America. No, the United States is not the only place with a bad economy. Apparently, things are specially bad for young people in Latin America as they face a spiral of unemployment and poverty, according to Truthout. For instance, according to the article, "according to a study by ECLAC and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), nearly one-third of young people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in poverty. . . . " 
  • Thinking about traveling? Personally, I avoid flying as much as possible. The increasing and constant hassles of the cattle cars in the sky are things to avoid. Apparently a few people think as I do since it seems they are making people decide to avoid commercial flight. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 38 million trips were avoided in 2013 (as in people chose not to fly), which cost the economy $35.7 billion. Since commercial flight is still alive and well, it seems not enough people are avoiding flights just yet. Given the way they treat people, if a few airlines go broke and take a few ancillary services with it, so much the better. Maybe they will get the message then.
And it has been a fairly good couple of weeks or so for the uber rich:

  • For one, according to a new study, the American uber rich are more obscenely rich than previously thought. I would not care less, except for those pesky details of income inequality and even more obscene poverty, often caused by the uber rich's exploitation. Story via AlterNet
  • Now, some people complain this whole income gap and wealth inequality stuff is complicated. That it is hard to understand. So, to help those people I have found an explanation that even the most unsophisticated person can probably understand, courtesy of John Oliver. (Link to YouTube video). 
  • Now, some may say I am being mean calling the uber rich exploitative. Well, don't take my word for it. It turns out that extreme wealth can and does breed narcissism to the point where a they get richer, they feel more entitled to lie, cheat, so on. Story via The Guardian.
  • And to rub salt on the wound, they get more attention on television too. Poverty is barely mentioned in newscasts. Story via AlterNet.
  • Finally, what I am labeling the most ridiculous sign the economy is bad:  you need $60,000 to make a potato salad. Yes, some guy decided he was craving potato salad, but he did not know how to make one. So, instead maybe asking his granny or looking up a recipe on the Internet, he gets one of the Kickstarter things going to raise money for his salad. He got $60K for his potato salad. No shit, really. However, it turns out you can make a potato salad for a lot less, as demonstrated by the author at Poor as Folk. As the author writes I also say that I am not sure who to be irritated at here: the fuckbagel who begged for the money, or the asswaffles with money to burn who actually gave it to him. So many worthy causes, and this is what they give money to? Ridiculous indeed.

No comments: