Friday, December 12, 2014

Signs the Economy is Bad: December 12, 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.  

We have a bit of a mixed bag this week from big honchos to cats. We also find out this week that some degrees may not be as useless as we first thought.

  • Things are so bad that parents can't even take their kids to the movies anymore. Now, those who know me know that I pretty much do not give a shit about movie theaters. I just watch my movies at home and avoid the rude people and the hassle. But for a good number of other people willing to brave the rudeness and hassle, going to the movies is a ritual. Well, not so much anymore. Why you ask? Well, as AlterNet reports, "if you’re an ordinary middle-class employee, your income hasn’t budged since the financial crisis." And you are also paying more for things that, to be honest, have a higher priority, like your health care. 
  • McDonald's is not doing well. Their sales are down. You know shit has hit the fan when even the broke people can't go to McDonald's. Their solution? Well, maybe a fancier gourmet menu (via Newser). 
  • However, McDonald's may be doing bad, but they still manage to pump billions into federal lobbying and campaign contributions. They are not the only ones doing it by the way, and it turns out that money does get you some influence and favor. For every dollar spent, those lobbyists get back $760 dollars from the federal government. Story via Sunlight Foundation, with a hat tip to ProPublica. 
  • By the way, who else is doing well? The global surveillance industry. And it is not so much the government directly. It's contractors and private party surveillance companies doing the spying for the government or other shady reasons. Story via The Kernel.
  • Also doing well are cat owners. Rather, we should say cat owners who have a cat with an odd or rare deformity or trait and turn it into a meme gimmick. Now, reports say that the owner of Grumpy Cat is raking at least $100 million. The owner has disputed the figure, but regardless of dispute, she cannot dispute that she probably won't have to work a day in her life again thanks to the cat if she so desires. Now, if I could get one of our two cats to do some meme gimmick. . . . Oh well, life goes on. Stories via The Week and BuzzFeed.
  • Now, at the end of the day, I would not begrudge the owner of Grumpy Cat her wealth. If anything, that cat's frown makes a lot of people happy in a world where we can use more happiness. On the other hand, sadly, there is another sign the economy, though bad, does pay well if you are willing to make deals with the devil and forget your morality (assuming you have any to start with). If you are ever asked again, "what can you do with a psychology degree?" you can now say, "how about designing torture programs?" A recently released government report states the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) did just that, and they paid two guys about $180 million to do it.  Story via Addicting Info, but you can find it in a variety of sources by now. This is usually where I would make the joke that I am in the wrong line of work. Not in this case. I would much rather be poor than sell my soul and sense of human decency for money. Some of us do know things like torture are wrong. Period. It really is as simple as that. 

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