Friday, March 13, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad: March 13, 2015 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.  

This week a bit of good news came out when a poll showed that a good number of Americans (read people from the U.S.) feel better about the economy, so they have more time to bitch and moan about the government. Notice that key in the New York magazine story is that the people "feel" better. It does not follow they are doing any better. In fact, the economy certainly continues to be bad, and in some case really bad. But do not be sad. For some, the uber rich, things are going well. So, let's see what up this week.

  • We have talked before about the student debt. I have mentioned once or twice how that is going to be the next big time bomb to go off. Maybe not right away since the government and the lenders, by garnishing wages, making bankruptcy practically impossible, so on, will get their pounds of flesh (and maybe even get your soul in the hereafter). Thing is, if there is nothing to collect due to factors such as umemployment (you can't garnish wages that are not being earned), the bomb sooner or later has to explode. Anyhow, the story is once more out there this week, featured on Bill Moyers' site. By the way, the article highlights adults under 35, but believe me, it's not just those under 35. Here is a little bit from the article: "The student debt debacle has huge implications for the future. The average college graduate is now almost $30,000 underwater, with some on the hook for over $100,000."
  • These days about the only way to be free of student debt if you are deep underwater is to die. However, if you are going to die, you may want to keep your final arrangements cheap. It is a bad economy, and funerals can be expensive. So, you may want to do like many Americans who are choosing cremation over casket funerals. Story via Al Jazeera America.
  • Meanwhile, back in Texas, the number of households on food stamps almost tripled since 2000. It is all part of the "Texas miracle" they love to brag about down there. Story via Texas Tribune.
  • Up in the Great White North, Canadians are not doing better when it comes to being in debt. Story via Maclean's.
  • Now, in the bad economy, exploiting any worker for profit is pretty much a given. Americans like their stuff cheap, and easy, and they want it now. It is part of why Amazon keeps selling stuff, even though the company has not turned a profit worth a damn since its inception. So, in the interest of Americans getting their cheap stuff now, Amazon's latest scheme is to exploit the contingent and adjunct workers of the U.S. Postal Service. Naturally, the USPS in desperation to stay relevant has gone along with this scheme. As the AlterNet article reports, "this new deal has proven to be the impetus behind postal management’s brutal utilization of its CCA workforce, creating the seven-day/no rest work cycle and perfectly exemplifying the extraordinary lengths to which the USPS will go to pander to its corporate partner’s interests." Hey, as long as folks can get their cheap shit fast on Sundays, who gives a shit who suffers, right? 
  • On a side note, economies may be bad abroad, but the migrants from many nations go go abroad to work help out their home countries via remittances. Turns out that money sent back home does a lot to fuel the global economy. Story via Bizmology.

As usual, some people do very well in the bad economy, usually at the expense of everybody else who actually works for a living. Let's see how the uber rich are doing this week:

  • Well, the one-percenters recently got a new magazine dedicated to them, courtesy of The New York Times.  So, what kind of fine quality content does the magazine provide? For example, "the first 29 pages contain full-page or spread ads for luxury cars, 5-star resorts, wealth management services and condos in Manhattan that only the royal family of Qatar could afford." That is just the first 29 pages. I am sure you can't wait to keep on reading. Story via In These Times. I mean, Cadillac is also advertising, and they need the one-percenters' help "to shrug off its image as the car best used for funerals. . . . "
  • Gun makers always do well in the bad economy. 
    • Locally, in Missouri, gun sales have been taking off in light of events in the town of Ferguson. If you are going to profit from tragedy, peddling guns seems to be a pretty good way to go. Story via The Washington Post.
    • Selling weapons abroad is also profitable for the United States. The U.S. may have poverty, homelessness, crumbling infrastructure, racial tensions, education systems that leave a lot to be desired, but as long as the nation can still sell weapons abroad, someone will make money. Weapon exporting is one of the very few things where the U.S. can say they are Number 1. Story via Common Dreams, which includes link to the report citing the U.S. prominence in arm sales.
  • And finally, in the "so shameless it just has to work" department, evangelist and con man Creflo Dollar's fancy private jet plane recently had a mechanical failure. Apparently it was a scary experience, so much so that is asking his congregation for a new, better plane to the tune of $65 million dollars. Yes, that is the right number: 65 million dollars. The rub is that you know odds are good his flock will pony up. As often attributed to P.T. Barnum, there is a sucker born every minute. Story via The Root.

So, today, on a light note, with a special dedication to Creflo Dollar, we feature a little musical accompaniment. You certainly will not find the good reverend practicing what he is preaching, nor making any sacrifice.

Have a good weekend, folks.

No comments: