Friday, May 22, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad: May 22, 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 is Memorial Day Weekend, so we all know what that means. Sure, for many people, it is the start of the summer season. For businesses, it's the mattress sale season (to this day, I am not sure when Memorial Day became mattress fire sale day).  For the rest of us, it may well be the stay home watching war movies weekend. However, before you head off to the beach or fire up the barbecue, let's see what has been happening in the bad economy. This week we have a couple of, shall I say, interesting stories.

  • It is hard to survive in the bad economy if you get stuck working in the fast food industry. Let us be honest. A lot of people, for whatever reason, love to eat there. However, the employers do not really like paying their workers an honest wage, and the people who eat there make it their hobby to often rag on fast food workers for asking for a living wage thinking they are just burger flipping monkeys. Maybe they need to work a few late shifts in a fast food restaurant to get a clue. "Trying to survive in a Broken Economy" is not particularly easy. Story via Talk Poverty. "In America, we’re told that if we work hard, we can make it. If we cut back and save and scrimp, we will succeed. I have done these things and I’m still struggling." It should not be like that, and if you happen to be doing a bit better, and you rag on the people who struggle, you should just remember that, were it not for the deity of your choice, that could be you.
  • When people rag on fast food workers or the poor in general, this reply here may well be perfect. Yes, "Everyone Deserves a Living Wage...Even if They Can't Spell 'Fries.'" As the responder writes, "the minimum wage is SUPPOSED to be a living wage. Anyone who works 40 hours a week should be able to provide a good home for themselves and their family." It really should be as simple as that. Story via Poor as Folk.
  • I have highlighted before how the bad state of higher education, or rather the lack of commitment and investment from people in higher education, is a serious sign of the bad economy. Universities and colleges are getting their funding cut left and right by legislators more interested in ingratiating themselves with whiny stingy voters than in the common good. Result is colleges get their funding cut, and then those same voters whine to their legislators that those schools are raising tuition, holy shit, do something about it. The legislators then go on to cut more funding, rinse and repeat. Colleges meanwhile figure they have to make up the revenue somehow. Those in-state kids, aka the kids of said whiny taxpayers, do not bring in enough revenue. So colleges are pursuing the next cash cow: out of state kids who in addition to tuition pay out of state fees. Naturally, to make room for those kids, they have to take in less in-state kids. Story via Addicting Info. Oh well, it is the bad economy. And that is not all. This means that it is more of the wealthy kids who can go to college, since they often get more of those merit-based scholarships, and they often have daddy's wallet to pick up the tab. So, Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Six Pack, guess what? Your little bundle of joy may not be able to attend State U., and odds are that while you voted for legislators who defunded your State U., State U. decided to look for kids actually willing and able to afford to pay. You are welcome.
  • Oh, and parents, do not get too comfortable. If you thought your little ray of sunshine was going to just graduate from college, get a job, and leave the nest once and for all, I have news for you. "Sixty-five percent of parents expect to be providing some financial support to their children after they graduate from college, according to a survey released Tuesday. . . " Story via Inside Higher Ed. Yea, in the bad economy, the kids more often than not come back home after graduation, and you will get stuck with the bills.
  • In the end, student debt, and much of debt in general as it exists now, has become a serfdom tool part of "the poverty machine." Story via TruthOut. Article also includes a list of readings that may be of interest. 
  • In other news, it seems the conventional wisdom that the gun industry is doing well in the U.S. is not quite as true as the NRA would have you believe. According to The New York Times, gun makers are now toxic in terms of stock. So much so that Cerberus cannot sell off its ownership of Remington.  And that is not all; it is not just one investment company trying to divest to save its image. The bad economy is hitting these guys hard: "Many firearms manufacturers have had declining revenue over the last year. Another gun company, Colt Defense, the maker of the M1911 handgun, has announced a financial reorganization plan as it has struggled to make debt payments." A hat tip to Southern Beale.
  • And on a final note for the bad economy, even kinksters have had to get a little creative. Working in the bad economy and making it work often involves creativity. So, you like your kink. You have your sex dungeon set up just the way you like it to torment your little submissives to your heart's delight. Then, oh no, you need to take a trip out of town? How will you indulge your kink when you travel? Well, it turns out that much like AirBnB, now there is a company that provides out of town accommodations that include sex dungeons. The company is KinkBnB, and you can read about them in this article via Grist.

For the weekly bonus, yes, we do have some people doing well in the bad economy, very well. Let's have a look at how the uber rich are doing this week:

  • Military contractors keep doing great. Hell, they even build stuff nobody, including the military, wants them to build. After all, they are getting paid. For them, life is certainly good. So what if no one wanted a $25 million building in Afghanistan? Damnit, money was put aside for it, and by gosh, it got built. Period.  Story via Truthout.
  • It has been celebrity cat fight this week for morning talk show people as the MSNBC guy, who is quite wealthy himself, decided to whine and mock the ABC Sunday morning guy over his salary. Kettle, meet pot. I guess when you have a ton of money, you still need to look down on others, even if the other guy makes more than you, but it is not like you are not making enough yourself. Ah, the life of the rich and famous. Story via Crooks and Liars.
  • And finally for this week, file this under "I am not sure if I should hate them or praise them for getting this kind of job." Apparently some rich wives get bonuses like corporate executives do for things like keeping a house budget under control and making sure the kids get into the right private school. Some are decrying this as outrageous sexism. Others are more along the lines of "how do I get that gig?" The fact is the ladies in those arrangements are overall doing nicely. They certainly are not left wanting. Oh well. Story via Jezebel.

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