Friday, June 05, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad: June 5, 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.  

We have a lot of things that happened in recent days, so let's see how many of them we get through on this Friday. And for some reason, this week old people are getting hit hard by the bad economy.

  • Poverty is still bad in the United States. What? You expected somehow to hear different from the last time I posted about this? The reality is that at least 52 million Americans still need public assistance. Story via Equal Voice.
  • The economy continues to be bad for college students and those graduating from college: Another story recently on the student loan crisis. Story via Dollars & Sense. I have said it before and said it again, this is the next bomb that will explode. It will take a while longer, since unlike owners with underwater houses who bad comes to worse can just walk away from the house or declare bankruptcy, student borrowers do not get that option. In addition, lenders do things like wage garnishments, tax refund garnishments, social security and retirement seizures, and other oppressive forms of exploitation to get their money even if it means trying to squeeze blood from a stone. For them, bankruptcy or just returning their degrees are not really an option. A lot of students will have to die (the only real freedom from an underwater college loan, so to speak, they can get) perhaps before these sharks realize there is a problem. 
  • In the end, for college graduates, whether my generation or those who are now in college, it may well all be one big ponzi scheme. This piece is seriously depressing, but hey, it's the way it is. Via AlterNet
  • As if that was not bad enough for college kids, turns out that many college plain do not give a shit about needy students. According to a recent study, public colleges are less responsive to needy, local students.  Story via USA Today. Let's be honest: those poor local deadbeats do not bring in revenue. So they are chasing after out of state kids (they can charge them out of state fees too) and internationals (who usually come in with their own financial resources) and the wealthy (oh wait, they are actually giving the wealthy more aid if you can believe that shit because we all know how much more money those children of privilege and silver spoons need). According to the article, "Public colleges and universities are increasingly awarding those groups [the local, needy poor] less financial aid funneling it to high-achieving, wealthy, out-of-state students instead, according to a new report by the New America Foundation."
  • In addition, school kids often have difficulty affording basic things like their lunch. Sure, there is this thing called reduced lunches where poor kids can qualify for reduced price (or free at times, but rare) in their school lunch. But even with that bit of help, some still have a hard time paying that. So, you know, now and then some compassionate soul shows up and slips a poor kid some lunch or let's him or her slide on paying. Well, in some other country, most people might look the other way. Not here. In the good old U, S, of A, dang nab it, we catch anyone feeding a poor kid, and we fire that bitch or bastard. Because dang nab it, let them starve. Story via AlterNet. Now in this case, the school lunch manager who was fired, who does admit she broke the rules, even states that at times she bought the kids lunch, but you know, one good Samaritan's money only goes so far, but instead of looking for some reasonable solution, hey, fuck her and let the kids starve and cry. It's America, fuck yea!
  • Things are not much better for kids in schools as poverty continues to affect more of those kids too. Story via Equal Voices.
  • And to cite that one guy, "The Rent is Too Damn High!" 
  •  In other news, an era comes to an end as New York's esteemed toy store F.A.O. Schwartz finally kicks the bucket. The horror! Where else can you go buy your overpriced teddy bears? Story via The New York Times.
  • And now to our seniors are having it bad spotlight this week: 
    • More older Americans are having to fight off foreclosures. Story via Equal Voices. Why? Well, "after a home-price collapse, the worst recession since the 1930s and some calamitous decisions to turn homes into cash machines, millions of them are straining to make house payments." Yea, apparently many of those old goats thought they could just keeping getting money out of their house, wee wee, and now, the fun is over. 
    • American seniors often faced with the choice: eat or get your meds. Via AlterNet. Things are not good for seniors. For all their stuff of the Greatest Generation, blah blah, and all those opportunities they afforded themselves (G.I. Bill, Social Security, Medicare, pensions, so on), they have sure managed to screw themselves. Granted, that is not all the picture, but it is a lot of it. In addition, seniors tend to vote GOP, and the GOP is notorious for hating the poor and hating safety nets, you know, the stuff those seniors rely on. Oh well. Don't get me wrong, I do not like the elderly to suffer, but my sympathy only goes so far when more often than not they vote against themselves, or if they vote for themselves, it often means screwing the rest of us. 
    • In fact, this retiring generation may not be the brightest. Though they are very confident that they will be able to afford retirement, the reality is very few of them have actually taken the steps to be able to have the money to afford said retirement. This according to the 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employment Benefit Research Institute.  According to the report, "American workers and retirees are expressing higher confidence about their ability to afford retirement this year, even though there is little sign they are taking the necessary steps to achieve that goal, according to the 25th annual Retirement Confidence Survey—the longest-running survey of its kind." 
    • By the way, also from the EBRI, apparently said seniors are not doing that much better at end of life planning and finances neither. See their report "A Look at the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America." A small highlight: "Significant findings include that among all those who died at ages 85 or above, 20.6 percent had no non-housing assets and 12.2 percent had no assets left." By the way, I mentioned some of this when I reviewed Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. The author, who works in the mortuary industry, discusses it. One of the things that author wrote was: "In bad economies, major cities see a drastic increase in unclaimed bodies, not all of them homeless or even without a family. A son may have loved his mother, but if his house is in foreclosure and his car repossessed, his mother's body might shift from relic to burden very quickly" (204). Serious shit to ponder. 

However, not all is bad. As usual, the uber rich and a few others have been doing well in the bad economy:

  • Some big ball of old cheese got sold for $209 a pound. Damn, I thought some of the prices at the local farm store could be high.  By the way, it did sell out. Story via USA Today
  • Some police big honcho in New York City spent $60,000 on a zumba studio for his cops. To be honest, I am a bit meh on this one. I mean, given how cranky those NYPD cops are, maybe working out the aggressions with some zumba is not a bad idea. Story via Daily Intelligencer.
  • As some of you may know, there is this new fangled gizmo out now, the Apple Watch. It's the new must have if you have money to burn. And some guys apparently have a bit too much money to burn. This guy bought two of them, in gold, for his dog. Story via Daily Intelligencer.
  • Now not all is totally honky dory in the world of the uber rich. Apparently they are now willing to share their private jets with some of the hoi polloi. Remember when it was that flying a private jet was an exclusive thing? That was the whole reason of having one, so you would not have to mingle with "la chusma." Well, now there is a service where you can book a single seat on a private jet, kind of like AirBnB I guess, but for private jet seats. According to the article, "JetGet is perfect, Mr. Joseph [founder and CEO of JetGet] said, for the person looking for something more luxurious than first class, but isn’t necessarily ready to charter an entire $70,000 private jet." You just want something nicer than first class, but  you don't want the whole damn plane. Story via The Observer.
  • And finally, if you are looking for a new home, well, Neverland Ranch is on sale, and it's only $100 million asking price at the moment. Story via VICE.

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