Friday, July 17, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad: July 17, 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.  

Once again, it has been a bit of a while since we did one of these features. It's not because the economy got better. It's more because I still have to work for a living. Anyhow, as a result, we do have some older stories that remain of interest along with stuff for this week. So there is plenty to read and ponder this week. In fact, we have so much I am arranging things by topics:


Some Rural News

Education News

  • Student loan debt is so bad that many students are forced to drop out of college.  Story via IVN. I will be honest, if I knew then what I know now, I may have dropped out as well, or better yet, just not gone at all and done something else.
  • By the way, those exploitative college loans are not just bad for students. Parents are often screwed over as well from the loans. From the article in Common Dreams, "a new Politico investigation reveals how the federal government's Parents PLUS lending program has much higher interest rates and fees, and far fewer opportunities for loan forgiveness or reductions, than even the regular student loans driving the nation's debt crisis."
  • Meanwhile, as students and parents get screwed by the oppressive college loan rackets, colleges and universities continue to also exploit their faculty in the form of hiring more adjuncts in order to pay them on the cheap. Given the way they treat adjuncts, you can tell that if they could get away with slaves to provide education (as say, the ancient Greeks and Romans did), they probably would; however, one does have to wonder if some of those skilled slaves in the Roman days fared better off than adjuncts today (yea, I went there, but think about it. At least those slaves got fed and a roof over their heads, and their students were not probably assholes like the brats who see themselves as customers today. Many adjuncts are lucky not to be homeless). Read here about an adjunct professor who teaches five classes, and still earns less than a pet sitter. That is just not right. Story via AlterNet.   

Making a Living If You Are Not Rich

  •  Al Jazeera recently had a series on The American Dream and how some families struggle to barely keep up.
  • American teens, unless they are born with silver spoons, already know what the deal is. They know that they are screwed and any advancement economically is not happening. Their views on money are seriously depressing. However, they are still stupid enough to think money buys happiness. Apparently, advertising does work. Story via Grist.
  • Low and middle class people are feeling the pinch, especially if they rent as rents keep going up. Story via Salon.
Other News (or Stuff I Could Not Quite Put Under a Category)

  • Health insurance and health care costs in the United States are a notorious clusterfuck. Could we have universal health care? Sure, but that would mean people would have to want it instead of putting up with the current crap system for the sake of "don't tell us what to do" or "we don't want that socialist shit here (even if it could save us)." So, one solution for more Americans is to engage in medical tourism to get their expensive medical procedures done abroad, where medical costs are actually reasonable, and hell, in some cases you can even make a small vacation out of it. Story via Big Think.
  • We often think the military has it made. I mean, no politician would dare suggest cuts to the Pentagon's budget. But things are bad, and look, the U.S. Army is cutting down on troop levels. Story via The Week.
  • Often in the bad economy, those big box stores that started with such high hopes end up closing. Aside from the fact of the many people who lose jobs as a result, those big boxes leave empty buildings behind that are often hard to repurpose. Here is a story on that via The Awl and a photo gallery via The Morning News.
  • And finally for this section, something that personally pisses me off: the lousy way the U.S. treats its military veterans and the fact it relies on charitable veteran care groups to do what it should be doing. A theory I have on this, and I could probably write a paper on it, is that these groups often rely on the same rhetorical techniques that animal rescue groups use in their fundraising ads. Go ahead, I dare you to watch an ad for say SPCA and for Wounded Warrior Project and not reach the same conclusion, i.e. please take pity on this cute puppy and send us money versus please take pity on this wounded and vulnerable looking vet and send us money. If I ever get the time, I am writing that paper. In the meantime, read the story via IVN.

Doing Well in the Bad Economy, or How are the Uber Rich Doing

  • The big news this week is the prison escape of drug cartel lord El Chapo. Have you seen the tunnel his people dug for him? Let us be honest. This was a solid tunnel with all the amenities built by good and skilled Mexican labor. Now compare that to the shithole tunnels most American escapees build. So, not only is El Chapo doing well enough in the bad economy, but he is also creating good jobs for construction workers. Story via New York magazine.
  • The legalization of marijuana in places like Colorado has been good for the economy. So if you work in that emerging industry, odds are good you are doing well. Story via AlterNet.
  • And again, under first world problems, the sex toy industry is coming up with another expensive geegaw, this time to get women to fork out about $800 bucks for the thing. Don't get me wrong, I like sex toys, and there are some fine items out there (although the scarcity and high prices of male sex toys is certainly a topic worth of conversation at another time). Anyhow, sad thing is probably a few women and their husband or mates will fall for this. Anyhow, what's the problem? Let Epiphora lay it out (by the way, can you imagine if say, Anthony Sullivan was peddling this?): "Day by day, second by second, time is destroying your vulva. Your labia are deflating like a sad soufflé. Your vagina is drying up. The color is draining from your genital region. Your husband is weeping. Your dinner is burning. Your life is a farce." I had no idea this was an issue; certainly not with the Better Half's cha-cha, but hey, what do I know, right? Just read the story, which I say is quite ridiculous, but be warned the site can be risque. 

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