Friday, August 28, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad, August 28, 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, been a while since we did one of these. Summer flew by, and the powers that be kept me busy at the library with various projects (some I could blog about in the other blog, others not so much). Meanwhile, the bad economy has continued on ahead, and a lot of things have been going on. So let's see how many we can cover in this post. As always, comments are welcome. Also, if you have any story tips, feel free to share; maybe I will include it in the next installment.

  • The United States is not exactly a healthy nation. A lot of people in the U.S. take a lot of prescription drugs for a lot of different conditions. Cost of these medications can be astronomical in some cases, even if you have health insurance. In fact, the concern over costs is on top of health concerns in the U.S. Story via Bizmology.
  • As I mentioned, my summer flew by. It does not mean I had it off. Some of us do work for a living year round unlike a lot of academic faculty who get time off (some voluntary, others not so much due to things like 9-month contracts, but if they expect sympathy from me, look elsewhere. I was here working on various things while they were sunning themselves someplace else). Anyhow, the fall semester has started, and students are coming in for their first fall semester as college students. However, a lot of students, especially low income students do not bother to show up when they are already admitted. Why is that? Some reasons include: "They’re stymied by tuition sticker shock, Kafkaesque paperwork requirements and a quiet, corrosive feeling that they don’t belong." For a place that is supposed to help students make something better out of themselves, higher education is often a very cold and unwelcoming place. Part of why I am happy working where I work now is because in my college, where we draw students of low income, we work had to cut down those obstacles. Story via AlterNet.
  • Meanwhile, in public schools across the U.S., the kids are getting back to school as well. What many parents who often whine about taxes and PTA fundraisers (because heaven forbid they vote to make sure schools are properly funded) fail to realize is the amount of money teachers spend on school supplies. These parents love to bitch and moan about the school supply list, or having to send in boxes of tissue that the classroom will share because of the horror that resources are pooled together and maybe a poor kid who can't afford a box of tissue will still get some to blow his nose as needed. However, what they forget is that despite the list, teachers often spend a lot of money, money out of their own pockets, to supplement the supplies they will need in their classrooms for their students. So maybe, just maybe, you whiners should shut the fuck  up, buy an extra box of pencils, pens, or tissue, and send it over for the classroom so your teacher does not have to spend money he or she likely does not have. You know, show a little compassion instead of bitching that some kid does not bring a box of tissue, and yours has to share. Consider yourself lucky your kid is not the one who can't afford the school supplies.  Story via AlterNet.
  • By the way, you know what else poor kids often do not have access to? The Internet. Yes, lack of Internet access is still a big issue for the poor. Now some of you privileged may say that 'net access is a luxury, and the poor should just do without and suck a lemon. Allow me to enlighten your ignorant, inconsiderate mind with the following: ". . .lack of Internet access is a serious barrier for many low-income families, and its consequences are very real: students who have broadband at home achieve higher graduation rates than those who do not; high speed Internet access is strongly associated with greater economic development for communities; and the Internet is a critical prerequisite for accessing a huge proportion of job applications. I spent the past year studying how these folks use public computing resources in Chicago, and I can tell you that having access at home, work, school, or a public center really changes what opportunities are available to you." Internet access is not some luxury; it is now an essential necessity for all. Story via Common Dreams.
  • In other news, did you know that odds may be good, if you live in a rural area, your local post office building is not even owned by the U.S. Postal Service? Yes, more outsourcing that is not exactly a good thing. And even worse, it may be owned by some absentee landlord that does not even maintain the building. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • And speaking of rural areas and outsourcing, for many years American manufacturers outsourced good jobs to China because they wanted to do things on the cheap, damn the workers. Well, you know the shit has hit the fan when China has decided to outsource its manufacturing because it found a place where labor is dirt cheap with minimal to no labor rights. What Third World hell hole are they sending labor too? Would you believe me if I told you the Chinese and other Asian manufacturers are outsourcing their manufacturing and setting up shops in Southern States of the U.S.? Don't just take my word for it. Go over to The Rural Blog and read the details. However, don't get too excited if you are in one of those states and hoping jobs will rush back in. According to the article, ". . . because the industries that are returning to the U.S. are heavily automated, they won't provide anywhere near the number of jobs that manufacturing facilities did in past decades. . . " .
  • This is a story I just found interesting, and it certainly qualifies as a sign of the bad economy. It will be of special interest if you are New York City resident. Bodegas are declining in Manhattan due to rising rents and the growth of chain stores. Story via The New York Times
  • In another sign in the economy is bad, a page has turned in the history of listening to music. For a certain demographic, the slogan of "8 CDs for a Penny" (or similar) holds dear memories. Well, those days are now officially over as Columbia House has filed for bankruptcy.  If you need to mourn, feel free to comment with your favorite memories of those days. Perhaps tell me about your favorite CD or album from those days. Story via NPR. 
  • Also via NPR, let's go abroad. In Spain, due to the bad economy and young people leaving for cities, whole rural villages are now for sale. If I had a few extra bucks, I think I would have an answer to leave the U.S. 
  • And in Colombia, legendary drug lord Pablo Escobar is now a tourist draw as you can visit various sites related to his site and career. You can even get souvenirs at gift shops. Story via GQ
  • And in the sign this week that let's us know the economy is really bad, and the U.S. is just fucked up, Sesame Street has now been gentrified. Yes, the children's neighborhood of working people that educated any and all in public television has sold out. It now belongs to privileged hipsters and those who can pay for premium cable, namely HBO. Talk about reflective of our times. Story via Salon

Now, it has not been all bad. For the uber rich, as usual, things are going swell. Let's see what they have been up to:

  •  The war machine keeps finding ways to make money and profit off war. This time, you can meet 11 defense contractors making money from the drone wars. Story via AlterNet.
  • In Mississippi, things are bad, but they got their priorities straight. They also got hit by Hurricane Katrina. They made sure the important stuff got repaired right away. That is why the home of treasonous leader and slavery champion Jefferson Davis has been restored to its full glory while neighboring people still suffer in squalor from the aftermath a decade later. Because, priorities man. I mean, we are talking about a state that "happens to be the most poverty-stricken, most obese and least educated." But hey, you have to fix the important stuff. Story via Addicting Info
  • Good rich Republicans can support their party by buying ridiculous (well, ridiculous to us mere peons) souvenirs. Granted, Democrats do this too, but this week, Republicans take the cake. Jeb Bush has you covered in the political fundraising tshotshkes with his $75 guaca-bowle. Because what better way to get the Latino vote than to pander to stereotypes they all eat guacamole from expensive bowls. And the thing is, the cheap bastard did not even include a recipe. Story via The Week.  
  • Now after you make your guacamole at the end of the day, you want to sit and maybe do some blogging. You can place your guaca-bowle and your laptop on one of these very expensive desks. Me? My cinder blocks with an old wood panel on top work fine as a desk. Story via the Shoplet Blog
  • And finally, you may need a drink to go with that guacamole. So you figure you can go on over to Whole Foods and get some asparagus water. However, even you would be out of luck because as much as Whole Paycheck caters to every hipster desire, even they realize asparagus water is ridiculous, so they removed it from their inventory. Story via

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