Friday, September 18, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad: September 18, 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 we have a small selection of items, and we focus a bit more on academia. If you thought the Ivory Tower was immune to the bad economy, you were wrong. So read on.

  • There a new census report out that basically shows little to no improvement in poverty and family incomes in the U.S. Story via Common Dreams. Report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • You thought the recession was over? Ha! It is still going, and that is certainly a sign the economy is bad. This week, we learn the recession is still hitting homeless children. How bad is it? Here ya go: "The number of homeless children attending public schools in the U.S. has doubled since before the 2008 recession, reaching a record national total of 1.36 million in the 2013-2014 school year, according to new federal statistics released Monday." Story via Common Dreams, which includes links to the federal report and a report from The Washington Post.
  • Some of those swanky wealthy colleges may be doing fine, but they are leaving a lot of their students in debt. Let us be blunt, in some cases, they are screwing their students worse than University of Phoenix ever did. And you should read to see the things some of these colleges do spend their wealth on (other than students and education that is). Story via ProPublica. 
  • Now some wealthy colleges may not be doing well by their students. However, wealthy or not one thing colleges are getting hit hard by is academic journal price subscriptions. Those fancy journals faculty love to publish in, because vanity, fame, and tenure, are getting more and more expensive. So Harvard of all places is finally whining they can't afford those costs. Now, you know when Harvard whines, you know the economy is bad and shit just hit the fan.  However, my sympathy as librarian only goes so far for this. This is a large problem of academia's own making. If faculty would freaking learn to value other things besides high end publication for tenure, maybe learn how to publish in open access ways, and overall do some reforms, yea, libraries and academia could tell those publishers to stuff it. Unfortunately, I do not foresee folks growing a pair (be it cojones or ovaries), and I am sure a few academics might even come on over to tell me it is not that simple. In the end, yes it is. Have a will? Then you have a way. Anyhow, this may be a story librarians in academia may comment on, or not. I have found stories like this tend to be somewhat seasonal. Anyhow, story via Libraries Are For Use.
  • Meanwhile, in other news, the exodus of Puerto Ricans out of the island due to the seriously bad economy continues. "A record 64,000 Puerto Ricans left the island last year for the U.S. mainland, the highest number in the past decade, officials said Thursday." Story via The Christian Science Monitor.
  • And by the way, not all academics are coming from privileged backgrounds nor are they children of fortune. Via Conditionally Accepted, here is a two part series on a poverty class academic worth reading. (Here is Part One and here is Part Two).
  • However, it is not all bad. The NFL is making quite a bit of money charging the U.S. Department of Defense for advertising and events at NFL games. So, the armed forces get a lot of rah rah at games to ramp up jingoism (they call it "patriotism" and being a "good American"), and the NFL makes more money while militarizing the sport. It is a win-win. It does not get any more mercenary than that. Story via AlterNet.

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