Friday, October 16, 2015

Signs the Economy is Bad: October 16, 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.  

Poverty, higher education, and first world problems seem to be the themes for this week. So, let's get on with it.

  • A lot of people love to gripe that asking for a $15 an hour minimum wage is too much. How dare people ask for at least something they can live on? A new report (link to PDF of the report) from Seattle-based Alliance for a Just Society actually shows that the number should be higher, at least $16.87. In addition, "according to the study, there are no states in the country where the living wage should be less than $14.26 an hour." Story via Common Dreams.
  • Meanwhile, a new report from ProPublica found that Blacks are being targeted and squeezed by debt collection lawsuits. In fact, they are finding that "when ProPublica attempted to measure, for the first time, the prevalence of judgments stemming from these suits, a clear pattern emerged: they were massed in black neighborhoods." It's basically debt collectors using courts to bully and exploit the poor.  Story found at Salon.
  • In higher education, the practice of cutting back on academics while lavishing money on athletics continues. It turns out that practice also has a role in the rise of student college debt, not that the colleges care as long as they can make it on ESPN or whatever sports network. Here is a small fact: ". . . a new video from Brave New Films that seeks to spotlight a little-appreciated facet of the student debt crisis—how universities spend nearly $92,000 per student athlete, compared to $13,600 on educating students." By the way, most of the funding for a lot of those athletics is not from rich alumni or other "outside funding" as the administrators love to brag. It comes from student fees and taxpayers. Students get shafted in their educations to pay for their schools' athletics. Story via AlterNet, which includes the video.
  • Meanwhile, older college professors are not retiring. Administrators love to whine they can't open new tenure lines or employ younger faculty because those dinosaurs do not retire already. There may be some truth in that (although that lament is also tainted with some ageism), but the fact is the economy is so bad they can't afford to retire. Heck, I probably have to stay a librarian until I keel over, so I can imagine the whining younger librarians will do (and they can be vocal about it) when I become a dinosaur that does not retire. As if I owed them a job. Story via NPR.
  • Now the economy may be bad, but Americans in the U.S. can always find ways to spend money on frivolous things. For instance, this year, they will spend about $350 million for Halloween costumes. . . for their pets. Story via The Christian Science Monitor.
  • Now, not everyone is doing lousy in the bad economy. The uber rich continue to spend and create jobs. Don't laugh. OK, so they don't really create many jobs, but they certainly create jobs that cater to them, like people who build luxury bomb shelters. I mean, if the apocalypse comes, and you are a one-percenter, you have to ride it out in style. Someone has to build you that underground nirvana that is bomb proof, and I am sure you will pay big bucks to ride it out in style. Story via VICE.
  • And finally, you can put this under "who gives a fuck" or first world problems. It seems the Walmart family heirs lost a few bucks in the stock market. Sure, it is more money than any Average Joe or Jane will ever see, but you know, boo hoo. Story via Esquire.

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