Friday, January 29, 2016

Signs the Economy is Bad: January 29, 2016 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.  

The holiday season is now over, and many people are doing their best to recuperate from the excessive spending they did over the holidays. The New Year has come, and with it, the bad economy continues. Let's see what's been going on.

  • One of the big news that came with the new year is that Walmart is closing a bunch of stores (story via Bizmology). Apparently, even the megagiant can't keep all those stores open. Although I am willing to bet it may also have to do with the fact in some places the minimum wage went, and well, you've got to keep those profits in place, so time to lay off some people to compensate (not that would really lose much, not to mention it is not like they pay their employees well, but hey, it's a corporation. Caring about people is not a priority for them). Plus you know things have to be bad when even the poor people Walmart built its empire on cannot afford to shop there.
  • Overall, Americans are not feeling well about the economy according to a new survey (story via The Atlantic). So, no matter how well Wall Street does or how much the pundits try to push the narrative of stuff getting better, the reality is that wages for the most part as still stagnant, and the conditions for the average person are just not that good.
  • And Americans have reason to feel the economy is bad. 45 million of them are living in poverty (story via AlterNet). Just don't try to figure that out from watching the news. The media could not care less.
  • Then again, with few exceptions, Americans in general are assholes when it comes to taking care of their own. The prevailing attitude, especially among Republicans and the Right Wing, is everyone for themselves. Between their attitude of "me first, fuck you" and electing officials who go on ahead to cut safety nets, Americans are pretty much rushing to leave the poor behind (Story via TruthDig).  I guess they are taking that line about decreasing the surplus population seriously.
  • Meanwhile, around the world, there are millions of hungry people, and the statistics often underestimate the problem (story via Yes! Magazine).
  • There are also millions of homeless children in the U.S,, including Florida (story via Equal Voices).
  • College students are often poor and food insecure (a.k.a. hungry because they do not get enough to eat. Story via Inside Higher Ed). College students are a special case. Most privileged, usually Right Wing, asshats think college students cannot possibly be poor. I mean, they get scholarships and loans, right? Many have jobs? (maybe). But the reality is not as simple as some rosy eyed view people with privilege (many of whom likely got a college education under much better deals than the current generation) make it out to be. Going to college for many can be a struggle. I know. I see it everyday at the college I work at in our corner of Appalachia. Maybe those asshats ought to shut up and pay us a visit to see how the other half lives. 
  • Now some of you may think that once a kid manages to graduate from college, there will be a job lined up waiting for him. Not quite. You see, in the bad economy, jobs after college are not really there. There are a lot of graduates who for a variety of reasons cannot find employment after college. And a lot of them have to move back in with their parents. So much for that empty nest and the idea of turning junior's room into a sex dungeon or tiki bar. Now, so you do not say I do not offer something positive, here are some tips for parents of college kids coming back to the nest; actually more like a plan to kicking them back out as soon as possible because if there is anything Americans hate is their adult kids living with them (story via The Christian Science Monitor). It is something that always makes me wonder about Americans. In Latin America, including Puerto Rico, adult children living with their parents after college or even as they are employed is not uncommon and in fact it is pretty normal, especially if they are single. The kid has a place to live until he or she can really stretch out their wings (or gets married), and the parents do have someone to keep helping around the house, etc. But that is another story. 
  • Staying a bit more on the topic of poverty and hunger. Some of you clueless out there may say, "hey, those poor people can go to a food bank. They got food there." Yes, food banks have food. However, the quality and quantity varies, not to mention the degree of restrictions. Not all food banks are as free as one would think. Some have very restrictive rules about who can or not use their services. Then, there is the food you may or not get at that food bank. But do not take my word for it. The author of the blog Poor as Folk has taken the time and effort to find out from actual poor people what they actually get from food banks. You ever wondered what people get at food banks? Here is your answer. If you read only one story from my post today, read this one.

Now, we know that not everyone does badly in the bad economy. Certain businesses and companies often do well exploiting the poor, the vulnerable, the stupid, so on in the bad economy. If  scrupples are not a concern, and you lack a conscience or basic human decency, you can probably make money in the bad economy. For example, we have the following:

  • The gun and firearms industry is doing great in the bad economy. Not only are they getting rich while people die left and right from their products (story via AlterNet), but heck, they can even expand because cities and towns are more than willing to give the death merchants tax breaks so they will come to their localities (story via Mother Jones). Now, I am all for your right to bear arms responsibly. I am certainly not for the right of every idiot to be armed in order to go around showing off their penis compensator, bullying others, and more often than not either doing something stupid with the gun or just going on a rampage for perceived slights. There is a difference, and if your devotion to your fetish blinds you from it, you are probably part of the problem while enriching the firearms industry. 
  • By the way, it is not just selling guns. Very often you need accessories to carry and use the gun. You know, things like a kit to clean and maintain your gun. You want to carry your gun it is probably a bit more practical to do so in a holster than just shoving it in your pants. And if you are lady, well, the lady bits often make carrying your concealed gun a bit more difficult. Not to worry, there are whole industries arising to meet all the needs of ladies wanting to pack heat (story via NPR). Someone saw opportunity, and they jumped on it to make a few bucks. By the way, it is not just about having a holster that fits better on your waist or can go under your bra. Women are fashion conscious, so that holster better have some lace, and if it is pink, that would be nice too. 
  • The prison for profit industrial complex also does well in the bad economy. Their latest make money scheme? Trying to make money off electronic messaging from prisoners to their families (story via TruthOut). No, it is not really e-mail as the racket they run would be an insult to actual e-mail.
  • And then, there are people begging for money. In the bad economy, many may turn to begging for money on the streets for a few pennies. Now, you know things are really bad when rich people are the ones doing the begging. Since this is the 21st century, rich people do not beg on the streets. They go online and set up one of those "give me funds (for some cause/issue/actual need)" accounts. For instance: 
    • Porn actress and reality star celebrity Tila Tequila apparently did not quite manage her earnings well. She recently set up GoFundMe campaign to beg for money (story via Radar Online). The thing is it actually worked. Plenty of suckers out there sent her money. 
    • And then there is this rich brat, for lack of a better word, who also used GoFundMe to beg for money to get a new car.
  • Perhaps we can console ourselves with a donut. However, I have to get my donuts at the corner mom and pop for a few bucks a dozen (damn good donuts too; they are a rare treat for us). On the other hand, if you can afford it and your tastes are a bit more extravagant, and you happen to be in Brooklyn, you can always get this fancy $100 donut (story via The Week). By the way, that is the price for one single donut. 
And that's the world we live in the bad economy. 

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