Friday, June 24, 2016

Signs the economy is bad: June 24, 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.  

This week there is quite a bit of fuckery going on, big and small. So let's get on with it.

  • I always knew that much of the bridal industry is a big rip-off, but now we get some confirmation. It turns out that, among other things, bridal dresses get marked up in price at least three times more than similar dresses simply because they are marketed as a "bridal" dress. Same goes for bridesmaids dresses marketed as "bridal." This is the kind of thing makes me glad I could rent the tux. Wear it once, return it, never have to see the thing again, and it did not cost me an arm or a leg. Ladies, honestly, get a clue, save a few bucks, get a nice dress that looks bridal but is not bridal. Story via The Washington Post.  
  • You know things have to be bad when you can find articles offering tutorials on how to go dumpster diving. Alternet just featured such an article. 
  • In philanthropy fuckery, Bill Gates, that charitable busybody who thinks he can tell anyone what to do based on tossing money at them (see what he does or not for higher ed for instance) recently decided that Bolivia needed chickens. Probably on the arrogant assumption that Bolivians are dirt poor and need to learn to raise chickens to feed themselves. Bolivia pretty much told him he could keep his damn chickens and pointed out that "already produces 197 million chickens per year, many of which are exported. And the IMF suggests Bolivia is about to become the strongest economy in South America." You know Bill, maybe your foundation and you should use some of that wonderful technology you own to do some damn research and get off your high horse. Or, if looking it up is too much, you can always ask a librarian. Story via 
  • The United States elevates to an art form exploiting the poor and then profiting from them. The Atlantic discusses a new book that "details how foster-care agencies and other safety-net programs hire consultants to maximize their funding and divert it from its intended use." Via a combination of privatization and even outright corruption and greed, Americans now turn the poverty of the most vulnerable into a cash stream for the wealthy and the greedy. 
  • Tuition at public colleges has risen in the past decade, and so have student fees. Gee, that would not have anything to do with the fact that local governments and the people that elect them decided to defund and stop investing in public education, would it? It is amusing to see the pathetic hypocrites cut funding for higher education then whine when tuition goes up? Where the fuck do you think they are going to make up the short fall because you are too whiny to pay your taxes or support higher education otherwise? You still want to send your kids to college. Well, it does not pay for itself. You either invest on it now so all can benefit, or keep tuition through the nose. Story via The Washington Post
  • And since people do not want to invest in higher education, putting students in debt slavery is just part of the package. The latest scheme now is for corporate banks and other interests to loan the money, then keep students paying a percentage of their salaries when they leave college. The Mafia would be proud of this long term extortion racket. Story via Truth-Out. 
  • Moving along, if you manage to make it out of college, and you belong to the creative class like artists, writers, etc., you could be ending up choosing voluntary poverty, especially in gentrifying cities. With salaries no longer enough to afford living in cities, where creative jobs are often found, it is a serious hardship for these folks to find work. Read the details out of AlterNet
  • Now what are Americans more than willing to pay for? Prisons. Americans love prisons, and they take pride in their prison industrial complex, so much so they let private corporations move in to run their prisons and make a profit in the process. Here is a profile of Corrections Corp. of America, one of the top players, but even they are facing challenges in the bad economy. Story via Mother Jones, which also has some related articles including an expose of an investigator who took a job working as a corrections officer in one of their privatized prisons. 
  • We have mentioned before how colleges, seeking to make up money lost to defunding by their legislatures and voters, sell naming rights for just about anything. Such schemes include donors naming bathrooms on campus and UW-Madison naming a fermentation lab after Kikkoman (yes, the soy sauce) among others.So now, since Americans loathe paying for anything that is a public good, it looks like corporations may soon be getting naming rights to national parks and other natural national treasures. Story via AlterNet
  • Finally, in a bittersweet note for this week, some news out of Puerto Rico. El Zipperle, the fanciest, swankiest restaurant on the island, feeding place of governors, legislators, and anyone who was anyone back in the heyday, has tax issues, as in has not been paying them, and now is forced to auction off its wine collections to pay their debts. It's the end of an era. Story via El Nuevo Dia (this is a source in Spanish).

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