Saturday, August 13, 2016

Signs the economy is bad: August 13, 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.  

Welcome to a special Saturday edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad." I ran a bit behind this week, so we are doing the feature on a nice Saturday evening. Hope my four readers are doing well. A lot has been happening since my previous post of "Signs the economy is bad." So let's have a look at just how bad the economy is. Here are your signs, so don't say you were not warned.

  • This is a story I was not able to get to last week, but it caught my eye, and I wanted to share it. With future automation, it is very possibly that a lot of truckers could lose their jobs. Why is this significant?  Well, among other reasons, truck driving in the U.S. is one of the few jobs left that requires relatively minimal education (i.e. no college degree), and you can still make it to a comfortable middle class living. In addition, "according to the American Trucking Association, these vehicles carry 67 percent of the freight that moves within the US — some 9.2 billion tons a year." So if you do a lot of online shopping, for instance, your Amazon packages probably arrive by truck. Story via Vox.
  • Another big old time retailer is in the ropes as Macy's announced it is closing down 100 of its stores.  I have childhood memories of visiting their flagship store in New York City, and it was during Christmas season too. But the bad economy does not spare anyone. Story via The New York Times.
  • Once more, we have a story of hipsters ruining things for the rest of us. It seems that now hipsters are invading farmers' markets, not to buy food and produce, but to flirt, buy smoothies (maybe), and find dates. While doing that, they keep the souls who actually want to buy produce from being able to do so, and they end up going to the grocery store than dealing with them. Story via AlterNet
  • You know what is horrible in the bad economy? Chicken factories, and now you can read some of the horror stories of workers in  them. Story via AlterNet.
  • Now in the U.S., people love chanting "USA! USA!"  when their athletes win during the Olympics. You know what Americans hate to do that the rest of the world does?  Properly subsidize and support their athletes financially so they can compete. It's so bad that a lot of American athletes have to turn to crowdfunding to get to Rio or whatever the destination that year is. Because that is typical Americans: they love people to serve them and represent their country, but taking care of them and actually supporting them, not so much. Story via Mother Jones
  • Did you know that Black families are 228 years away from getting the same level of basic wealth as White families? Learn about this and more in this article. Story via The Root. By the way, it is about as bad for Latinos. 
  • Print newspapers have been suffering financially, a solid sign the economy is bad. Now, the oldest family run newspaper in the U.S. is suffering financial difficulties. Story via USA Today.
  • Debt collectors continue to affirm their reputation  as bottom scum feeders as they keep harassing people, including people who do NOT owe debts, and breaking the law in other ways to get their pounds of flesh. If the revolution ever comes, these vultures should be among the first to be lined up against the wall. We are talking outright evil here. Story via Common Dreams
  • And speaking of vultures, debtors' prisons are still alive and well, as exemplified in Ferguson and other places using policing as a revenue tool while harassing minorities. Story via Common Dreams
  • Meanwhile, in rural parts of the United States, there are severe shortages of psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health therapists? You would think the solution might be to try to entice more of them to move into the area, you know, a recruiting effort. Nope. The latest solution is to phone the therapy in. Yes, teletherapy is being touted as a solution to the shortage. Story via The Rural Blog
  • In other rural news, rural areas in the United States have been losing people as young people leave those areas to go to major cities in hopes of better opportunities. So, what is one solution to that? Ship in a few refugees. Now keep in mind some small towns are a bit more welcoming that others. Story via The Rural Blog
  • In the bad economy, many business go broke and close down because they cannot adapt. Maybe their systems or products fall out of date or just do not have demand. Companies able to retool, recalibrate, and move from one product to another are more likely to survive. Recently, a few states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana, and they have found new sources of revenue, which is good news for them. However, that is bad news for illegal marijuana traders. However, like the good entrepreneurs they are, pot dealers adapted, and now they are peddling heroin and making money. Good news for them, not so good for places now having big increases in illegal heroin use. Story via Esquire
  • Finally, the bad economy is also hitting anti-gay bigots, and they are not happy about it. Some bigots are going so far as to get mad at their own supporters for not sending enough money. Story via TheosWatch. Actually, this may be the one piece of good news in the bad economy. 
And this week, even the uber rich have felt the pinch of the bad economy, but not all of them. Some con men are doing pretty well in the bad economy preying on fear. Let's have a look:

  •  The companies that make Coach and Michael Kors handbags are miffed that "la chusma" is now able to buy their products at discounted prices. The horror! If every Jane, Mary, and Sue can buy their bags, they are no longer exclusive. So the companies are doing their best to cut back supplies from retailers and restrict pricing to keep the product exclusive. Story via The Washington Post.
  • You know shit is bad when a city official in a high end address has to resign her job and move out town because she cannot afford the rents. The place is Silicon Valley, and the city is Palo Alto, where you can work there, if you live 20 or more miles outside of it. Story via AlterNet.
  • With the bad economy, protests are bound to happen. If you are a college administrator, and you do not want to deal with the riff raff, oops students, on your campus rising up, you need an escape plan. This administrator in California spent $9,000 to do just that: he had an escape hatch installed in his office in case the masses rise. So tunnel builders for the privileged are doing well in the bad economy. Story via Fox News.
  • And finally for this week, peddling fears and arming people pays very well in the bad economy. We have talked about before how arms producers and dealers do better in the bad economy when people are afraid of any number of things. Well this guy is making a fortune doing just that: peddling fear and hoping you will arm yourself to the teeth, then take his classes to learn how to use your arsenal. Fear is indeed, a booming business in the bad economy. Story via The Nation.

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