Friday, June 23, 2017

Signs the economy is bad: June 23, 2017 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.

I have a lot of stories this week. In fact, I have so many I am breaking this post into sections, so let's just get on with it.

  • Let's start with some good news. It seems that bigotry misinformation peddling rag fine paragon of conservative journalism (uh huh) known as Breitbart has lost 90% of its advertising. What makes you wonder is who are the remaining 10% keeping it afloat. It will be better news when it goes out of business. As librarian, I can use one less source of misinformation I need to teach others to avoid. Story via The Washington Post.
  • It turns out that those cuts in Medicaid the Party of Stupid is proposing would hurt rural voters the most. So in other words, they hurt a significant number of their voters, voters who were only too happy, proud, and willing to vote for that party. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • Attendance in Disney parks is down. When the economy is bad, recreational spending goes down as one of the first things you cut. Story via The New York Times.
  • In an illustration of why the US needs a universal health care system for all, it is a nation where many poor folks have to sleep in their cars in hopes of getting a medical care appointment at an indigent clinic. Story via NPR.
  •  Did you have the horror of getting stuck having to take out a usury-level shylock loan that would make the mob blush subprime loan to buy a car, say so you can go to work? Life happened, you fell on hard times, and they repossessed the car?  Tough shit, they will still make you pay the loan too. Why? Because those vulture fuckers did not get enough recoup of costs from reselling the repossessed car, and they sued you for the rest of the loan. It's exploitative fuckery. Story via The Washington Post
  • Meanwhile, in prisons, prisoners are gouged for making phone calls to their families. You think Verizon and the others are expensive, pray to the deity of your choice you are not put in prison, and kept from calling a loved one due to that expense. Story via The Intercept.
  • Did you know migrant remittances help fight world poverty? Learn more from this story at TeleSur. 
  • Also, did you know that minimum wage is not enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the US? Story via The Rural Blog
  • Next time you see a big rig trucker on the road, keep a good thought for him. Odds may be good he is getting seriously exploited to the point of exhaustion and bordering financial ruin to bring you Amazon's goods or whatever they may be carrying. USA Today just did a very revealing expose on the topic. It makes indentured servitude look appealing.
  • In more fuckery, recent study reveals Air BnB hosts tend to discriminate against disabled customers. Story via Good.Is.  
  • In Texas, the anti-immigrant rhetoric is at an all time high, and they are constantly whining about sanctuary cities and those terrible immigrants. However, being Texans, thinking is not their forte. Turns out that those laborers they rely on to do things like landscaping, cooking, construction, hotel maids, so on are now in fear, because they are immigrants, and they are either leaving the state or not going there causing a labor shortage. Heaven forbid Cletus and Billy Bob pick up a shovel or a weed wacker and get to work in 100-plus degree heat. For them, Fox News is "must watch TV" they can't miss. Story via The Austin Statesman.
  • That is not bad enough for you? Also in Texas, if you have a fluctuating income, say you freelance or you lost job recently, they will be happy to take your Medicaid away, because fuck you, that's why. Story via NPR. 
  • Meanwhile, in Middletown, Ohio, apparently calls to their 911 and emergency services are getting a little expensive for the city council. So, one of their councilmen made a suggestion to help cut down costs: cut back on any calls responding to drug overdoses. In fact, the councilman "also notes that people with cancer don’t get free chemotherapy from medics nor do people having heart attacks get a free heart bypass in an EMS run." That is the kind of fine, upstanding citizen, wholesome Christian man of family values that Ohioans elect to office. Story via LEX 18.
  • Then again, Kentucky has plenty of fuckery of their own. Turns out they rank 34th in child welfare. Not surprising given the priorities they vote for. Story via the Lexington Herald Leader.
  • In tobacco news, well, the rich people mostly stopped smoking. However, the poor have more than picked up the slack. Now before you judge, maybe keep this in mind: “'People down here smoke because of the stress in their life,' Seals [a smoking cessation program worker] said. 'They smoke because of money problems, family problems. It’s the one thing they have control over. The one thing that makes them feel better. And you want them to give that up? It’s the toughest thing in the world.'” I can tell you here in my rural part of Kentucky, smoking remains quite rampant, especially among the poor as well as many college students. Story via The Washington Post.
  • The US Government may not be doing any better. Americans have been slow paying their taxes (gee, I can't imagine why), and thus returns for the government have been low. Story via The Washington Post.
  • Oh, a heads up to online holiday shoppers: UPS will be raising their delivery rates. Basically, they are raising fees on companies like Amazon, so guess what Amazon and others will be doing? If you answered that they will be passing the cost on to you the consumer, you have played this game before, huh. Story via NPR.
  • One more heads up: Do you subscribe to one of those box services that send you a meal for you to cook at home? Did they entice you with free shipping for something that could do just fine with  a cookbook and some simple shopping at your grocery store? Here is the example of Blue Apron and what the real price of that "free" shipping is. Story via The Washington Post.
  • By the way, are you in a relationship or considering marriage? You DO know the economy is bad, right? You may want to consider staying single. Wise Bread even suggests "6 Ways It Pays to Stay Single." It may be too late for me, but save yourselves.
  • In the end, things in the United States are bad given so many people die penniless. Story via USA Today.
The bad economy in higher education:
  • Student debt continues to be a problem in the United States, and it is about to get worse as the Pendejo In Chief's regime is removing the few protections those students had under Obama's administration. However, student debt is not just bad here; it is bad in other parts of the world too. Stories via Moyers and Company, Truthout
  • In higher ed fuckery, a new survey reveals that postdocs who are parents are often conveniently reclassified in their employment so they are unable to get parental leave under FMLA. Illegal? Does not seem so. Immoral and just plain fuckery? Yes. And that is not all. Read the truly rude story of the senior researcher asshole who was at his postdoc's hospital room after she gave birth asking her when she was getting back to the lab. Look up "fucking asshole" in a dictionary, and you get a picture of that guy. Story via Inside Higher Ed.  
  • Here is a piece on what happens when faculty cannot afford to live near the campuses they work at. I can tell you one thing from experience: it means faculty do not connect to their local campuses and communities as well as they should if they are more worried about a long commute because they have to live farther out in order to find an affordable place to live. It is a topic that I have come across in my current workplace (but that is another story). Story via Inside Higher Ed.
Some Amazon news:

  •  The big news this week for the big online behemoth is that they bought Whole Paycheck. But that may not be all Amazon is after. Story via The Guardian.
  • Apparently Amazon is not attracting enough people fast enough to their Prime memberships, so they decided to give discounts on it to low income customers. They define "low income customers" as those with a valid EBT card for SNAP assistance, so on. No, they are not being altruistic or such; they are just trying to undercut Walmart, who they fear is rising up in the online shopping front. Story via NPR. 
    • Walmart is answering back with a test of making their employees do package delivery for online order customers from their stores. Sure, they claim employees can do this voluntarily on their way home, but given how badly Walmart treats their workers, I am sure the definition of "volunteer" is, shall we say, fluid? Story via USA Today.
  • I can tell you one nefarious thing Amazon is likely up to: keeping you from comparison shopping while you visit one of their physical location stores. Because they miss the irony that people do showrooming in other stores and then shop online at Amazon. That, and, just plain fuckery. Story via The Washington Post

This week there has been so much ridiculous stuff about the Pendejo In Chief, I am devoting a section of this post just to him. Because just because he is rich, does not mean he does not give us signs of the bad economy. If you get hives just thinking about him, you are welcome to skip this part:

  • A good number of  wealthy people give money to various charitable causes. They get a big tax deduction, and you can't beat the PR, especially if it is a charity for children. Now, if you are the Pendejo In Chief, you want to get the PR, but you do not want to give up the money. After all, he is no ordinary millionaire. So, for example, he funneled money meant for a children's cancer charity to his own businesses. Story via Alternet.
  • He is proposing privatizing air traffic controllers. So we may need to get used to this scenario: "Flight 623, would you like to upgrade to 'Land the Plane Now' Platinum Plan? If yes, please insert a valid credit or debit card. If no, you will need to circle above for another two hours to allow Platinum Flight member craft to land first." Because airline deregulation has turned out so well. Story via NPR. 
  • The Pendejo in Chief's brand is not doing better, at least not according to residents of his Trump Palace condo in New York City who are hoping to remove his name from the property's name. Story via Daily Intelligencer.
  • One of his golf courses in New York is not doing well either. Turns out many golfers are staying away from it. On an interesting note, the reason we know this is because, unlike so many of his properties which are privately held, the city owns the course, and he just has a contract to operate it. Thus he has to do filings on it. Story via The Washington Post.
  • On the positive, he may be inspiring new entrepreneurs such as this Mexican gentleman who is marketing "Trump Toilet Paper." Story via Crooks and Liars.
  • Meanwhile, the Pendeja Princess' hellish sweatshops fine garment manufacturing operations do not treat their workers very well. Heck, it is so bad the workers can't even afford to live with  their own children. Story via Alternet.
  • Overall, the Pendejo In Chief may be rich, but he sure owes a lot of money. Story via NPR. 
  • Which makes me wonder if all those debts had anything to do with his net worth slipping to a "measly" $2.9 billion.Story via Daily Intelligencer.
  • Oh, and apparently, the Pendejo In Chief being president has been toxic to Mar-A-Lago's banquet business. Sure, the resorts revenue has been up since the election, but they are bleeding business largely due to hassles related to the Pendejo In Chief. Those folks are finding it is better to have your event elsewhere. Story via The Washington Post
Now I do not want to leave my four readers feeling all down and pessimistic. There are still some good business opportunities and uplifting stories in the bad economy. Let's end with a smile then.

  • The legalization of marijuana has been very good to the economy in places it was legalized. In fact, pot sales are getting larger than a few well known industries. Story via Alternet.
  • In Texas, you will soon be able to hunt wild hogs from a hot air balloon. Story via Vice
  • Hong Kong property market is extremely expensive, but the rich can handle it. Also a place where you can make a fortune with the right opportunity. For instance, charge $664,000 for a parking spot. Story via The New York Times.
  • Meanwhile, Kentucky Fried Chicken is launching a chicken sandwich into space. Why? Because they can. Story via The New York Times.
  • I think imitation vanilla may be making a comeback since there is a coming shortage of natural vanilla. Story via NPR. 
  • The cattle cargo airlift business will getting some lift in Qatar. As some of you may know, a group of other Middle Eastern nations cut off ties and commerce with Qatar. Well, apparently they like to drink milk in Qatar. So, how do you solve a shortage of moo juice? Why, if you are a rich nation, hire an air cargo company or  two to bring a few (as in at least 4,000) cows over. Because you do need some good milk to pour over your cereal and your coffee. Story via NPR. 
  • Catering businesses that feature alcohol may be getting a boost. The US Commerce Secretary suggested that to better recruit high schoolers into manufacturing jobs and trades for businesses to feature hors d'oeuvres and cocktails for students and parents. Because deity of choice forbid he makes a sensible suggestion like offering better pay for those workers or better working conditions. Story via The Washington Post
  • At least in one town in Kentucky they may be finally figuring out the coal jobs are not coming  back no matter how much the politicians say otherwise. This town is trying out some creative business ideas. Story via Moyers and Company.
  • In Tennessee, a town is boosting its economy with bass fishing. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • Mattel apparently is not selling as many toys, especially Ken dolls, as they would like. So they gave Ken a major makeover: he now has a man bun, and a few other styles that make him look either like the unemployed mooching boyfriend of Barbie, or an underemployed hipster living way beyond his means while working as a coffee barista. Story via NPR. 
  • Now, with the bad economy, you might not be able to your drink on at bars as often as you like. You may need to get a bit creative to get that drink on. Matthew Walther at The Week suggests that "Chuck E. Cheese's is one of the best bars in America." Read it first before you laugh; he may have a point or two. 
My four readers have been great reading this so far (assuming they did not bail out sooner). I've kept you here a while, but I just realized we have some avocado toast news, so I will wrap up with those and wish you all a happy weekend. Remember, as always, comments are welcome (within reason).

  • Live in Los Angeles, CA? Need help finding the best avocado toast in the city? Here is a helpful guide via The Los Angeles Times.
  • Apparently, with the recent fad of avocado toast, injuries due to people who are apparently not too skilled to cut an avocado are on the rise. The solution? a new five-in-one tool that to be honest looks more like one of Dr. Frankenstein's instruments. Those people will be lucky they do not amputate their whole hand with these gizmos. Story via The Guardian.
  • Some people do not just eat avocado. They like it so much they turn it into art. Story via Foodiggity.

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