Friday, July 21, 2017

Signs the economy is bad: July 21, 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.

It has been a couple of weeks since the previous edition, and the economy continues to be bad. Features this week include: cigars, dollar stores, Venezuela, and I give you an update on avocado toast news. Let's get on with it:

  •  The big news this week is that the Pendejo In Chief declared this past week to be "Made in America" week. He even got states to highlight some of the crappy, barely known few remaining fine products made in the U.S. Chick-Fil-A? Georgia? Really, that was the best you could come up with? In the end, there was a note of irony as Carrier, the big factory he bragged about making a deal to keep jobs in the US is eliminating jobs anyhow. Stories via NPR, USA Today.
  • Apparently, the Pendejo In Chief's administration is also considering banning oil imports from Venezuela. Keep in mind  Venezuela is the U.S.'s third largest supplier. If you use Citgo gas stations, they use gasoline from Venezuelan oil (in fact, Venezuela's PDVSA owns it). That is just one example. What I am trying to say is do not be surprised down the road if gas prices here go up. Story via Telesur.
  • Not that "made in America" matters much to a lot of Americans. For all the bitching and  moaning they do about it, most Americans are not willing to pay more (a.k.a. the actual cost) to buy products made in the U.S. Story via Reuters. 
    • Not only that, but they are not even willing to work at picking or harvesting produce grown in the U.S. In North Carolina, they can't find local Americans (or any American) willing to do farm work and pick produce. Same situation in American vineyards. Americans may like to brag about drinking American wine; they just do not want to make the hard effort to pick the grapes to make that wine. Overall, they prefer foreigners, often undocumented, to do those jobs and exploit their labor as cheap as possible. The problem with that is the Pendejo In Chief along with the Party of Stupid have sworn to crack down on illegal immigration, thus shutting down, or at least dramatically threatening the dirt cheap exploited labor supply American farm owners (and other industries like restaurants, hotels, etc.) depend on. So, it's made in America as long as someone else, preferably not an actual "American" does the work for cheap. Stories via The Rural Blog and The Daily Yonder
    • And further proof most Americans are all talk when it comes to "made in America," turns out Dollar General stores are crowding out mom and pop retail in small town  America. In fact, Dollar General has almost as many stores as McDonald's by now. Don't get me wrong, I get the economy is bad and all, but going for just the cheapest stuff made in China or abroad  is not going to fix it. Just saying. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • Teachers in the US already have it tough given low salaries, bad working conditions, and to make it worse, they often have to pay for their own school supplies for their classrooms and themselves because heaven forbid local whiny taxpayers actually pay to have the classrooms their communities' children attend fully funded. So, to add insult to injury, it gets even worse if they have college loan debt. In the end, hey, you can always just shut down schools and let your kids run around illiterate. What could go wrong? Story via NPR. 
  • Meanwhile, in rural parts of Arizona they have a shortage of physicians. Story via NPR.
In the bad economy, you have to make a buck however you can. People often need to get creative if they want to work and get some income. Often you need a bit of ingenuity and looking outside the box to make it, like the folks in these stories:

  • Higher education could be an option. However, higher education is often like the rest of America: it does not want to pay what it actually costs to hire someone to do a job. So they try to weasel around and  pay whatever exploitative wage they think they can get away with, like the University of Illinois-Chicago where they need a language program director and professor but they do not want to pay what that is actually worth. So they are spinning it as creating an opportunity for some desperate, out on their luck, will take any job to stay off the streets fine entrepreneurial academic who eats little and is willing to incur the wrath  of the IRS in not paying taxes (because the job does not pay enough  for even that) to take that job. What that fine institution of higher learning did is what many of their peers do: call the job "a visiting scholar" which makes it cheap and temporary even though it is full time substantial work that should be hired and paid accordingly. Story via Inside Higher Ed
  • When you are in a relationship, breaking up can be hard. Getting over the other person can be tough, and you may need a little tough love and emotional support. If you are someone willing and able to provide said tough love, tell someone to get the fuck over it already, go work out, and learn to move on, and get paid for doing what women often do for other women for free (or over a few cosmos at the local bar), then a career as a "break up expert" may be for you. Story via Alternet.
  • In Yellowstone, they are finding that it may be more lucrative to promote people taking pictures of bobcats than shooting them with bullets. Turns out a bobcat is worth more alive than dead according to research. Plus you get to promote ecotourism. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • In Lexington, KY, an alcohol delivery service is expanding. That is right. You can already order pizza delivery, so why not get some beer to go with  that pizza delivered too? I look at this as a plus. If alcohol being delivered means one less drunken driver who instead stays home, that is a good thing. Story via LEX 18.
  • I have highlighted before how legalized marijuana has been an economic boon for states that implemented it. Most anyone can get some pot now in those locations, but what about the wealthier folks who may want a more upscale experience? Well, fear not. Entrepreneurs are already on it, and they now offer a cannabis cigar. It's the "420 for the 1%." retailing for about $110. Story via Alternet.
And finally for this week, an update from the world of Avocado Toast news. It turns out you can stop being an idiot and blaming Millennials money woes on their craving of avocado toast. The topic has been investigated, with actual empirical research  and everything, and avocado toast is not to blame. You can read the story here at The Intercept, and you can read the actual research paper here (this one is a PDF) from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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