Friday, August 10, 2018

Signs the Economy Is Bad: August 10, 2018 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.

A lot has been happening since the previous post in this series, so let's get on with it.

  • The Bad Economy in the big national news, including dispatches from the "War of Tariffs": 
    • Apparently the United States has been at war in Afghanistan for about 17 years or so now. Anyhow, read more about the real cost of that mostly taken for granted conflict. Story via Big Think
    • That big 12 billion bailout aid package the Pendejo In Chief is setting up for those suckers poor farmers that will suffer in the War of Tariffs (I covered that last week)? Well, turns out it might not be as helpful after all, and in fact, it could very well make some things worse. Story via The Rural Blog
    • A lot of pundits are saying the economy is fine, however, the consumer prices have been  inching up at "a rate of inflation that suggests Americans are earning less than a year ago. . . ". Story via Lexington Herald Leader
    • Here is a look at slaughterhouse employment across the U.S. It is hard work often for low pay in seriously bad working conditions. Also an industry that often loves to hire immigrant workers, including undocumented ones. Story via The Daily Yonder.
    • Bankruptcies are rising among senior citizens. I do find it hard to be sympathetic given that generation pretty much has done so much to fuck up the nation and the generations that came after them. The new study "places blame squarely at the feet of a hollowed-out safety net and policy changes that have left people without adequate retirement savings, paying huge out-of-pocket medical expenses, and seeing their funds dwindle due to the student loan crisis that many people mistakenly believe affects only younger generations." Story via TruthDig. This is pretty much another one of those time bombs that is about to explode. Again, who hollowed out the safety nets and changed policies? Pretty much them and the politicians they put in place. Basically a case of the past coming to haunt them. 
    • Tariffs on newsprint are hurting newspapers across the nation. Story via The Rural Blog. This I can attest to as the local news rag we receive at home (mainly because The Better Half insists on reading print) decided to reduce the size of the newspaper from three sections to two during most days of the week as well as the number of pages. However, they are still charging the same rate for less content. 
  • In health and the Bad Economy: 
    • Why are Americans in general so fat? Well, according to these 7 charts, it is very easy to see why. One reason? “In America, the unhealthiest foods are the tastiest foods, the cheapest foods, the largest-portion foods.” Story via Vox.
    • I am sure you have heard of or seen advertising for a variety of coupons and "savings programs" for prescriptions. On the surface, they sound great. In reality, they may not be as helpful, especially since the insurance companies are finding ways to basically counter them and stick it to you anyhow. Story via UPI.
    • Meanwhile, abroad, the U.S. is making a nice racket to profit from TB (tuberculosis) epidemics in poor countries. And if you think this is just a Party of Stupid thing, think again. A former Obama administration official is teaming up with the current administration to make it happen. There is a reason Democrats are pretty much Republican-Lite. Story via Boing Boing.
  • Education and the Bad Economy: 
    •  In a bit of news of the obvious, a writer at The Guardian opines that a PhD should be about improving the world, not chasing academic kudos. I laughed because yes, it should be, but that idea is like unilateral disarmament. No one is going to be first to say there will be less emphasis on things like chasing citations, impact factors, and publishing obscure articles no one outside their niche field gives a shit about in "prestigious" journals.
  • The Bad Economy  hitting rural areas: 
    •  In Appalachia, natural gas is basically decimating coal. The "War on Coal" that McConnell keeps whining about (and the local yokels keep believing in) is not so much that the coal industry is strangled by environmental rules or other boogeymen; a large part of the reason the industry is declining is other sources of energy are cheaper. There's the capitalism right there that the Party of Stupid loves to cite. Story via The Rural Blog.
    • A new report reveals that rural customers pay more for crappy Internet. In many areas, the only thing you can get is shitty DSL, if at all. I am "fortunate" I can get cable Internet, but it is still pretty crappy. Story via The Rural Blog.
    • Rural manufacturers are desperate to find workers. Among the results is towns are giving tax incentives to said manufacturers. However, keep in mind manufacturers are only as loyal as the next tax incentive, which means as soon as they get a break someplace else they will happily leave and decimate local economies, a lesson I wish more rural towns would freaking learn so they'd work on other ways to diversify and develop local economies instead of waiting for some factory to just save the town. Story via The Rural Blog.
  • The Bad Economy in some states: 
    • In Kentucky, where they are big fans of the Pendejo In Chief, employers are opposed to his tariffs. Despite that, the Pendejo In Chief remains seriously popular in the state. Again, I quote an old Puerto Rican saying, "sarna con gusto no pica" ("mange that you delight in does not itch."). In other words, this is what Kentuckians willingly, proudly, and gladly voted for. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
    • Also in Kentucky, that religious boondoggle known as the Ark Encounter is facing decreasing ticket sales. This is actually a piece of good news. Story via Fortune. Hat tip to Pharyngula.
    • In California, they are exploiting prison labor to fight the wildfires. Why pay professionals, or heck, even minimum wage when you can get prison labor to do it. Story via Vox
    • In Arkansas, they are basically running a good old fashioned debtors' prison. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
    • In Texas, rural libraries are important community centers, yet they struggle to stay open. Story via KERA. Hat tip to InfoDocket.
  • Meanwhile, back in the U.S. colony: 
    •  Puerto Rico tried to quietly raise the official death number due to Hurricane Maria from 64 to 1,427. Story via The Guardian. The whole thing with  the number has been one big combination of incompetence, corruption, and lawsuits as reporters and others sued to get accurate numbers and the local government did its best to keep the numbers low so as not to look bad. That FEMA and other federal agencies have botched so much did not help either.
    • And the island's government announced they are making the GWU report finally available to the public. Story via Latino Rebels
    • And as if things were not bad enough, the government is also gutting the safety net in order to appease the colonial overlords. Medicaid is getting cuts. Story via Salon.

How are the Uber Rich Doing?
  • Well, for the most part, the rich are the ones who use services like Uber  and Lyft. Not only that but they are also the assholes who prevent cities and localities from developing public transportation. Story via Grist.
  • If you are rich and have some money and time to burn, you can take a high end butchering class so you can learn how to "process" your hunting kills. They even teach you how to cook it. But as I said. this is not for just any Joe Six Pack. Story via Salon
  • According to the BBC, apparently rich people doing tourism are the only ones able to save the planet. So I guess I can say fuck it to the recycling. 
  • However, there may be some bad news for the uber rich as climate change is targeting things they care about. The latest victim? Champagne. The horror. Story via Grist.
This week we are opening up a new feature here in Signs the Economy is Bad:

Hustling Every Day

In this feature we will look at unique, inventive, original, or somewhat out of the way things people do in the Bad Economy to earn a buck or two. These can be full time jobs or gigs or side hustles. Things are bad out there, so you have to hustle every day to get a buck or two:

  • You try to sell some of your junk online with an app or two to make some extra money. Here are some hints that may or not be helpful via Wallet Hacks
  • Teachers, given how shitty they get paid and treated in the U.S., definitely need a few side hustles: 
    • Wallet Hack suggests 12 "perfect" hustles for teachers. I would question the definition of "perfect" in this list, but hey, desperate times and all that. 
    • Many teachers are turning to crowdfunding to get money to pay for school supplies for their classrooms, since as we all know, society chooses to not pay teachers decent salaries let alone fund schools properly. Hey, with enough funds, a teacher could even pay to give his or her students a field trip. Story via Vox
  • You could always get a job as a foreclosure boat tour operator. I had no idea this was a thing: taking potential buyers of distressed properties on boat tours to see said properties. The job does also include doing some evictions. Story via Daily Intelligencer
  • In Michigan, a man is offering an "Amish Uber." Basically he gives rides for five bucks or so in his horse and buggy. Story via Boing Boing.
  • You can always do like this man in Japan and rent yourself by the hour (as long as it does not involve physical contact). He can give you advice, be a friendly listening ear, and mentor younger people. Story vi CNN. On a side note, I am about that guy's age. I am wondering if I could do a similar side hustle here. 
  • If you are a nice, muscular lady, and you need a side hustle, maybe you could consider the wonderful world of Female Muscle Worship. Yes, men (and maybe a woman or two) will pay you to flex your muscles, look fierce, and be dominant. According to the article, this is also becoming an increasing option for bodybuilder women whose days in the competition circuit may be passing. Story via VICE.

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