Rachel Swarns’ New York Times series called The Working Life kicks off today, introducing us to Marianne Scarino, a 62-year-old woman who has been laid off twice in her role as a six figure-earning corporate manager and now works as an elementary school aide ($21k/year).
The processes involved with making a t-shirt have long been held as a prime example of manufacturing in a global economy, but what really goes into it? The good folks at Planet Money set out on a quest to illuminate the process first-hand, by selling their own t-shirts on Kickstarter, then circling the globe to document the entire process.
If anyone is sick of hearing about bitcoin but still hasn’t exactly figured out what it is, Adrian Chen has a great op-ed in the Times today that will both help you understand how it works and make you kind of regret not buying some when you first saw some jokey tweets about it.
Cincinnati Magazine has a story about the city of Wilmington, Ohio, which saw its unemployment rate skyrocket to 19 percent after the city’s biggest employer, DHL, left the city during the Great Recession. Wilmington went into crisis mode to get the city back into shape and persuaded DHL to donate the land and buildings back to the city. The city also convinced a lot of its young people to return to Wilmington after they finished college.
I’ve decided that we don’t need to be worried because it just feels better, not to be worried. Also, there is nothing we can do about it (besides yell at our elected officials to get it together). Just stay on our toes. Be agile. Retain flexibility.
Marcela Valdes examines “financial terror” in young adult lit, citing examples like the Hunger Games and Divergent as examples of books that depict financial insecurity as true horror. (“In recent years, realistic YA depictions of poverty and economic disparity have also turned much darker. The kinds of truly desperate characters that Little Women kept on the margins now often take center stage.”)
jelvision: “Do you see a closing of the gap or will it only get wider?”
robert reich: We’re coming close to a tipping point where, if income and wealth become any more concentrated at the top, the economy can’t function (the middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power) and our democracy can’t function (so much money corrupts it from the top that the majority of Americans give up on it). So we have no choice, realistically, but to reform the system — unless we want revolution.
Elizabeth Macbride discovered her great-grandfather didn’t fall in front of a train in 1937 but lay in front of it deliberately. Her search to figure out why is touching and sad. (“Men still, more than women, define their self-worth by how much money they make and their occupations. That partly goes to explain why the suicide rate is three times higher among men than women.”)
If you’ve been mostly ignoring the news this summer because you’ve been chilling on a boat or relaxing in a treehouse or just decided that you know what life is too short do anything but just take one day at a time and try to get up at a reasonable hour and eat some fruit everyday and drink a glass of water and say hi to your neighbors and maybe smile at a baby every now and then and who has time to really worry about the Larger Problems of the Country and World at Large Anyway, well: Heidi N. Moore has a good little synopsis of Where We’re At and also how ridiculous it is that all anyone can talk about is Syria when there is Domestic Chaos Afoot. (“It would be a treat to see White House aides lobbying as aggressively – and on as many talk shows – for a better food stamp bill, an end to the debt-ceiling drama, or a solution to the senseless sequestration cuts, as it is on what is clearly a useless boondoggle in Syria.”)
This is a very nice story about a woman in Detroit, who, with her neighbors and some other nice people, fought her eviction from her home. She won! It is a fairy tale.
Almost didn’t read this WSJ article (“Out of Work Over 9 Months? Good Luck Finding a Job” on how hard it is for the long-term unemployed to get hired because duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh but sure glad I did because this line is POW BAM ZOINK: “Economists worry many of them will never work again.”
I’m working on a potential move to Detroit from Flint, Mich. in a few weeks. Of course, there’s also that other bit of financial news about Detroit, too.
Billfold pal Helaine Olen traveled to Los Angeles to witness the beginnings of what looks like our next housing bubble, which seems inevitable given our tendency to relive history. The bidding wars, which are happening all over the country, reminded me of Rebecca’s account of trying to buy a house in Oakland. Real estate madness—it’s back.