Category Archives: Economy and Debt

September 20, 2017

California exodus? Poll finds voters consider moving due to sky-high housing costs (Video)

Of the 56 percent of voters who said they’ve considered moving, 1 in 4 said they’d relocate out of state if they did.

More than half of California voters say the state’s housing affordability crisis is so bad that they’ve considered moving, and 60 percent of the electorate supports rent control, according to a new statewide poll.

The findings from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies reflect broad concerns Californians have over the soaring cost of living. Amid an unprecedented housing shortage, rents have skyrocketed and tenants have faced mass evictions, especially in desirable areas.

“It’s an extremely serious problem,” said poll director Mark DiCamillo. “People are being forced to consider moving because of the rising cost of housing – that’s pretty prevalent all over the state.”

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Complete text and video linked here.

September 17, 2017

The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump

“Those numbers only reflect the jobs that were lost in the plant; the ripple effect was equally devastating. Grocery stores, pizza shops, gas stations, restaurants, department stores, car dealerships, barber shops all saw their business plummet and they started closing,” said Steinbeck.

Forty years ago, on Sept. 19, thousands of men walked into the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube along the Mahoning River before the early shift.

Like every fall morning, they were armed with lunch pails and hard hats; the only worry on their minds was the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers game on “Monday Night Football.” The only arguing you heard was whether quarterback Terry Bradshaw had fully recovered from the dramatic hit he took from a Cleveland Browns player the season before.

It was just before 7 a.m., and the fog that had settled over the river was beginning to lift. As the sun began to streak through mist, the men made their way into the labyrinth of buildings where they worked.

In the next hour their lives would change forever.

From then on, this date in 1977 would be known as Black Monday in the Steel Valley, which stretches from Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio eastward toward Pittsburgh. It is the date when Youngstown Sheet and Tube abruptly furloughed 5,000 workers all in one day.

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September 16, 2017

Kelly told Trump Mexico was on the verge of collapse like Venezuela: report

Kelly thinks Mexico may collapse, yet still doesn’t want the US to have a border wall. Really makes you think…

White House chief of staff John Kelly likened Mexico to Venezuela during a conversation with President Trump this month, telling Trump that Mexico was similarly on the verge of collapse, according to The New York Times.

Kelly made the comments to Trump after the president met with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Kelly has long been an advocate for increased security measures along the U.S. southern border, and made that a focus of his efforts during his short tenure as Homeland Security secretary.

The Trump administration is currently under fire from the president’s base for not making enough progress on building the wall, which was one of his key campaign promises in 2016.

Venezuela is facing a wave of violent antigovernment protests, resulting in numerous deaths in recent months. The South American country is dealing with food and medicine shortages, as well as hyper inflation.

Mexico is an important U.S. ally in both trade and law enforcement.

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August 11, 2017

Struggling Americans Once Sought Greener Pastures—Now They’re Stuck

The country is the least mobile since after World War II, even in economically depressed rural locales.

When she graduated from high school, Taylor Tibbetts was a bright star in this small Northern Michigan town. She won an $18,000-a-year swimming scholarship to Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C., and departed for her freshman year with high hopes.

Once on campus, however, she felt overwhelmed by her courses and scared and isolated among students from all over the country with different values. After just a week, her mother reluctantly agreed to bring her home.

Three years later, sitting on a vinyl booth at her family’s pizzeria in West Branch where she now works, Ms. Tibbetts, 21, says she longs to live in a thriving city like Denver or Nashville, and regrets her inability to leave here.

“I can’t be the kid that just stays here forever,” she says.

Like a lot of small towns in sparsely populated American counties, West Branch, population 2,067, is in an economic funk brought on by the decline of manufacturing and farm consolidation. In recent years, a handful of retailers, a flour mill and a carpet shop have all closed their doors.

What is troubling about this rural town and many places like it is that while lots of struggling residents see leaving as the best way to improve their lives, a surprising share remain stuck in place. For a number of reasons—both economic and cultural—they no longer believe they can leave.

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June 21, 2017

Which Are Death Spiral States?

Does your state have more takers than makers? Check it out.

California has a powerful economy, with 14 million private-sector jobs. It also has burdens: welfare recipients (12.6 million), generously paid government employees (2.1 million) and people collecting government pensions (1.3 million).

Add up the numbers. There are 114 clients drawing from the government for every 100 people chipping in by working outside the government and paying taxes. We’re calling this the Feedme Ratio. Six states have a number over 100.

These states are at risk of going into a downward spiral in the next recession. The burdens will remain but too many of the providers—employers in the private sector—might shrink or decamp. Why add jobs in a state that asks each productive worker to carry not just his or her own weight but also the weight of one other person?

New York is on the list of at-risk states, with a Feedme Ratio of 108. New Mexico is in the worst shape, with 143 government clients for every 100 private-sector workers.

The three other states with Feedme Ratios over 100: West Virginia at 116, Mississippi at 111 and Arkansas at 103. You can check your state on this map.

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Complete text linked here.

June 10, 2017

California ranks second to last on list of best states to make a living in

MoneyRates.com said the challenges in California are similar to Hawaii in that, “a fairly high median wage it devalued by a high cost of living and high state income taxes.”

In more ways than one, life here on the Central Coast mirrors some of California’s best qualities — limitless outdoor opportunities, constant sunshine and easy access to the Pacific Ocean.

But, the financial drawbacks of the Golden State also have to be weighed for anyone considering living here, as shown in a report last month stating that only a quarter of San Luis Obispo County residents can afford a median-priced home here.

It’s a statewide issue, and others have taken notice.

A list by personal finance site MoneyRates.com ranks the best and worst states to make a living in this year and slots California as the second-worst in the country.

Another desirable location, Hawaii, finished dead-last for the seventh consecutive year.

The ranking is based on five factors: median income, cost of living, unemployment rates, state income taxes and workplace safety.

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June 6, 2017

Venezuela crisis forces women to sell sex in Colombia, fuels slavery risk

“The economic instability, the insecurity in Venezuela, it all becomes unbearable.”

As a humanitarian and political crisis in neighboring Venezuela deepens, a growing number of Venezuelan women are working in bars and brothels across Colombia.

“I didn’t do this in Venezuela. I never ever imagined I’d be doing this in Colombia,” said Maria, who declined to give her real name, to Reuters.

She charges $17 for 15-minutes of sex, and the money earned is spent on buying medicine for her mother who has cancer.

For the past year, she has traveled back and forth from Bogota to Venezuela’s capital Caracas every 90 days, before her tourist visa expires, carrying medicine, food and soap.

“I’m ashamed I have to do this. It’s a secret,” said Maria, 26, who has told her family she is a traveling salesperson.

Venezuelan migrants are often lured by false promises of well-paid work in Colombia’s restaurants and bars or as domestic workers.

But then they find they are forced to work long hours with little or no pay, are not free to leave the bar they work in, and may be trapped by debts owed to the agents who brought them across the border.

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June 2, 2017

Illinois cut near junk by Moody’s and S&P, lowest ever for a U.S. state

By June 30, the state will owe an estimated $800 million in interest and fees on the unpaid bills that have been piling up, according to estimates from Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat. She warned of “dire” consequences for residents if a budget isn’t reached by the start of fiscal year 2018 on July 1, including the shuttering of more social service providers and layoffs at public universities.

Illinois had its bond rating downgraded to one step above junk by Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings, the lowest ranking on record for a U.S. state, as the long-running political stalemate over the budget shows no signs of ending.

S&P warned that Illinois will likely losing its investment-grade status, an unprecedented step for a state, around July 1 if leaders haven’t agreed on a budget that chips away at the government’s chronic deficits. Moody’s followed S&P’s downgrade Thursday, citing Illinois’s underfunded pensions and the record backlog of bills that are equivalent to about 40 percent of its operating budget.

“Legislative gridlock has sidetracked efforts not only to address pension needs but also to achieve fiscal balance,” Ted Hampton, Moody’s analyst, said in a statement. “During the past year of fruitless negotiations and partisan wrangling, fundamental credit challenges have intensified enough to warrant a downgrade, regardless of whether a fiscal compromise is reached.”

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June 1, 2017

‘It’s bankrupting us!’ Polish MP savages EU free movement over high migration to Britain (Video)

Europe’s cherished principle of free movement is bankrupting Eastern European countries because so many young people of working age are quitting the region to head to Britain, a Polish MP has warned.

May 31, 2017

Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’

A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating

At the corner where East North Street meets North Cherry Street in the small Ohio town of Kenton, the Immaculate Conception Church keeps a handwritten record of major ceremonies. Over the last decade, according to these sacramental registries, the church has held twice as many funerals as baptisms.

In tiny communities like Kenton, an unprecedented shift is under way. Federal and other data show that in 2013, in the majority of sparsely populated U.S. counties, more people died than were born—the first time that’s happened since the dawn of universal birth registration in the 1930s.

For more than a century, rural towns sustained themselves, and often thrived, through a mix of agriculture and light manufacturing. Until recently, programs funded by counties and townships, combined with the charitable efforts of churches and community groups, provided a viable social safety net in lean times.

Starting in the 1980s, the nation’s basket cases were its urban areas—where a toxic stew of crime, drugs and suburban flight conspired to make large cities the slowest-growing and most troubled places.

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