The working class appears to be in recession

By working class, I mean roughly the bottom 80%. By recession, I mean things are getting worse.
There is no official, agreed upon statistic for my claim. So I can't prove beyond a doubt that the working class is in recession.
Nor am I saying the economy in general is in recession. After all, the wealthiest three people have as much wealth as the bottom 50%, so the GDP can rise even when the bottom 80% sinks.

That being said, a strong case can be made that the working class is currently in recession.
#1 Wages and debt

Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder.
Overall, 71 percent of all U.S. workers said they're now in debt, up from 68 percent a year ago, CareerBuilder said.

#2 Tapped out

A scary little statistic is buried beneath the US economy's apparent stability: Consumer-debt levels are now well above those seen before the Great Recession.
As of June, US households were more than half a trillion dollars deeper in debt than they were a year earlier, according to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve. Total household debt now totals $12.84 trillion — also, incidentally, about two-thirds of gross domestic product...
"Most consumers, especially those in the bottom 80%, are tapped out," he told Business Insider.

#3 Barely paying rent

If it feels like the rent keeps going up, you’re not alone: The share of U.S. disposable income that went toward such spending totaled 3.81 percent in the third quarter, marking the highest share in data going back almost six decades.
Rising shelter costs have accounted for most of the inflation in the U.S. during this economic expansion. While part of the rising rental share of spending may result from falling homeownership in recent years, the price index for rental of tenant-occupied nonfarm housing rose 3.7 percent in the year through September, according to data published Monday by the Commerce Department, near the fastest pace seen in the last decade.

Rental_Insecurity.jpg
#4 Not paying rent

Eighteen percent of respondents couldn’t pay the full rent due in at least one of the past three months, according to the poll of 40,000 renters. Of those who have registered for the listing site this year, 3.3 percent said they had been evicted in the past, up from 2.8 percent in 2015.
...Seven percent of renter households failed to pay all or part of the rent in the preceding three months, according to the survey, which didn’t include a question on delinquent payments in 2015.

The three take-aways from this are a) the working class is struggling, b) their financial condition has deteriorated over the past 3 month to a year, and c) the lower you go, the worse people have it.
Consider homelessness in L.A.

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles has jumped to a new record, as city officials grapple with a humanitarian crisis of proportions remarkable for a modern American metropolis.
Municipal leaders said that a recent count over several nights found 55,188 homeless people living in a survey region comprising most of Los Angeles County, up more than 25% from last year.

And New York.

When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.

The number of homeless children in our country has increased by 60 percent since 2009.

The recent hurricanes will give the GDP a boost, but it is also another body-blow to the working class.

In tracking its internal debit- and credit-card data, Bank of America observed that much of the September upside surprise in consumption was propelled by building materials and gasoline. Immediate repairs, rushed deliveries of goods and supplies, and storm-victim relocations undoubtedly drove these sales.
In October, Bank of America's data showed payback in these areas but strength in furniture stores and discretionary goods. That also makes sense given how many of those who were dislocated have begun to move back into their homes or outfit new, temporary living arrangements.

That's the good news. Here's the bad news.

In September, according to Black Knight, the number of mortgages either past due or in foreclosure rose by 214,000, or 9 percent, compared with August....
October’s numbers have brought the picture more clearly into focus. More than 229,000 past-due mortgages are tied to the storms. Hurricane Irma accounted for 163,000 and Harvey, 66,000.
The economy has also enjoyed a rush of car sales as sufficiently-collateralized and insured drivers immediately replaced vehicles destroyed by the storms. According to the latest retail data, car sales slowed to a 0.7 percent growth rate in October, far below September’s blistering 4.6-percent pace.
At the same time, at 3.4 percent, the personal saving rate implies many households have depleted a good portion of their safety cushions. The current rate is not only the lowest since 2007, but one of the lowest on record since 1900.
Hoisington Asset Management’s chief economist Lacy Hunt said that in real per capita terms, disposable income fell at a 0.2 percent rate in the third quarter, 0.5 percent below where it stood a year prior.

Wall Street is still going gangbusters, and that's what the news media and the wealthy care about.
But the 80% or so of the rest of the nation are not just struggling, but sinking further.

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Steven D's picture

only to find out they're hiring people for minimum wage/less than 25 hour a week jobs. No benefits, natch.

My daughter has over $300 a month in student loan payments and that's on the low end of the scale. She has friends whose payments exceed $1000 a month, plus it's hard to find an apartment for less than $1K a month in many cities. She was a summa cum laude grad in biomed engineering and was lucky to find a 2 year "gig economy job" not really in her field or she could afford to pay her debt service. And people blame millennials for not buying homes, if you can believe that bs.

As for poorer neighborhoods, it is not a recession, it a depression. Unless you make in excess of $85k a year, you are losing money after adjusting for real inflation (i.e., all the costs the government does not include in their estimate of inflation). And we all know with the way the financial industry has been unleashed to do whatever risky shit they want to do, we are headed off a cliff sooner rather than later.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

@Steven D
from the "is it a Depression" debate (i.e. Yes, it is), and focusing on "are things getting worse right now".

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@gjohnsit

I'm trying to stay away from the "is it a Depression" debate (i.e. Yes, it is), and focusing on "are things getting worse right now".

"Any two things, both being equal to the same third thing, are also equal to each other." -- Euclid of Alexandria

Any of the factors you mentioned in the Essay, including the Depression fact, are all equal to "things are getting worse right now" for the bottom 80% or more.

Therefore, they are all equally true.

Bad

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@gjohnsit would be "Sucky Hopeless Economy."

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dervish's picture

on the other hand, jobs seem abundant, albeit not necessarily good ones. I wouldn't say it's a recession yet, but the ropes are fraying.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

@dervish
then all the jobs in the world won't stop a working class recession.
Debt levels, savings rates, and default rates are indicators of the larger problem

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dervish And, obviously, rent and homelessness.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

divineorder's picture

...

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

@divineorder

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@divineorder I'm not sure Mr. Ryavec knows that he's the devil.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

only enough to stop their own downward slide in to the same stinking ditch. Trickle down class war, no policies start from the bottom and work up, always from the middle. Charity for all the rest, just eat cake. "That's the system.".

California political class is so far out of touch it is sickening. Behold the geniuses charged with discussing affordable housing in Sacramento: http://www.calchannel.com/affordable-housing-panel/
Around 35 or 40 minutes someone finally mentions "housing element", and "why are no housing element laws enforced?". ding

*splat* After all these years, that is where they are going to start? Fuuuuuuuuudge! And those are the "thinkers" with the PhDs and MBAs and all that other expensive paper crap. Too many academics and lobbyists, not enough reality checks. They are part of the homelessness industry now, what would they do without the poor homeless to collect data on and get more subsidies? Corrupt professional class of Ds and Rs both. good luck

It looks a lot like a refugee crisis to me, but the refugees are my neighbors, it is a war on the poor. You will not read about the depopulation in the news, it is bad for business. There are a lot of emotional "strong" stories to keep the hamster wheel spinning, social media template included.
Tent village in southwest Santa Rosa expands after downtown homeless camps cleared out

Sonoma County is experiencing even more PTSD now, it is everywhere.
Mental health issues increasing as Sonoma County enters new phase of fires’ aftermath

The middle-class fire homeless are worthy now, the thousands who were homeless before them, well they are still worthless detritus in the minds of most. Smothered in D-Values.

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Meteor Man's picture

@eyo

Thanksgiving help for the homeless: 'We haven't seen numbers like this since the Great Depression'

Pretending they care once a year:

Scheduled volunteer servers include gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, entertainer Dick Van Dyke and actress Nicolette Sheridan.

http://beta.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-homeless-thanksgiving-20171123...

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Meteor Man It's possible Van Dyke might actually care. the others, well...

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

SnappleBC's picture

@eyo

It looks a lot like a refugee crisis to me, but the refugees are my neighbors

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A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

@eyo That's the sad part, a lot of the working class used to be middle class.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

And we've been in a depression for the last 40 years because we've been robbed blind since 1980.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Strife Delivery's picture

And people blame millennials for not buying homes, if you can believe that bs.

Millennials are to blame for killing it seems every industry that is sagging or just outright dying.

I'm doing my part as a millennial.

But more to your point... I mean, yes, buy homes with what? Literally, with what? The min. wage job? It's just simple math at this point. Folks my age, unless they have a great job, are forced to room with 2-4 other people. That's 3-5 people per apartment/rented house.

Which, break that down, is 3-5 individual homes/condos that aren't being bought. Why? Because we can't afford to. Simple as that.

What exactly are we to do?
Told can't expect min. wage jobs to take care of you (those are starter jobs, work your way up bullshit). Ok so then that goes to...

Get a better job. Well fantastic, let's just go to the job tree and grab one. Oh wait, vast majority of new jobs are temporary, gig economy and min. wage jobs. Cool beans. So then that goes to...

Go to college. Ok, great, so that can be tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt with still bleak job prospects. We are then told we shouldn't have gone to college because of the outrageous debt and it is our own fault. Which brings us back to...

Why aren't millennials buying things?

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@Strife Delivery You can't even get a min. wage job. And even when you do, you're part time no matter what and your hours are the first to be cut during 'slow season'. Advancement? Yeah right. Disabled workers make the service industry image look like shit (so they say). This isn't just my experience either.

Education? Sure, I got 2 degrees and still have yet to have anything to show for it because most businesses where I live here in Flawer-Duh refuse to hire someone who can't fuckin' drive. Move? Can't. Don't have the money. And besides, if I could, I'd leave this stupid shit country and never look back....only most countries won't take 'Murican economic refugees. Can't say I blame 'em.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Strife Delivery's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Education? Sure, I got 2 degrees and still have yet to have anything to show for it because most businesses where I live here in Flawer-Duh refuse to hire someone who can't fuckin' drive. Move? Can't. Don't have the money. And besides, if I could, I'd leave this stupid shit country and never look back....only most countries won't take 'Murican economic refugees. Can't say I blame 'em.

I hear you on education. I'm hoping to get into grad school to get my doctorate, but that's always a challenge. I need grad school because my degree is kind of a stepping stone degree ha. You can't do much with it purely with a bachelors. Put, I knew that going in and always had grad school as the end goal in sight. Just still sucks :/

Regarding moving to another country...I've had the thought. I've only been to one first-world country and that was Japan. Thing is I loved it there. As odd as it sounds, I felt more "free" there. Odd thing for an American to say. Felt like I didn't have this toxic weight on my shoulders while I was there.

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ggersh's picture

@Strife Delivery it's identity politics at it's finest, forget about the
banks stop loaning, HC that cost way to much for way to little
phones that cost a grand, student loans @7% while banks borrow
for free. etc.etc.etc.

Outside of the elite who are rewarded by privatization the
rest of us are getting screwed in every which way.

Millennials are to blame for killing it seems every industry that is sagging or just outright dying.

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this time it's different

empty suit on Kapernick

"“Kapernick needs to think about the pain he’s causing military families."

Strife Delivery's picture

@ggersh @ggersh

Blaming the millennials is pure utter BS

@Strife Delivery it's identity politics at it's finest, forget about the
banks stop loaning, HC that cost way to much for way to little
phones that cost a grand, student loans @7% while banks borrow
for free. etc.etc.etc.

Outside of the elite who are rewarded by privatization the
rest of us are getting screwed in every which way.

Just to be clear, and this is my own tired state and perhaps I'm misreading you, but I'm in perfect agreement with you. I am a millennial, and reading various articles about how millennials are killing cars, malls, movies, homes, etc. etc. is cute but also horrendously misguided. Folks are wrongly blaming us for the woes of almost every industry because they refuse to look at the real reasons why those industries are either sagging or dying.

Yes, we have different perspectives and tastes. But also, we are guided by well our pocketbook (now that is old school). I mean all those articles could be answered with the same answer.

"Why aren't millennials buying homes?" Answer: Can't afford it.
"Why aren't millennials buying cars?" Answer: Can't afford it.

and on and on. I read one article from car makers saying they are ramping up their marketing department to figure out how to really get at us millennials. They are just stumped at how to advertise to us millennials. Well, hey folks, come up with fun advertising all you want. Zero money is still zero money even after some crazy ad blitz.

All the creative minds in the advertising department can't change my bank account. Would I like a new car or recently used one? Yes, because my current old car is kind of slugging along but not certain for how long. But I can't afford to change it out so it is what it is. Drive it till it utterly dies.

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ggersh's picture

@Strife Delivery and all that you wrote in response I totally agree
with

is so true

, the millennials
like every other generation is hurting, surprisingly yes
it's every generation, so it's not a horizontal fight but
a vertical fight (class warfare).

What really irked me was I was going thru the channels and
it hit the shit Maher show and they were blaming millennials
for the election and I nearly lost it. The BS machine is
spewing so much utter BS so I'm thinking it's almost time
to hunker down, the empire is crumbling, whether or not we
do a Humpty is a whole different question.

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this time it's different

empty suit on Kapernick

"“Kapernick needs to think about the pain he’s causing military families."

Daenerys's picture

@Strife Delivery spent an hour looking for it again but couldn't find it; anyway it went something like this:

Marketing dept/company: Why aren't millennials buying our product?!
Millennials: Have you tried lowering your prices?
Marketing dept/company: Do what now?

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This shit is bananas.

@Strife Delivery

Lol, didn't Ford used to pay workers enough that they could afford to buy Ford cars? Funny how employers can;t figure out basic math/economics anymore, only not actually funny ha-ha...

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@Strife Delivery
You never heard of Liar's Loans? Show a little initiative like your older brothers and sisters.

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Any 'official' report of this nature would erode MSM sponsors' confidence in the consumer economy. This is the kind of report the MSM literally can't afford.

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Mike Taylor

@Mike Taylor Very true. The surveys of how people are living, like how many are paying their rent on time, are much closer to the reality that most people face than abstract stats about employment. And those stats reveal that the majority of the nation is under or teetering.

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@Mike Taylor
when we were already six months into recession, the politicians, economists, and media was still debating whether a recession was going to happen.

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SparkyGump's picture

When it come time for pitchforks and torches, we'll finally realize why they've militarized the police. We're becoming a nicer version of China.

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The real SparkyGump has passed. It was an honor being your human.

travelerxxx's picture

@SparkyGump

We're becoming a nicer version of China.

Except, I'm not so certain about the nicer part....

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we working class people are too stupid to know we can't make ends meet. Me, I'm just looking for politicians who'll stand up for my heritage and protect me from feeling some things.

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Both democrats and republicans are trying to hide behind employment numbers which read like Soviet era farm reports. I fully expect debtor prisons to return. Actually, in a way they are here: just look at what the residents of Ferguson had to endure.

Ferguson sued for municipal fines & jailing those who can't pay
https://www.rt.com/usa/230739-ferguson-fine-jail-lawsuit/

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@MrWebster

If I may, I'd like to add:

https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice/race-and-criminal-justice/deb...

Debtors' Prisons

Nearly two centuries ago, the United States formally abolished the incarceration of people who failed to pay off debts. Yet, recent years have witnessed the rise of modern-day debtors' prisons—the arrest and jailing of poor people for failure to pay legal debts they can never hope to afford, through criminal justice procedures that violate their most basic rights.
The ACLU and ACLU affiliates across the country have been exposing and challenging modern-day debtors' prisons across the country. Learn More

https://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/313118629/supreme-court-ruling-not-enough...

Supreme Court Ruling Not Enough To Prevent Debtors Prisons
7:46

May 21, 20145:01 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
Joseph Shapiro - Square

Joseph Shapiro

Debtors prisons were outlawed in the United States nearly 200 years ago. And more than 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear: Judges cannot send people to jail just because they are too poor to pay their court fines.

That decision came in a 1983 case called Bearden v. Georgia, which held that a judge must first consider whether the defendant has the ability to pay but "willfully" refuses. ...

...Judges say it's difficult to determine who can and cannot afford to pay their fines and fees. Often a probation officer or a court official will make a recommendation based on an interview with the defendant or based on a questionnaire.

Some judges will tell an offender to give up their phone service, or quit smoking cigarettes — and use the money instead to pay court debt.

Some judges will tell people to get the money from family members or to use Temporary Aid to Needy Family checks, Social Security disability income, veterans' benefits or other welfare checks to pay their court fees first — or else face going to jail. ...

...NPR surveyed laws in 50 states and the District of Columbia and found that defendants get charged for a long list of government services that were once free — including ones that are constitutionally required.

In at least 41 states, inmates can be charged room and board for jail and prison stays; in at least 44 states, offenders can get billed for their own probation and parole supervision; and in 49 states, there's a fee for the electronic bracelet that monitors people when they're out of jail.

The survey also found, with the help of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, that in least 43 states, defendants can be billed for a public defender.

Those fees often add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

When people struggle to pay those fees, they have violated probation and can go to jail. The practice is called "pay or stay" — pay the fine or stay in jail. ...

..."Every day poor people go to jail because they're poor," says Aukerman, who took up Dewitt's case. "Debtors prisons are alive and well in Michigan and across the country. People go to jail because they're poor. And that's a two-tiered and unequal system of justice." ...

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/as-economy-flails-debtors-prisons-thrive/

By Alain Sherter MoneyWatch April 5, 2013, 12:39 PM
As economy flails, debtors' prisons thrive

(MoneyWatch) Thousands of Americans are sent to jail not for committing a crime, but because they can't afford to pay for traffic tickets, medical bills and court fees.

If that sounds like a debtors' prison, a legal relic which was abolished in this country in the 1830s, that's because it is. And courts and judges in states across the land are violating the Constitution by incarcerating people for being unable to pay such debts. ...

...they reflect a justice system that in effect criminalizes poverty. "It's a growing problem nationally, particularly because of the economic crisis," said Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice.

Roughly a third of U.S. states today jail people for not paying off their debts, from court-related fines and fees to credit card and car loans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Such practices contravene a 1983 United States Supreme Court ruling that they violate the Constitutions's Equal Protection Clause.

Some states apply "poverty penalties," such as late fees, payment plan fees and interest, when people are unable to pay all their debts at once. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. In North Carolina, people are charged for using a public defender, so poor defendants who can't afford such costs may be forced to forgo legal counsel.

The high rates of unemployment and government fiscal shortfalls that followed the housing crash have increased the use of debtors' prisons, as states look for ways to replenish their coffers. Said Chettiar, "It's like drawing blood from a stone. States are trying to increase their revenue on the backs of the poor."

In Dawley's home state of Ohio, the local chapter of the ACLU announced today that it had found conclusive evidence of such polices in 7 of 11 counties in the state that it examined over the course of a year-long investigation. Although debtors' prisons are unconstitutional and prohibited by Ohio law, poor defendants are routinely jailed for failing to pay court fines, the group said in a report.

Municipal and so-called mayors' courts -- Ohio is one of two states in the U.S. where mayors can administer the law, even if they aren't licensed attorneys -- also commonly do not give defendants like Dawley a hearing or inform them of their rights to counsel, as required by law.

"They didn't give you the opportunity to say you couldn't pay," Dawley said of his time in court. "They just gave out 10 day sentences.... There was nothing about your finances. Either you plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. They give you a jail date and put you on a payment plan, and if you don't make the payment plan you're going to jail." ...

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/debtors-prison-legal-in-more-than-one...

BUSINESS
Debtors' Prison Legal In More Than One-Third Of U.S. States
11/22/2011 12:37 EST | Updated 11/22/2011 15:11 EST

...the number of complaints about debt collectors filed to the Federal Trade Commission jumped to 140,036 in 2010 from 104,766 per year in 2008. The FTC has taken 10 debt collection companies to court in the past three years, compared to six companies in the three years before that.

Even as their tactics get more aggressive, the debt collection sector is set to grow. The industry expects to increase by 26 percent over the next three years.

In some cases, the debt collection agencies have used threats and lies to get consumers to pay back their debts. A U.S. district court froze the assets of seven related debt collection companies after the FTC filed a formal complaint that the companies intimidated borrowers in order to get them to pay back their debts. In some cases, those same collectors allegedly pressured consumers who didn't owe anything at all.

And in Kansas City, one man ended up in jail after missing only a furniture payment, KCTV5 reports. James Davis purchased a mattress, bed and computer, but soon lost his job to the recession, making it difficult for him to payoff the purchases. He was repeatedly pulled into court so that collectors could find ways for him to make the payments, but after missing one hearing a warrant was issued for his arrest. Davis is suing in federal court for the way he was treated. ...

So there will likely be continuing job openings in debt collection as more people continue to go under - isn't that lovely employment news?

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

The Aspie Corner's picture

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.