"Poor" living like they just won a showcase showdown

There’s this argument out there that poor people in the United State have stuff and that if you have stuff and are poor you aren’t living frugal enough. A recent segment on FOX News reported that 99.6% of those living in poverty have a fridge, 81.4% have a microwave, 78.3% have air conditioning, 63.7% have cable, 54.5% have cell phones, 48.6% have a coffee maker, 32.3% have two or more TVs, 25% have a dish washer.

The same folks making this argument would tell the poor to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. I’d like to make a couple of points.

  • If you don’t have a fridge, you have to eat out, which is more expensive.
  • If you don’t have a microwave, how do you cook a warm meal when the gas company shuts off your gas?
  • Just because your housing or public housing comes with air conditioning doesn’t mean you can afford to run it.
  • If you don’t have cable or Internet, how do you find jobs, apply for jobs, stay informed about the world?
  • If you don’t have a cell phone, how does a possible employer reach you. Even middle class folks have dropped their land lines. (Note: I’ve seen garment workers who earn $24/month chatting on cell phones. This aren’t the day of bag phones and $1/minute phone calls. Cell phones are a necessity.
  • When you’re raising three kids by yourself, you need some coffee.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you ain’t got no bootstraps!

The Daily Show did a great piece on class warfare, but you can only watch it if you can afford a computer, electricity, and an Internet connection.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare – The Poor’s Free Ride Is Over
www.thedailyshow.com
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3 comments

My father had a saying: Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure. Statistics can be twisted into any shape. The man with the cardboard sign at the expressway exit got that felt-tip pen someplace, probably Staples, not even on sale. The words poor and rich may both have four letters,but that is where the similarity ends. I’d like to see the critics feed their families with food stamps only for a week in a neighborhood full of bedbugs. Let them see the looks of the folk around them. Then maybe the percentages would look a tad different.

Wow, first of all that video was infuriating. Second, I loved your post. I get really sick of this discourse around “authentic poverty” who is REALLY poor and suffering sufficiently to claim it.

Steve Weiler says:

Funny how when we have this budgetary shortfall, the first time they want to cut is food stamps and welfare. There are plenty of other areas they could cut spending first. Even implementing the fair tax and simplifying the tax code would make a big difference. No more loop-poles, even the rich pay taxes.

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