An interesting article on msn by the Christian Science Monitor titled Poverty Now Comes With A Color TV. Well worth the read:
“In terms of the items people have … it amazes me the number of people who are at or near the poverty line that have color TVs, cable, washer, dryer, microwave,” says Michael Cosgrove, an economist at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. That’s not to ignore the hardships of poverty, he adds, “but the conveniences they have are in fact pretty good…”
The Census report also compares, from 1992 through 1998, people’s perceptions of whether basic needs were being met. More than 92% of Americans below the poverty line said they had enough food, as of 1998. Some 86% said they had no unmet need for a doctor, 89% had no roof leaks, and 87% said they had no unpaid rent or mortgage.
Is it bad that those considered in poverty have color TVs? It depends why they have them and that is difficult to see in the numbers. Having the color TV and foregoing nutritious food to have it is one thing while having the color TV because the prices of TVs have been reduced to where they’re affordable (can you even buy a black and white TV today?) by even those in poverty are two completely opposites that could look the same in the numbers.
Although I have not done a lot of research in this area, I found the numbers more positive than I’d imagined they’d be. While I still believe there is no excuse to have anyone going hungry in the US or not to be able to get medical treatment or to be living in poverty in the first place, there isn’t the divide in basic technology that I had for some reason assumed (although I imagine that the divide in income and wealth still is quite drastic).
It was good to see the numbers. Now it’s time for me to digest them a bit and see where my opinion lands…