We’ve all heard that stereotypical story about being in line at the grocery store behind the woman who was paying for her food using food stamps while talking on her new iPhone. If you’ve ever encountered this ironic scene in person, than you’ve probably wondered how bad poor people really have it these days. And you’re not alone.
This post was inspired by a recent and interesting article on CNN Money entitled Are you poor if you have a flat-screen TV? In it they quoted a survey demonstrating how poor people in the U.S. (those making less than $20,000 per year) own just as many flat screen TV’s (2 to 4) as the middle and wealthy classes (62% vs 68%). What’s worse is that the survey was taken in 2009 – before prices started really coming down below $1,000 to the low prices we’re enjoying today!
So with the upcoming presidential campaign where jobs and the income gap will be a big deal, one has to ask the question – is social inequality “really” as bad as people are making it out to be?
Things That Poor People Enjoy:
By “really” that bad, I mean starving with no food and no place to sleep. Not like “I don’t have a Blu-ray player” or “I can’t afford HBO”.
Contrary to what you may think about how the other side lives, some of the other amenities that were highlighted in this article as things that poor people enjoy include microwaves, air conditioning, dishwasher, cable TV, DVD players, video game systems, cell phones, Internet access, cars, etc. How many of those things are part of your money design?
Now contrast these items against the type of poverty someone would have experienced say 50 to 100 years ago. Or contrast it to the poverty people are currently experiencing in other countries like China or India where they literally have no food to eat and live in make-shift slums. What does this say about poverty in the U.S.?
Possible Reasons for this Phenomenon:
To simply say poor people are being foolish and frivolously spending their money would be too easy …
Clearly there is more going on here than what is being seen on the surface. As I was reading this CNN article, I had a few ideas about what may be causing this type of behavior:
1) Is technology really becoming that affordable? For example, are some of these TV’s really just cheap, low-quality imports?
2) Are poor people simply victims of aggressive marketing? Are they an easy demographic for Walmart and Best Buy to go after?
3) Are recent Government tax credits putting money in the hands of the poor that they would have otherwise not had (and therefore being used foolishly)?
4) Are these items being bought on easy access lines of credit? Seen any ads for 0% for 12 months? Is that going to open up another can of worms for possible credit defaults (similar to our recent housing market)?
5) Is there a social movement of “entitlement” where people, regardless of their income, feel they deserve such trophies like flat screen TV’s?
Readers – What do you think about this? Do you think that poor people are really doing that bad? What other factors are contributing to the phenomenon of social inequality?
Photo Credit: People of Walmart