Black Friday & The “Luxuries” of Today’s Poor

After having huddled together with our loved ones for Thanksgiving, and itemized everyone’s holiday wishes versus your available income, how many of us have realized we are in (or very near) economic trouble? Recently the US Census bureau unveiled a new poverty measure designed to possibly replace an increasingly outmoded one first developed in 1963 and left unchanged largely due to political tensions.

The new measure revealed that we have not only a possibly deeper poverty rate, but a real challenge with those that could be considered the “near poor.”

Click graphic for full story: "Older, Suburban and Struggling, ‘Near Poor’ Startle the Census"

As the New York Times analysis reports, and is illustrated in the above graphic, one of the studies significant findings was that the near poor – those who may be as little as a few paychecks or a significant health crisis away away from poverty – are becoming increasingly older and suburban. A far cry from the usual image of poverty being composed of young families in the inner-city.

The use of this new measure of course is not without its critics. Most notably some at the Heritage Foundation who like to point to amenities today’s poor and near poor seem to have that they feel should disqualify them from being seen as destitute. They point specifically to the existence of “luxuries” such as “more then one color TV, a DVD player and even a computer in these poor homes.”

Indeed, while the presence of electronics in the home may certainly not look like Dickensian or Great Depression poverty, this critique seems to ignore the reality of our modern times. For instance the cost of a television has historically plummeted when adjusted for inflation, making it far from an unobtainable device for most Americans looking for cheap entertainment. But more importantly we think it fails to acknowledge the sheer craziness of days like today – Black Friday.

Those of us who can afford to buy (or who or willing to go further into debt to buy) the latest HD-television technology, invest in new blu-ray DVD players, or decide to get a new PC because the latest version of Windows makes our old computer unworkable, end up doing something with all those old electronics. Where do you think they end-up?

We used to call those sorts of items hand-me-downs; now though they are apparently luxuries. One wonders if this is why some of us also overestimate these items donation value to Goodwill for our own tax deduction purposes?





Comments are closed.