In America Frills Are Cheap, But What About The Important Stuff?

Caitlin Petrie

There’s an article from The New York Times titled Changed Life of the Poor: Better Off, but Far Behind by Annie Lowery. Its about the Senate failing to pass a bill to raise the federal minimum wage. It highlights that consumption habits of middle class and poor Americans are not that different, calling it the “WallMart Effect”.  Poor American families have TVs, cell phones, and personal computers just like their wealthier middle class counterparts.  To be honest, by the wealth standards, I would fall into this category. I’m a poor college student, and while I don’t own a TV I certainly have a cell phone and computer.

There’s a graph in the article that shows while the cost of education, housing, child care, and health care have risen; the cost of TVs, phones, and electronics have plummeted in comparison.  I find this to be particularly disturbing. It begs the question, what is the true sign of wealth in today’s society?  Is it a big screen TV?  Or, is it being able to pay for your kid to go to college and graduate with little to no debt?  If we’re going with the latter, there’s going to be many more poor people in the future.

Yet, there still seems to be this blame game of poor people because they have the connivence of technology in their homes. In this clip, Fox News is faulting poor people for having refrigerators. That’s ridiculous. I believe discussions around poverty in this country need to change.  We need to stop blaming each other, and move towards solutions where everyone could afford education, health care, housing, and yes refrigerators.


  1. urbanferal

    I think it is just plain sad that a news organization, even Fox news, would continue to create a complete cognitive disconnect between the rich and the poor. Stories like that fail to provide any realistic view of the living standards of the poor and just further the inability for rich people to empathize with the poor. I imagine that the more well off viewers of Fox news are better able to sleep at night after seeing stats like those and better able to justify voting against policy to help the poor. I agree with Caitlin, it is time to stop playing the blame game and start having conversations about the living standards that actually matter.

  2. shin1505

    I am in complete agreement. Looking at the national debt, and the national budget, people seem too willing to fault the poor single women with children. I’ve seen homeless people with Iphones. I personally do not own a Iphone, but I do have a phone. Looking at my phone bill, then the bill for my apartment and its utilities, if my income got cut in half- I’d probably go homeless too and stick with my phone bill. In the grand scheme of things, cheap items are not the problem, it’s the very basic expensive necessities. Fox News is faulting poor people for having refrigerators, if we’re going to fault someone or something, how about the big corporations who don’t pay proper taxes. Lets get over it, and just start working together to fix the problem. One a side tangent: generally speaking, poor people cannot afford to buy houses, so they rent. Most places available for rent such as apartments, come with fridges.

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