I recently read an article on MSN.com that asked Can poor people have HDTVs? It pointed out various statistics, such as: Some 62% of households, that were earning less than $20,000 annually owned between 2 and 4 televisions (according to the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey). I thought 2 TVs? Who needs 2 TVs? And then realized that I have 2 TVs – and there’s only 2 of us!
There were some other statistics as well from the Heritage Foundation:
· 80% of poor families have air conditioning.
· 92% have a microwave.
· Almost two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
· More than half of poor households with children have a video game system.
· Half of poor households have a computer and 43% have Internet access.
· A third have a plasma or LCD TV, and a quarter have a digital video recorder.
Now, the Heritage Foundation is described as “conservative”, and I don’t know enough about the foundation or their study to know how accurate these numbers really are. I’m going to assume there’s at least some truth to them though.
So why is this? Why do people who are poor own things like this? There are various reasons:
· Prices have dropped. You can get things such as TVs and microwaves for much, much cheaper now than you used to.
· Things are no longer considered luxuries. Growing up, we didn’t have air conditioning, more than 1 TV, or a video game system. Usually one family one the street (the one with the executive Dad or 2 working parents had a video game system). I now have A/C, 2 TVs, and 3 video game systems! I know, I know – I sound like a spoiled brat. J. And I don’t even have children.
· Things were bought when times were good. You may have been able to afford the video game system and plasma TV when you were doing well, and now that you’re not doing so well – it’s not really worth selling them, you’d get so little for them.
· You get used to it. If you’ve had cable or internet access, it’s darned hard to give them up, no matter whether you’ve had them or not. I lived just fine without a PVR before, but now I’m addicted to mine.
I have to admit – I get rather annoyed when people gripe about how broke they are, and I see all the stuff they own.
But, the thing is – it’s not the one off costs (such as buying a TV) that get people. It’s the day to day costs – rising cost of food, day care, gas, etc. that get people and really squeeze them.
What do you think? Can you be considered poor if you have nice TVs, Internet access, and a PS3?