Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What is a "luxury?"

Cross-posted from the comments board of the WSJ:

StlJoe wrote, "I didn't have a cell phone until I was over 30 and yet somehow I had been working for 8 years."

::golf clap::

It's one thing to "not have a cell phone." A cell phone is a luxury. But when you're job hunting, having some way for an employer to contact you to schedule a job interview is an absolute necessity. And I'll bet $10,000 (that's the standard Republican betting rate, right?) that at no point in your job hunt did you have to apologize to an employer for not having a phone number. I'll bet you didn't ever have to put a homeless shelter down as your primary mailing address either.

If you consider a cell phone to be a "luxury" that you could easily forego, it's because you've always had a land line for conducting the necessary business of life. Can you even imagine trying to run your life via the payphone half a block away? Or begging phone time from your neighbor three doors down every day?

Have you even bothered to try imagining it?

In other words, have you ever questioned your privileged viewpoint?

Here's a handy mnemonic: "No cell phone, no problem. No phone service, no job."

I'll bet you'd be horrified by the idea of government paying for internet access as well, even though the Internet is now the primary means for hunting for jobs, educating citizens, contacting government officials, and a whole host of other activities critical to being a part of modern society. I could talk about this until I'm blue in the face, and you'll just respond with, "I ain't paying poor people to surf Facebook all day."

It always angers me when Republicans disparage simple, cost-effective ways to improve the lives of poor people -- even if these services increase their ability to find and keep employment -- as "paying for luxuries." Short-sighted, blinkered... grumble grumble.