Author Topic: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.  (Read 8081 times)

Debonair

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
  • Age: 26
    • DebonairDylan
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #50 on: March 10, 2017, 03:24:15 PM »
i pretty much do the same thing in Taiwan. I also use my phone as a hotspot if I want to use my laptop. I get unlimited data for about 900NT (~30USD) a month, so it probably makes me use more internet then I normally would.

Can't you go to an ATM to transpher money in China?


I have an unlocked smartphone. I wouldn't call it an economic necessity, but it is very very handy, especially in China. For example, hubby gets paid for tutoring via Wechat Pay and Alipay.

My landlord asked for rent to be paid via Alipay (an app). This saves me from having to go to the bank to transfer money to his account when rent is due. This adds up to a lot of money when banks are only open during office hours and it takes up to 2 hours standing in lines to transfer money.

I don't have a gym membership. I use my phone's pedometer to track my steps and log calories. I also have an app that donates money to charity every time I exercise (it tracks miles walked and donates a set amount per mile). It's also my alarm clock, and my timer, which I use as a critical part of my job.

I've saved tons of money in taxi fares because I use GPS and the maps app to ensure the taxi driver is taking the most direct route. Case in point: My mom and I once took separate taxis from the same airport to the same hotel. She paid ¥100. I paid ¥30.

That being said, in China, it is pay as you go. We spend about ¥20 ($3) per month on phone charges. I think it really depends on how you use your smartphone that determines whether it's a luxury or an economic necessity. There are a few things I can do on my smart phone that I can't do in my iPad or computer.
I write a travel blog, it has nothing to do with finance except I prefer traveling over "real work": http://debonairdylan.com

MMMaybe

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 378
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2017, 10:59:46 AM »
A smartphone is pretty much necessary now. An iPhone is still a luxury!

golden1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: MA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #52 on: March 13, 2017, 12:20:19 PM »
Necessity, no.  Extremely useful, absolutely.  I think that if used properly, it enhances productivity significantly for the average human.  I am in my 40's and could do without one decently well, but my kids generation might have a hard time without one.  To them, it would be like doing without a refrigerator. 

My problem with Chaffitz's statement is that he doesn't allow that people make long term decisions poorly most of the time. 

Guide2003

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: Mobile, AL
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #53 on: March 14, 2017, 08:43:59 AM »
Regarding Chaffetz, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Unfortunately smart phones are among the luxuries marketed aggressively to lower-income people, to the point where they are so ubiquitous people in the communities that have adopted them regard them, and the expenses that go along with them, as a necessity.

Smart phones are in the same category as professional manicures and eyebrow treatments, ostentatious hubcap decorations, overpriced mall boutique underwear, cigarettes, boutique makeup, barista-made coffee, drive-through "food", and Brobdingnagian flat-screen televisions.

It's not just the phone or even the bandwidth. It's all the nonsense that goes along with it: $30 cables and chargers, $180 replacement screens, screen protectors, cases, headphones, Bluetooth speakers, and it all adds up. Then of course there's the $10 per month for Netflix, $10 per month for Apple's music streaming service, and pretty soon the accessories and services alone average ten to twenty bucks per week.
I think there's some interesting social commentary with smartphones in that you see both the extremely rich and those at the poverty level (in the USA that is) using the same exact phones! We don't have the same cars or houses, but the best phones in wide circulation are relatively easily attainable and have become a status symbol, albeit a meaningless one. I use this fact to illustrate the reality of being in the global 1%. At a certain point, people have to resort to fancy phone accessories to make a statement because who can't afford the rent-to-own plan on a $1000-$1500 device?

As far as whether or not they are a necessity, I got by until a few years ago without a smartphone and only got one because it was the cheapest option. The PhD who runs the masters program I am in still has a flip phone, the kind that you can't get anymore from any store anywhere and the battery lasts 10 days. I think everyone would agree that its totally possible to be an intelligent, engaged, responsible individual and structure one's life in such a way that internet access is accomplished without relying on mobile devices. So smartphones are only required for those who structure their life to require smartphones.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #54 on: March 14, 2017, 10:11:48 AM »
Regarding Chaffetz, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Unfortunately smart phones are among the luxuries marketed aggressively to lower-income people, to the point where they are so ubiquitous people in the communities that have adopted them regard them, and the expenses that go along with them, as a necessity.

Smart phones are in the same category as professional manicures and eyebrow treatments, ostentatious hubcap decorations, overpriced mall boutique underwear, cigarettes, boutique makeup, barista-made coffee, drive-through "food", and Brobdingnagian flat-screen televisions.

It's not just the phone or even the bandwidth. It's all the nonsense that goes along with it: $30 cables and chargers, $180 replacement screens, screen protectors, cases, headphones, Bluetooth speakers, and it all adds up. Then of course there's the $10 per month for Netflix, $10 per month for Apple's music streaming service, and pretty soon the accessories and services alone average ten to twenty bucks per week.
I think there's some interesting social commentary with smartphones in that you see both the extremely rich and those at the poverty level (in the USA that is) using the same exact phones! We don't have the same cars or houses, but the best phones in wide circulation are relatively easily attainable and have become a status symbol, albeit a meaningless one. I use this fact to illustrate the reality of being in the global 1%. At a certain point, people have to resort to fancy phone accessories to make a statement because who can't afford the rent-to-own plan on a $1000-$1500 device?

As far as whether or not they are a necessity, I got by until a few years ago without a smartphone and only got one because it was the cheapest option. The PhD who runs the masters program I am in still has a flip phone, the kind that you can't get anymore from any store anywhere and the battery lasts 10 days. I think everyone would agree that its totally possible to be an intelligent, engaged, responsible individual and structure one's life in such a way that internet access is accomplished without relying on mobile devices. So smartphones are only required for those who structure their life to require smartphones.

It's easy for people like us to get by without smartphones and to structure our lives differently because we've got the wherewithal to acquire and maintain other means of doing what a smartphone does. As has been pointed out in other posts, couch surfing, moving frequently, or living under a bridge kind of precludes having, storing, and maintaining other means to perform all the tasks currently provided by a smartphone. It also precludes being available for Skype job interviews.

Your point about the same products being marketed to all points on the income spectrum is spot on, however. I see the same trend in vehicles, beauty treatments, and consumer electronics.
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

AlanStache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1554
  • Age: 37
  • Location: South East Virginia
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #55 on: March 14, 2017, 10:19:46 AM »
I think there's some interesting social commentary with smartphones in that you see both the extremely rich and those at the poverty level (in the USA that is) using the same exact phones! We don't have the same cars or houses, but the best phones in wide circulation are relatively easily attainable and have become a status symbol, albeit a meaningless one. I use this fact to illustrate the reality of being in the global 1%. At a certain point, people have to resort to fancy phone accessories to make a statement because who can't afford the rent-to-own plan on a $1000-$1500 device?

As far as whether or not they are a necessity, I got by until a few years ago without a smartphone and only got one because it was the cheapest option. The PhD who runs the masters program I am in still has a flip phone, the kind that you can't get anymore from any store anywhere and the battery lasts 10 days. I think everyone would agree that its totally possible to be an intelligent, engaged, responsible individual and structure one's life in such a way that internet access is accomplished without relying on mobile devices. So smartphones are only required for those who structure their life to require smartphones.

The difference between being "crazy" and being "eccentric" is how much money you have.

Phd department chairs will have people adapt to them without even having to ask.

People working 18 hr/wk at McDonald's have to adapt to those above them.  Fine - yes the are still choosing to adapt. 

"So refrigerators are only required for those who structure their life to require refrigerators."  ... ok yes... and... I could structure my life to not require pants...  (Actually part of my FIRE dream is to not use an alarm clock or close toe shoes :-)   )
Be the person Mr. Rogers knows you can be.

Guide2003

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: Mobile, AL
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #56 on: March 14, 2017, 10:49:00 AM »
It's easy for people like us to get by without smartphones and to structure our lives differently because we've got the wherewithal to acquire and maintain other means of doing what a smartphone does. As has been pointed out in other posts, couch surfing, moving frequently, or living under a bridge kind of precludes having, storing, and maintaining other means to perform all the tasks currently provided by a smartphone. It also precludes being available for Skype job interviews.
True, but I'd argue that those lifestyles are choices, and therefore those people chose to structure their life in such a way that a smartphone is necessary. Not saying that's wrong, but just arguing that smartphones are not being forced on them. I have had a fair amount of homeless friends who would occasionally stay with me when I lived in Miami and Corpus Christi. The ones that didn't have phones used the library, or several non-profits that offered free internet access. One homeless buddy Dean claimed to do contract coding work from the library whenever he wanted spending money (also did not have a smartphone). Pretty off topic, but at least in those cities there's a large element of personal choice in being homeless for a decent chunk of that population. And for those forced into that lifestyle, internet access via a mobile device and their own personal effort will certainly not be the thing that lifts them up.

I understand quite well that reason only goes so far in these circumstances, but I'd think the best way to structure your homeless life is to camp out halfway between the library and the soup kitchen and save that money you would have spent on a smartphone for interview clothes. All I'm trying to say is that if some people can do without, there has to be a qualifier to the statement that smartphones are absolutely necessary for life today. As a smartphone user, I'm also not saying that its bad to use a smartphone for these things. No doubt there are lifestyles that necessitate smartphones. But those are optional lifestyles, and probably not ones that any of us set as our long term goals. I just get annoyed when people get whiny about smartphones because I think you can trace their complaint back to a personal decision they brought on themselves.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa

Guide2003

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: Mobile, AL
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #57 on: March 14, 2017, 11:07:38 AM »
The difference between being "crazy" and being "eccentric" is how much money you have.

Phd department chairs will have people adapt to them without even having to ask.

People working 18 hr/wk at McDonald's have to adapt to those above them.  Fine - yes the are still choosing to adapt. 

"So refrigerators are only required for those who structure their life to require refrigerators."  ... ok yes... and... I could structure my life to not require pants...  (Actually part of my FIRE dream is to not use an alarm clock or close toe shoes :-)   )
Sorry I don't know how to quote multiple posters in a single reply yet!
Is it crazy or eccentric to not spend extra money on extra functionality that you don't need?

I know you are replying to the specific case I brought up, but in that specific case, there is no noticeable difference between him or any other professor from the student's perspective. He manages the online classroom management software arguably better than the smartphone-using profs! In a general sense, I think its a good thing if people are forced to adapt to your lifestyle if you make intentional countercultural decisions i.e. getting friends to hang out at a public park with a picnic lunch and drinks rather than $15 cocktails and a movie on whatever Hollywood thinks is important today. Its totally possible to have people adapt without inconveniencing them, but again, in the specific example I offered its not occurring.

Many of us choose to structure our lives to accommodate refrigerators because they save us their value many times over every year. Clearly a no-brainer. I'm not sure that most can make the same value added argument in their life for a smartphone. Do I think its worth using my wife's castoff iPhone for podcasts, email on the go, reading gun blogs in class and checking the market occasionally? For sure. But I could easily do without it, therefore not an "economic necessity" as the original article claimed. Is a refrigerator an economic necessity? Well my life would be pretty economically different if I never stored food and had to source it daily.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #58 on: March 14, 2017, 11:44:38 AM »
It's easy for people like us to get by without smartphones and to structure our lives differently because we've got the wherewithal to acquire and maintain other means of doing what a smartphone does. As has been pointed out in other posts, couch surfing, moving frequently, or living under a bridge kind of precludes having, storing, and maintaining other means to perform all the tasks currently provided by a smartphone. It also precludes being available for Skype job interviews.
True, but I'd argue that those lifestyles are choices, and therefore those people chose to structure their life in such a way that a smartphone is necessary. Not saying that's wrong, but just arguing that smartphones are not being forced on them. I have had a fair amount of homeless friends who would occasionally stay with me when I lived in Miami and Corpus Christi. The ones that didn't have phones used the library, or several non-profits that offered free internet access. One homeless buddy Dean claimed to do contract coding work from the library whenever he wanted spending money (also did not have a smartphone). Pretty off topic, but at least in those cities there's a large element of personal choice in being homeless for a decent chunk of that population. And for those forced into that lifestyle, internet access via a mobile device and their own personal effort will certainly not be the thing that lifts them up.

I understand quite well that reason only goes so far in these circumstances, but I'd think the best way to structure your homeless life is to camp out halfway between the library and the soup kitchen and save that money you would have spent on a smartphone for interview clothes. All I'm trying to say is that if some people can do without, there has to be a qualifier to the statement that smartphones are absolutely necessary for life today. As a smartphone user, I'm also not saying that its bad to use a smartphone for these things. No doubt there are lifestyles that necessitate smartphones. But those are optional lifestyles, and probably not ones that any of us set as our long term goals. I just get annoyed when people get whiny about smartphones because I think you can trace their complaint back to a personal decision they brought on themselves.

Um, no, being born on second or third base is not a "choice", nor is it evidence of having hit a double or a triple. It's a circumstance some of us are fortunate enough to luck into. Half the population is on the left side of the bell curve. The fact we're not makes it very easy to lose perspective.

In Miami and Corpus Christi it's possible to live outside year-round and not die. That isn't true of the majority of the United States. Most American families are one month or less away from homelessness. Part of the problem is overconsumption but a significant part of the problem is the gap between family income and the expense associated with minimal housing and transportation in the area. Most Western cities, for example, do not have functional or reliable public transit especially in the suburbs or exurbs.

The USA has a gigantic underclass that consists chiefly of people from the left side of the bell curve. None of them decided to be born to drug or alcohol addicted parents, to incur head injuries, to be the victims of crime, to be born with genetics that predisposed them to mental illness or physical disability, to be born into large or chaotic families where nobody paid attention to their education, or to be born to parents who were incarcerated. Now I'm not talking about disabilities or problems serious enough to warrant actual disability payments and subsidized housing and food: I'm talking about problems that make a person functional enough to have job skills or even credentials, but borderline unemployable due to problems that impact reliability, interpersonal skills, and organizational skills. These problems are not "choices". They include, but are not limited to, adult illiteracy, mobility impairments, speech impediments, PTSD due to earlier trauma, and facial disfigurements.

Underclass families have some individuals who can and do function as adults, but there aren't enough to go around and to provide care or services to the children, elders, and differently abled members of their families and communities. Furthermore, they are burdened by people who are sick, who suffer from addiction or untreated mental illness due in part to lack of resources and in part to being on the receiving end of all the risks that go along with poverty, and who accordingly reach the age of adulthood without being able to function as adults. Yet they consume and compete with resources more effectively than the children in the family, and so the next generation ends up just as deprived if not more so. Indeed, the woman I mentioned earlier in this thread is an example of someone who wallows in poor decision making and deliberately functions well below an adult level, to the detriment of her children. Supporting people like these out of love or family loyalty also bogs down an underclass family. The end result works out to something like one functional adult breadwinner to every two adult disability or Social Security recipients who either need care themselves or are unable to care for children or others, one functional caregiver/homemaker adult who does not generate income but who does logistics work and housework, plus two borderline non-functioning adults and two to five minor children, sometimes more. That's one breadwinner and one homemaker for every seven to ten dependents, some of whom need lots of attention and resources. A few have the kind of problem that will consume all available resources and then some, so that the relatively "normal" kids must mostly raise themselves. Good socialization or help getting professional credentials or education is not possible.

The result of all this dysfunction is a large body of people who are somewhat employable but that require a great deal of external structure in order to live a productive and independent life. When deprived of that structure, they fail hard and sooner or later their patchy education leads them to make the kind of "personal decision they brought on themselves", to use your words. Then they spend the rest of their lives as a burden to the other people around them.

You and I were born outside this mess, along with probably 90% of the people on this forum. From our comfortable positions on second or third base, made possible by our possession of attributes that put us on the right side of the bell curve, diving into the mess would indeed be a choice. For those born in the mess, it's not.

An infrastructure substitute such as a smart phone can, for some members of the underclass, take away just enough of the logistics problems associated with their own lack of resources and the limitations of their surroundings to allow them to get a job, pick up extra hours, and put a roof over their own heads and those of their families. Does it have to be the latest whizbang gadget? No. Does it have to have enough power and reliability to help them navigate unfamiliar bus routes to get to work on the other side of town because that's where the work is but it isn't where the cheap apartments are? Yes. Does it need the latest fancy case? No. Does it require something that will protect it from inevitable drops onto concrete when the owner has to grapple groceries out of a city bus? Yes.

Technology in cell phones is bundled. Not everyone needs, for example, mapping or GPS capability as well as a camera any more than people who pay for a word processor expect to use every feature. One person's minimum set of options will differ from the next person's depending on his or her circumstances. Nobody needs to be on the cutting edge of technology with the biggest screen and the fanciest apps in order to benefit from most the tools a smart phone offers. I think we'd all like for it to be more socially acceptable and economically possible to choose lower cost options.

For a working poor person, a basic smart phone or at least the services it provides is not a "necessity" (they can survive without it, if they have some form of welfare or support structure) but it does represent an opportunity for them to live independently. I'm not a fan of the over-marketing that occurs to the working poor, and I do acknowledge that one thing that keeps people from becoming financially secure is spending money on luxuries to make them look as though they've already arrived. We need not conflate the two issues.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 12:37:09 PM by TheGrimSqueaker »
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

Guide2003

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: Mobile, AL
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #59 on: March 14, 2017, 03:07:05 PM »
Um, no, being born on second or third base is not a "choice", nor is it evidence of having hit a double or a triple. It's a circumstance some of us are fortunate enough to luck into. Half the population is on the left side of the bell curve. The fact we're not makes it very easy to lose perspective.
So, I wasn't referring to poverty as a choice, I was referring to lifestyles that necessitated smartphones as a choice. Clearly neither runner in LBJ's shackled sprinter analogy got to choose their handicap level. I think we are pretty much on the same page that smartphones, while possibly extremely helpful, are not economically necessary for most. I am only speaking from my experience of most homeless folks I know not having them, many of my poorer friends using them for detrimental purposes, and myself and my coworkers not using ours for literally anything (financially) profitable. My experience is limited, I know, but the beauty of challenging absolute statements like a headline "smartphones are economic necessities" is that it only takes one example to disprove.

I do think that it is important/empowering to recognize that for the many in poverty who "wallow in poor decision making and deliberately function well below an adult level," there is still the ability to make choices (whether or not they realize they are making choices, and whether or not there is even a good option available). Its up to those of us that have made it out of Plato's cave to crawl back in and rescue the others who don't have the same advantages we do by educating them on what the best choices are, and helping them compensate for bad choices. I'm a huge advocate for intentionally constructing your life so you are involved in the lives of the disenfranchised and don't lose perspective like you rightly warn against, and that lines up really well with intentionally living below your means. There's a quote I read recently that says "The worst side effect of wealth is the social associations it forces on it's victims, as people with big houses tend to end up socializing with other people in big houses." The FIRE lifestyle allows you to cruise through the stratifications more easily than the poor or sometimes even the rich, and that's a privilege we need to recognize that, like any privilege, comes with a correlate responsibility.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa

mm1970

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4491
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2017, 04:39:40 PM »
Quote
Underclass families have some individuals who can and do function as adults, but there aren't enough to go around and to provide care or services to the children, elders, and differently abled members of their families and communities. Furthermore, they are burdened by people who are sick, who suffer from addiction or untreated mental illness due in part to lack of resources and in part to being on the receiving end of all the risks that go along with poverty, and who accordingly reach the age of adulthood without being able to function as adults. Yet they consume and compete with resources more effectively than the children in the family, and so the next generation ends up just as deprived if not more so. Indeed, the woman I mentioned earlier in this thread is an example of someone who wallows in poor decision making and deliberately functions well below an adult level, to the detriment of her children. Supporting people like these out of love or family loyalty also bogs down an underclass family. The end result works out to something like one functional adult breadwinner to every two adult disability or Social Security recipients who either need care themselves or are unable to care for children or others, one functional caregiver/homemaker adult who does not generate income but who does logistics work and housework, plus two borderline non-functioning adults and two to five minor children, sometimes more. That's one breadwinner and one homemaker for every seven to ten dependents, some of whom need lots of attention and resources. A few have the kind of problem that will consume all available resources and then some, so that the relatively "normal" kids must mostly raise themselves. Good socialization or help getting professional credentials or education is not possible.

The whole post was fantastic, but this one was particularly fascinating.  I have some experience with this, growing up poor and rural - it's not uncommon to encounter these types or to be related to them.

Just yesterday, though, I was chatting with a friend who is struggling with this in her own family.  Mom is elderly and becoming combative.  Elder sister has never lived away from home and is "slow" and is obese and cannot walk anymore.  A brother died young of alcoholism.  The mom/daughter live on SS and disability and Medicaid in a massive house with 2 stories and a pool. Their house is gross and they never leave it.  The two normal kids (one who lives in the area, one who does not) do their best, but it's a complete shit show.

But the difference?  They are, relatively speaking, loaded.  By virtue of timing, this home they own is in the Bay Area.  Well over a million dollars, maybe even more than two.  It's way easier for them.

libertarian4321

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1155
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #61 on: March 14, 2017, 05:06:03 PM »
My first ever smart phone arrived last week.  My wife ordered it for me (a cheap Android phone with Tracfone service) because it was my birthday and she thought I "needed" a smart phone.

I still haven't opened the package.

I don't need a smart phone.  I really don't even want one. 

I'll probably eventually switch to the thing just because it was a gift- otherwise, I'd probably just return it and keep using my old, reliable "dumb" cell phone.

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #62 on: March 14, 2017, 05:17:12 PM »
Quote
Underclass families have some individuals who can and do function as adults, but there aren't enough to go around and to provide care or services to the children, elders, and differently abled members of their families and communities. Furthermore, they are burdened by people who are sick, who suffer from addiction or untreated mental illness due in part to lack of resources and in part to being on the receiving end of all the risks that go along with poverty, and who accordingly reach the age of adulthood without being able to function as adults. Yet they consume and compete with resources more effectively than the children in the family, and so the next generation ends up just as deprived if not more so. Indeed, the woman I mentioned earlier in this thread is an example of someone who wallows in poor decision making and deliberately functions well below an adult level, to the detriment of her children. Supporting people like these out of love or family loyalty also bogs down an underclass family. The end result works out to something like one functional adult breadwinner to every two adult disability or Social Security recipients who either need care themselves or are unable to care for children or others, one functional caregiver/homemaker adult who does not generate income but who does logistics work and housework, plus two borderline non-functioning adults and two to five minor children, sometimes more. That's one breadwinner and one homemaker for every seven to ten dependents, some of whom need lots of attention and resources. A few have the kind of problem that will consume all available resources and then some, so that the relatively "normal" kids must mostly raise themselves. Good socialization or help getting professional credentials or education is not possible.

The whole post was fantastic, but this one was particularly fascinating.  I have some experience with this, growing up poor and rural - it's not uncommon to encounter these types or to be related to them.

Just yesterday, though, I was chatting with a friend who is struggling with this in her own family.  Mom is elderly and becoming combative.  Elder sister has never lived away from home and is "slow" and is obese and cannot walk anymore.  A brother died young of alcoholism.  The mom/daughter live on SS and disability and Medicaid in a massive house with 2 stories and a pool. Their house is gross and they never leave it.  The two normal kids (one who lives in the area, one who does not) do their best, but it's a complete shit show.

But the difference?  They are, relatively speaking, loaded.  By virtue of timing, this home they own is in the Bay Area.  Well over a million dollars, maybe even more than two.  It's way easier for them.

Of course. There really are problems that can be partially solved by throwing money and resources at them. A shortage of functional adults can often be addressed with paid labor.

That's one of the reasons so much dysfunction, child abuse, neglect, and alcoholism squeaks by unnoticed in upper-middle-class suburbs. People can pay their way out of occasional difficulty instead of living in a constant state of emergency.
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

jinga nation

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 615
  • Location: 'Murica's Wang
  • Left, Right, Peddlin' Shite
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #63 on: March 15, 2017, 05:58:32 AM »
My first ever smart phone arrived last week.  My wife ordered it for me (a cheap Android phone with Tracfone service) because it was my birthday and she thought I "needed" a smart phone.

I still haven't opened the package.

I don't need a smart phone.  I really don't even want one. 

I'll probably eventually switch to the thing just because it was a gift- otherwise, I'd probably just return it and keep using my old, reliable "dumb" cell phone.

If you ever need a replacement, here's a fine option:
https://www.nokia.com/en_int/phones/nokia-3310
If I genuinely enjoy my profession and workplace, is there a reason to FIRE? Keep Calm and Carry On Milking.

Tasty Pinecones

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 762
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2017, 08:00:33 AM »
My first ever smart phone arrived last week.  My wife ordered it for me (a cheap Android phone with Tracfone service) because it was my birthday and she thought I "needed" a smart phone.

I still haven't opened the package.

I don't need a smart phone.  I really don't even want one. 

I'll probably eventually switch to the thing just because it was a gift- otherwise, I'd probably just return it and keep using my old, reliable "dumb" cell phone.

That. My DW wants me to have a nice iPhone or Android device. I see it as a waste - for me. She makes good use of her gadget. I spend my money on other things that are useful to me.

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2355
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #65 on: March 15, 2017, 01:39:40 PM »
A smartphone is an economic necessity for most people these days. They can be had a lot cheaper than an iphone, obviously.

golden1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: MA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #66 on: March 16, 2017, 11:24:22 AM »
Quote
Underclass families have some individuals who can and do function as adults, but there aren't enough to go around and to provide care or services to the children, elders, and differently abled members of their families and communities. Furthermore, they are burdened by people who are sick, who suffer from addiction or untreated mental illness due in part to lack of resources and in part to being on the receiving end of all the risks that go along with poverty, and who accordingly reach the age of adulthood without being able to function as adults. Yet they consume and compete with resources more effectively than the children in the family, and so the next generation ends up just as deprived if not more so. Indeed, the woman I mentioned earlier in this thread is an example of someone who wallows in poor decision making and deliberately functions well below an adult level, to the detriment of her children. Supporting people like these out of love or family loyalty also bogs down an underclass family. The end result works out to something like one functional adult breadwinner to every two adult disability or Social Security recipients who either need care themselves or are unable to care for children or others, one functional caregiver/homemaker adult who does not generate income but who does logistics work and housework, plus two borderline non-functioning adults and two to five minor children, sometimes more. That's one breadwinner and one homemaker for every seven to ten dependents, some of whom need lots of attention and resources. A few have the kind of problem that will consume all available resources and then some, so that the relatively "normal" kids must mostly raise themselves. Good socialization or help getting professional credentials or education is not possible.

Going offtopic a bit, but I do wonder if this could be measured somehow as the ratio of non-functional people to functional people in a society (to be crude, "makers" vs. "takers")  in order to find how mental illness and addiction impact generational poverty.  I really do see these things as a "drag" on other people who have the capability to succeed themselves, but are unable to extricate themselves from the needs of others.  I would be interested to see this ratio across cultures and generations. 

AlanStache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1554
  • Age: 37
  • Location: South East Virginia
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #67 on: March 16, 2017, 12:44:39 PM »
Quote
Underclass families have some individuals who can and do function as adults, but there aren't enough to go around and to provide care or services to the children, elders, and differently abled members of their families and communities. Furthermore, they are burdened by people who are sick, who suffer from addiction or untreated mental illness due in part to lack of resources and in part to being on the receiving end of all the risks that go along with poverty, and who accordingly reach the age of adulthood without being able to function as adults. Yet they consume and compete with resources more effectively than the children in the family, and so the next generation ends up just as deprived if not more so. Indeed, the woman I mentioned earlier in this thread is an example of someone who wallows in poor decision making and deliberately functions well below an adult level, to the detriment of her children. Supporting people like these out of love or family loyalty also bogs down an underclass family. The end result works out to something like one functional adult breadwinner to every two adult disability or Social Security recipients who either need care themselves or are unable to care for children or others, one functional caregiver/homemaker adult who does not generate income but who does logistics work and housework, plus two borderline non-functioning adults and two to five minor children, sometimes more. That's one breadwinner and one homemaker for every seven to ten dependents, some of whom need lots of attention and resources. A few have the kind of problem that will consume all available resources and then some, so that the relatively "normal" kids must mostly raise themselves. Good socialization or help getting professional credentials or education is not possible.

Going offtopic a bit, but I do wonder if this could be measured somehow as the ratio of non-functional people to functional people in a society (to be crude, "makers" vs. "takers")  in order to find how mental illness and addiction impact generational poverty.  I really do see these things as a "drag" on other people who have the capability to succeed themselves, but are unable to extricate themselves from the needs of others.  I would be interested to see this ratio across cultures and generations.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment-to-population_ratio .  I think this would not quite deal with early retirees correctly or for that matter say at home spouses. 
Be the person Mr. Rogers knows you can be.

Poundwise

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #68 on: March 16, 2017, 03:07:11 PM »
You know guys, I'm really impressed at how my throwaway post stimulated quite a thoughtful discussion. 

It makes me think about these videos by "The Homeless Guy: NYC" that he mostly made at the Apple Store.  He has since found a home, but I was struck at how resourceful he was in many ways.



SwordGuy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3074
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
    • Flipping Fayetteville
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #69 on: March 16, 2017, 05:17:08 PM »
A smartphone is an economic necessity for most people these days. They can be had a lot cheaper than an iphone, obviously.

Really?

Being in the rental property business, I agree that a smartphone can be a really useful business tool for realtors.

Some of the folks in the repair or delivery trades can really make use of smart phones to get new places to report for work and to find their way there.

Some folks in sales definitely make use of the device's capabilities to enhance their sales productivity.

But the typical office worker does not need one to make a living.   Most of them use it for playing games, taking pictures, and wasting time.

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #70 on: March 16, 2017, 07:24:34 PM »
Quote
Underclass families have some individuals who can and do function as adults, but there aren't enough to go around and to provide care or services to the children, elders, and differently abled members of their families and communities. Furthermore, they are burdened by people who are sick, who suffer from addiction or untreated mental illness due in part to lack of resources and in part to being on the receiving end of all the risks that go along with poverty, and who accordingly reach the age of adulthood without being able to function as adults. Yet they consume and compete with resources more effectively than the children in the family, and so the next generation ends up just as deprived if not more so. Indeed, the woman I mentioned earlier in this thread is an example of someone who wallows in poor decision making and deliberately functions well below an adult level, to the detriment of her children. Supporting people like these out of love or family loyalty also bogs down an underclass family. The end result works out to something like one functional adult breadwinner to every two adult disability or Social Security recipients who either need care themselves or are unable to care for children or others, one functional caregiver/homemaker adult who does not generate income but who does logistics work and housework, plus two borderline non-functioning adults and two to five minor children, sometimes more. That's one breadwinner and one homemaker for every seven to ten dependents, some of whom need lots of attention and resources. A few have the kind of problem that will consume all available resources and then some, so that the relatively "normal" kids must mostly raise themselves. Good socialization or help getting professional credentials or education is not possible.

Going offtopic a bit, but I do wonder if this could be measured somehow as the ratio of non-functional people to functional people in a society (to be crude, "makers" vs. "takers")  in order to find how mental illness and addiction impact generational poverty.  I really do see these things as a "drag" on other people who have the capability to succeed themselves, but are unable to extricate themselves from the needs of others.  I would be interested to see this ratio across cultures and generations.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment-to-population_ratio .  I think this would not quite deal with early retirees correctly or for that matter say at home spouses.

Employment doesn't accurately reflect whether a person is a net producer/contributor or a net drain. Stay-at-home spouses who provide child or elder care, retirees who are wealthy, and income earners who spend all they earn and go into debt for hookers, gambling, and blow skew the metric on both ends.

ETA: Addiction, illness, and mental illness are not just causes of poverty and dysfunction but they are also perpetuated by it.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 07:28:12 PM by TheGrimSqueaker »
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3495
  • Age: 9
  • Location: WA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #71 on: March 16, 2017, 07:41:17 PM »
I'd love to do some number crunching at Apple or Google and see what sort of crap people do on their phones, broken down by age/sex/race/income.

Then I'd have data to be judgmental. DATA!

golden1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: MA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #72 on: March 17, 2017, 08:57:32 AM »
Yeah I was thinking less about overall employment and more about how the level of adverse mental health outcomes of members of a given society causes poverty.  Or in other words, do some societies and cultures actually contribute to a level of mental illness that makes the culture unsustainable?

I have a hypothesis that American work centered culture or other high work cultures have high short term growth and productivity at the expense of the happiness and health of their citizens.  At a certain point, the amount of people who have anxiety disorders, depression, addiction issues is so high that it cuts into that productivity because not only are those citizens not productive, but even mentally healthy citizens have to sacrifice their productive time and resources in order to care for them.   Maybe there is a tipping point where you can actually call a culture "mentally ill"? 

Kaspian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1533
  • Location: Canada
    • My Necronomicon of Badassity
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #73 on: March 17, 2017, 09:19:37 AM »
Maybe there is a tipping point where you can actually call a culture "mentally ill"?

Yes, when they become decadent and begin referring to an iPhone as a "necessity".  Necessities: clothes, food, shelter, water, possibly fire/heating source.  If iPhones were a fucking necessity for human existence, we'd have died day one after Cro-Mag evolution.

I don't believe that work culture and productivity are contributing to mental illness anywhere near as much as the want for iPones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TV.  ...'Cause that shit's where the real crazy lives.  And without those mental and time distractions, people would have to properly examine themselves and sort things out.
"30 bucks?! What are you, crazy? I don't have that kind of money." - Trailer Park Boys
Journal = Necronomicon of Badassity

golden1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: MA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #74 on: March 17, 2017, 11:59:17 AM »
Quote
Yes, when they become decadent and begin referring to an iPhone as a "necessity".  Necessities: clothes, food, shelter, water, possibly fire/heating source.  If iPhones were a fucking necessity for human existence, we'd have died day one after Cro-Mag evolution.

I don't believe that work culture and productivity are contributing to mental illness anywhere near as much as the want for iPones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TV.  ...'Cause that shit's where the real crazy lives.  And without those mental and time distractions, people would have to properly examine themselves and sort things out.

If you read upthread, I agreed that iPhones are not a necessity, just very useful, but maybe that begs another question: 

When does a new technology turn from a luxury to a necessity?  Or if not a necessity exactly, maybe something that would put you at a distinct disadvantage in society and you would have a harder time obtaining food, water, shelter without this tool. 

Anyway, to get back on topic. 

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2881
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #75 on: March 17, 2017, 01:19:06 PM »
But the typical office worker does not need one to make a living.   Most of them use it for playing games, taking pictures, and wasting time.

I mostly use my phone for "playing games, taking pictures, and wasting time."  Sure.

HOWEVER, the existence of my phone makes it infinitely more convenient for me to make a living.  I can duck out of the office for an errand or personal reason and still be in touch if necessary.  I can easily flip from internet surfing to respond to a work email from a couch at night.  I can check my inbox in the morning to know if I have some urgent thing to deal with at work when I get in, and decide whether I need to rush to work or stay home for breakfast.  I can easily check Saturday afternoon if I have a meeting Tuesday morning or not so I can let my wife know if I can cover bringing our daughter to school.  All of these things can be done by firing up my work laptop, but it's infinitely more convenient to have this information and connectivity at my fingertips so I'm not tethered to the laptop.  It's a win/win; my company gets more connectivity from me, and I get more flexibility to be away from the office and coordinate personal and professional life much more easily. 

A smartphone as a "necessity" to me is a "necessity" to conveniently run daily life; for us it's an invaluable tool.  Obviously it's not a "necessity" like food/water/shelter; to make the argument it isn't one of those things is needlessly pedantic. 
"If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars." - Nick Mason

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3495
  • Age: 9
  • Location: WA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #76 on: March 17, 2017, 02:13:40 PM »
The typical office worker who makes a median salary or anyone below that level of economic stability doesn't need any of the things Chris22 listed. In fact, they'd be better served NOT doing any of it and leaving work at work. But on the off chance that the working poor would could need it, all these tasks can be accomplished on a entry-level $150 smartphone, not a flagship $700 pocket super computer that costs one month of rent.

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2881
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #77 on: March 17, 2017, 02:48:04 PM »
The typical office worker who makes a median salary or anyone below that level of economic stability doesn't need any of the things Chris22 listed. In fact, they'd be better served NOT doing any of it and leaving work at work.

Again, cuts both ways.  I've always worked for places that are reasonably flexible with hours, etc, and part of that stems from the way I'm "always available" via cell phone and email.  It's easy to say "hey boss I'm going to be out tomorrow AM taking my kid to the doctor" when you follow it with "but I'm available if you need anything via email and I'll be keeping an eye on stuff."  If you always draw a hard line on "when I'm not at work I'm pretending work doesn't exist" you probably lose that type of flexibility; "no I need you in the office 40 hours a week 8-4 M-F".  But I will admit, I'm middle management at about 2-2.5x the median salary, however I used the same approach back when I was entry level at $48k/yr. 
"If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars." - Nick Mason

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #78 on: March 17, 2017, 04:35:36 PM »
When does a new technology turn from a luxury to a necessity?

It becomes a necessity when the mechanisms previously used to meet the need are no longer readily available, when it is no longer legal to furnish habitation that lacks the new technology to the public for sale or rent, or when refusing to use the mechanism exposes the non-user to criminal charges.

If you'd like an example, let's consider indoor plumbing. There was a time our good friend John was considered a luxury. Out in the country people used outhouses or practiced open-field defecation or went behind a bush. In the cities, people were more civilized: they found a convenient wall indoors or outdoors, or used chamber pots and threw their morning accomplishment out the window onto the passers-by below.

You could say luxury items become a necessity when it becomes prohibitively difficult to go without them due to other options having been made illegal or unobtainable due to changes in the economy.
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2355
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #79 on: March 17, 2017, 05:02:15 PM »
It's always funny to hang out on a forum mostly filled with older people and soft-technophobes. Get off my lawn, rabble rabble rabble, my experiences are the only valid ones.

Notasoccermom

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #80 on: March 19, 2017, 12:34:16 PM »
Haahaaa someone should tell my parents. They are multi-millionaires (did it by investing, working blue collar jobs and saving) and still use flip phones.

WootWoot

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 186
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #81 on: March 19, 2017, 12:48:27 PM »
I just have a regular ol' cell phone. The only time I really felt I "needed" a smartphone was when I was visiting a foreign city. Mapping apps etc. would have been very handy for walking me to the door of various places. Other than that, I see it as a money drain.



TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #82 on: March 19, 2017, 05:30:20 PM »
Haahaaa someone should tell my parents. They are multi-millionaires (did it by investing, working blue collar jobs and saving) and still use flip phones.

So do I, until I visit my parents in a country that has no 3G service. There, my flip phone is a paperweight.
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #83 on: March 20, 2017, 04:57:07 AM »
When does a new technology turn from a luxury to a necessity?

It becomes a necessity when the mechanisms previously used to meet the need are no longer readily available, when it is no longer legal to furnish habitation that lacks the new technology to the public for sale or rent, or when refusing to use the mechanism exposes the non-user to criminal charges.

If you'd like an example, let's consider indoor plumbing. There was a time our good friend John was considered a luxury. Out in the country people used outhouses or practiced open-field defecation or went behind a bush. In the cities, people were more civilized: they found a convenient wall indoors or outdoors, or used chamber pots and threw their morning accomplishment out the window onto the passers-by below.

You could say luxury items become a necessity when it becomes prohibitively difficult to go without them due to other options having been made illegal or unobtainable due to changes in the economy.
While this is true, are you suggesting that smart phones have reached this level of necessity?
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

Tasty Pinecones

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 762
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #84 on: March 20, 2017, 07:43:09 AM »
The whole plumbing and sewers thing was a way to avoid epidemics. Aside from calling police, ambulance and fire depts - I don't see why having a phone would be so important.

Thanks to this article I just remembered to see if my "pocket phone" is even on... (It was not. Sometimes I forget to turn it on for days.)

sleepyguy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Location: Oakville, Ontario
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #85 on: March 20, 2017, 08:22:53 AM »
Haha, pure jokes man.  I work in Tech, have a smart phone but just use it as a "dumb phone", heck it was free!.  Don't plan on ever changing unless it breaks (it's an Samsung S3 btw).  Zero data plan, and just use it to txt and the odd calls, so really i could just use a cheap flip phone.

Iphone... necessity?  hell no.
...zzz...zzz...zzz...

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #86 on: March 20, 2017, 09:49:27 AM »
When does a new technology turn from a luxury to a necessity?

It becomes a necessity when the mechanisms previously used to meet the need are no longer readily available, when it is no longer legal to furnish habitation that lacks the new technology to the public for sale or rent, or when refusing to use the mechanism exposes the non-user to criminal charges.

If you'd like an example, let's consider indoor plumbing. There was a time our good friend John was considered a luxury. Out in the country people used outhouses or practiced open-field defecation or went behind a bush. In the cities, people were more civilized: they found a convenient wall indoors or outdoors, or used chamber pots and threw their morning accomplishment out the window onto the passers-by below.

You could say luxury items become a necessity when it becomes prohibitively difficult to go without them due to other options having been made illegal or unobtainable due to changes in the economy.
While this is true, are you suggesting that smart phones have reached this level of necessity?

For the general population that has access to things like reliable shelter, a landline and Internet connection to work, and reliable transportation, no. Not even remotely. But there are individuals for whom the utilities provided by a smart phone make the difference between them being employable, and not.

The city I live in (Albuquerque, NM) is a very backward part of one of the poorest states in what can charitably be called a developing part of the country. The infrastructure is extremely primitive and unreliable. The public transit system is about a hundred years out of date. About a third of the population has no viable access to streets with sidewalks or bike lanes, or streets that are even lit at night. About half of all children are below the poverty line, vehicles are stolen at a rate of more than one per hour, and shootings don't make the news because they're too commonplace (in a city of barely half a million people). Apartments and homes don't automatically come with landlines or wired Internet access, and even if they did it's mathematically impossible for a person getting disability or Social Security to qualify for a studio apartment in the first place. Subsidized housing exists but it's a physically dangerous place to be most of the time. Many families prefer to live in motels. Only one homeless shelter exists for families and it's located in a part of the city that is only marginally accessible by bus. There are vast swathes of the population who are unemployable due to addiction, disability, mental illness, felony convictions, high risk pregnancy, or some combination thereof. The police department is in ongoing trouble with the US Department of Justice for unreasonable use of force. Entire city blocks are routinely closed due to SWAT situations. So, people do need to know what's happening *now* no matter where they are, and to communicate with the people who are watching their kids. Because there are children trying to grow up in this mess.

When I first arrived in this city, I had neither a cell phone nor a car. It was extremely difficult to get around and to do things like grocery shopping because buses didn't run every day. I was OK with it, much like I'm OK without a smart phone today, because I'm able-bodied and earn enough to afford to live permanently in a neighborhood that has sidewalks and lighting. I also have access to an Internet connection through work. Yet what really allows me to get by is the ability to walk three to five miles carrying a load without risk of physical injury. If it suits me, I can walk to the nearest bus stop or public library. I don't presently use crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair and I have the use of my eyes and ears.

Plenty of my friends don't have that.

One of my friends in particular, who is essentially a triple amputee, would be confined to his home without the utilities and advantages that a smart phone provides. Right now, he's not. Another is legally blind, but with the aid of technology including a smart phone, she operates a small convenience store. These are just the two people I can think of, off the top of my head, for whom the utilities provided by a smart phone do in fact make the difference between having a productive life, and not. They interestingly do not use all the same apps or features of the phone.
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #87 on: March 21, 2017, 06:10:27 AM »
When does a new technology turn from a luxury to a necessity?

It becomes a necessity when the mechanisms previously used to meet the need are no longer readily available, when it is no longer legal to furnish habitation that lacks the new technology to the public for sale or rent, or when refusing to use the mechanism exposes the non-user to criminal charges.

If you'd like an example, let's consider indoor plumbing. There was a time our good friend John was considered a luxury. Out in the country people used outhouses or practiced open-field defecation or went behind a bush. In the cities, people were more civilized: they found a convenient wall indoors or outdoors, or used chamber pots and threw their morning accomplishment out the window onto the passers-by below.

You could say luxury items become a necessity when it becomes prohibitively difficult to go without them due to other options having been made illegal or unobtainable due to changes in the economy.
While this is true, are you suggesting that smart phones have reached this level of necessity?

For the general population that has access to things like reliable shelter, a landline and Internet connection to work, and reliable transportation, no. Not even remotely. But there are individuals for whom the utilities provided by a smart phone make the difference between them being employable, and not.

The city I live in (Albuquerque, NM) is a very backward part of one of the poorest states in what can charitably be called a developing part of the country. The infrastructure is extremely primitive and unreliable. The public transit system is about a hundred years out of date. About a third of the population has no viable access to streets with sidewalks or bike lanes, or streets that are even lit at night. About half of all children are below the poverty line, vehicles are stolen at a rate of more than one per hour, and shootings don't make the news because they're too commonplace (in a city of barely half a million people). Apartments and homes don't automatically come with landlines or wired Internet access, and even if they did it's mathematically impossible for a person getting disability or Social Security to qualify for a studio apartment in the first place. Subsidized housing exists but it's a physically dangerous place to be most of the time. Many families prefer to live in motels. Only one homeless shelter exists for families and it's located in a part of the city that is only marginally accessible by bus. There are vast swathes of the population who are unemployable due to addiction, disability, mental illness, felony convictions, high risk pregnancy, or some combination thereof. The police department is in ongoing trouble with the US Department of Justice for unreasonable use of force. Entire city blocks are routinely closed due to SWAT situations. So, people do need to know what's happening *now* no matter where they are, and to communicate with the people who are watching their kids. Because there are children trying to grow up in this mess.

When I first arrived in this city, I had neither a cell phone nor a car. It was extremely difficult to get around and to do things like grocery shopping because buses didn't run every day. I was OK with it, much like I'm OK without a smart phone today, because I'm able-bodied and earn enough to afford to live permanently in a neighborhood that has sidewalks and lighting. I also have access to an Internet connection through work. Yet what really allows me to get by is the ability to walk three to five miles carrying a load without risk of physical injury. If it suits me, I can walk to the nearest bus stop or public library. I don't presently use crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair and I have the use of my eyes and ears.

Plenty of my friends don't have that.

One of my friends in particular, who is essentially a triple amputee, would be confined to his home without the utilities and advantages that a smart phone provides. Right now, he's not. Another is legally blind, but with the aid of technology including a smart phone, she operates a small convenience store. These are just the two people I can think of, off the top of my head, for whom the utilities provided by a smart phone do in fact make the difference between having a productive life, and not. They interestingly do not use all the same apps or features of the phone.

I'm still confused about your argument. You point out that a small number of hypothetical people and a very, very small number of actual people use smart phones for these super-important uses (which, as you pointed out, could often easily be replaced with other technology, and still needs to be supplemented even in these cases), and only then in exceptional and complex circumstances and then equate smart phones to public septic systems and reliable electric utilities? I think that's all that needs to be pointed out: the general public would not be measurably worse off without smart phones. The general public would be measurably worse off without electricity or running water or working sewage systems in their communities. The exceptions clearly prove the rule. A non-zero number of people need electric scooters to function in society; many people would use them to greatly enhance their daily lives and be more efficient with their time; we don't suggest that electric scooters bring as much good to society as running water or that they should be regulated and mandated to ensure access to all persons as a matter of mass societal benefit. An $40 dumb phone? Maybe. A $600+ smart phone with internet access plan? No, not hardly.
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3495
  • Age: 9
  • Location: WA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #88 on: March 21, 2017, 08:46:54 AM »
Well my grandmother is undergoing chimio and needs to drive everywhere, therefore cars are useful and I'm going to do my half-mile commute in one. Who are you to judge my situation?

golden1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: MA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #89 on: March 21, 2017, 09:39:25 AM »
Honestly, I think the vast majority of people don't use a smartphone to it's potential, and it is wasted on them.   For the 5% of power users, I think they would almost feel disabled without it.  I agree that it is not a necessity, but it sure cuts down the time it takes for me to do things, and frees up time for me to do other things, so I would feel the loss immensely in many areas of my life.  I also consider the things I don't need to buy since I have one.  Music, books, an alarm clock, a still camera, a video camera, a notebook, and probably more I haven't thought of.  I am not convinced it hasn't saved me money to have one.  I would never look at someone who is struggling but has a smartphone as someone who doesn't make good decisions in financial areas of his life. 

Let's put it this way, I would give up many other things first before ditching my smartphone.  I would rate it highest on my list of non-necessities over eating out, cable (or TV in general), pretty much anything else I can think of. 

TheGrimSqueaker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1486
  • Location: A desert wasteland, where none but the weird survive
  • www.theliveinlandlord.com
    • The Live-In Landlord
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #90 on: March 21, 2017, 10:14:11 AM »
I'm still confused about your argument. You point out that a small number of hypothetical people and a very, very small number of actual people use smart phones for these super-important uses

I wouldn't consider millions of people to be a "small" number, and they aren't hypothetical. They are very real.

Quote
(which, as you pointed out, could often easily be replaced with other technology, and still needs to be supplemented even in these cases),

The thing with the other technology that could replace what's provided by cellular phones is... it requires money and resources. Money and resources are the exact things you're guaranteed not to have if you, say, grew up in foster care and aged out of the system. According to childrensrights.org, 20,000 teens age out of the system every year in the United States. When this occurs, they do not have driver's licenses, state ID, a bank account, or (in most cases) a high school diploma. They most assuredly do not have a home to live in that has a landline. Nor, in most cases, do they have access to Internet resources through work. They have a couple bins of cheap clothing and maybe a photo album.

Quote
and only then in exceptional and complex circumstances and then equate smart phones to public septic systems and reliable electric utilities?

Some of the SERVICES PROVIDED by smart phones (I shouted those key words because you don't seem to be picking up on them) are real-time communication, navigation aid, directory assistance, photography, mobile banking, bus route lookup, calculators, flashlights, translation, audible reading for the blind, Internet access for online job applications and education initiatives, point-of-sale transactions, note taking, bill payment, alarm clocks, closed captioning and even voice transcription for the profoundly Deaf, and more.  Is it possible to replace all of these things with other kinds of technology? Yes, it's just going to cost one heck of a lot more and require infrastructure a lot of people don't have. The fact a smart phone is compact and portable enough to be safely carried around is a huge asset.

Quote
I think that's all that needs to be pointed out: the general public would not be measurably worse off without smart phones. The general public would be measurably worse off without electricity or running water or working sewage systems in their communities. The exceptions clearly prove the rule. A non-zero number of people need electric scooters to function in society; many people would use them to greatly enhance their daily lives and be more efficient with their time; we don't suggest that electric scooters bring as much good to society as running water or that they should be regulated and mandated to ensure access to all persons as a matter of mass societal benefit. An $40 dumb phone? Maybe. A $600+ smart phone with internet access plan? No, not hardly.

Never once have I recommended providing smart phones as regulated, mandated services to the general public. That's a straw man argument.

To a quadriplegic, a motorized wheelchair is at least as important as plumbing or running water. That quadriplegic, like it or not, is a member of society. As a society, we have a vested interest in making sure our weakest members don't starve to death... and in the meantime, the quadriplegic may just happen to be Stephen freaking Hawking.

I've argued in favor of providing smart phones to people who need the services provided by those devices to live independently and to have a reasonably productive life, and that do not have access to those services through other means. The "dumb phone" you're suggesting might have a tip calculator, phone connectivity, and maybe an alarm clock but it's not going to be able to help someone apply for jobs, read someone else's words spoken into a microphone when that person doesn't speak sign language, or work through public transit schedules. It's just not powerful enough to help a Deaf person ask for, and get, intelligible directions from a stranger who doesn't use sign language.

I'm trying to drill down to the core of what's bugging me about your argument. I've boldfaced a word in your last paragraph that I think provides a possible explanation. You're coming across as though you really, truly, honestly believe that "all persons" are as able-bodied and otherwise privileged as you are. That's flabbergasting me because it's so far from reality that I'm reacting emotionally.

Here are some statistics. 50% of all humans are on the left side of the bell curve, and more than 15% of them are at least one sigma out. This isn't something I'm making up, it's a basic statistical fact. The US Census Bureau at www.census.gov/popclock lists the US population at 323,148,587. Mathematically, 15% of that works out to 48,472,288 people with a measurable IQ of less than 85. (For reference, that's more than the entire population of Canada.) The people in this set have an IQ too low to qualify for military enlistment under most circumstances. And, that doesn't count people who test within or above the normal range but are limited due to physical disability.

The more than 48 million people I described above can generally not be taught to program computers or fly aircraft. You can spend a lot of extra time and resources trying to train or educate them but there's going to be a level beyond which you get diminishing returns. Unskilled labor or semi-skilled labor is going to be the most they can manage, and many of them aren't educable to the point where they can pass the written test for a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle. Yet they're still not far enough on that left side of the bell curve to be eligible for social assistance, so they've got to work and get by as well as they are able. It's brutal because some of the most basic things take them longer. Stuff you or I could do in our heads, like calculating a tip, remembering what time to leave the house in the morning, or understanding whether or not we have enough money for groceries, really is impossible for them without some kind of electronic assistance. Worse still, the kind of jobs they can get don't have much in terms of benefits, are likely to be part-time, and they go away often.

Technology won't help people at the extreme left end of the bell curve, two or three sigmas out. But between the first and second standard deviation there's a sizable group of people who, with help from technology, can become more independent and can take responsibility for key aspects of their own care. Throwing technology at the problem is far, far cheaper than institutionalizing those individuals or letting them starve or live under bridges. When an individual is able to, say, hold down a job and pay for at least some of his or her necessities, or pull his or her own weight in a household, that individual becomes an asset to a family instead of a burden. The odds of him or her becoming homeless in the first place therefore go down.

That's why, for the people who can be helped with, say, a motorized wheelchair or a phone with Internet access, I say: sure, let's hand it out and maybe buy fewer bridges to nowhere. It doesn't have to be a top-of-the-line phone, but the unlimited bandwidth sounds to me like a reasonable idea because it allows for GPS navigation and also online education programs. I say that even knowing that at least some of the people who receive the phones aren't going to have the slightest desire to better their situation, and will sell the phones for crack or use them to make wheelchair porn.

People for whom smart phones are a luxury (and by that I mean able-bodied people who graduate from normal high school programs) are still more than capable of buying what they want and paying for it themselves.
I squeak softly, but carry a big schtick.

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2881
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #91 on: March 21, 2017, 11:52:12 AM »
It would seem to me there's a category between "luxury" and "necessity" and that's where I'd put something like a smartphone.  I'd put it there with a car, a computer, a dwelling larger than a studio apartment, things of that nature.

A necessity to me means you can't survive without it. 

A luxury to me is basically completely superfluous, and easily substituted with something much cheaper/less extravagent.

A smartphone is something in the middle.  It's like a tool kit.  I have a fair number of tools.  I wouldn't argue that they are necessity, because clearly I can survive without them.  But they aren't a luxury, because they serve a very useful purpose, are convenient, help me rely on myself instead of others, and often can save me money.
"If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars." - Nick Mason

Poundwise

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #92 on: March 21, 2017, 02:46:26 PM »
It would seem to me there's a category between "luxury" and "necessity" and that's where I'd put something like a smartphone.  I'd put it there with a car, a computer, a dwelling larger than a studio apartment, things of that nature.

A necessity to me means you can't survive without it. 

A luxury to me is basically completely superfluous, and easily substituted with something much cheaper/less extravagent.

A smartphone is something in the middle.  It's like a tool kit.  I have a fair number of tools.  I wouldn't argue that they are necessity, because clearly I can survive without them.  But they aren't a luxury, because they serve a very useful purpose, are convenient, help me rely on myself instead of others, and often can save me money.

+1

Chaffetz's original statement was silly and judgmental, and the original article I posted was dumb, too.

Here's another dumb article that made me laugh.  (warning, profanity)


Awka

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #93 on: March 21, 2017, 07:40:18 PM »
I've got a few acquaintances that operate their daily lives just fine and still don't have a cell phone.
Yes, they are nice.  Necessity ... NO.      Same goes for internet service.

I find a Kindle works just as well for my needs (wabts?), is portable, and is much less expensive.  I actually did own the first iPhone.  I was married to an Apple fan at the time. It was fun, but a cheap prepaid dumbphone or a landline work too, and I've found life more enjoyable when its not a social media moment.  Home internet isn't a necessity for me either.  I'm not running a business anymore, or doing anything on a regular basis beyond sending a few e-mails and posts like this one.

GilbertB

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 102
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Gent
    • Sci-fi Meandering
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #94 on: March 22, 2017, 01:14:13 AM »
When I'm at sea, the IPhone (or a Samsung) is a bit of a must (if you like you spouse and/or kids):

Within GSM coverage, it sits in whatever the "magic spot" is depending on the ship orientation and acts as WIFI node.
Outside of this, we depend on the ship's satellite WIFI, with the very low bandwidth that that entails, neither my laptop or tablet manage to connect - the old IPhone 4 does it and downloads the emails as text only; perfect!

Outside of this, it a photo note pad, an extra light, a calculator, a source of music when I have to grind 30m of pipe etc.

No replacement for a Leatherman tho.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1560
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #95 on: March 22, 2017, 02:55:15 AM »
Ultimately, none of the items are necessities. One could get by without a phone or internet access.

Although, internet access at a library and a payphone can meet many communication needs. Next level up, a basic cellphone can provide improved communication by being contactable at all times by family/friends/potential employers. The smartphone provides real-time communication and internet access combined in one device, and can be quite inexpensive if one chooses the right phone and plan. The marginal utility of such a device can be quite significant for the small outlay.

Of course beyond a certain point the additional functionality provided by more advanced communication equipment can be not worth the added cost. A $1000 iPhone isn't going to provide that much additional benefit over a $50-100 Android phone, but a $50-100 Android phone might provide a lot of added benefit to many people compared to a dumbphone or nothing at all.

I was doing some homeless advocacy work in the 2006-2008 range when it first started cropping up: Homeless people with cellphones and even smart phones. At first I was surprised, but thinking it through, the phones can do a lot to improve someone's situation in life. Better access to information, being able to respond quickly to (for example) a job interview request or any other kind of opportunity....lots of things come to mind.

"Necessity" is a little bit too strong a word for my tastes, but the point is valid. In most cases, phones are not a frivolous luxury item, but the best use of extremely limited resources for low-income types.

There's even smartphone-based services out there specifically catered to homeless people. Services like these might be very useful to people in that situation.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/askizzy-app-connects-the-homeless-to-food-shelter-and-health-services/news-story/bfae67275552be421af4dd54bfd575a6
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/prime-minister-turnbull-meets-kent-and-spruiks-new-website-for-homeless-20160129-gmh25m.html
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/news/how-you-can-make-a-difference-to-the-one-in-200-australians-homeless-tonight/news-story/9e2591b3620d30d962aac4f500702d6c
https://askizzy.org.au

Quote
About 80 per cent of homeless people have a mobile phone and 75 per cent have a smart phone, according to the latest data from service providers and University of Sydney research.

I suspect it's not that much different overseas. Apologies for the Aussie example.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 02:59:31 AM by alsoknownasDean »

golden1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: MA
Re: No, Iphones aren't luxury items. They're economic necessities.
« Reply #96 on: March 22, 2017, 07:12:29 AM »
Quote
I'm trying to drill down to the core of what's bugging me about your argument. I've boldfaced a word in your last paragraph that I think provides a possible explanation. You're coming across as though you really, truly, honestly believe that "all persons" are as able-bodied and otherwise privileged as you are. That's flabbergasting me because it's so far from reality that I'm reacting emotionally.

Here are some statistics. 50% of all humans are on the left side of the bell curve, and more than 15% of them are at least one sigma out. This isn't something I'm making up, it's a basic statistical fact. The US Census Bureau at www.census.gov/popclock lists the US population at 323,148,587. Mathematically, 15% of that works out to 48,472,288 people with a measurable IQ of less than 85. (For reference, that's more than the entire population of Canada.) The people in this set have an IQ too low to qualify for military enlistment under most circumstances. And, that doesn't count people who test within or above the normal range but are limited due to physical disability.

The more than 48 million people I described above can generally not be taught to program computers or fly aircraft. You can spend a lot of extra time and resources trying to train or educate them but there's going to be a level beyond which you get diminishing returns. Unskilled labor or semi-skilled labor is going to be the most they can manage, and many of them aren't educable to the point where they can pass the written test for a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle. Yet they're still not far enough on that left side of the bell curve to be eligible for social assistance, so they've got to work and get by as well as they are able. It's brutal because some of the most basic things take them longer. Stuff you or I could do in our heads, like calculating a tip, remembering what time to leave the house in the morning, or understanding whether or not we have enough money for groceries, really is impossible for them without some kind of electronic assistance. Worse still, the kind of jobs they can get don't have much in terms of benefits, are likely to be part-time, and they go away often.

Technology won't help people at the extreme left end of the bell curve, two or three sigmas out. But between the first and second standard deviation there's a sizable group of people who, with help from technology, can become more independent and can take responsibility for key aspects of their own care. Throwing technology at the problem is far, far cheaper than institutionalizing those individuals or letting them starve or live under bridges. When an individual is able to, say, hold down a job and pay for at least some of his or her necessities, or pull his or her own weight in a household, that individual becomes an asset to a family instead of a burden. The odds of him or her becoming homeless in the first place therefore go down.

This is a fantastic perspective that I think many of us need to be reminded of.  I think most of us tend to live and work with people that have similar capabilities to us (normal to high normal) and forget that there are a large amount of people that would get a lot of benefit from a smartphone just to improve basic quality of life by facilitating things that seem easy to us, but hard for them. 

I mean, there is a reason that this technology was adopted so quickly by so many people.  2007 is only 10 years ago, and now smartphones are ubiquitous.  I guess you could argue that Blackberries were also technically smartphones, but that only brings us back to about 2003, 2004 or something.