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I'm not sure if you have any perspective what being poor means.

This link : http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/

Seems quite appropriate and - I hope - illuminating.




I'm glad you posted that: everybody should read it and truly try to put themselves in those shoes.

I do not understand the fact that you seem to have posted it as a rebuttal to my post.

My post was meant as a criticism of another indignity that the poor often face: other peoples' (often baseless, and always condescending) criticisms of their financial decisions.

Their criticisms often carry the subtext that poor people are poor because they are wearing a $100 item of clothing or because they own a smartphone - in essence, those criticisms say that these people deserve to be poor and/or poor people don't deserve nice things.

I find such criticisms of poor people to be incredibly classist and devoid of empathy and my post was intended to address that. I don't know how my words could have been read otherwise.


Thanks for the clarification. I think it was mostly this statement :

  Assuming a lifespan of 3 years, the cost difference between a $600 phone and a $300 phone is barely more than $0.25 per day
that triggered my response. Rereading it: you're right. I'm still glad to have posted the link :)

What really riles me up is that a lot of people have no clue how expensive it actually is to be poor and how hard is it to break the vicious circle. That's in addition that a lot of poor people work equally hard as the rest of us.


I see what you mean. And you're right: not everybody has an extra $0.25/day or $1.75/week for a nicer phone. $1.75/week for some people is the difference between having oatmeal for breakfast and not having breakfast.

That is an excellent, excellent link. And this:

> What really riles me up is that a lot of people have no clue how expensive it actually is to be poor

Yes! This is the one thing I wish everybody could understand about being poor. Not only do you have less money, almost everything is more expensive.

"Simple" things like buying food when it's on sale and freezing it for later aren't possible if you don't have a second freezer, or even a first freezer, or if you're in danger of having your power turned off, or if you live in a terrible apartment where the power goes off for reasons not even in your control.

Heck, a lot of people can't even clip supermarket coupons because they don't have access to a supermarket. (For anybody scratching their heads at this, Google "food desert")

Or another great example:

Cost of a $150,000 home if you're rich and don't need a mortgage: $150,000 (or $0 in the long run, because you can get that money back when you sell it)

Cost of a $150,000 home if you need a mortgage: $500,000+

(Not that the truly poor can even obtain mortgages, but it's a good illustration of how much cheaper things can get as you go further and further up the income scale)


That's a heart-wrenching list. I love Scalzi's SF, but didn't know that side of him. My parents were poor by any US standard. But basically, I was trained for the Cold War, so hey.

I do recall, however, a friend who was raising two kids on her own. With some horrible history of migration etc. She did indeed know the cost of everything. And budgeted carefully, down to the penny.


It's nice that Scalzi "made it" and turned his writing into a successful career.

I really like his blog (sorry John, I guess I'm one of your freeloaders; that's because I'm just not that much into SF)

He seems to be a really decent guy and shows an ability, which is sorely missed nowadays:

Comon Sense.


I guess a should have clarified: flagship phones of any major manufacturer can last many years past a carrier's upgrade period with a little extra care from the user. Continuous upgrading to the latest flagship phone is a luxury, but owning one is not necessarily a luxury in its own right.

I try not to make judgments about anyone's spending habits unless it's affecting me.

One of my biggest issues online is forgetting that subtext is easily missed. In cases where it is missed, it can be minutes or hours before you have a chance to rectify it. Sorry about that, and thanks for the criticism.


I think people criticise these financial decisions because they feel their tax money is going to people who can afford things they either can't or have to work harder for. They might be failing to see the bigger picture, but I think it's reasonable to at least look at peoples' financial decisions if they are receiving handouts.


I find it quite annoying when people equate owning a smartphone to not being poor. Phones are regularly sold on 18 month contracts, so there are tons of 2 year old perfectly usable smartphones kicking around and probably given to the ex-owners poorer friends.


That's being poor in the first world. Being poor in the 3rd world is entirely different.

I guess that is relevant here since Apple is a company that makes products for first world only.


That's a good perspective for those of us living comfortable middle-class lives in the developed world currently.

But having seen the other side of the coin in the not-so-developed world, I'm sure the author could (and should) add the words "in America" to that essay's title. Being poor elsewhere is far far worse than what he describes here.




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