Does anybody really NEED a microwave?
Today, yes, that and a freezer unless you go to the grocery store daily to get fresh meat, vegetables, etc. It’s really very versatile and in the long run, economical.
But that is not the main point of my post. I certainly wish that Fr. Jonathan Morris were not a regular guest/panel member on Varney (as well as Hannity and Cavuto). My relative calls it the ultimate “product placement.” I fail to see how he contributes to promotion of Church teaching. It does help the sales of his book, I guess, but it doesn’t make me happy.
“Does anybody really NEED a microwave?”
The microwave is the new hot plate (that used to go with cold water walk-up apartments). It’s what you make “poor food” on, like oatmeal, instant coffee, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee products (aka “dog food” per my Italian mother-in-law), and (ugh!) Ramen Noodles. It’s the stove that’s the luxury.
I had no idea! My one adventure owning a microwave ended with an electrical short when I found out how much electricity they really use. In our part of the world, gas (stove) is much cheaper than electricity. Although I grant you that stoves take up more room than microw.
Raises the interesting question: is it more instructive to measure poverty in absolute or relative terms? I tend to think absolute terms leads to better decision making.
There Heritage Foundation’s original report is very short. Read it here:
What the foundation report does not say is how the poor may have come by some of the items listed. You can buy most of them for a few cents on the dollar at our local Salvation Army. In fact, the Army will give some of these items to the poor outright. In some cases, these items could be gifts from family members who are better off.
So, if the Heritage Foundation means to imply (as Colbert seems to think)that the we are creating a class of pampered poor people, this issue deserves a deeper look.
Sorry, “THE Heritage Foundation’s …” Can’t type today. Must be all those undeserved fridge vibrations and microwaves mixing up my brain … Geez, maybe I could claim disability and hit the jackpot!
The Dish rounds up some good critiques of the Heritage claims:
Well, see there, David Gibson?! Them lazy poor people are taking three to eight days’ worth of food out’n the mouths of their kids!
I need my microwave. I don’t have the energy to cook, so I end up with those awful plastic meals that are so popular with mothers who simply don’t have enough time to cook. MIcrowave cooking is essentially boiling, and if you take somewhat longer to heat up things than recommended on the packages, a few dishes are actually edible. And they do steamed veggies magnificently.
Ann, have you tried yams? I wash them, cut off the ends, and zap them until tender. Then put maple syrup, raisins and walnuts on them. Yum! A cheap and healthy meal!
Yum, yum, yum! Thanks, Jean. Will certainly try. (Could I add a dollop of butter?)
Microwaves and refrigerators and flat screen televisions aren’t liquid assets. You can’t pay the rent or the water bill with them. Whether someone who is poor has all of those appliances or none of them is beside the point. The point, istm, is whether they have enough money to feed their household, keep them in their home, and pay their utilities.
I use my microwave for hot water, vegetables, rice. The stove here hasn’t worked for years. I hate the attitude that when $ is given to “the poor” that those that give it have a right to say how it will be spent. Once you give that money away (to the actual people or to taxes) it isn’t yours anymore.
PS – when my cat was still alive I used the microwave to warm her canned food too :)
Microwaves generally cook much, much faster than other methods. Given that many poor people are even more strapped for time than the rest of us (some have two or even three jobs), I’m sure a microwave can be a big blessing, even if the results are less than optimum.
The modern version of Rock, Paper, Scissors: Cat, Aluminium foil, Microwave.
I think it’s certainly important to keep in mind all the caveats people have mentioned — e.g., that some of these items may have been bought at thrift shops or been gifts, that to some extent “poverty” is relative (e.g., poverty in America is not like poverty in Somalia), etc., etc. On the other hand, it’s possible that in some (not all) cases, certain people who are poor/underprivileged could benefit from someone helping them to plan better, prioritize, etc. I mean, my Mom and I only a got a microwave within the past five to eight years or so; we did fine with our toaster oven for a long time. We only got cable TV when I was in college (2001-2005), I think, maybe later. My cell phone is from 2004 (my students burst into laughter at the sight of it).
Of course, a lot of what I listed is in itself a luxury to some extent — theoretically, I could live without a TV, without a cell phone, without a computer, etc., etc. My life would be much less full in many ways, though. (Though I’m sure in others, it would be MORE full.)
On the other hand, some of the items listed really are basic — e.g., a refrigerator. Unless we’re going to ask poor people to… well, really, what WOULD they do without a refrigerator? Would we ask them to have unbalanced meals? I mean, I guess the vast majority of people did fine without refrigerators or ice delivery for centuries, but it would seem unfair to expect people to go without that today.
It’s funny how societal pressures can create certain “needs.” E.g., today, nobody really has need of a butler, a footman, a house-parlor maid, an under-house-parlor maid, a scullery maid, a cook, a housekeeper, etc. (If you can’t tell, I’m an Upstairs, Downstairs fan.) And yet if you were the Bellamy family on Upstairs, Downstairs, you really did “need” at least some of those servants, unless you wanted to totally abandon that place in society, give up all friends and social relationships, etc. (Perhaps that really is what Jesus calls us to do, or at least that’s what the highest calling would be.) I mean, for Richard Bellamy to have gone and answered his own door or cooked his own meals would have been as unthinkable as, say, someone today showing up to work in a bathrobe. But again, perhaps St. Francis really did get it right, and we all fall short?
I would give up our car before I would give up our microwave. I don’t think of it as a luxury at all. A friend of mine, though, recently told my 11 year old daughter she shouldn’t mention to people we don’t have a dishwasher; people would think we were very poor. I’m not sure he was kidding. I’ve never had a dishwasher, no where to put one in my 747sf apartment. But I had never thought of one as a measure of prosperity.
Luxury : Microwaving means never having to drink cold coffee.
“On the other hand, it’s possible that in some (not all) cases, certain people who are poor/underprivileged could benefit from someone helping them to plan better, prioritize, etc.”
This is quite true. A lot of us have life skill deficits, and it seems to me that living isn’t as simple as it used to be.
These days many of the poor people who have microwaves, cars, dishwashers, etc. are people who used not to be poor. Sigh.
The microwave is also an excellent source of entertainment when the television is broken or has been taken over by the kids. In addition to “Peeps Sword Fight” where you take two peeps, arm them with toothpicks, and then have them face each other while you put the timer on for three minutes (the one who grows fastest will pierce and blow up the other one); my personal favorite is the Reanimated Hot Dog, where you take a common frankfurter, put it on a plate, and cook it for 10 minutes and watch it as it gradually sits up and looks around as if reborn.
BTW, How did we become a country that thinks that the rich only respond to rewards and the poor only respond to punishments?
“I hate the attitude that when $ is given to “the poor” that those that give it have a right to say how it will be spent. Once you give that money away (to the actual people or to taxes) it isn’t yours anymore.”
Crystal, good point. In the olden days, some social worker friends used to have to visit the homes of welfare recipients to ensure that they weren’t cohabiting b/c it was grounds for cutting off benefits. It was embarrassing for all concerned.
However, I think there is a place for remonstrating with the poor who cannot manage their lives. Perhaps this is where subsidiarity comes in; know whom you’re giving the money to and help them make the most of the gift.
Unagidon, blowing up Peeps in the microwave is a Raber Holy Week tradition. I have never tried the Reanimated Hot Dog, but thanks! I think I have one Kogel Vienna left in the fridge.
Ann, re those yams: a dollop of butter, cream cheese, sour cream. You go, girl! You are limited only by your imagination and what’s in your fridge (if you have and deserve one …). I also use zapped yams in lieu of bananas in banana bread recipes. Yams are extremely cheap and they’re full of good vitamins.
Pardon the gaps in my formal education, but what is a peep?
You know what a Peep is Jim!- they’re the little yellow marshallow chicks at Easter that have now expanded into year round treats- pumpkins at Halloween etc.
Almost as cool as the old Spy Magazine’s Twinkie test
I use a microwave frequently and I don’t care about peeps (except Samuel), but the Heritage foundation is another example of disgusting spinmeisters for the”I’ve Got Mine” Fox afficiandos.
Colbert may mock them, but they’ve got big bucks behind them to put down (what were they called on another thread)”the undeserving poor,”
A friend told me this story:
A woman in the grocery line was seen buying a child’s birthday cake with food stamps. My friend overheard someone say: “Look at that – using food stamps to buy a birthday cake.”
My friend asked me: “Who would be so mean as to criticize a parent wanting to give their child a cake for his birthday?”
I’ve never forgotten that story.
At least she wasn’t buying her child a microwave.
What do you mean? I’m talking about FOOD STAMPS.
Irene, thanks. If you will credit it, I’ve lived almost five decades now without ever purchasing consuming a single one of those things. Looks like I’ve missed a lot. :-)
“Who would be so mean as to criticize a parent wanting to give their child a cake for his birthday?”
answer =FOX news
I had a friend who once made a disparaging comment to me at the supermarket about a women buying junk food with food stamps. She was herself a struggling single parent, but would have been too proud to ever consider asking for food stamps. She prided herself on her thriftiness and how she made a little money go a long way by buying only basic foods and cooking everything from scratch. I think that she was both envious of the woman who bought food that she herself could not afford, and scornful of the woman’s ignorance of nutrition and willingness to resort to food stamps and then to waste them on empty calories.
That’s when I discovered that the people who are within sight of the poverty line are the ones most critical of the “undeserving” poor, at the same time as they are also the most generous towards the “deserving” poor.
Colbert is right. People who claim to be poor should not receive any aid until they have sold their fridge, microwave and DVD player. People who claim to be ill should not receive any help for health care until they have sold their house and car and taken their kids out of college. People who claim to be old should not receive any social security benefits until they are too feeble to work. Why should the government help people who can perfectly well help themselves?
“Colbert is right. People who claim to be poor should not receive any aid until they have sold their fridge, microwave and DVD player. People who claim to be ill should not receive any help for health care until they have sold their house and car and taken their kids out of college. People who claim to be old should not receive any social security benefits until they are too feeble to work. Why should the government help people who can perfectly well help themselves?”
I agree. Only people who have earned the right to be poor should be allowed to be poor.
This is pretty depressing actually ;) When my parents got divorced my mom, sister, and I were on food stamps. I can still remember people in line at the grocery store making comments when we bought cookies once. I have no cell phone, no car, no cable tv, no dishwasher, no ipod. The stove doesn’t work, neother does the clothes dryer (but hey, at least I have them). I have a place to live because my mom died of lung cancer before she had a chance to sell the house. I worry all the time about becoming a “real” poor person. I’m going now, to blow up a few peeps with my microwave :)
“I think that she was both envious of the woman who bought food that she herself could not afford, and scornful of the woman’s ignorance of nutrition and willingness to resort to food stamps and then to waste them on empty calories.”
I think you’re missing another important response, which is that scorn and envy often hide abject fear. Those with low incomes feel that self-discipline and making an effort to manage their small resources wisely keeps them off food stamps and, thus, at least a few rungs above the street. Seeing someone who seems to be unkempt, overweight, or disorganized buying pop and chips with food stamps, is someone who has run out of energy to maintain the self-discipline and effort it takes just to stay in one place.
Moreover, those with low incomes generally have an exquisitely keen sense for just how unsympathetic the average taxpayer is toward those on assistance. Resentments flare when they see someone buying pop and chips (or birthday cakes) with food stamps because it just makes it harder for taxpayers to see the poor as deserving of those safety nets.
People with low incomes could certainly do a lot to help each other–to share rides, food, hand-me-downs, domiciles–but my sense is that this happens very infrequently, except among families. Probably many reasons for this. One is that people don’t want others to know how badly off they are. Another is that the more poor people there are, the more taxpayers get fed up with supporting them. So poor people are essentially threats to each other.
Crystal, yes, it is depressing. Perhaps we need Low Income Earners Anonymous programs to help people get over the shame of being poor and learning how to pull together more.
Don’t you find it ironic that sometimes people will share the most intimate details of their lives–everything from ED to gas–but that most people go to great lengths to hide their poverty?
Too much easy to say pull yourselves up by your bootstraps, w/o being there.
Much Protestant traditional work ethic – not enough actual involvement in helping the poor and talking out of experience.
Sory, but there I said it.
Jesus was poor and didn’t do much to earn his keep, did he? He never had the sense to save a penny and even advocated against it, subversively. He had the ability and training to be a competent carpenter, but didn’t do anything with it. He preached about paying people the same amount regardless of whether they worked a full day or one short hour. He clearly had a problem with work ethics! He did a few miraculous cures every now and then, but other than that, not much. He was simply not interested in work. Wrong values! We mostly hear about him talking, eating and drinking at other people’s houses, resting, and shamelessly asking people for stuff such as a donkey – even having the nerve to complain about them and to shake dust off his sandals when they didn’t comply! He was poor, clearly an undeserving poor, and did not even have the redeeming grace to be properly ashamed of being poor.
But at least he didn’t have a microwave.
The microwave thing is about punishment, but in an odd way. It’s the attitude that any appliance is a luxury that the poor should not have. The poor should suffer, but the suffering here is cast as the “suffering” of self discipline. This is a double bonus for the commenter, because it allows him to cast the poor as undisciplined and himself as disciplined. The discipline to forgo luxuries is a “punishment” to the poor because of the lack of character of the poor. The poor as undisciplined are undeserving whereas he himself is deserving and the fact that he has more means he deserves more just as the fact that the poor have less means the poor deserve less. The poor don’t deserve what they get only because they don’t deserve the little that they have.
Jesus presents a problem because many people seem to think that one has to be Jesus in order to live like Jesus. But then didn’t Jesus suffer so that normal people wouldn’t have to?
Yes, it’s especially easy to hide lack of funds on the internet – as long as you have access to a computer, no one has to know how rich/poor you are unless you tell them.
I don’t know if this relates, but I’ve just been reading an article -The UK riots: the psychology of looting – about the riots in the UK. People who are poor in a society that’s rich are differently poor than poor people in Somalia, for instance, where more people are poor. But that’s changing – now even poor people there can “see” with cell phones and computers and tvs what the poor in the US and UK see: all the stuff they “should” and do want but which they probably have never a chance of getting. Most of the stuff looted in the UK riots were clothes, sports shoes, plasma tvs, computers – not food, and not high end jewlery.
And he wasn’t too nice to his mother either: leaving her and his father to do his own thing in the Temple at age 12; reluctantly agreeing to her request to help a newly married couple from embarrassment when the wedding wine ran out; turning his back on his filial relationship by saying that his mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it; and the final affront, he did not even invite her to his Last Supper when he ordained his closest male friends.
I was in Washington D. C. when Bobby Kennedy was killed, and there was rioting and looting all over the city. The worst areas were streets with prosperous apartment buildings only blocks from inner city slums. Apparently it’s knowing what you don’t have that is so enfuriating.
“Yes, it’s especially easy to hide lack of funds on the internet – as long as you have access to a computer, no one has to know how rich/poor you are unless you tell them.”
I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but certainly nobody knows if you’re sitting in your oak panelled den in a leather chair as you type–or whether you’re sitting in a public library where you’ve waited an hour to get on and get your rants in, or are banging it out on a crummy phone with dicey Internet connection.
Perhaps it’s good that more voices can be heard in public forums as a result. Perhaps it’s bad in that it’s just another way to hide poverty.
“Most of the stuff looted in the UK riots were clothes, sports shoes, plasma tvs, computers”
Some of the poor, and some of the non-poor, are also criminals. My recollection of being poor is that I was able to discern right from wrong and was responsible for my choices and actions. Those looters should be arrested and punished.
Again, I think rioting -which often has a reactive overlay to perceived injustice -is a distraction from the topic of how we treat the poor.
I’d be a lot happier if we’d say less about how good we are and more about what we have to do… “but the man wishing to justify himself said”Who is my neighbor?”
Of course criminals should be arrested and punished. Has anyone argued they shouldn’t?
Interesting, however, that a thread about the poor owning appliances has morphed into a discussion about looters and criminals.
People who are poor in a society that’s rich are differently poor than poor people in Somalia, for instance, where more people are poor.
In more ways than one: I met some people in soup kitchens who said to me: “I am not really poor. There are soup kitchens and food pantries and ways to get help, so that I never really have to go hungry. The people in Africa who we see on TV, now, that’s real poverty.”
My daughter recently tutored the child of a refugee couple recently arrived in the US. She said that their apartment was completely bare. They offered her water in plastic McDonald’s cups because they did not even have glasses!
Whenever I go backpacking I am reminded of how little I really need, so little that I can carry it all on my back! But for me, my non-poverty primarily means living a stress-free life, with health insurance, future retirement savings, and few worries about the future; and also being able to visit my family and friends more or less at will. All that has nothing to do with microwave ovens.
There is more to worry about in the US than in France (because the social net feels a lot less solid), and so I think that most people are subjectively poorer in the US, even though they own much more stuff. Certainly, I feel a lot less secure here, and so, subjectively, a lot poorer.