Applying Austerity

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 9 2011 @ 8:47am


Melissa Boteach and Donna Cooper reject the Heritage Foundation's claim that America's poor aren't really poor because they own certain appliances. Yglesias bolsters their case with the above graph:

Back in the late 1920s, a refrigerator would be worth a lot more than eight days’ worth of food. And a microwave wouldn’t exist at all. But in the modern day, these appliances don’t represent meaningful levels of accumulated wealth. What’s more, they’re not luxuries. They’re actually thrifty things to own. If a single mom raising three kids sold her fridge, she’s be making a very imprudent call from a strictly financial point of view. Buying food at the grocery store and saving it thanks to the miracles of modern refrigeration is sound household budgeting.