In the discussions over the new statistics showing ever more Americans in poverty, I was struck by this line from Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation: "Nearly two-thirds [of the officially poor] have cable or satellite TV" and "One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV."
Unlike, apparently, the more on-the-ball sort of impoverished person, I haven't had cable or satellite TV for over a decade. I bought an old-fashioned TV about seven years ago. That was fine at the time because we got the major networks on broadcast TV. Then, after a delay, old-fashioned analog broadcasting was halted in June 2009. Various officials made various promises about how this wouldn't be a problem, that with simple fixes everybody would be as well off as before.
That didn't turn out to be true. Despite trying various work-arounds, we haven't gotten CBS since the switchover, NBC comes and goes. It's a mess. Digital broadcast TV has gifted us with a plethora of new fourth-tier channels. My favorite was the This channel, which broadcast, apparently off old VHS tapes it had bought at a garage sale, 1970s movies that nobody had ever heard of. But then that fizzled out.
This is no doubt a problem for many millions of Americans who don't have cable. It's an extremely minor problem for me, but for people who don't like the Internet (often old, sick, illiterate, etc.), it's a big problem.
And guess what? Nobody who is anybody cares about them.
A simple rule of thumb is that if you don't have cable or a nice TV in contemporary America, you are a nobody.