Thinking Out Loud

September 4, 2014

Technology and Culture Shifts Further Marginalize the Poor

Filed under: social justice — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:34 am

It’s our first time in the United States in nearly two years and one of our greatest challenges remains trying to find a land line on which to make phone calls back to the mother ship. The U.S. basically trashed all the pay phones. They have disappeared completely from downtown streets, malls and train stations. You have to have a mobile phone here to survive. Or else.

Our cell phone is somewhat useless down here, though this time around we did purchase a ‘service pack’ which allows us to make a total of 20 minutes in calls, and allows us no data. It really cramps our style.

But I keep thinking of what it does to those who can’t afford a cell phone at all. Who can no longer call the 800-number for the government agency that might be able to help whatever challenge they are currently facing. Or call 911 in a crisis.

I was reminded of this when we were here a few years ago in the middle of the conversion from analogue television to digital television. You know who that impacted greatly? The poor. The people who could least afford to trash their old style TV sets for something new.

And the other thing we’re noticing this time around is how the casino is at the center of life for everyone in almost every town, whether they actually have a casino or not.  Gambling and lottery sales have been referred to as “a tax on the poor.”

Overall, I’m not impressed with how America treats its poor. I know the country presently faces some other challenges, including one very big one — the spectre of another war — but the two technology examples and the growth of the casino industry concern me greatly, as they should concern you.

I don’t like where I see this heading.





  1. I see the poor having cell phones. I believe their is a GOV program that pays for it. (I could be wrong) I on the other hand don’t have one and really don’t care for one.

    Comment by angie — September 4, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  2. Ignorance is dangerous: ….the poor are given cell phones in the U.S., we pay a tax on our cell phone bills and land lines to help cover the cost. The government is responsible for the disappearing pay phones, and because governments reflect the citizenry….well, one might conclude that “We the people….”

    Knowing every cell phone allows the holder to be tracked, I find it invasive and wonder why the poor with their free phones don’t protest that they are being monitored.

    I could say more, but I have said too much.

    Comment by MJ — September 4, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  3. While I’m not exactly thrilled about the way the poor are treated, the U.S. is not a bad choice if you’re looking for a country to be poor in compared to many in the world. Angie is right about the cell phones – anyone that qualifies for food stamps or TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) can get a phone provided for them. Any cell phone anywhere can call 911 whether it has active service or not. The internet is considered a basic human right. Every library in the country offers computer and internet access and just about any place open to the public now broadcasts a wifi signal.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — September 5, 2014 @ 6:39 am

  4. The people my wife worked with for several years would not all be able to master today’s smart phones.

    I guess it’s a great place to be poor, but a poor place to be a tourist!

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 5, 2014 @ 9:11 am

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