I know we talked about this in class already but I just read an article about it today by Arnold Kling. In this article Kling describes how much better off the lower class is now than in 1970 by comparing what percentage of households in 1970 did not have "certain basic middle-class necessities" (like a telephone or refrigerator) to the percentage of households currently without these items. He also compares the percentage of households then and now that own(ed) items considered to be luxury items in 1970 (a dishwasher, clothes washer, clothes dryer). Kling's examples demonstrate that the quality of life of the poor is substantially better now than in 1970. While I agree with Kling's main point, that the lower class is better off now than in 1970 I don't agree that this point can be illustrated by the ownership of these items. Many of the luxury items listed are considered necessities by our current culture and all of the middle class necessities are considered to be necessities for anyone except the extremely poor, by our standards. (How appalled would we be to discover that one of our friends does not have complete plumbing?) But how much debt has our lower class created in acquiring these items? In 1970 households didn't have most of these items because they chose to spend their money on basic necessities. Now people see these items as basic necessities and pay for them on credit so they can have them. I know many people who qualify for subsidized housing and/or Medicaid who can still afford cell phones, satellite t.v. and newer cars than what I drive. This article asks "Are many of the families you know worse off (than in 1970)?" Many of the families I know have more stuff than in the 1970s but less money for basic needs like food and health care, possibly because they can get assistance for food and health care.