Economically speaking | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It
This economic downturn could be a good thing if it gives our well-fed, designer-clad children a reality check about what it means to be rich or poor.

Economically speaking 

click to enlarge frontporch.jpg

This economic downturn could be a good thing if it gives our well-fed, designer-clad children a reality check about what it means to be rich or poor. My own otherwise grounded offspring don't have a clue. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we are "poor" because we have: One wireless controller for the Xbox 360 instead of two (they sell for $50 each); a Volvo with dents that's more than 10 years old; plug-in PCs; and prepay cell phones.

The inadequacy of what my "poor" children have apparently is just the beginning of their sorrows. While sitting in my dented car awaiting further transport to a birthday party 40 minutes away in the far reaches of Chatham County, my high school daughter assaulted me with a laundry list of lack.

She and her siblings don't have a plasma TV or $200 True Religion or Rich & Skinny jeans from the mall. They don't vacation in Canada, Cancun or Europe. They make no annual pilgrimage to Disney World where they stay on property and enjoy the Dining Plan. They don't get a used BlackBerry when a family member trades up to the latest iPhone. Facebook, I was told, has proof that other people have and do these things.

Good for them. News flash: We don't because we cannot afford it. Our net worth is no match for double-income techies or families whose primary wage-earner is a scientist, corporate exec or academic dean. We're not "old money" with family inheritances. No titans of industry or academe in our pedigree. Go back a few generations and our ancestors were slaves who owned nothing. We are second-generation college grads happy still to be employed at plain vanilla professional jobs. We buy what we can pay for with cash when possible.

That this makes us poor is a revelation. When I grew up, being poor meant you routinely went hungry, naked or both, and rarely saw a doctor. In rural Alabama, where I spent a fair amount of my childhood, poverty meant no indoor plumbing, no air-conditioning and no car. Cell phones didn't exist. When we finally got the standard Ma Bell black telephone, it came with a "party line" (think easy eavesdropping). Really being poor also meant absolutely no vacations, no dinners out, no extras and no whining.

Here I thought my husband and I had given our children a pretty nice life with their braces, backyard barbecues, commercial birthday parties, community pool, soccer team trips, dance lessons and a decade of beachfront vacations at Topsail Island. I was naïve.

Yesterday's luxuries have become 21st century entitlements. Consequently, we have a generation of children who are blind to their blessings and who always want more. An economic downturn is a good time for all of us to revisit reality. We cannot have what we cannot pay for. It's a lesson long overdue. Let's hope we don't all have to lose our jobs and watch our modest or McMansion homes go into foreclosure before we learn it.

Latest in Front Porch

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »

Twitter Activity


Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Most Read

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation