Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don Surber Hates The Heat

According to Don Surber of the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, "Americans never had it as good" as we do now. "The middle class has become the rich," he says, and argues that even Americans living in poverty are better off now than at any other time.

Surber's rationale? America has efficient and readily available air conditioning.

Seriously, that's a major point in his most recent Daily Mail column.
Read it, and count the total number of A/C references he uses in an attempt to prove we Americans should stop dwelling on the plight of the poor.

Better yet, I'll count it for you:

1. "Having actually worked at a textile mill, I say the people in Bangladesh are welcome to make my shirts. I'll sit here in my smoke-free, air-conditioned-in-the-summer office where I don't have to worry about brown lung";

2. "Most of today's homes have some sort of air-conditioning. The Census Bureau reported 58 percent of homes in 2004 had central air-conditioning, and 25 percent had room air-conditioners";

3. "But the Census Bureau reported that 46 percent of households listed as officially living in poverty actually lived in homes they owned. And, the Census Bureau reported, 76 percent had air-conditioning";

4. "But why should I care how much money is in the wallets of the two richest men in America - Bill Gates and Warren Buffett - both supporters of the Obama campaign? So what? I have my central air. And I drive a 2005 Mustang convertible - just like Mitt Romney."

For good measure, Surber threw in the stats that 73% of Americans living in poverty have a microwave, while 33% had a dishwasher. Considering his logic, I'm surprised Surber didn't mention that 100% of all new cars manufactured and sold in the US now have seat belts.

Americans never had it so good!

Many Americans are one catastrophic illness away from losing everything. More than one million high school students
drop out of school every year. 4 children die from abuse every day of the year in America. About 5.5 million children in America are being raised by their grandparents, a necessity mostly because so many natural parents are unavailable due to substance abuse, incarceration, child abuse, neglect and desertion.

But most of 'em got air!

Too bad they don't know how good they have it.


Anonymous said...

Geek, I know what you are saying, but if you compare the United State's poor to the poor across the world our's are doing very well.

We do have an exceptional standard of living in this country, even for those living in poverty.

We have a lot of problems here, that is true. But, unlike the Sudan, we don't have terrorist organizations slaughtering out women and children.

I suspect Surber was using an extreme to illustrate a point. People do it all the time.

Just my two cents worth.

fishing guy said...

I think Surber needs a reality check. Why didn't he compare the pioneers to today. The poor are always the poor and are deprived of what even the middle class have. What the rich have can't be compared to the middle class.
It's no wonder the middle class are deprived of representation when you have newspaper guys like this.

The Film Geek said...

Muze: He probably is using that style to make a point. I do that too, often. But I think his point comes from an egocentric perspective.

Midwestern Progressive said...

Don Surber is wiely noted for lying to his readers.

Bobzim said...

Surber is intellectually lazy and so are most of his readers. But he knows what buttons to touch so he has readers.

What his column fails to point out is that it wasn't until after WWII that the American housing industry started to become standardized, with material production becoming automated, thus allowing us to produce larger houses for less money. Hell, kitchen counter top heights weren't even the same until the late 40's.

Check out the history of Levittown.

Another phenomenon he misses is that it takes two people working longer hours to achieve the higher standard of living. Pointing that out is not necessarily a criticism, but a quality column on the subject would've included it.

I comment over there frequently and most of the time it's pretty easy to shoot down his assertions.

rebecca said...

A/C = wealth?

Well, hell! We should just send everyone in every third-world nation a small window-unit. That will end world poverty! Don Surber is a GENIUS!!!!

Buzzardbilly said...

Whenever you see a homeless person living in a cardboard box, you know s/he's not really poor because they own their home (and it's portable, even if it is crap in the rain and the snow).

Technically, if they've poked some holes in the box, it is air-conditioned too.

Perhaps that would be a "starter home" in Surber's eyes.

Jackie said...

"Many Americans... due to substance abuse, incarceration, child abuse, neglect and desertion."

That whole paragraph is a description for lazy, selfish, stupid people who have no idea what personal responsibilty is.

Trust me, I see these "poor" people everyday, and "poor" just doesn't mean what it used to.

Good post though, you Big Hippie :D

The Film Geek said...

Ha! I am a big hippie.

But in that paragraph I'm talking more about the quality of life of those kids who are affected, Jackie. The quality of life should be judged with a bit more substance than enviornmental comforts.

Ask any kid to choose between material comforts or family, or between air conditioning and not being abused. I'm guessing they don't choose the AC.

Hoyt said...

The fact remains: The disparity between "the haves" and "have nots" has grown. Suggesting that today's poor have better material advantages than their predecessors avoids the issue.

Although anyone in this country is free to pursue as much wealth as s/he wants, does anyone really need billions or even multi-millions of dollars? I guess Gordon Gecko nailed it when he told us "Greed is good" back in those crazy eighties.

JDB said...

Maybe Don is just a worshiper of Azrael? "No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater... than central air."

Route 75 said...

Quit cryin'. You've got central air AND a pool. See you this summer. ;)

The Film Geek said...

Well, look who's back from the dead. :)

You'll only see me this summer if your wife says its OK. You know it, and I know it. Most importantly, she knows it.

Route 75 said...