Luxury or Necessity? A survey
by the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends shows that Americans have come to realise that many of their appliances are not so necessary and are now deemed to be luxuries. These include a microwave oven, a television set, home air conditioning, a dishwasher and a clothes dryer.
Changing perceptions about what's a luxury and what's a necessity ... have occurred across-the-board, among adults in all income groups and economic circumstances - perhaps suggesting that consumer reaction to the recession is being driven by specific personal economic hardships as well as by a more pervasive new creed of thrift that has taken hold both among those who've been personally affected and those who haven't.
The survey finds that the recession has touched the lives of most Americans in one way or another: job losses, the diminishing in value of retirement accounts or other investments, or problems making mortgage or rent payments.
Taken together, about two-in-three American families have faced at least one of these problems in the past year - with young adults, women and the less affluent more likely than others in the population to have been affected.
Politicians and economists would have us believe that Indonesia is ‘the most confident country
’ in facing the 'great depression' because consumer spending has remained high. Mind you, the Nielsen Consumer Confidence survey involved interviews with 25,140 regular Internet respondents from 50 countries.
In other words, the middle classes. Yet the Jakarta Post reports
that, from invoice-sorting secretaries to guitar-strumming musicians, the country's burgeoning middle class is bracing the coming of the crisis. Iqbal, a computer programmer, said, "If it wasn't for my freelance designing jobs, I would be in a very tough situation right now." Despite the extra income, he has had to tone down on life's pleasures, such as playing pool or getting a massage."Previously, I'd go get a massage twice a week, but that's no longer feasible," he said, adding the ritual was reduced to once a week now.
The working class aren't included in either survey. However, last December, it was estimated
that production cuts amid weakened demand hurting company revenue
(this) year could lead to far more than 1.5 million layoffs.
I doubt that workers laid off from construction projects and export oriented manufacturing comapnies have that many luxuries anyway, and a TV set is the one necessity enabling them to escape the drudgery of increased poverty.
The practicing of thrift is, in my humble opinion, a sensible way to live. Most of us have loads of inessentials and can make do. I anticipate increased revenue for shoe repairers, local tailors and even those guys who refill disposable lighters. Strangely or not, I haven't seen a tinker, a pot repairer, passing by for quite a while.
So, what is a luxury? In Jakartass Towers, I reckon we could do without the rice cooker, the microwave oven, the water dispenser.
Rice stored in the electric cooker doesn't have the fluffy texture of that boiled and steamed in the traditional way. A microwave oven doesn't offer the variety of textures and tastes of the boiling, baking, braising, basting and innumerable other cooking methods. A water dispenser consumes too much electricity. We boil our as yet unpolluted well water daily in order to fill thermos flasks for our teas and coffees, and store in bottles in our fridge for cold beverages.
Thanks to the traditional design of our house, which allows through breezes, we have no need for air conditioning, preferring fans for exceptionally hot days and nights. We don't have any form of private transport, making do with whatever transport best meets our travel needs, paying as we go wherever. I think there is a hairdryer somewhere, but in this climate, who needs one? Similarly, we don't have a clothes dryer, although it would be useful in the rainy season when socks suddenly appear to be in short supply. And we don't have a dishwasher, not even a pembantu
We could be even more thrifty I suppose, and I'm not including my beer budget in this appraisal. I think that 'Er Indoors and Our Kid could do with downsizing their handphones. These have seemingly every gadget available, except for one essential - a universal remote control for the TV and DVD machine.
However, apart from here, I'm thrifty with my words, and there are some things that I must leave unsaid.
What about you?
..................................Once again, thanks to one of my favourite blogs, J-Walk, for suggesting this post.