Weighing Costs versus Needs


How quickly we forget all those things we took for granted and believed would always be free or at least inexpensive. When we considered progress and what that meant for us we believed progress would reduce the cost of basic items. Instead, it’s done the opposite.

Take the television, we bought a television hooked up rabbit ears on the top of the TV and pulled in a clear programs free over the airwaves.

No we didn’t have one hundred channels but we never thought we would want one hundred channels either. If you lived outside the city limits you might go so far as to put an antenna on the roof of you house. While these were one time costs we still weighed whether we needed them.

We had one channel that rarely came in clearly using our rabbit ears. We could have bought and installed a larger antenna on our roof but deemed it not a need.

Garbage collection was still relatively new and optional. In our house we had so little trash we shared a can with the neighbor to reduce the cost, something I still do today although my neighbor looks at my tiny bag every few weeks compared to her three overflowing cans per week and refuses any money for letting me use her service.

Our phone service was almost ridiculously cheap compared to what we’ve gotten used to recently. We had the option of paying for long distance service, which we opted not to have, keeping our phone bill at eight dollars per month. Instead we wrote long letter to long distance friends and relatives. Stamps were inexpensive at $0.13 each for a letter.  I miss receiving hand written letters now that email and texting have dominated our communications.

It surprises me how quickly people part with their money to pay for items we didn’t consider necessary a generation ago. The idea of a phone to carry with oneself every where for a cost of often $100 or more was quickly embraced by the majority as a convenience. Who even considers living without a cell phone any more? Even I have a cell phone but my bill is not even close to $100 a month.

What about cable or satellite television. I always wonder why it’s acceptable to have a satellite dish attached to a house or planted in the front yard when those same people complain  about the ugliness of a wind turbine. The cell phone towers have been accepted just as easily as satellite dishes on the house. When is the last time you heard complaints on the ugliness of the cell tower up on the hill? I guess if we feel we need it it’s not ugly.

How did we go from having one phone in a house to one per person? Or one computer per household to one per family member?

Have we completely abandoned needs for wants, will we ever return to a need-based household?



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