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It's no-no, taboo, and politically incorrect among many leftists to talk
about a culture of poverty, but it shouldn't be. Economic discrimination and
racism are of course the root cause, but the vicious cycle that poverty
creates is very real and so I have to agree with Eric here. This is not
blaming the poor nor elitism, it is trying to understand the difference
between a vulgar Marxism and a nuanced understanding of capitalist society,
not to mention benefitting from the important work of progressive
sociologists and social psychologists.

MB

On 7/25/07, Claudia Hemphill Pine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> Umm... maybe we could all back off from "prescriptive" values and take a
> more descriptive look here.
>
> YES. Both in the micro-universe of this story, and the wider personal
> experience of some of us, low-income households appear to be more likely to
> have TV's with cable than computers with internet.
>
> Never mind that access being high-speed. I live in a grad student/old
> people's "ghetto" in my small university town and I only have dial-up. Why?
> It's not the cost to me, but the unwilllingness of either my local phone
> provider or rental property owner to provide. Certainly, my city isn't
> interested.
>
> Not that cost isn't a consideration: I don't have cable or a big TV,
> partly because it's an expense I'm unwilling to pay. But my social and
> informational needs are amply satisfied by internet communities, list-servs
> and emails; by the many local RL friends who I tend to see on campus, or
> downtown, at the gallery, the bookshop or the Saturday market; by occasional
> trips out of town to see family; by newspapers (online) and journals
> (delivered). I can watch films on my laptop. If I want to see a
> favorably-reviewed TV show or an entire season, my family can often share it
> on TiVO or DVDs when I visit.
>
> Ahhh.... that's why I can live without TV. It isn't my source of news or
> shopping information.  It isn't the common conversational currency with
> friends or colleagues. It isn't my escape from the humdrum of home with kids
> during the day, or when hiding inside from heat, a city's noise or
> insecurity.  Or the "only thing there is," as for so many older people who
> for health or safety reasons, stay at home.
>
> So, I can turn my nose up at cable TV. But for others, it's a key
> connection to news and neighborhood, as well as recreation. I'd no more ask
> them to trade it in for a computer & the internet - with the associated
> learning curve, hardware needs, shorter uselife, and mainly single-user
> setup - than I would ask my Mom to give up watching Wimbledon and Mystery to
> listen to NPR and hang out on the internet like me.  Internet doesn't
> replace cable TV for her, just augments it. But it added costs and
> complications as well.
>
> Mom's house is actually wireless now. But she was driven to the internet
> more than she was enticed. She had to get email to stay in touch with her
> peripatetic children (who don't write snail mail letters) and eastern
> European friends (whose letters take months).  She can use it to shop beyond
> her smallish city.  To really sweeten the pot, she gets unlimited free
> in-home software and hardware support from 2 daughters and a son-in-law with
> very high computer skills.
>
> I don't think it's as easy for someone like those in this article to dump
> cable TV and shift over to internet. They would lose as much as, or more
> than, they gain.
>
> Claudia
>
> On 7/24/07, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > You're digging yourself in deeper, Eric. Why don't all those poor
> > people stop eating at MacDonald's and start eating healthy organic
> > vegetables? And if they just studied harder instead of wasting their
> > money on "mindless entertainment" I bet they could get into Harvard
> > too.
> >
> > This isn't the Science for Elitists list.
> >
> > --PG
> >
> > At 8:58 PM -0400 7/24/07, Eric Entemann wrote:
> > >The article in question starts with this erroneous comment:
> > >
> > >"I am low-income and computers are not low-income," says Marcella
> > >Morris, sitting on the front step of her apartment building on a
> > >sweltering day last week.
> > >
> > >A $50 used computer and under $20 per month gets one on the internet
> > >with broadband quite adequately, and a dialup connection can be had
> > >for under $40 per year.
> > >
> > >My contention is simply that cost is not the cause of the so-called
> > >"digital divide".  And that most low-income people in this country
> > >spend far more than that on mindless entertainment, as do most
> > >people of any income level.  Let's get real here.
> > >
> > >----Original Message Follows----
> > >From: Phil Gasper < [log in to unmask]>
> > >Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List
> > ><[log in to unmask]>
> > >To: [log in to unmask]
> > >Subject: Re: Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide
> > >Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2007 16:26:35 -0500
> > >
> > >I am uncomfortable with Eric's comment, which seems to be blaming
> > >the poor for their lack of computer access.
> > >
> > >I also think that on a list about science it ought to be possible to
> > >do better than make claims that begin "I bet". Why not do a little
> > >research first?
> > >
> > >--PG
> > >
> > >At 1:31 PM -0400 7/24/07, Eric Entemann wrote:
> > >>I'll bet a lot of lower-income people have big TVs and cable, but
> > >>no computer or broadband.  A computer that is adequate for
> > >>broadband net access can bought new for little and used for almost
> > >>nothing. The primary computer I use is an old Pentium 3 that has a
> > >>value of maybe $50.  And if need be, cable TV could be sacrificed
> > >>for cable broadband.  So no doubt choice is a big factor here.
> > >>
> > >>But, of course, much more needs to be done toward the provision of
> > >>technology education and low-cost broadband.  And more public
> > >>access to computers on the internet as alternatives to libraries
> > >>and schools and Starbucks.  For example, when I visited Tucson
> > >>three yy ago, I was pleased to find the Univ. of AZ computer center
> > >>to be open long hours and to have free public access with no time
> > >>limit. Every computer even had a CD burner available for downloads.
> > >>
> > >>----Original Message Follows----
> > >>From: Sam Anderson < [log in to unmask]>
> > >>Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List
> > >><[log in to unmask] >
> > >>To: [log in to unmask]
> > >>Subject: Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide
> > >>Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2007 08:38:17 -0400
> > >>
> > >>Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide
> > >>
> > >>By Jose Antonio Vargas
> > >>Washington Post Staff Writer
> > >>Monday, July 23, 2007; C01
> > >>
> > >>CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Less than a mile and a half from the Citadel,
> > >>the  site of the Democratic presidential debate tonight, sits
> > >>Cooper River  Courts, a public housing project. Forget the Web.
> > >>Never mind YouTube,  the debate's co-sponsor. Here, owning a
> > >>computer and getting on the  Internet (through DSL or cable or
> > >>Wi-Fi) is a luxury.
> > >>
> > >>"I am low-income and computers are not low-income," says Marcella
> > >>Morris, sitting on the front step of her apartment building on a
> > >>sweltering day last week.
> > >>
> > >>The unemployed 45-year-old adds: "I know how to use a computer. I
> > >>just can't afford one right now."
> > >>
> > >>There exists "two Americas," as John Edwards, South Carolina's own
> > >>son, likes to say: an America for the rich and an America for the
> > >>poor. But what Edwards and the rest of the presidential field have
> > >>yet to adequately address are the two Americas online: one that's
> > >>connected to high-speed Internet -- socializing, paying bills,
> > >>uploading debate questions to presidential candidates on YouTube --
> > >>and one that's not. This is the digital divide, now more than a
> > >>decade old, a rarely discussed schism in which the unconnected are
> > >>second-class citizens. In some parts of this so-called Internet
> > >>ghetto, the screech of a telephone modem dialing up to get online
> > >>is not uncommon. And with dial-up, YouTube is impossible to use.
> > >>
> > >>Between 40 to 45 percent of Charlestonians, city officials here
> > >>estimate, subscribe to high-speed Internet. That figure is nearly
> > >>in line with the national average, according to the nonpartisan
> > >>group Free Press. And though a study released last month by the Pew
> > >>Internet & American Life Project found that broadband use among
> > >>African American adults increased from 14 percent in 2005 to 40
> > >>percent this year, blacks continue to lag behind whites and
> > >>English- speaking Latinos. In fact, a great number of American
> > >>households , especially in rural areas and poorer parts of cities
> > >>such as Charleston, are without broadband.
> > >>
> > >>And in a presidential election that's being fought as much online
> > >>as off it -- all campaigns employ Web strategies -- some say the
> > >>candidates have generally ignored the issue.
> > >>
> > >>"I would argue that the digital divide is worse than it was 10
> > >>years ago. Back then everyone -- schools, businesses -- was trying
> > >>to get online. These days every single Fortune 500 company has its
> > >>employees, its customers and its suppliers connected 24 hours a
> > >>day, seven days a week. In the meantime, while our students have
> > >>online access at school, many of them don't have it at home," says
> > >>Andrew Rasiej, a member of a panel studying universal Internet
> > >>access in New  York, and co-founder of TechPresident, a nonpartisan
> > >>blog that tracks  the online campaign.
> > >>
> > >>"Our presidential candidates may all have BlackBerrys, but they
> > >>have no vision when it comes to bringing all our citizens to the
> > >>21st century. If you go to look at the presidential candidate Web
> > >>sites, the word 'Internet' practically doesn't exist. Breaking the
> > >>digital divide has not been recognized as a critical issue," Rasiej
> > >>continues.
> > >>
> > >>Two months ago, TechPresident challenged the candidates to adopt
> > >>specific policies to get everyone online. "Declare the Internet a
> > >>public good in the same way we think of water, electricity,
> > >>highways," reads a policy statement. "Commit to providing
> > >>affordable high-speed wireless Internet access nationwide," reads
> > >>another. So far most of the candidates have not adopted any of it,
> > >>Rasiej says.
> > >>
> > >>"At one level, the YouTube debate shows that the Web has really
> > >>become a centerpiece of American political culture," adds Lee
> > >>Rainie,  director of Pew Internet. "At another level, it also shows
> > >>that the  debate is not for everybody. It's certainly not available
> > >>to all  Americans."
> > >>
> > >>That is especially true at Cooper River Courts, where Tiara Reid,
> > >>14,  in her jeans shorts and pink striped top, runs up and down the
> > >>complex asking friends if anyone wants to go the library. Finally
> > >>her  mom, Jossie, who works at a deli, drives her and a neighbor's
> > >>daughter. With school out and without Internet access at home, the
> > >>library is the only place where she can go on the Web -- for a
> > >>maximum of two hours a day. Says Tiara: "It's 10 minutes to get to
> > >>the library if someone drives you. It's 15 minutes if you take the
> > >>30  bus. It's about 30 minutes if you walk." On the library's
> > >>second floor, she folds herself up on a chair and updates her
> > >>MySpace profile, sends e-mails on her Yahoo! account and, if
> > >>there's time, surfs Disney.com.
> > >>
> > >>Across from the Reids' apartment stands LaToya Ferguson, holding
> > >>her grandson Marquis. She's one of the few residents here to have
> > >>Internet access at home. It's a sense of pride for her. "You're
> > >>falling behind if you're not online, now that's the truth," says
> > >>Ferguson, a nail technician in her 30s.
> > >>
> > >>Nearby Marcella Morris runs after her son Donny, who's nearly 2.
> > >>Morris says she relies on "the three F's" -- food stamps, family
> > >>and friends -- to provide for Donny and her 7-year-old daughter,
> > >>Jordan. Money's tight. She has a phone, subscribes to cable, but
> > >>that's it. No cellphone, no car, no computer. At 3 in the morning,
> > >>when an infomercial about the Web-based Specialty Merchandise
> > >>Corp.comes on TV, she dreams of owning a business, she says.
> > >>
> > >>A few weeks ago, she signed up for a computer program at Trident
> > >>Literacy Association, a 10-minute walk from her apartment. At the
> > >>end  of the 10-week program, she will receive a refurbished
> > >>computer, free.
> > >>
> > >>"Never too late to start, right?" Morris says. "But after I get the
> > >>computer I have to worry about the Internet."
> > >>
> > >>It's a familiar story around the country, even in places as
> > >>Internet- savvy as San Francisco, Chicago and the District. Who can
> > >>get online?  Who can't? And what can be done about it?
> > >>
> > >>Charlestonians pay as little as $20 or as much as $99 (which covers
> > >>phone, cable and the Internet) a month to get online, depending on
> > >>the package. There are a few free Wi-Fi "hot spots" in town, such
> > >>as the Cereality cafe on King Street, where a cappuccino costs
> > >>$2.99.
> > >>
> > >>Nearly two years ago, officials vowed to spread Internet access
> > >>across the city. An initiative called the Charleston Digital
> > >>Corridor  selected a proposal to build a citywide Wi-Fi grid. It
> > >>was meant to  give everybody free Wi-Fi -- and the city didn't even
> > >>have to pay for  it. As in other municipalities that are developing
> > >>public Wi-Fi  projects, now numbering around 400, the goal is
> > >>twofold: to empower  small businesses and to plug poorer
> > >>neighborhoods such as Cooper  River Courts into the online world.
> > >>
> > >>But like other cities, including San Francisco, Charleston has
> > >>struggled with its Wi-Fi project. The city originally said the
> > >>service would be up and running at the end of 2005. It was delayed.
> > >>Twice. When it finally was launched last spring, the Wi-Fi reached
> > >>only about 30 to 40 percent of its intended coverage.
> > >>
> > >>And the Charlestonians tapping into the free Wi-Fi network --
> > >>sometimes more than 200 surfers a day -- were largely the ones who
> > >>could already afford to pay for it.
> > >>
> > >>Now the citywide Wi-Fi project is in limbo. But Ernest Andrade,
> > >>head of the Digital Corridor, is optimistic: "We're evaluating
> > >>right now and I know that we'll bring Wi-Fi access to the rest of
> > >>this city," he pledges. Morris sounds upbeat, too. She plans on
> > >>sticking with her  10-week computer course. "Not having the
> > >>Internet in this day and  time makes me feel disconnected from a
> > >>whole other world. Things I  could see, things I could hear, things
> > >>I could do.
> > >>
> > >>"I could take my kids to other places on the Internet," says Morris
> > >>as Donny naps on her lap. "Sometimes I feel shortchanged. Not
> > >>envious, but shortchanged."
> > >>
> > >>She just turned 45 three days ago. By her 46th birthday, she hopes
> > >>to  own a computer -- and be online.
> > >>
> > >>--------------------------------------------------
> > >>s. e. anderson (author of "The Black Holocaust for Beginners" -
> > >>Writers + Readers) + http://blackeducator.blogspot.com
> > >>
> > >>_________________________________________________________________
> > >>Local listings, incredible imagery, and driving directions - all in
> > >>one place! http://maps.live.com/?wip=69&FORM=MGAC01
> > >
> > >_________________________________________________________________
> > >http://liveearth.msn.com
> >
>
>


-- 
www.michaelbalter.com

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Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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