Friday :: Mar 6, 2009

Welcome to the 19th Century

by eriposte

Here is Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times commenting on the fact that a homeless man was taking a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama using a cell phone (via Tbogg at Firedoglake and Alex Koppelman at

If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone?

And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?

Fellow traveler from the 19th century, conservative Kathryn Jean Lopez of The Corner adds:

I don't envy this man's situation, whatever it is, and don't mean to make light of it. But we are a blessed people when our poor have cell phones. 

Fellow traveler from the Medieval Era, Michelle Malkin can't resist - "Priceless photo of the day: Homeless…with a cellphone". Understanding the mentality that underlies this kind of commentary is best left to psychologists.

I will merely point out that in the 21st century cell phones can sometimes be far more valuable to the homeless than even a meal. Here's just a random article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from 2007:

Homeless for more than a year, Rebecca Carrington can go without her own bed, fancy clothes and most material possessions.

But there is one thing she cannot imagine life without -- her cell phone.

"It's everything," she says, hands stuffed into a hooded black sweatshirt on a chilly day. "How I call my family; how can I try to find an apartment or get a job. I couldn't survive out here without it."

Carrington, 26, is hardly the only person on the streets with a cell phone. In fact, a growing number of the city's homeless will surprise you by whipping Nokias and Motorolas from otherwise empty pockets.


Many homeless people call phones critical tools in getting off the streets. Without a phone number where they can be reached, filling out applications for jobs or housing is often useless.

[Also see Jeff Perron's post about this topic at Wikinomics last month].

I should add that the fact that a poor person has a cell phone doesn't automatically mean "we are blessed". The sheer ignorance displayed by these so-called conservatives, who are badly out of touch with the world around them, is not shocking in itself, but it is worth pointing out that a huge part of worldwide cell phone demand in recent years has been from poverty stricken regions especially in Asia because cheap cell phones have given the poor a new lease on life, through better connectivity (both to maintain and expand personal and business networks, especially in regions where the landline infrastructure is terrible or non-existent), more and better information (to create better livelihoods for themselves by being better informed) and independence (from having to depend entirely on shelters or Government services or NGOs for such things). India is a great example where the rural poor have been massively snapping up cell phones for these very reasons - they are still quite poor but they are generally better off than they were without cell phones. One would think conservatives would find this a welcome phenomenon - but some of the people we are dealing with, in the likes of the execrable Michelle Malkin, are decidedly not conservatives.

eriposte :: 6:21 PM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!