Do you remember when having a pet, a phone, a television and a family doctor didn’t take up pretty much all of the family budget?  We never thought about giving up TV to afford food or health care to afford a home, but these days advances are killing us.

Photo by Levy Choi

Photo by Levy Choi

Everyone wants to bang the technology drum as a reason for why costs are escalating so rapidly.  I am not anti-technology nor anti-advancement.  But no one ever speaks about profits or who is benefiting from the exhorbitant cost of what used to be affordable or even free.

Starting with television.  As far as I am concerned television is still a luxury item.  I can make do with radio during the crucial times that television becomes life-saving–during severe storm and tornado warnings.  I have never paid a cable bill and when the day comes that free TV has joined 8-track tapes, I will have to be content with rented movies. I realize I am in the minority however, as more than 90 percent of American households pay for TV, according to Nielsen.   The pay TV industry has been raising prices, at a rate of 6 percent a year, according to the NDP Group

When was the last time your paycheck went up 6% a year?  If the average TV bill reaches $200/year by 2020, how many of those 90% of American households will still have pay TV?

TV is a luxury.  No one will die without it. And so, technically is a family pet.  Were my husband not allergic to fur, I would still hesitate to make the “investment” in a dog or cat these days. According to a Wall Street Journal article in 2011:  The average household in the U.S. spent $655 on routine doctor and surgical visits for dogs last year, up 47% from a decade ago, according to the American Pet Products Association. 

Our paycheck hasn’t risen 47% in the last decade.  I would never max out a credit card on a pet. It simply isn’t a wise use of limited family funds.

Telephone service is more of a necessity than a pet.  But goodness, remember when the bills were $11.00 to be on the local party line? It might have been less than that.  I am not that old.  My grandfather would die if he were handed a monthly bill of $40 for a basic home phone with caller ID and call waiting.  And another $133 a month for the cell phones, more for the internet….

We may have to do without cell phones and internet if either of us get sick any time in the near future.  When it comes to health care we are simply pricing ourselves out of being able to pay for all the advancements.  Planned obsolescence should be illegal. Those who want to opt for cheaper care should be able to.  They are not given that option. An article in The New York Times about what is happening to Type 1 diabetic patients is simply criminal.  To be forced into care one cannot afford is unfair.  And for those who say “insurance” will pay for it, “insurance” doesn’t pay for anything.  Insurance takes OUR money to pay for everything.  And to turn a profit for stockholders–in the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospital conglomerates…. 

I have not been in a situation where I had to chose to pay for three more months of life, so I can’t speak from experience, and my heart goes out to those who have faced that issue.

I just can’t see saddling my family with the deductible and co-pay for a $93,000 cancer treatment that extends a patient’s life by three months. (Yes, I would never have this treatment, I understand that! 🙂 ) If it had a highly successful cure rate, I would be much more inclined! That’s $31,000 a month, folks. How is that fair?  To anyone?  Unless an individual has that sort of money to hand over personally for those three months, I am not convinced it shouldn’t even be an option.

I have to wonder, if no one is there to pay (or who can afford to pay) for the cost of pay TV, or pet health care, or communication minutes/and gigabytes we don’t even use, or $31,000/month for health treatments, would those industries find a way to keep our business?

Someday, they may have to.



Ready to Cut the Cord? – New York Times
How Much More Expensive Can TV Get? – The Wire
The Dog Maxed Out My Credit Card – The Wall Street Journal
Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps In Bills – New York Times
Medicare Will Cover Prostate Cancer Drug – New York Times


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