Smartphones Are a New Tax for the Poor


Damon, who works a regular at a luxury hotel and a short-lived burger hotel in Washington, DC, gets his weekly schedule via word of mouth from his managers, often with final requests to come pay for their missing colleagues. To make sure he can receive these messages, Damon shakes two low-key phones, one with a broken screen and the other that automatically turns on and off when attempted to use it. He told me: “I’m waiting for a check to get another phone. In the meantime, she is using her fixed paycheck to buy the phone she needs for work, to keep her current job.

Science fiction writer William Gibson famously said that the future has already arrived, not divided equally. Mobile phones and the advanced internet have made our many working lives better and more flexible. But the need for continuous communication is not just about clean-cut work for employees up and down the financial ladder. And although demand is widespread, the basic needs of employees are not evenly distributed. Today, more than a quarter of low-income Americans rely on their mobile phones to access the Internet. Amidst economic inequalities, phones and data plans have become a cheap burden for those with limited resources.

Through hard-working interviews with employees across the country, I have found that internet connection is much needed to be able to manage different types of jobs in less expensive markets than “gig economic” programs like Uber and Postmates. Ignoring these secret connections, we do not see their cost, as well as the consequences for unelected people. The need to maintain their connection creates a new type of tax for low-wage workers. And the intervention of good intentions that focused on closing the digital divide did not eliminate the need for strong workplace ambitions to make this possible.

High cost Connections represent a significant portion of household income for fewer employees. Although maintaining these connections has been a requirement for many low-wage workers, their finances are not running smoothly. According to 2020 figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of low-income earners spend an additional $ 150 per year on their cell. phones than it did in 2016. The connecting cost represents more than half of what the families spent on electricity, and about 80 percent of what they paid for gas. As part of household income, low-income earners spend four times as much on phones as those earning more. As inflation approaches, these issues could escalate before they become positive.

While the potential for investment may be significant, it is not possible. As connectivity has become increasingly important for low-wage workers, mobile phone companies that support this market segment have benefited from engaging in violence. Monga Louise Seamster and Raphaël Charron-Chénier explain, these types of combinations provide access to resources from which unselected groups have previously been excluded but on the basis of ideas that ultimately hinder the gains. Customers who previously could not afford to buy a smartphone, or whose unexpected income means an annual agreement has not been reached, can now get access to a smartphone with a very low credit rating, but below that. the complexity of making connections more expensive. Black consumers are particularly vulnerable to these combinations, as employment discrimination, housing, and economic activity have led to debt consolidation which makes lending and lending mobile phones the only option.

In 2019, New York City does not accept T-Mobile in a major violation of consumer rights, including the registration of third-party subsidiaries through companies like SmartPay, which distribute the money over time through lease agreements, but ultimately add hundreds of dollars to advertising costs, without fully explaining the term – in the end. to destroy human reputation. Phone rental software and their unpredictable systems have also led to legal action (for example, Sprint is facing class action suit on similar issues). This has been done in opposition to the integration of the mobile phone market, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, two companies that have previously competed against low-income consumers, combined, arousing anxiety about rising prices in the future.



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