Luxury, or Necessity?

A few weeks ago my stepdad's 3-month old microwave stopped working. He quickly called a repair technician, but in the meantime, everyone was relegated to using the stove (perish the thought). A couple of weeks passed before he and the rest of the household could once again nuke yesterday's leftovers with the mere press of a button. Events like the microwave incident highlight just how attached we are to our creature comforts. But if push came to shove, could you live without items like your cellphone, cable TV or your dishwasher?

A recent article by The New York Times,"Luxury, or Necessity?," presents information from a poll regarding the items Americans feel they just can't do without these days.

"In response to coverage of strapped households, a reader points us to the Pew Research Center’s 2006 report on what kinds of goods Americans consider "necessities" versus "luxuries." The results show that, as their incomes rose, Americans have gotten somewhat needier over time. For example, the percentage of Americans who call microwaves a "necessity" rather than a "luxury" has more than doubled in the past decade, from 32 percent in 1996 to 68 percent in 2006."
I don't think any of the items discussed in the report constitute a necessity in the truest sense of the word, but I can't deny that some of these items really do make life easier or more comfortable. Below, I've given my take on the necessity vs. luxury debate. The first answer of the yes/no pair indicates whether I consider the item a "necessity," and the second response indicates whether I'll have access to it in Argentina.

Clothes dryer.................yes/no (a clothesline is in my future)
Dishwasher.....................no/no (unless you count Daniel)
Home Computer............ yes/yes (3, in fact - yes, we're nerds)
Cable or satellite TV...... no/yes
Home air conditioning... no/no
Car air conditioning....... no/no
Microwave..................... no/yes
Car.................................. yes/yes
Clothes washer.............. yes/yes (no washboard for me)
TV set............................. no/yes
cellphone........................ no/yes

Clothes dryers, dishwashers and air conditioning are not standard equipment in most Argentine homes (the same is true in Europe as well). I wonder what the results of a similar report would be if these questions were posed to Argentines, though I suspect very few of these items would be rated as necessities.

So go ahead and weigh in on the debate! Which of these items are indispensable in your opinion?

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