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Internet-Deprived Kids Turning To 'McLibraries'

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the ronald-mcdonald-is-inspecting-your-packets dept.

Education 331

theodp writes "After the school computer lab and public library close for the night in many communities, the local McDonald's is often the only place to turn for students without internet access at home. 'Cheap smartphones and tablets have put Web-ready technology into more hands than ever,' reports the WSJ's Anton Troianovski. 'But the price of Internet connectivity hasn't come down nearly as quickly. And in many rural areas, high-speed Internet through traditional phone lines simply isn't available at any price. The result is a divide between families that have broadband constantly available on their home computers and phones, and those that have to plan their days around visits to free sources of Internet access.' The FCC says it can make broadband available to all Americans by spending $45 billion over 10 years, but until then the U.S. will have to rely on Mickey D's, Starbucks, and others to help address its digital divide. Time to update that iconic McDonald's sign?"

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I love children's asses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776075)

Children's asses are so tight and good. Just by inserting my microscopic cock into a defenseless child's ass, I instantly let loose my little white tadpole friends right inside his/her ass. Ah! Too good!

Re:I love children's asses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776185)

We have your IP address by the way.

Re:I love children's asses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776239)

Good luck, I'm behind 7 proxies

Captcha: pardons

Re:I love children's asses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776311)

I have your ass address, by the way!

Title translation (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776095)

Deprivation of Internet - a common cause of picking bad eating habits at low ages for Homo sapiens.

Re:Title translation (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776439)

All the more reason to run an open hotspot with your router.

Many newer routers allow a "guest" account that allows internet use without access to your LAN.

Re:Title translation (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776477)

I run an open hotspot. Unfortunately - it sees no use. I guess it has something to do with the fact that my house is located 1/4 mile from a barren stretch of highway that runs between two little forgotten nowhere towns.

Oh well - you can't say I didn't TRY!

Re:Title translation (2)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776559)

That makes me wonder, would you be upset if someone actually was sitting out in their car using it?

Idk about you but I would be rather paranoid if someone was sitting in their car outside my house for a few hours at random hours of the night/day

Re:Title translation (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776581)

Depends on time of day, and how long they were there. To be of any use, they would have to drive down our road, at least as far as the abandoned house my mother in law lived in. I check on anyone parked there, to see that they aren't vandalizing the place. If said occupant of car told me, "Hey, I found a free wifi, so I'm just checking my mail!" I'd say "Cool" and go about my business.

On the other hand, seeing half a dozen cars parked there around the clock would probably motivate me to disable the WIFI.

Re:Title translation (3)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776617)

Also - it's only fair to point out, that my router goes THROUGH my Linux box before it goes to the modem. One of my net analyzers would quickly allow me to verify that the person(s) using my WIFI were doing legitimate things, like checking email, browsing legitimate sites, etc - or if they were using my connection to grab torrented movies, etc. I would quickly shut down a TOR tunnel, connections to porn sites, things like that.

Someone who reads this will scream about CENSORSHIP! Whoop-ti-do - censorship. I'm offering a free connection for anyone who might find the damned thing out here in the middle of nowhere. The least they can do is to respect my need to avoid attention from RIAA and their ilk, or attention from the government for activity on child porn sites.

Some schools of thought seem to make me "responsible" for anything going in or out of my internet connection.

Not to mention, if they are torrenting, in might impact on my wife's ability to play Pogo games, then all hell would break loose!

Re:Title translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776725)

"Idk about you but I would be rather paranoid if someone was sitting in their car outside my house for a few hours at random hours of the night/day"

That's me in the car. I don't do anything criminal on your WIFI I just report your comings and goings and those of your friends to the FBI, the ATF and the DEA.

Software solutions are possible too (1)

CdBee (742846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776595)

if people are needing internet access to certain sites, maybe its time for a mobile browser that caches, big-style. Interactive sites like facebook, twitter etc can't be usefully cached as the usage is based on direct and timely interaction,but a lot of recreational reading, news, sports, humour and weather could be. A browser set to download 4 links' deep of on-site content for certain predefined sites could save a lot of material in a few minutes to be perused at leisure offline

Back when we only had dial-up and paid per minute this wasnt uncommon. As a solution to make the best and most efficient use of a scare commodity (connectivity) its still relevant.

Re:Title translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776705)

Now that everybody knows to encrypt their wireless LANs, opening your own wireless LAN to strangers is going to attract the wrong kind of people. Most businesses don't want to have poor people hanging around their shops, and likewise many people wouldn't want "trailer trash" hanging around their homes for the free Wifi. It's the same reasoning why you don't feed pigeons.

Libraries (-1, Flamebait)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776097)

This is why we should always fight to keep libraries open. It's all very well fast food restaurants having free wifi, but you have to provide the device yourself.

Libraries, with a few PCs you can use are the answer. Where libraries are closed, we should look into re-opening them. If the buildings are not available then we can "re-purpose" church halls maybe a few nights a week as internet centres for the poor, using donated PCs.

Re:Libraries (0, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776145)

Sorry, liberals don't like it when the churches do things like "donating free space" to help people. They throw hissy fits, and start screaming about a separation of church and state. Well at least they do in the US, never mind that in Canada that churches and synagogues have been doing this up here for the better part of a decade already and it's open to the public.

Re:Libraries (1)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776153)

I'm not in the US. I live in the UK and my comments are based on my observation of it.

Re:Libraries (5, Insightful)

ndogg (158021) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776183)

Sorry, liberals don't like it when the churches do things like "donating free space" to help people. They throw hissy fits, and start screaming about a separation of church and state. Well at least they do in the US, never mind that in Canada that churches and synagogues have been doing this up here for the better part of a decade already and it's open to the public.

We only care when government money is used to maintain such services, or are the only places for those public services to be available.

How comfortable would you be if the only place in your town that had free internet was a mosque?

Re:Libraries (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776251)

"How comfortable would you be if the only place in your town that had free internet was a mosque?"

As comfortable as I would be in a church, synagogue, masonic hall, court, library or the mall.

This comes with the territory when you're not a prejudiced dick.

Re:Libraries (5, Funny)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776335)

How comfortable would you be if the only place in your town that had free internet was a mosque?

More comfortable than if the only place with free internet was McDonalds. In the mosque there's be less proselytising and the food is better.

Re:Libraries (3, Funny)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776507)

Wait - they have FOOD in mosques? Dang - why didn't anyone tell me? I'm checking Google Maps for the closest mosque with free wifi!

Re:Libraries (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776501)

At least as comfortable as I would be if the only place in town were Mickey D's. I mean - how much chance is there that the manager of Mickey D's will force the kid to eat a free Mac-whatchamacallit? And, how much chance is there that the local Imam will force the kids to bang their heads on the ground five times a day?

IT'S WIFI, for crying out loud. The kids don't have to ENTER either Mickey D's or the mosque.

Even if the Catholic Church enables WIFI, the kids don't have to go inside to be diddled by the choir director!

It's a win-win situation, IMHO

Re:Libraries (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776715)

There is a Mosque not far from me that does exactly that. Anyone is welcome to go in at any time, sit in this nice comfy lounge, which is always stocked with light snacks and juices. They don't try to push their religion on you, all they ask is that if they need some help with something while your there that you provide the help. Usually that help is small things like moving a few boxes around, holding a ladder while their hanging stuff, or helping sweep up the commons area. For the 4 month span I had to go up there for internet access, they never once asked me to help with their religious routines, only with general things, and not very often either.

Re:Libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776219)

This is a personally offensive, childish post, bordering on hate speech against Christians. You are very lucky SlashDot doesn't provide me with a 'report' button in its comment sections.

In the meantime: As a very progressive person politically, I want you to know that I will be at Church tomorrow morning for about five hours -- probably longer than you will be; that is, if you go to church. There won't be one single person at my Church tomorrow who would throw a "hissy fit' over sharing their wifi with anybody -- in fact, my Church quietly provides wifi 24/7 to anyone located nearby as a community service. We also have hours during the week when anybody can come in and use our recreation hall to study. We regularly petition City Hall and our school boards, to keep libraries and schools open longer hours. Lots of Churches (and their members) in my community do the same things. I wonder; what do Christians do in your community?

I don't know why SlashDot insists on labelling me as 'anonymous coward.' I am logged in. My user name is 'scribble.'

Re:Libraries (1)

cognoscentus (1628459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776361)

He was referring to liberals as the hissy-fit throwers, and actually casting Christians in a beneficent light. As a liberal I could report the former, but I believe too much in free speech. As an atheist with qualms about organised religion I do object to them taking over the role of the state, but I'm glad that someone is providing people with the means for self-education. As long as there is no interference on the subject matter (evolutionary biology for example) and no attempt to proselytize this is a good thing.

Re:Libraries (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776515)

I've an idea - let's everyone report everyone! I don't like your term "hissy-fit throwers" because it's so very unprofessional. Atheists should be professional, at all times, I say!

More seriously - what is this "role of the state". Only very recently, in historical terms, has the state had any role aside from keeping the masses under control, while rewarding the rich for being rich.

Ohh, what am I thinking? That still seems to be government's role.

Re:Libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776483)

You are very lucky SlashDot doesn't provide me with a 'report' button in its comment sections.

What about the flag? Although, I think that's for something else entirely.

Sure would be nice to have a real report button, though. Then I could try to get comments I disagree with removed!

Re:Libraries (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776463)

Even then, a wifi router is, what, $30?

Re:Libraries (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776721)

I don't know about the UK, but in the USA on average, there's a far higher density of McDonalds and other commercial establishments offering 'free'* internet than there are libraries. Such that I'd estimate that I'd have to travel half the distance on average to get internet at a restaurant than I would to get it at a library. Depending, the ability to eat at the store and/or talk loudly can also be an advantage.

I'd prefer some sort of project encouraging community level cooperative/customer owned internet access. I've had far better service with coop phone companies than I've had with commercial cable or telephone.

*Well, technically you have to buy something most of the time.

We should do it (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776111)

If McDonald's can do it for free, then by all means, spend the 45 billion and teach them a lesson!

Re:We should do it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776129)

Hi. I'm a big fan of your asshole. May I toy with it a bit?

Re:We should do it (2)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776293)

If McDonald's can do it for free, then by all means, spend the 45 billion and teach them a lesson!

The $45 billion is to supply broadband to every home. McDonald's isn't doing that. No one is, which is the issue. Leave it to the profit motive and you'll only have affordable broadband in middle class urban areas.

Re:We should do it (2)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776469)

Which is why we shouldn't be championing lassez-faire capitalism as the end-all, be-all in American commerce.

Re:We should do it (3, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776307)

They're not doing it for free, they operate a very profitable business selling food-like substances to people who are poor either in money or time. They've found that offering "free" wifi generates more additional revenue than the cost of operating the wifi--which they were probably doing anyway so that the store could have an internet connection.

Wow (4, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776143)

I rtfa and am quite suprised by what passes for 'poor'. Seems more like people who don't know how to budget and set priorities. Judging by the amount of debt the US has, sounds like par for the course.

Re:Wow (-1, Troll)

jonwil (467024) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776169)

Anyone who can afford McDonalds food or a web-enabled device doesn't really count as "poor" in my book.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776181)

Well, lot's of poor homeless people have no trouble collecting a dollar to buy a burger. This isn't the ritz you know.

Re:Wow (1, Redundant)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776243)

homeless people are not blowing 100 bucks on a tablet or 200 bucks on a celphone they cant afford service to

dumbshits do, they have the disconnected iphone and sit in public wifi zones to actually use them, they look good emailin while sitting next to the garbage can

Re:Wow (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776453)

Your right, they are finding them when the drug abusers steal and stash them in order to sell or trade them for more drugs later.

Actually, it is more likely they have an Obama phone (which was started long before Obama was president) and some second hand devices donated or given to them somehow.

And if the homeless person begs properly, they can make a very good paycheck. There have been numerous reports on people pretending to be homeless and panhandling at the off ramp while making in excess of 60K a year doing so. I think there are even examples of this in California where people were driving foreign spots cars and got caught on film by a news station.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776263)

I have seen a fair bit of homeless people that have a decent($500 or less) laptop. Could they afford the $800 a month for an apartment no. I don't think you understand how becoming poor works.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776279)

You might want to reassess your definition of poverty then. Cooking food yourself doesn't just involve purchasing ingredients. There is a substantial upfront cost of buying the equipment and infrastructure to turn ingredients into food. At the very least you'll need to heat water and have a surface that can be sterilized and used to cook on. You'll need utensils and pots/pans. The energy required will be either gas or electric which costs money. I suppose you could burn wood but that isn't free either and is illegal/impractical most places.

So that $1 burger costs quite a bit more to cook yourself. If you have no equipment and no access to infrastructure then it's actually cheaper to buy fast food. The "total cost of ownership" of the food you make yourself is deceptive because much of the cost isn't directly related to the superficially cheaper ingredients.

We haven't even touched on the subject of cheap food being almost universally less healthy--even if it provides enough caloric content. Then there are food deserts where healthy food isn't even an option.

And for the "web enabled device" disqualifying you as poor remark; things really have changed that much. It happened so quickly that the older generation who can remember a time before the internet, or before computers, or before cell phones, thinks that owning or accessing those devices is a marker for the middle class and up. It's not anymore. Even the poorest citizens routinely use cellphones. Moreover, they NEED access to those devices/services just to be productive and make any money at all. Access to the internet or at least POTS is so vital that our government (rightly so) has partnered with industry players to make sure free cell phones are available to those who need them.

If you don't have access to a phone, and now the internet, you are effectively barred from participating in the economy. We can't survive that. We can't function if those people are completely dependent on government services to survive. It actually works out better, is less costly, to give away cellphones and internet access so those people can provide for themselves at least more than they were before. The alternative to not providing those things is paying for someone's entire existence, or if you refuse that, paying to lock them up when they inevitably turn to crime just to remain alive.

Re:Wow (1)

darkHanzz (2579493) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776415)

There is a substantial upfront cost of buying the equipment and infrastructure to turn ingredients into food

Ah, come on. Ah stove and some knives aren't that expensive and last for years. In the US it's the fruits and vegetables that are expensive.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776471)

You also have to pay for a place to store those things (flat, house, or something), and pay to have energy delivered to that dwelling to run those appliances. You'll also need transportation to and from a grocery store which could be substantially farther away than McDonald's. You're in grinding poverty, remember, so no car. It'll also take you much longer to shop that way, even before you get to start making food. Upfront costs instantly make the "cheaper" solution a non-starter for many people trapped in poverty.

I can leave you with the same idea expressed more colorfully by Terry Pratchett, from Men at Arms,

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socio-economic unfairness.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776641)

Way to go off topic, the linked story doesn't talk about people eating at Mc Donalds cause it is cheaper. In fact it says some people don't even buy any food there when using the free wifi.

The linked story talks about one family that has 2 "free" smartphones with data plans, with the monthly cost of over $150. If instead they got voice+txt only plan and a dumb phone, they could afford wired home internet access.

Re:Wow (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776703)

Wish I could mod you up.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776511)

Thank you for explaining why McDonald's is not only popular, but thriving, in the American midwest. I was surprised to discover that, unless you live in a big city like McAlester, Claremore or Lawton, indoor plumbing is still a "maybe." Want basic landline phone service? That's a very real maybe. Want electricity? That's almost definitely a solar panels on your roof thing. Want indoor plumbing? Then you're stuck on a water cistern or a well, both of which depend on electricity. Whether you go well or cistern largely depends on whether or not fracking has destroyed the water table yet. And if you're on a cistern in rural Oklahoma two years into a drought, well, a shower is a five gallon bucket of water heated with a bucket heater, once a week, and you're happy to have the luxury of water to spare for bathing at all. (No, your coworkers and clients don't complain, they're in the same boat).

Re:Wow (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776653)

This is spot-on.

When I was 16, I ran away from home. Because the people I lived with were incompetent, abusive people. For a time I ended up in some youth homes for girls, but later on I was on my own.

Affording the infrastructure to cook food really is the hard part, when you don't start out with a stable living place, or with pots and pans someone gave you, or with a steady job that lets you pay for electricity or gas to cook the food with. The price of a 12 dollar pan can feed you three times or more, depending on what you buy and how much food you need to live. If you only need to eat once a day, that could be 3 or 4 days. The pan is just metal if you don't have money above what it takes to buy the pan, or a fire and food to cook with it. I would have been more likely to visit McDonalds and get something from the dollar menu than stare at an inedible pan. It wasn't until I was making much more money I could afford the luxury of investing in infrastructure that would pay off long-term.

In 2000, when I ran away from home, you could still find a lot of jobs in paper job fliers. The trouble back then was figuring out how to wait for a phone call when you didn't have a phone. I ended up in a lot of jobs where I could walk in and be hired on the spot (retail), because better jobs required a real phone to get them. I spent a LOT of time in libraries teaching myself about computers and the web, and because things like the job sites and free email and craigslist gave me a huge wealth of information and ways to communicate nothing else could give me. Having access to a computer at a library in my early 20s is THE sole reason I make 38k a year now, just hitting 30. And 38k a year is a lot, to me, even after paying Chicago area rents. (I know to many of you it isn't. I have a friend who I know makes 100k as a software tester, and I can't imagine what it is to live with that much money.) Making 38k, I'm actually getting fat because I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I can just buy food on the shelves without debating what is both the cheapest and what I have the capabilities of cooking. I can just buy random things at the grocery store without checking the price. I have random QUARTERS sitting around that I don't need to use for food. I am so incredibly lucky. Of course, the hard part now is learning how to save when nothing in my childhood or early adulthood nurtured such skills, and I thought I wouldn't see 30 ever.

Anyway, without libraries giving me free internet, and without prepaid phones coming so far down in price, I would be MUCH poorer than I am now. If you have the internet, and a phone, you can get a job, and everything from there is up. I've looked at the job listings I looked at when I was younger--there's pretty much nothing in them now, 13 years later. All jobs are found online. You HAVE to have a phone and some form of internet to get a decent job. It is NOT a luxury, it is NOT a sign that you are middle class. And you need a bit of money so you can print out your resume at the library or a office store. (Although, in the past, I have gone into interviews without having a copy of my own resume. Because I couldn't afford the paper or ink it would be printed on, as it usually wasn't free like the internet at the library was. I remember making up excuses to myself in case anyone asked me about it.)

Re:Wow (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776523)

Errr - yes and no.

Having a web device doesn't take much. My son's favorite phone has cost him a grand total of eighteen bucks. Plus, a couple hours of working on it. Some silly little girl broke her phone, threw it in a corner, and my son asked her what the deal was. The "breakage" that she described was minor bullshit. My son picked the phone up, repaired it, put in a SIM card, ran cyanogen mods on it, and he has his "bestest phone evah!!"

In our throwaway society filled with spoiled children, you should never assume that a person with expensive tech toys actually had to pay for those toys.

Re:Wow (1)

Technician (215283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776189)

Define poor.. I'm hardly poor, but my first oppertunity for Internet was on dial-up at $0.25/minute. I passed because the bang for the buck was terrible. In some rural areas like where my folks live, Broadband is a small fraction of 1Mbps supposidly due to the distance from the DSLAM, but at higher rates then my city DSL connection at 6 Meg. When the gap between dial-up and broadband is only ~3X faster and price is ~10X more, it makes sense to stay on dial-up for a while and just use email. YouTube is nothing but Buffering.... Buffering.... on either.

Re:Wow (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776233)

Does this come up for discussion in small rural areas? I'm guessing small rural areas might not have lots of geeks but I'm sure at least one of them has to have considered setting up a mesh network. Or are the people not very friendly about sharing? I remember visiting Nicaragua and there being free and/or open wifis everywhere.

Re:Wow (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776209)

I rtfa and am quite suprised by what passes for 'poor'. Seems more like people who don't know how to budget and set priorities.

Believe me, you cannot solve a poverty-line salary by budgeting or "setting priorities". Most (granted, not all) of those people are poor because they do not make enough money. Inflation-adjusted wages have been stagnant for decades.

Also, states are promoting state lottery that has about 50% effective payoff (vs casinos at 98% or so). That's gotta stop too - it is not helping.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

oakgrove (845019) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776229)

states are promoting state lottery that has about 50% effective payoff

Lottery
Noun
A game where a whole bunch of dumb people make one dumb person look really smart.

Re:Wow (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776257)

Sure, poor people with cars and laptops.

I grew up poor. When I got my first part time minimum wage job (in Vancouver) I almost didn't know what to do with all the money. After all, it was more money than we had as a family of 5 growing up.

Re:Wow (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776323)

Sure, poor people with cars and laptops. ... When I got my first part time minimum wage job (in Vancouver)

In US, one usually has to have a car if they are to hold a job. Public transport is a joke in most locations. That may not be so in Vancouver - I don't know.

The minimum wage in Vancouver is currently $10.25 ($10.28 US) and the federal minimal wage in United States is $7.25. I can't speak about your circumstances, but currently there is a 40%+ gap between those two.

"A laptop" can cost any amount of money -- even brand new anywhere between $350 and $2000, so ownership of a laptop does not contradict being poor.

Re:Wow (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776391)

Also, once you buy a laptop, you get to keep it until it dies or is lost. Your job may well not last as long.

Re:Wow (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776401)

At the time US minimum was higher with exchange rate and I was only working 16-24/week.

Priorities. Poor people are used to walking. Sometimes I would walk 14km just to go to the mall, sometimes 20-30km to get home from a party. A bike is infinitely more affordable and healthier than a car. As well, if you think having 350$ of disposable income is poor, well like I said, really suprised by what you guys consider 'poor'.

Re:Wow (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776431)

Priorities. Poor people are used to walking. Sometimes I would walk 14km just to go to the mall, sometimes 20-30km to get home from a party.

Some people have children to get back to. It is not just the matter of not willing to walk 10-20km, but the lack of spare time to do so. Same with owning a car -- needing to get back home and/or to the 2nd job quickly enough is a must for many people.

Car ownership is not really a luxury. I am quite happy to get along without a car nowdays, but I live in a major US city with decent public transport.

Re:Wow (1)

Minupla (62455) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776695)

You're also forgetting that ppl south of the border have to deal with medical which was in my wife's case 500/mo due to a congenital heart defect. That'll put a crimp in your entry level job budgeting.

She'll tell you if you're poor, be poor in Canada, it's cheaper.

Min

Re:Wow (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776359)

Being poor and making bad decisions usually go hand in hand.

Re:Wow (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776409)

Isn't the US supposed to be the 'richest' country in the world?

Re:Wow (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776445)

A handful of insanely wealthy aristocrats does not raise the general income of the population. This is reflected in education and health as well.

Re:Wow (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776459)

Right, but aren't they the ones making the decisions?

Dumb decisions aren't just for the poor.

Re:Wow (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776723)

They aren't dumb to them. They are still rich after all.

Re:Wow (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776521)

I think you might be confusing metrics.

Re:Wow (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776427)

Wow, what a dickish comment. As if CHILDREN have any influence over the irresponsible spending practices of the US government. (Score: 5, Knee-jerk anti-American)

Re:Wow (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776451)

Wow, what poor reading comprehension.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776465)

And you don't really need high speed internet either. Just 10 Mbps is usually more than enough. Most cheap devices can't handle much more than that anyways.

Sure having the usual 100-400 Mbps is nice, but we did manage with 10 Mbps just 5 years ago, so why not today?

Re:Wow (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776479)

Want to know how I know your idea of economics in the US is stuck in 1993?

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776525)

Skimp on home facilities and you would be surprised how much else you can afford. These days it seems quite a few prioritize on the go appearances over that place they return to only to sleep and switch clothes.

Re:Wow (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776731)

I agree. When I grew up I wore qoodwill cloths. On sale shoes. How much bling are people having? This being said, I know there are hard working individuals who have hit it hard. Nothing is perfect. But from the full article, one person was stating how much they spent on TV (luxury) and cell phone (depending what type luxury). Where is your fat in your budget you could turn into something more useful?

Re:Wow (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776679)

I thought this. I grew up without satellite tv, or cable. We had the internet. We didn't have cell phones (although who did in the 90's?), but I did visit the library frequently and check out books to read. From the article, I read it this way: "I can't afford the internet, but I spent my money on a shiny cell phone and tv.???"

Re:Wow (1)

jopsen (885607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776719)

I rtfa and am quite suprised by what passes for 'poor'. Seems more like people who don't know how to budget and set priorities. Judging by the amount of debt the US has, sounds like par for the course.

From TFA:

A third of households with income of less than $30,000 a year and teens living at home still don't have broadband access there

Families living for that surely can't priorities broadband... They probably priorities food, rent, electricity and clean clothes, is it even possible to pay for health insurance after rent, food, etc.?

How does that work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776195)

A Big Mac is about $4. How do these kids have money for McDonald's but can't afford a low end data plan? T-Mobile has unlimited talk, text and data (2G speed after 200MB) for $3 a day.

Re:How does that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776309)

"T-Mobile has unlimited talk, text and data (2G speed after 200MB) for $3 a day."

Yeah, but does it come with a Big Mac? :P

Re:How does that work? (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776339)

A Big Mac is about $4. How do these kids have money for McDonald's but can't afford a low end data plan?

What makes you think that they are buying anything in McDonalds?
Also, there is a dollar menu (with cheesburgers, fries, etc.)

Re:How does that work? (1)

BruceCage (882117) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776365)

If you read the article you would have come across the paragraph that said "McDonald's began rolling out Wi-Fi in its U.S. restaurants years ago. In 2010, McDonald's made it free even for those not buying food.". The article does mention that folks will generally feel obligated buy something.

Internet is need, not a want. (1)

node 3 (115640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776203)

As governments around Europe are ruling access to the Internet to be a human right, in the US, our poor must send their children to a fast food restaurant for their needed Internet access.

We're quite an odd nation!

Re:Internet is need, not a want. (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776255)

needs are things you have to have

food
water
clothing
shelter

you will survive without internet, man has done it for thousands of years, its not a need

Re:Internet is need, not a want. (4, Insightful)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776347)

No, you will not.
Not as an active part of society at least. As involuntarily and essential services like paying your taxes, registering business, all kinds of insurances move to online only, you just can not participate in the economy anymore without internet access.

Sure, go live in the forrests dependant on no one else. There you won't need internet. But these rights are not made for hermits, they are made for citizens.

Re:Internet is need, not a want. (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776551)

You walk into McDonald's to apply for a job and they reply, "We only do online applications now."

No joke, it's something people need.

Actually pretty useful as a backup (4, Interesting)

puregen1us (648116) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776205)

Given that the McDs connections are pretty fast, and pretty reliable, it's actually handy to use as a backup.

Couple of years ago the connection at home was being flaky and finally gave out. Problem was, it was a major DR test day at work, and I needed to be online from home for 12 or so hours.

I just grabbed the laptop, blackberry, and powercord, and went 5 mins down the road to the 24hour McDs. Sat there for hours til my ass was numb, happily on my work BB using hands-free, and worked away for hours.

I wasn't disturbed, had unlimited food and drinks available. Really, not the worst place to work at all. I had more space there than I get at my desk job, and better food and drinks too. Work don't have iced tea on tap.

The McDs connection was enough to remote desktop into my XP desktop at work, without lag or dropping. I was impressed how stable it was. Most places can't handle basic browsing that well given the number of people sharing, but that was totally solid.

OH I see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776227)

These poor kids cant possibly afford internet, but somehow dress better than me, have a better celphone than me, and have a tablet to boot

my bad I thought a 80$ a month phone was MORE EXPENSIVE than 20$ a month internet

Request for info (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776245)

... what does it take to set up and maintain a McDonald's style wifi installation? Does anyone here know?

I would think that $45 Billion dollars is a very, very high estimate, for a project that would provide adequate minimal access to wifi around the country, and I am almost sure that McD's didn't spend $45 Billion dollars.

The local cable company.. (1)

jjjhs (2009156) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776265)

The cable company wants at least $10000 to extend to my house, not even a 1/4 mile outside their coverage area. I look at the telephone poles recently down the road, and there are new strands of cable co wiring on top of already existing cable co wiring and I am sure only one cable company exists. They could have used that labor and wire to extend to my house instead. Even if I paid them the money what guarantee do I have to the viability of the signal for both internet & TV and what if a storm takes it down? Oh, and all the wasted dollars on stuff like "free wifi" from the same cable companies they could have used a fraction to expand their coverage area. Oh wait, what the fuck is all that USF money going towards????

Our options are 3G data plans, satellite and dial-up. All are shitty, at times 3G is no better than dial-up and the connection keeps getting dropped and shitty unusable speeds during the day. I try not to do any important financial or other transactions during the day as a dropped connection would be bad news. Many of these sites don't respond nicely to have to reload the page, I could be double charged or something and may have to spend time and gas with the bank to clear that up, more money out of my pocket kept from spending on goods on which our economy relies so heavily on.

Re:The local cable company.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776305)

spend time and gas with the bank

That seems rather radical, but whatever works for you.

Ob Ron Paul (2)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776275)

See, the free market came through where government did not.

Those square things made out of papyrus (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776287)

the thick rigid ones are called textbooks, the thin sheets with blue lines on them are called paper.

Kids without internet access at home can take a break from Facebook and Youtube and maybe, oh I don't know, study? Do homework?

Probably too much to ask though.

Re:Those square things made out of papyrus (3, Informative)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776425)

Yup definitely too much to ask when the homework assignments are posted or done online.

Oh wait, were you being sarcastic about something you made up in your head without RTFA?

I can see why they are poor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776299)

FTA "Jennifer LaBrenz, a single mom who has take-home income of roughly $2,000 a month, a year ago was paying close to $300 a month for home phone and Internet, satellite television and smartphones for herself and her oldest daughter."

I earn roughly the same salary and dont have sat or cable tv. I also don't give my kids smartphones, a simple pre-paid plan so I can call them is enough. I also dont drive an SUV so I dont pay as much on gas.

A side benefit is that instead of watching TV I interact with my family and my kids aren't busy tooling around on their phone so we can help them with their homework and actually talk with them

Reading this article confirms that some people are poor by their own choosing (or poor choosing).

We're all not entitled to live like kings, so stop fucking thinking that you can.

Fast food subdomain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776337)

I've noticed recently that we need a fastfood.slashdot.org, there have been a few fastfood related stories recently

We didn't have any problems (1)

sdnoob (917382) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776351)

getting an education 20+ years ago -- without the internet.

So, what the fuck is the problem here?

Re:We didn't have any problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776389)

There's a whole bunch of problems. A big one is efficiency. More tangibly the problem is that increasingly the internet is just how we do nearly *everything* these days. Another problem is that there's really no excuse for the state of things except monopolistic corporate greed (ie. corporations with too much power doing what they are designed to do: enrich themselves while providing as little as possible to everyone else). And a minor point is simply national shame: pretty much every other developed country does better at providing bandwidth.

For an amazing explanation of all of these things check out this talk: Susan Crawford on Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry & Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age [youtu.be]

Re:We didn't have any problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776393)

20 years ago the wealth and access of information to young students was non-existent in comparison to today. When kids grow up, they will laugh at the caveman-like conditions in which we were taught.

The education kids with internet access will get today will far surpass anything we had, in quality and quantity. No more accepting things are true simply because a teacher says it's true. Everything can be cross-checked and verified. No more being limited to the narrow curriculum offered by the school, if the child is so interested.

The style of education we went through is obsolete. It is not wrong for those kids to want to take advantage of these opportunities simply because we didn't have them.

Re:We didn't have any problems (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776441)

I'll tell you what the problem is. That awesome education you acquired without the use of the internet wasn't sufficient enough to enable you to find the answer to your simple question either through logic or by RTFA!

Re:We didn't have any problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776541)

the technology is NOT producing more intelligent kids.. kids are *DUMBER* today than they were 20 years ago.. why don't YOU do your research, bub.

Re:We didn't have any problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776495)

Getting an education 100+ years ago didn't require electric lights, or even very good heating. Or internet!

What the fuck is the problem here!

Skip McLibrary, go to the library! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776357)

I fail to see why these kids are going to McDonalds instead of to the library. Libraries even have open access computers so you don't have to buy your children tablets when you supposedly cant afford to keep an internet connection.

Re:Skip McLibrary, go to the library! (1)

jjjhs (2009156) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776403)

As the fucking summary says, libraries aren't open 24/7. Maybe they can't go to the library during the library's hours. The internet is ever important these days likely you can't even get a job without it as many employers ditch paper applications. Even when you buy something, the manufacturer just refers you to their website for information/support.

smart money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42776417)

Yet another ./ thread overrun by relatively comfortable people smugly defining "poverty", and pontificating as to how the poor either aren't really poor or should just suck it up. Sad.

I'm not surprised (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776539)

I'm not surprised at all. Capitalism at its very best! Pffft! I hate Big Telecom!

Apple vs. Android (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42776577)

Once again (like in the 80's)Apple was focusing on the "classes" - selling overpriced but stylish tech to those that can afford it, while Commodore et al. sold cheap but functional computers that were purchased by everyone, and brought technology and often education, to the masses.

We are seeing the repeat of this scenario, where Apple sells overpriced but stylish tech (someone wants to challenge me on overpriced? Bring it on, the margins on the iPhone 5 are particularly succulent data) with the iPhones and iPads, and the more well-off are their customers, even according to some research. Enter Android, a free (and opensource) OS that anyone is free to use however they see fit. An deluge of Android-powered devices include smart watches, cameras, mini PCs, consoles, and of course smartphones and tablets. And among the latter two, we see both ultra-expensive ones (Vertu), high-tech ones (Samsung Galaxy S-III, Note II, etc) and... ultra cheap ones, both from known brands such as HTC, and Samsung, and from no-name Chinese companies. The latter is the one that brings tech to the masses, and for this, I am grateful to Android.

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