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Reblogged:Are Raincoats Indulgent?

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Ester Bloom of The Billfold considerswhether the raincoat is a necessity or an indulgence. Her post is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I find the question interesting, anyway:

BG will be autumn ready. I will not. My umbrella is whatever I pull out of the bin by the door. My rain boots are regular boots that leave my socks damp because they're not actually waterproof. My rain coat? I don't have a rain coat, even though whenever it rains -- 121 days a year in New York City, or approximately one out of every three days -- I wish I did. But it feels like an indulgence! A winter coat is a necessity, sure. A rain coat? For me? Isn't that a frill? [link dropped]
I own a rain coat, the only one I remember having, and have since Boston. I used it all the time there, because walking was my primary mode of transportation then. I have since used it perhaps once or twice because, when using a car, an umbrella is usually sufficient for my needs: moving between my car and a building at each end of the trip. Every other time I've used one (or even thought a raincoat might be nice), it has been because I was stuck outside for more than a few seconds or minutes at a time.

The question interests me because my wife seems to have adopted a sort of raincoat-buying default for the kids, even though we live in suburbia, and have to drive ourselves (and them) to get anywhere. I suspect this is because her parents spent their youths in New York and Boston, where such an item would be a necessity. She grew up with raincoats, and she's buying accordingly. I plan to persuade her that we really don't need raincoats for the the kids -- unless, of course, one or both start doing lots of outdoor, all-weather activity. But they're still so young that that would be some time away. For them, now, I think a raincoat might be cute, but an indulgence.

The answer for anyone is, "It depends."

-- CAV

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I find the whole subject of this post somewhat... odd and a little disturbing, not because of any motivation on behalf of either author but because of the subject matter.

Whenever I hear references to necessity versus indulgence, I am reminded, with a twinge of unpleasantness, of the debates and the leftist rhetoric surrounding "need" versus "luxury", when the State should take what is private and make it "public" whether the argument is that the internet is a necessary "utility" which somehow "belongs" to the public, or that drugs and low cost "access" are a need of the people and not a "luxury".  The culture goes on to tell us, needs and necessities create rights ex nihilo while indulgences and luxuries mitigate against rights to those things and invite taxation.

I realize no one is going to start arguing for free raincoats for all because it is a "necessity", or propose adding a whim ridden luxury tax on raincoats because they are not biodegradable and are also an "indulgence", still I find these words have been so twisted by the unprincipled anti-conceptual dialogue in which they find themselves so much, to be tainted, and I cringe at their invocation.

What in life are necessaries and what are indulgences?  I wont go so far as to say these form a false dichotomy, but something similar is at play, certainly in regard to the cloud of tarnish and associations surrounding them.  In the end, there are values in life which fall into a value hierarchy which is contextual, and as such whether you choose to own or use a raincoat "depends", is it convenient? do you like being dry? does it rain much?  In so far as this is true the parting line of the blog rings true.

All the above said, I dare anyone tell me that staying dry is an indulgence, a privilege, or a luxury: if I want to stay dry, I want to stay dry, and if I have the means, I will.  Equally I dare anyone to say I must purchase a raincoat or pay taxes to ensure everyone including myself has one because it is a necessity: if I prefer to get wet, I prefer to get wet, and I will.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Whenever I hear references to necessity versus indulgence, I am reminded, with a twinge of unpleasantness, of the debates and the leftist rhetoric surrounding "need" versus "luxury", when the State should take what is private and make it "public" whether the argument is that the internet is a necessary "utility" which somehow "belongs" to the public, or that drugs and low cost "access" are a need of the people and not a "luxury".  The culture goes on to tell us, needs and necessities create rights ex nihilo while indulgences and luxuries mitigate against rights to those things and invite taxation.

I get why the word "indulgence" is a trigger word (it's often used to talk about rich versus poor), but here, some people for their desires only see raincoats as luxuries, or stuff people find nice but not important for day-to-day.

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