And we typically don't like it when we're asked to use it.
Take, for example, our most recent appliance dilemma. Our current TV (yes, we only have one in the house - I believe this makes us an anomaly in the U.S. for our family size and income bracket) is roughly seven years old. It's a standard early 2000's model and after years of use and abuse the remote has gone AWOL. Also, it doesn't have a digital tuner and, considering how much cabinet space it takes up, it doesn't provide the nice wide screen features of the newer flat-screen models.
Additionally, it apparently has Seasonal Affective Disorder.
For the past several years the speakers have not worked properly during the colder months. It took us a few seasons to realize what was going on, but during the colder months the speakers rattle with noises of specific frequencies (think mumbling dialogue, car chases or an awesome Viper/Raider fight sequence from, say, Battlestar Galactica). Understandably, this can be quite irritating.
But then spring comes and temperatures warm up and we forget about the speaker plague of the previous four months. We tolerate the display even if we can't see the far edges and labels of the PBS program we're watching.
Oh, and we continue to pay around $12 per month to get our local affiliates (plus a handful of ot her channels that we don't really watch) since we lack the digital tuner.
Well, we are finally ready to purchase a new TV! All modern with a wide screen, working remote, digital tuner and functional speakers! We've been doing the research and it seems like our best fit would be a 32" LCD HDTV with 1080p and 120 Hz. The girls and I were in the area of the big box electronic store today so we stopped in to browse.
I had been estimating about $600 for our future purchase, based on prices from a few months ago. I had heard rumors that the prices on LCD televisions were dropping because of a glut of inventory (bad economy = slow electronic purchases). Wow - those rumors are true! I found a model with the exact features we're looking for with a high customer rating on mega-sale for only $450! Plus, with my credit and such we could do eighteen months of interest free financing.
Oh man...the temptation was there! How was I able to walk out of that store without a television?
Because appliances were rationed during WWII. Remember our oven range dilemma? We were in a pickle because ranges were in short supply during the war (not very many were being produced in the war-driven factories) so families in need of a range had to apply for one. If they were turned down then they either had to find a used model or make do without one.
So that's how I was able to say no to the television temptation. I was thinking about appliance rationing and delayed gratification and such. If you combine our Internet/television usage time I believe it roughly equates to what would have been the average usage of telephones and radios in the 1940s (and they serve the same purposes). If a new radio wasn't an option for 1940s rationers then a new television shouldn't be available to us during our rationing year.
But then I came home and did a little research. Apparently, I over-estimated the variety of appliances and such that were rationed during WWII. True, oven ranges were available only through an application process - as were automobiles, bicycles and typewriters. But that was the extent of appliance rationing. It doesn't take much effort to find War-era advertisements for new radios via Google. This all makes sense considering how much the government used radio as a tool for morale and support during the War.
So...what to do?