It was in response to the article Eriol linked, which was looking at the reasons why certain populations have more money--it's much harder for people starting out on a low-income, or ending up on welfare at some point, to have savings built up later in life. Our welfare system is not set up to help or encourage people to save money. (My opinion is that helping people on public assistance to also learn about savings/retirement plans and how to save money, and maybe help them get or maintain an IRA, is a better long-term strategy than making people deplete their savings before giving them food stamps while they're looking for a new job).… and that beach vacation, the second car, and a subprime mortgage...
The Playstation wasn't really the gist of my point, but I'll bite. Some families may prioritise having a Playstation, and rely on welfare to provide the rest. Others may prioritise having enough money in the bank to buy food for one month in case something should happen.
From what I gathered of you original post, you were criticizing that government welfare schemes penalize those who save money, in that savings cut on assistance received. What would follow is that the poor family might be better served by spending all their income instead of saving it, in order to maximize the support they receive from government assistance programs. I hope I understood your point correctly.
For the purposes of promoting discussion, I was attempting to examine why a government assistance scheme might have this effect. No government ever has the money to do everything they want. One may disagree with their spending priorities, but the money just isn't there for everything. This includes the welfare budget. So, where should they direct their assistance? To the people who can't survive without it (because they blew their money on that Playstation, or because of something else)? Or to the ones who have some little assets, and who can survive for a short while without assistance / with limited assistance? Is it fair to penalize the ones who, despite having limited means, are still trying to save up and take care of themselves? On the same token, is it fair to cause real hardship on the ones who can't make do without assistance as they have next to nothing, regardless of how they ended up in those circumstances?
My comment about Playstations is becasue I'm really tired of the OMG POOR PEOPLE HAVE A LUXURY! panic. You don't know people's individual situations and why they have a Playstation or a nice car. A few may cheat, but a whole helluva lot of people get nice things through careful saving or a Christmas bonus from their job or with the assistance of relatives. Or maybe they owned the things before the economy tanked. Or maybe the family is just mentally exhausted from from their financial troubles, so they make (unseen to the outside world) sacrifices somewhere to afford a luxury.
Is there actually a widespread problem of people on welfare having tons of luxuries? Because a lot of welfare comes in the form of things like food stamps/cards, medical coverage, utilities assistance, and education assistance. As far as I know, most people are not getting cut huge checks every month that they can spend on going to Bermuda.
Though, I grew up on welfare and I fully admit we took beach vacations almost every summer...by walking from my grandma's house to Lake Michigan. We also had six cars when I was a kid, if you count the three "for parts" that were up on blocks in the yard. (Second cars really aren't a luxury in some areas of the US).