Have you noticed? Owning a modern flat screen television proves you are not saving every day in every way – the sacrifice essential for home ownership.

This theme is raised again and again by the shills and trolls pouring venom into the debates on the blogs and internet sites devoted to housing affordability. Puzzling, until one understands its origin.

The idea comes from the focus groups the neo-cons run. They listen for quick slogans – word pictures – that sum up complex attitudes to use in debate. Phrases that resonate, like ‘plasma screen television’ (but not Light Emitting Diode screen), can be used to bludgeon the young and insufficiently humble poor.

Divide and conquer is the way of power.

Older (housed) Australians are quite indignant that the next generation aren’t watching ‘perfectly good’ cathode ray tube televisions like them. Where is the spirit of penny-pinching we put up with for years and years to buy our home? We went without! We ate boiled mutton and had it again cold the next day!

When television was first introduced, a black and white telly cost six months wages.

This was a major purchase, rationalised as saving on cinema tickets and a step up from radio. And anyway, the commercials were as entertaining as the programs.

Scroll forward to today and visit an electrical store. You will not find a cathode ray screen for sale anywhere. Anyone setting up house now MUST buy a flat screen television.

And further, a television no longer costs six months wages. The biggest, most extravagant unit costs under $1,000 – a week’s wage.

The debate on housing affordability is dirty, loaded with pejoratives and includes some very heavy players. They are determined to keep house prices high so ordinary citizens’ working lives are mired in debt: it makes for a docile workforce who wont resist Australia’s unfair division of wealth and vile taxes.

Next time you hear someone condemning plasma screen owners for their lack of thrift, you will know they are a troll. And you know where they got the phrase.