Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Modern American Poor

Victor Davis Hanson:
I went into Save Mart this weekend and purchased $70 worth of groceries. In my state and federal tax bracket, that meant I had to earn about $140 for the tab. The person next to me bought $200 with an EBD card. I don’t think she had much of an income (I’ll spare you the details). Was one really in the food-sense rich, the other really poor? Today’s destitute, as in my youth, are not buying huge thirty-pound bags of rice, beans, and flour.

Please read the whole thing for the full context (and just for the satisfaction of reading anything by VDH), but you know what he's talking about, don't you.

[UPDATE:] A couple years ago, when I was still living on the West Side of Buffalo, I was waiting for my blood pressure prescription to be filled. The woman in line ahead of me was handed her medications, presented her Medicaid card, and the clerk told her there would be a $1 co-pay. The woman airily announced that she didn't have it and the clerk returned to punching keys into the computer cash register. It dawned on me, quick study that I am, that evidently Medicaid patients can receive medication without the co-pay if they say they don't have the money -- but the pharmacy may ask.

The pharmaceutical transaction completed, the woman dropped a pair of sunglasses, fresh off the rack, on the counter to be rung up. The cashier punched some more buttons, asked for $12, the woman handed over a $20 bill and, change in hand, marched [strutted?] off. This woman, you'd have to assume, will forever be poor. But thanks to the dwindling number of New Yorkers who go out and work for a living each day, she will not want for much. In New York, "poor" has a new meaning.

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