Life at the Bottom

“Washington Post Despairs Parents of Toddlers Forced to Choose Between Food and….Tattoos,” Brent Baker writes at Newsbusters:

A lengthy – 3,500 word – anguished expose on the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post, “Hungering for a new month to begin,” about how people in Woonsocket, Rhode Island race to the grocery stores on the first of the month to spend their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payment, yet run out of food long before the month ends, didn’t offer a word about President Obama’s responsibility for the poor economy.

Deep in it, however, reporter Eli Saslow undermined his case when he sympathetically cited “a series of exhausting, fractional decisions” a couple with two toddlers face over having to choose between food “or the $75 they owed the tattoo parlor.”

Saslow failed to explain why the couple, supposedly forced to consider a trip across town to pay 70 cents less for a gallon of milk, decided to get a tattoo (or pay for cell phones) when they can’t afford to feed their kids from the presumably inadequate $518 a month SNAP giveaway.


Theodore Dalrymple, call your office. Actually, better yet, call the Washington Post’s office. Or not, because they’ll never listen; hence articles such as the above. But there’s a reason why the subhead of the original edition of Life at the Bottom, Dalrymple’s 2001 book on British poverty, was “The Worldview That Makes the Underclass.”

(Incidentally, to invert this paradigm, and an alternative look at making ends meet on a meager budget, check out Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy the Decline.) 


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