Last week, I went to the bank to make an innocent transaction. I stood in the teller line to make a deposit (I am old school, I still like to get an immediate receipt for my deposit having been made to my account). The branch was busier than usual. There was a woman in front of me in line, fairly nondescript as I recall, but nicely dressed.
As we got to the point in line where she approached the teller, I could hear the banter. The woman told the teller that she just wanted to see if her AFDC check had cleared. Now, AFDC was eliminated in 1996 under the welfare reform act signed by President Clinton. It stood for Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Presumably, she meant her TANF check. TANF was the replacement program -- Temporary Aid for Needy Families.
This did not seem like an unusual request. Times are very tough these days. Lots of people are unemployed and many of them have been unemployed for historically long periods of time. I understand this. I have gone through periods of unemployment twice in the last seven years.
Here is where it got a bit disconcerting. While the teller was checking on her computer, the woman said to the teller, "Check out my new iPhone 4S." That's right -- she wanted to know if her welfare check had cleared and she has a brand new state-of-the-art iPhone, presumably with a data plan to go along with it.
I had just been feeling sorry for this woman. As I noted, many of us have gone through tough times recently. Many of us still are. I feel badly for those people. But, when they are on welfare and they are spending their money on things like iPhones, it certainly makes me wonder.