In last night’s excellent speech Obama mentioned receiving a donation from a woman in the form of a money order for $3.01 with a excerpt of scripture attached. One of Mark Kleinman’s commenters figured out the significance of the amount:
Another reader provides what must surely be the answer to the puzzle: $3.01 is what you have left when you buy a money order for $5 and the service fee is $1.99.
40% service fee. As always, being poor is expensive.
Here’s the thing: Money orders tend to work on a flat fee for a wide range of amounts sent. If you go to the Post Office, their rate schedule is $1.05 for any amount up to $500, and $1.50 up to $1,000. Obviously some of these little storefront places charge a bit more, but I think most of them work on a similar fee structure. So yeah, if you’re getting a money order for only $5, that works out to 40 percent in that instance, but this doesn’t strike me as a particularly illuminating way to describe it.