Julian Sanchez header image 2

photos by Lara Shipley

Freedom Costs a Buck-oh-Five

January 31st, 2008 · 2 Comments

Chris Hayes:

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.

Tags: Economics



2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Feb 1, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Indeed. You could just as easily slide a $5 bill into an envelope for 41 cents.

    As always, being an idiot is expensive.

  • 2 alkali // Feb 4, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    In general, I suspect there are reasons that federal political campaigns prefer not to receive cash, even to the point of not accepting cash donations. (Obama’s web site suggests sending a check as an alternative to contributing by credit card at the web site.)