Op-Ed: Taking Only Plastic & Not Cash Discriminates Against The Poor

On February 25 I attended a basketball game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Nets played against the San Antonio Spurs winning 101- 85.

Pre game, as I waited on line at a concession stand to purchase food, I noticed that at that line and a nearby one as well, various customers would approach the counter and after an exchange with the food attendant would depart without making any purchase.

When my turn came, I approached the counter and ordered a hot dog sausage. The worker asked me if  “I had plastic” meaning a credit or debit card. The worker told me that the official Barclays Center policy is cashless purchases are the rule. I was mortified. I don’t have a credit card, but I do have a debit card and I put my cash away and used the debit card to make my purchase.

I work every day. I do not have a credit card, though. I was then hit with a $12 bill for the hot dog sausage–which floored me. The disgraceful price gouging by Barclays Center for its food sales aside, there is something rotten about a “plastic only” policy not only at the Barclays Center, but increasingly all around the city.

The same policy is in place at many, if not all the concession stands, at the food court at City Point a.k.a., the old Albee Square mall in Downtown Brooklyn. I wonder how rap legend Biz Markie would rap about that if he were to do an update on his song about the mall before gentrification.

But cash, which used to be king, has turned into pawns. There are dozens of restaurants and shops throughout Brooklyn and the entire city now that flat-out refuses to take greenbacks.

And this is discriminatory. Many working people do not have credit cards; many do not even have debit cards. Many financial institutions have rules requiring minimum account balances of $2,500. to obtain and maintain a debit card. There are even higher thresholds to obtain credit cards.

What are the poor and those of modest means supposed to do about this “plastic only” rule at Barclays Centers and countless other businesses?

We have now arrived at a level of discrimination against the working poor in New York City where they are cast aside like lepers. It must stop.

It’s time the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature to pass laws banning this growing practice–post-haste.

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