Jason Chaffetz, who stepped down from his Utah seat in the House of Representatives last month, still absolutely hates the idea of non-wealthy Americans having smartphones. Today, the former Republican lawmaker posted an Instagram photo of an apparently homeless person near Times Square, snidely noting that the person was “streaming video on a phone.”
The last time we checked in on Chaffetz, he was suggesting that people show “self-reliance” by buying health insurance instead of “that new iPhone that they just love,” using the popular smartphone as an example of a pointlessly frivolous purchase. (Incidentally, this involved an egregious misjudgment of how much health care costs, albeit one that’s still closer than Donald Trump’s latest guess.)
We can’t be sure whether today’s photo features some fancy $700 iPhone or a sub-$100 budget Android phone, and Chaffetz declined to elaborate. At the high end, maybe its owner could trade it for a single month in a windowless Queens basement, or perhaps a precisely bed-sized Brooklyn dorm, as long as they’ve got a second iPhone for the security deposit. (New York’s homeless population is currently at an all-time high of over 60,000 people, including around 23,000 children and many working adults, thanks to its dystopian housing market.)
We obviously don’t know anything about Chaffetz’s subject, whose face thankfully isn’t in the photo. And you can’t pin the blame for New York’s homelessness problem on one political party, although Trump’s projected public housing budget cuts would certainly make things worse. But it’s embarrassing to see someone once lauded as a “tech-savvy” politician seem bemused that technology and economics have intersected to produce something more complicated than ragged hobos staring into a burning barrel. Chaffetz may no longer be in Congress, but unfortunately, his new Fox News gig will probably still give his terrible opinions more heft than they deserve.