he's just another half-bald buzzard on Social Security

jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
‘Then keep him out. You can do that. You’re the doctor and he’s just another half-bald buzzard on Social Security. These days he doesn’t even have the legal authority to ticket a car at an expired parking meter.’
Source: End of Watch by Stephen King

This conversation is taking place at the Brain Injury Trauma Unit between the antagonist of the plot Brady and the Dr Babineau. Brady is controlling the doctor using his psychokinesis power. The reference here is about the ex-cop Bill who is on his way to the hospital to check on Brady.

What does the bolded phrase mean?

Thank you
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Buzzard (in AE = a vulture) is used figuratively to mean a thin, old, scrawny and usually poor person.
    On Social Security = in receipt of welfare payments from the State.
     

    joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    "On Social Security" in the U.S. does not necessarily mean unemployed and we don't usually refer to it as "welfare." For those above the approved retirement age, it's a monthly stipend from the federal government.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Here it means "he's just another old man" in an insulting way. The point is that a retired police officer no longer has any legal authority. He's just an old man like any other old man.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Buzzard (in AE = a vulture) is used figuratively to mean a thin, old, scrawny and usually poor person.
    I would definitely use "buzzard" here. Calling someone a "vulture" implies that he is waiting for someone to die or to somehow be weakened.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would definitely use "buzzard" here.
    I agree. My "(in AE = a vulture)" was not clear. BE does not use "buzzard" as a synonym of "vulture" but AE does. In BE, a buzzard is a large bird of prey somewhat like a smaller eagle.
     
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