We’re all familiar with payday lenders, pawn shops and other bottom feeders who prey on poor people. But you have no idea how deep and how lucrative the poverty industry really is. Preying on poor people, keeping them poor, making them poorer — there’s gold in them thar desperate people.
I haven’t read Broke, USA by Gary Rivlin. I just saw a review of it in last Sunday’s paper. I hope it’s a huge seller. This information needs to get out there.
(Here are some more links.)
The full title is “Broke, USA: From Pawn Shops to Poverty, Inc. — How The Working Poor Became Big Business.”
In 2008, Americans spent $11 billion on payday loans and check-cashing fees. The author of this article says:
“To the upper and middle classes, they're all but invisible, but to the working poor, they're a fact of life: pawnshops, payday lenders, storefronts offering high-rate mortgages, tax preparers promising instant cash refunds…the poverty industry was allowed to rage out of control with the backing of Wall Street and the inaction of Washington and state governments.”
Now I’m all in favor of personal responsibility and self-reliance; and I’m well aware that we all play a role in our own financial well-being. But you can’t just shrug off a multi-billion dollar predator industry with “it’s their own fault,” “he should have known what he was doing.”
The last I heard, fraud and theft were still illegal. If this libertarian “self-reliance” mantra gets carried past a certain point, we might as well legalize assault and robbery and tell everybody to take a self-defense class. If someone tries to mug you, either you kick his ass or he gets your wallet.
In the book review I read last Sunday, the author was interviewing one of the high-ranking mucky-mucks of the poverty industry, who said something like “I’m making an average of $10,000 an hour; but I think I can do even better.”
Ah, so many crazy-desperate poor people who will try anything, fall for anything; so little time.