The poor have a hard time trying to rise above the poverty in which they find themselves. Most never make it — they are born there, spend their lives there, struggling just to survive, and then they die still languishing in the depths of that poverty. TEApublicans have many theories as to why this is the case; many overly simple, others absurd and some just downright mean.
One of the favorite mantras of TEApublicans is that liberals are feeding the American poor government handouts with the intention of keeping them poor so that they will be beholden to the government. They often suggest that it is pure laziness, a character flaw. They would never tell you that it is the foot of business on their necks holding them down, yet that plays an important role in perpetuating poverty.
We all know about payday loans and title loans, the loans given to those least able to pay them back at usurious interest rates. This is one of the most nefarious methods that big business has found to legally steal from the least among us. They are run out of store fronts or online and offer short-term loans at annual rates as high as 400%. Let a man with millions in liquid assets ask for a loan and he will get a rate that is barely above prime, and he could have paid cash rather than take a loan. It’s an upside down system.
The business model that payday lenders use depends on repeat business, they make no money on someone who takes a loan one week because they had an emergency car repair or to keep the power on and then pays next payday and doesn’t come back again. They need that borrower to come back again and again, at least 8 times to actually begin to make money off of him. But once they start to make that money, they really make money.
A $950 title loan on average will cost the borrower over $3,000 to repay. Most of these loans are never really repaid, they are just renewed over and over making big bucks for the lender and keeping the borrower stuck in his rut of living hand to mouth and always in debt that never diminishes and continuously grows.
It is commonly believed that these are all relatively small operations with no ties to big banking; not true. Big banks, such as Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo may not have a direct hand in the profiteering but they do aid and abet those who do allowing them to take automatic payments from their clients accounts. The practice then adds to the bottom line of the big bank as well through overdraft charges and other fees.
This is certainly not the only victimization that the poor suffer, it is not all from the evil rich folks and businessmen, they are victimizing one another as well. Homeless men with a small SSI income will purchase cartons of cigarettes to resell to their companions at 50 cents apiece and there are those who take advantage of them by purchasing their EBT benefits at half of face value so that they have money for liquor and illegal drugs.
It really doesn’t matter whether it’s small or large operations victimizing the poor, the point is that they are being victimized. It is wrong no matter who does it. To further insult them by saying that they just lack the ambition to improve their circumstances is unconscionable. The poor are among the easiest targets for opportunists who think only of their own best interests and are therefore preferential prey for those who have no ethics or a sense of our common humanity.