As I sit here typing away, the delightful sound of clickety-clack of metal hitting metal in the dryer keeps me company. I’m thrilled, because that random clacking means I’ve just hit the laundry lottery. I sure hope it’s a quarter this time. I’m not the only person who’s broke in America. Seems that unless you’re a CEO at a major bank or an entertainer these days, you’re shaking the sofa cushions and scraping the gutters for spare change. Not to worry, an inordinate amount of lenders are just waiting to come to your assistance.
I received a brilliant offer from Quick Click Loans in the mail last week. Quick Click loans is an online payday loan service. Now, if they’re totally on line, it sort begs the question of why they send out junk mail via the US Postal Service, but I digress. The thing is, I have a loan offer, and they’re going to give me a loan for up to $3500 based on my winning smile and ability to not fart in public. (I think those are the qualifications, but I really can’t tell. Harvard lawyers don’t understand payday loan and credit card offers.)
BUT. (Somebody’s big but is always in the way.) The big but here is the one condition they actually spelled out in the offer. The annual percentage rate (APR) is 96%. No, you didn’t read that wrong, the APR is almost 100%. Sadly, I’m learning that 100% APR is a good deal for payday lenders. Payday lenders demand anywhere from 36% to 400% APR on their loans. Basically, you’ll need a loan in order to pay off your loan. Shit, and here I was thinking that usury and loan sharking were somehow illegal in this country.
It turns out that Congress essentially got rid of all usury laws in the US at the end of the Clinton administration. That opened the door to unbridled greed from the banking industry (that and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, lest we forget). Now anyone can be a loan shark under the guise payday lending. A lot of these services only exist online. This makes me wonder, how do they shake someone down in cyber space? I don’t know, maybe they send the hit man to your physical address by UPS or parcel post or something so he can break your legs. I wouldn’t sign for that package if I were you.
We laughed about that interest rate. After all, who wants to pay 100% of their loan every month? It seems insane at first. However, I’m sure that there are plenty of people who don’t read the fine print or live with an assurance that they will pay that bad boy off before Mean Uncle Leroy comes to collect. It’s a scary thought. Here’s something scarier. Want to know about everything that’s wrong with this country and its blind, asinine worship of the free market/capitalist system? Watch this clip:
Let’s pick it apart bit by bit. There is no government sponsored/single payer health care system in America that covers working people. NONE. Most employers do not need to provide health benefits to employees working under full time. Full time is usually 40 hours per week here in America, but the thing is, if you work 39 hours, you’re not eligible for any benefits. An employer with a conscience (ha ha) can offer it, but the odds are you don’t have coverage. What happens if there’s a law passed to make 35 hours/week full time? Why, you make sure all your employees don’t work past 34 hours. It’s just that simple, and happens in every state. What happens if you, or in the video, your child gets sick? Well, you do your best to beg, borrow and steal the money to treat an illness. Where does the money come from? Funny you should ask.
Americans have seen no real increase in wages since around 1970. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Sure, salaries have gone up, but so has the cost of living. Unfortunately the cost of living has far outpaced that of salaries, employees now pay the lion’s share of overpriced health insurance (if they even qualify) and the cost of housing skyrocketed to the stratosphere. Combine that with mass layoffs, no job re-training, student loans where applicable and needing to take in at least two, preferably three paychecks to make ends meet and we have the perfect shitstorm of financial ruin. Throw in a health crisis for any family member and the only thing left to do is pull the shroud over your finances and wait for the coroner to arrive. The payday lender appears to be offering a lifeboat in the middle of the shitstorm. What they’re really offering is an easy path to bankruptcy.
Six states have banned payday lending outright. Other states want to impose a 36% APR limit on them. Payday lender lobbyists have taken out a motherfucking shitload of money to fight this. Since America considers corporations people, and people can donate as much money as they want to political campaigns, don’t expect politicians to do anything about loan sharking any time soon. Payday lenders have bled the American poor and minority communities dry, and now don’t need to answer to anyone.
This brings us full circle on why nothing works in America anymore. Banks and special interests own the politicians, who answer to them. No public funding of campaigns ensures average Americans don’t have a voice. No cops on the beat makes sure corporations always win. They don’t need to pay a living wage, benefits or taxes. You and your family have no health insurance. One illness makes you broke, which means you’ll turn anywhere to get money for food, which means you’re back in the hands of the corporations at the cost of 36% to 400% interest. Gee, what’s wrong with this picture? I can see it, too bad the rest of the people in this country can’t. Now, if I were rich, would I hate the poor too? Certainly. But since I’m never in the 10% of the population that controls 80% of the wealth, the question is irrelevant to me.
So, I laugh at the 96% interest rate. It’s one luxury I can afford right now. However, if anyone is in the position where this might not sound so bad, I strongly suggest you consider doing hand jobs for money before you sign your life away. No, it’s not legal, but it’s more ethical than usury. That’s something to take to the bank. Here’s some more cheeriness about the death of the middle class. It won’t make your day brighter, but hopefully it will make everyone think about how damn rigged the system has become.