Saturday, January 31, 2015

And yes, I understand that retweets do not necessarily mean endorsements

Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?
-- James Baldwin
The masses .... They were in the majority. When the master got sick, they prayed that he'd die. If his house caught on fire, they'd pray for a wind to come along and fan the breeze.
-- Malcolm X

I have not checked with them about their motives, but I'll hazard the guess that council members Emily Evans and Carter Todd retweeted the following because they plan to vote against regulating predatory lenders in less affluent neighborhoods as supported by other council members:

Check the bottom for the diminutive council member retweets.

Interesting to see that a couple of council members may support the idea of hiring African American women to bolster the income line of a company that charges a disproportionately minority, working-class clientele 600% interest. The legacy of usury is littered with the lives of people locked into cycles of debt and poverty worse than when they entered thanks to the paternalistic opportunism of lenders who claim they are providing the masses with options.

In many places it is like a house ablaze:

Of the consumers who frequented the payday store fronts, most were women. People who were divorced or separated were 103% more likely to use the loans, while African-Americans were also 103% more likely to take out the often predatory loans.

“Based on the location of these lenders, it is clear they target minority and low-to-middle income groups, mostly in highly diverse populated areas,” the report states. “If this trend continues, these areas will no doubt be pushed into poverty.”

So, do CM Evans and CM Todd support the idea of barring obstacles to a wealthy lending corporation hiring women of color to help it push other women of color into poverty? The creation of jobs in a business that preys on widespread dislocation (Nashville's poverty level is a crushing 19%) seems like integration into a burning house. And it takes the pressure off the predominately white business elite, who perpetuate a cruel and pitiless finance system, while marketing Nashville as an attractive "it city" on the make.

What about the claims that predatory lenders are doing African American women favors by hiring them? Do we have any stories of Nashvillians, deeply in payday lender debt, who were able to climb out of it after being hired by payday lenders on the salaries at the work hours they pay? Does the news media bother to talk to former employees of payday lenders to get relevant information?

Meanwhile, regulation or not, the lenders will weather whatever comes. They will live to continue to set blazes to peoples' lives and stay free from crushing risk themselves. The absence of meaningful federal, state and, yes, local regulations on lending constitutes wide latitude to for high-interest, self-serving loans that inundate good people made desperate by an unforgiving economy.

The stick in Advance Financial 24/7's craw is the ding their "24/7" brand is going to take by limiting their perpetual operating hours. That is it. The only thing at risk is their marketing brand. This is not a fight over people. It is a company defending their brand.

Otherwise, if they authentically cared about African American women, as their founder shamelessly claims, why not offer them low-interest loans to begin with?

Why not? Because if they did, they could not make huge campaign donations to Tennessee politicians, including some who come through the Metro Council.

Why not? Because if they did, then they would risk engulfing their own houses in financial risks in an unforgiving market. And, on their way down, they might not get too much pity from people they once used on their way up.

UPDATE: Yesterday the lobbyists at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce started flexing their muscle in support of predatory lending companies. Here is part of the letter they sent to the entire Metro Council:

The Chamber opposes this bill [to limit the operating hours of payday lenders] because it is an excessive over-regulation of business .... Regardless of the function of the business, we believe that this type of legislation sets a worrying precedent in restricting the hours in which any business can operate. Furthermore, this becomes even more ominous when legislation appears to target one specific company that operates 24/7. Our members include businesses in this industry; we would not recommend hour be restricted for any of them.

This is another thinly veiled attempt on the Chamber's part to leverage the least amount of resistance to do whatever in the world their members want to do. The majority of Nashvillians who are not members can go to hell as far as the Chamber is concerned.

Where hell lies for many is on the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Chamber lobbyists posture as if their member companies are fighting poverty by providing jobs and services that people cannot get elsewhere. But for a group so dedicated to business models they fail miserably to count the actual costs of lending jobs that empower lenders to push Nashvillians farther into poverty. They don't want to discuss the poverty that is generated by the jobs provided. At best they remain willfully self-ignorant of Nashville poverty. At worst the Chamber is running a confidence game so their member companies can continue pimping poor people out of their cash flow.

Over-regulation of business? When has the Chamber championed any regulation of business?

The writers of the letter completely ignore the fact that certain businesses in Nashville are already regulated as to times and even days that they sell their products. There is a precedent already set in Nashville.

It is reasonable to assume that just like payday lenders have paid vast sums to finance political campaigns, they have likely donated a chunk to special interest lobby groups like the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. They're just continuing to fan the flames.

UPDATE: There is an online petition you can sign to tell Metro Council (which votes on February 3) that you support the ordinance limiting the hours of payday lenders. Jump to:

1 comment:

  1. Are you aware last week Councilman Holleman sponsored an Ordinance BL 2015-1010 to open more payday loan stores in Nashville.