December 30th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

My existence somewhat validated

And then there are days when, right at the deadline to get started on this column, somebody comes along and actually proves to me that what I'm doing is worth doing. The payday loan industry seems to think that I'm important enough to try to sneak-attack me. For something that I did more than a year ago, no less.

On November 11th of 2005, I wrote a journal entry entitled, "For Me, the Face of Terror Wears a Business Suit." A significant chunk of that journal entry related to a theme that I've dealt with more than once in this journal, and that is that thanks to state of the art lobbying and lazy legislators who didn't think about what they were agreeing to, we have taken some of the Mafia's most reprehensible scams and handed them over to perfectly legal corporations who, perfectly legally, make them even more destructive and monstrous than the original scams were. No Mafia numbers racket ever did anywhere near as much damage to this country as any of the big casino firms has done lately, and no Mafia loan-sharking and leg-breaking racket ever did even a tiny fraction of the damage to this country that payday loans and other predatory lenders have done. Not least of which because the Mafia knew that what they were doing was wrong; these increasingly psychopathic inhumans feel entirely smugly justified in laying waste to whole neighborhoods at a time.

Only now they're running scared, because an increasingly awake Congress, even before the Democratic takeover, has already fired the first big shot across the payday loan scam bow. Your average soldier or sailor, being working class, is just as vulnerable as any other working class person to the baited bear trap that is rollover payday lending. But when they screwed over America's fighting men and women during wartime, even their traditional Republican allies were brought face to face with the human wreckage that resulted, because thousands of people that the Republicans were depending on to die for nothing in the Middle East were suddenly unable to complete their service; at best losing security clearances they needed because of debt, and at worst committing any crime up to and including murder/suicide because of what the payday lenders had done to them and their families. So Congress outlawed payday lending on anything resembling the terms the industry has become accustomed to if the borrower is an active duty member of the military. Bad enough, that, but now the cold winter wind is whistling through the trees and the voice on the wind says, "Why only them?"

Which, I guess, makes it worth it for the payday loan megacorporations to hire consulting firms to Google up every blog entry on every blog that actually correctly and successfully analyzes what's so evil about what they do, and try to subvert it. 13 months after the original post was written, I only just tonight got the following tacked onto the comments to the above journal entry (condensed for space):
User: starla8
Date: 2006-12-30 01:30 (local)
Subject: (no subject)

Hi, you have a very interesting post here. ¶ I agree with what you said “We have legalized whole industries in this country that do nothing more than destroy human lives for profit - - tobacco industry, the casino industry, pay day loans, title loans, sub-par mortgage lenders.”

However, on insurance companies and payday loan lenders, I think they are here to help. Insurance acts like a forced savings that when an emergency comes, you can get money from it. ¶ Because most of us do not have a sufficient emergency fund in the bank, most do not even have an emergency fund at all - so like in my case, I often turn on getting a payday loan. ¶ To me, it is fast cash to cover a financial emergency. I have used it to pay for my son’s medication, to pay my due credit card bill which would otherwise apply a late fee charge that would cost more, pay an expensive car repair and even pay my utility bills. ¶ So far, it has worked out for me because I always pay it in full and I only get an amount that I only need as well as an amount that I can afford to pay. ¶ As they said, these industries are here because people patronize them and people need them and in the first place, they were conceived because people behind these industries felt that need.
Hmm. And what a coincidence that the post recites every single one of the industry's advertising slogans and political talking points, and also just so happens to include a helpful link to one of the malevolent examples. Fake blogger? Easy enough to check. In fact, too easy. Journal is of one of the free types, created the day before the comment, with no interests that would suggest that she'd ever find my journal, not from my home town so there's no reason to think somebody told her about it in person, has never written an entry before, has not friended anybody, and the profile is almost entirely blank.

That's so embarrassingly transparent that it says something sad and pathetic about the American workforce that whoever created that account and pasted in that reply felt justified in billing their client for such shoddy work. As I said in my reply, not that whoever wrote that is ever likely to come back and check their replies, How fucking stupid do you think we are?
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