Hoisted from the Archives Monday Smackdown: Niall Ferguson: Jumping the Gun on the Great Inflation of the 2010s
Best Comment on the 2015 British Election

Across the Wide Missouri: Lo: a year and a half ago my Net.Friend Katha Pollitt tweeted the very true:

And that was when I first heard of Sarah Kendzior.

Because Sarah Kendzior responded to Katha Pollitt:

And I laughed! I laughed out loud! It was so over the top! Sarah Kendzior was clearly playing a sly joke. By accusing Katha Pollitt of being Josef Goebbels she was performatively endorsing Katha Pollitt's lament that Twitter was like Mos Eisley Spaceport.



Actually, wrong.

It turned out that @sarahkendzior was completely serious in her belief that complaints that Twitter is poisonous--filled with viciousness and bad faith--were "reminiscent of dictator propaganda".

Thus it is with some considerable hesitation and trepidation that I dare to say: Sarah Kendzior has a very nice piece in the Manchester Guardian about another hive of scum and villainy: the payday loan industry in Missouri:

Sarah Kendzior: The US payday loans crisis: borrow $100 to make ends meet, owe 36 times that sum: "I am driving down Route 180 in St Louis, Missouri, past empty plazas and vacant shops...

...down a stretch of road that terminates in an abandoned mall. Yet on this road are promises of wealth: “Loans Up to $10,000”, says one sign. “Advances up to $500” says another. In contrast to the faded retailers surrounding them, these new storefronts are cheerful, decorated with pictures of flowers or gold or the American flag. This is the alternative economy of payday loans... something which you are either intimately familiar with or completely oblivious to. The locations of payday loan outlets correspond to income: the lower the regional income, the more payday loan centers you will find.... The outlets supply small loans – usually under $500 – at exorbitant interest rates to be paid off, ideally, with one’s next paycheck....

The explosion of payday lending is a recent phenomenon. According to the Better Business Bureau, the number of lenders grew nationally from 2,000 in 1996 to an estimated 22,000 by 2008. In Missouri, there are 958 more payday lenders than there are McDonald’s restaurants.... “The effects of payday loans on families are tenfold,” explains Jones:

If they can’t pay it back, they have two choices. They can roll it over to another one and then pay more, or they can try to pay it back – but then something else goes unpaid. They can’t get out. They’re in a constant cycle of debt. Fifty percent of families are in liquid-asset poverty, which means they lack any sort of savings. The average amount that a family lacks for what they call liquid-asset poverty is $400. It seems insignificant, but $400 can mean life or death.

Jones was a supporter of a failed 2012 Missouri ballot initiative to cap payday loan interest rates at 36%. Currently, interest rates are uncapped and have known to be as high as 1,900%, with rates of 200%-500% common.... Payday loans do not require a borrower to reveal their financial history, but they do require “references”: names of family and friends who are then harassed by the lender when the borrower cannot pay.... In Missouri, the momentum to regulate predatory lending has eased. Payday loans are part of the new economic landscape, along with pawn shops, title loan outlets, and rent-to-own furniture stores that stand where retailers selling things once stood. Poor Americans no longer live check to check: they live loan to loan, with no end in sight.