The economic recovery has not benefited Americans equally. We all know that. But few facts underscore that point more clearly than the startling number of consumers whose financial futures have been put on hold by subprime credit scores.
Low income working families seeking to simply pay the bills confront an array of challenges these days. "Payday lenders" are taking advantage of a borrower's precarious financial state and profit from pushing low-income families deeper into debt and poverty.
Many consumers who can afford loans are denied the services they need and left in the hands of predatory lenders. Credit unions, as nonprofits with a commitment to their communities, are the right ones to bridge the divide.
The premise is simple: borrow the amount you need plus a fee per $100 borrowed now, pay it back when your next paycheck arrives. Unfortunately, what often ends up happening is that the borrower can't pay back the amount borrowed within 14 days.
With civil courts underfunded and litigation increasing, even simple cases are going to take years and years to attain their day in court. And the structure of these loans become truly predatory as the cases linger.
Some of the most important pathways to middle class American life become out of reach when one has little or no credit history. Buying a car or house, or sending a child to college can become close to impossible.
To see a television advertisement for a business offering payday loans is to see payday loans advertised as a lifeline: a way for a financially strapped family to cover an unexpected expense. But that's not actually how most payday loans are used.
The Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have sent civil subpoenas to dozens of financial companies, including the online lenders, many of which are located on Indian reservations to avoid complying with consumer protection laws.
My father was a bookie and professional gambler who worked in several of the area's "hot spots." In a town full of hustlers, prostitutes and gamblers, the profession they looked down on was loan sharking.
In the 50 years since the civil rights movement and Dr. King's dream, one problem (racism) has been replaced or at least matched by another -- poverty. Urban poverty, rural poverty, and poverty that hits blacks, whites, browns and others alike.