Monday, August 29, 2011

Recommended reading: Broke, USA by Gary Rivlin

Laredo also has a thriving "poverty industry"

I recently checked out this book at the Laredo Public Library. It details how zealous opportunists are making billions of dollars from providing services (preying) on the working poor. It sure opens your eyes to how enterprising (unscrupulous) American business has become. Whatever happened to customer satisfaction? I guess gouging the customer takes precedence over making sure they are getting treated fairly and properly.

In the author's own words :

BROKE, USA is my report from the economic fringes. In the two years I spent researching the poverty industry, I ventured to Las Vegas to hang out at the annual check cashers convention, I spent time in Tennessee with the small-town debt collector who founded the $40-billion-a-year payday cash advance industry, I met with a number of mercenary entrepreneurs who are getting tens of millions of dollars rich selling high-priced products to the country's hardworking waitresses, warehouse workers, and mall clerks.

By telling the story of the rise of the poverty business – an industry that today is larger than the casino industry – I chronicle the early roots of the subprime meltdown and explore any number of other brilliant, if not diabolically brilliant, ways businesses have devised to grow very, very rich off those with decidedly thin wallets. I also tell of a few of the more committed souls fighting back against the major corporations, chain franchises, and newly-hatched enterprises that grow fat with profits at the expense of the working poor.


  1. Puro greed. Did you see the photos I posted from Chihuahua street where it is loan after loan shop - the predatory lenders outnumber retailers.

  2. They've discovered the City of Cibola and it's name is Laredo! Rent-to own furniture, rent-to-own spinner rims, pawnshops, Dewey Cheatem & Howe loan shops, pay-day loans, even the old standard so called "smart buy" leased cars. Like the saying goes, "It's expensive being poor"!

  3. Several years ago I read "The Working Poor." The book details how working people get in over their heads borrowing money from these payday places. They borrow money to pay utility services, buy groceries, etc. But it's tough getting out of that rut, of paying back the loan.

    I'll check out this book.