Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Broke, USA

If you're curious, WILL's Focus 580 program interviewed Gary Rivlin, author of Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.--How the Working Poor Became Big Business back in June.  The interview is archived for desk job lunch break listening.  I don't know why you wouldn't be curious, unless you've never heard of the book, and I'm about to help with that.

The phrase that pops up in reviews of this book is "poverty business."  I've never linked together all the businesses that people turn to in tough times, such as payday lenders, pawn shops, rent-to-own businesses, check cashers and the like, but Rivlin links them all as preying on the poor.  It seems obvious now.  And while I thought I was aware of the unfair nature of such businesses with their high interest rates, I was not aware of what Publisher's Weekly calls "customer service reps explicitly trained to mislead customers who appear 'gullible.'"  I'm still naive enough to be surprised at this, but maybe this book can help me get over that.

Warning: Broke USA is not recommended for folks with high blood pressure due to the likelihood that it will raise it even higher.  Ask your librarian if Broke USA is right for you.

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