Usurious Payday Loans: Myths, Flawed Studies, and Solutions

Richard Eskow

The trade association for payday lenders objected to what they called my “name calling” in their blog yesterday … then called me a “pig.”Why? Because I quoted Aristotle and told a story about Jesus. Well, to be fair, I did suggest their industry might be “evil” according to traditional definitions of the term. But that doesn’t explain the payday defender who called me “Doofus Major du Jour.”

There are some more civil arguments being used to defend payday lenders, however, and many commenters repeated them in the Huffington Post and in the DailyKos. These arguments are myths. They’re being repeated by reasonable, well-intentioned people who have been misled by a wealthy lobby and its flacks.

Here’s the truth, for all those well-meaning payday defenders out there: Payday loans weren’t created to help underserved populations, but to exploit helpless people. Payday lenders are deeply connected to traditional banks, who freeze out certain customers so they can be preyed on by usurers. And that study you keep citing? It was paid for by industry money and used industry data, and a number of other studies refute it. But there’s good news: Congress can fix the problem now.

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