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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Tue Oct 23, 2012, 12:42 PM

3. That sounds familiar.

They weren't recruited by attorneys and it wasn't about redistricting, but I remember something kinda similar when there were "Pay Day Loan" (reform) bills in the legislature. To try and put a cap on 500 and 600% annual percentage rates being charged. Those least able to repay were the ones to whom those 'services' were marketed. So open hearings were held on the North Side of Milwaukee (Washington Park Senior Center) and the South Side (West Allis City Hall.) The PR people for the loan sharks had a posse of po' 'n black folks steppin' up to the mic at both locations. Saying that they 'appreciated the opportunity' to pay those high interest rates, because they really needed the money.

I talked to one of them, later, outside the hearing room. What she told me sounded a little unusual, but she had looked like their best witness to me, so I wonder if she had received special attention. She had gotten some kind of start up loan to get a HEPA vacuum and was working on getting certification to be able to do (government-mandated?) or (agency-approved?) clean up. Which paid the sub-contractor a very BIG dollar-per-hour rate. Pay Day Loans, which normally are repaid in two or three weeks, and Small Business start up loans are totally different things, but there she was, telling the crowd what a wonderful service the Lenders were providing. Some of the other folks there looked like they were testifying in exchange for less convoluted quid pro quo's. (Coupons for free pizza, 6-packs of Coke and Chee-Zee Bread, maybe.) They definitely didn't look like they were regular attendee's of public hearings, but they all really looked like they could use a buck.

Similar things happen when there are "minority participation" mandates for hiring, for some kinds of public construction jobs. The projects are Mega-million dollar bonanza's for the same big bidders that always get big contracts. But they take the time to hire small electrical sub-contractors to put the face-plates on electrical panels, when everything else is done. They pay them a few thousand bucks for the opportunity to make sure they have black faces available for photo-opportunities, when they're needed. On the front end of those same jobs, before anything's even begun, they'll hire some ex-felons for a few hours to push brooms or wheel barrows around. They'll keep their names on file as steady workers on those projects, even though they only end up working a few hours, or days.....

J-S article from the time, about Pay-Day Loan reform


"....Some lawmakers said they didn't see a reason for the Legislature to regulate the industry, saying people should be able to make their own financial decisions, even if they make poor choices.

"Why is it the government's job to protect people from themselves?" said Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc)....

.....The chairman of the Financial Institutions Committee, Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee), said he hasn't seen a need for the rate cap and that the committee is unlikely to pass a cap because of a lack of support from Sheridan and the Senate.......

Fields said he has concerns about creating a database because other state computer systems have had security breaches.

"We haven't been the most successful at keeping people's private information private," Fields said.

We didn't win that one, but Jason Fields is no longer representing that Assembly district. Mandela Barnes (keep an eye on him) wore out his shoes going door to door and with next to no money, won the race going away.

Edit Afterthought:

How many years has it been? Why don't people get it? Anatole France quote from the late 19th Century:

La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894), ch. 7

Variant: How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!

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