Government Supported Socioeconomic Inequality? The media’s always hyping about how horrible Payday Loans are buy what about the actual payment plans and the endless payments of fees from municipal violations.
It is no secret that in America today, one of the biggest problems facing the population is socioeconomic inequality, or “class warfare”, as some have dubbed it. Despite the existence of many programs designed to help those who are struggling, there are often incredible road blocks when it comes to those who need assistance the most receiving a helping hand. The idea that the system is set up so that the poor stay poor and the rich get richer, while there is a rapidly dwindling overworked, underpaid, and undervalued middle class is frightening. It is, as John Oliver remarks, akin to the struggle that preceded the French Revolution. Although we are hardly on the brink of begging the government for bread at the steps of the Capitol, there is certainly no doubt that frightening similarities define the current American culture.
One of the ways that the poor are guaranteed to stay poor is predatory lending, which is sadly not seen as predatory at all. It is a different type of predatory lending than the banks which target poor families for home loans they will inevitably be unable to repay, an idea that caused massive catastrophe. Instead, it comes in the form of guaranteed approval credit cards, title pawn shops, and rental services that have those unable to afford household items paying 5 times or more the actual value. This type of lending can be seen as a lifesaver at the time, but is predatory because it preys on the desperation of the poor in the same way a neighborhood loan shark does. In many cases, the terms aren’t much better, with interest rates from 50-200 percent. The business model is based upon making sure the poor stay poor enough to struggle, to not pay off the debt in time, to accrue deeper debt. It is unethical, yes, but certainly not illegal. In fact, it is just called “business”.
More and more state governments are getting involved in the business of doing business, this time targeting those who commit minor legal infractions. This has of course been going on for years; you’ve probably noticed a rise in the amount of tickets being written around any major holiday. Minor traffic infractions have long been a source of revenue for governments. Now, the ante has been raised with the addition of municipal fines, on top of already existing fined for minor criminal infractions.
It is not to say that minor criminal infractions should not be punished, but the system is set up so that paying a fine is essentially a “get out of jail free” card. Even when it comes to more serious criminal matters, conditions such as fines, ankle monitoring, probation, and restitution are used as alternatives to jail. Of course, these conditions are all at the expense of the defendant, often defendants without means appearing with a court-appointed attorney. If the defendant can’t afford to pay or can’t comply with court-ordered conditions due to lack of means, he or she is likely to be serving a jail sentence in lieu of the money. Justice should not allow money to buy freedom, but in a roundabout way, it does just that.
Of course, this does not just apply to criminals, but anyone who is ever caught doing something against the law. For instance, if you’re caught committing a driving-related infraction in the state of Virginia, you’ll receive a ticket and fine. However, you will then be assessed a municipal “abusive driving fee”, which can be upwards of $1,000. The average middle-class person may just have to charge that on a credit card, and the cycle continues. Socioeconomic inequality may not always be obvious, but it is pervasive, and does not simply affect those on the fringe of society anymore.
In some cases you are better off with a Payday Loan than what the courts offer you with their services as some states charge $100 just to enter into a payment plan and most of the “payment” of the plan is not paying down the actual ticket or fine.