Face to Face with Inequality

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Join Us to Discuss How the Other Half Banks Oct. 12 @ 7pm in San Mateo


At 7pm on October 12, we will be hosting a casual group discussion at Kaffeehaus in San Mateo about the challenges low-income people face when attempting to access affordable financial services that meet their needs. Lacking alternatives, many people are forced to take out risky, high-interest payday and title loans to make ends meet. FAIR Money is currently conducting a series of interviews with payday loan recipients to understand why people turn to these services and the effect they have on their lives.

Mehrsa Baradaran explores these issues and potential solutions book How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy.

“…the banking industry, fattened on public subsidies (including too-big-to-fail bailouts), owes low-income families a better deal. She recounts the slow but steady demise of “banks with souls” — the community-based banks and credit unions that have been displaced by larger institutions…” –The New York Times

Should we go back to the days when the local post office offered banking services (like they still do in many European countries)? Are better regulations the answer? FAIR Money would like to include the Bay Area community in this conversation. For those with already full reading schedules, we have included a few videos below of Mehrsa Baradarian speaking about some of the topics in her book.

Please RSVP if you can make it. We hope to see you there!







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Explosion in Payday Lending Coverage

I just listened to a great podcast from NPR’s On Point that handily sums up the recent attention payday loans have been getting. They start off with Google’s recent ban on payday loan advertising and the recent Atlantic article on payday lending, then dive into a far-reaching discussion about the payday loan industry and its effects.


Source: The New York Times

Plenty of attention is given the systemic issues leading to people taking out payday loans (even the payday industry rep agrees). Lots of attention for postal banking as a potential alternative, too.

There’s a beautiful moment in the piece where one of the guests fields a call from a financial planner. The caller trots out the tired personal responsibility line, in response, the guest makes it known that low-income people are, generally, Good with Money, and the problems go far beyond the individual.

One of the guests is Mehrsa Baradaran, author of How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy. This looks like a great book for the summer reading list.


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Carrying Life in a Backpack

2014 marks the anniversary of LBJ’s War on Poverty.  50 years later, in a series on American hardship, Trip Gabriel writes about entrenched rural poverty in his article “50 Years Into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back”. The article is a heartbreaking look at how government has failed the rural poor in Appalachia, a place where economic opportunities are scarce and roughly 47% of the population relies on social security as their only personal income. Their story reflects that of many, disenfranchised and disinvested in across the United States, as the Unconditional War on Poverty waned in popularity, leaving young people with little hope and few options. As Donald Bolden, quoted in the article, says, “‘Ain’t that a shame: I’m 30 years old and carrying my life around in a backpack.’”

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Affirmative Action the Conservative Way

Evan Mandery points out that so-called “legacy” preferences in college applications can be worth about 150 points on the SAT’s to the privileged applicant whose privileged parents got in to the elite schools before the competition got really stiff. I think non-legacies should start thinking about bringing suit for being excluded unfairly despite their own hard work.

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Forum on Student Debt in Palo Alto 4/24

pyd poster

Jeffrey Greger of the FAIR Money team will be joining Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (author of the Students’ Bill of Rights), and Dave Walter (Stanford Law School’s Associate Director of Financial Aid) this Thursday in Palo Alto for a public forum on student debt. We encourage you to take part if you’re available, and look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, April 24, in the Fireside Room at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E Charleston Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

Event Agenda:
6:00pm – Doors open*
6:30pm – Discussion begins
— Opening remarks, moderated discussion, audience questions
7:45pm – Event concludes

*Light refreshments will be provided.