Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An Industry on the Upswing: Making Money Off the Working Poor Is Big Business

Alt textThe era of deregulation has been a golden opportunity for those in the flourishing poverty industry: It gave entrepreneurs permission to devise high-priced products to sell to the credit-hungry working poor, including the instant tax refund and the payday loan. In the process, an industry larger than the casino business was born.

Broke, USA is Gary Rivlin’s report from the economic fringes. From the annual meeting of the National Check Cashers Association in Las Vegas to the foreclosure-riddled neighborhoods of Dayton, Ohio, Rivlin gives students a subprime tour featuring a cast of characters and memorable scenes. Rivlin profiles players like a former small-town Tennessee debt collector whose business offering cash advances to the working poor has earned him a net worth in the hundreds of millions, and Sandy Weill, who rode a subprime loan business into control of the nations largest bank. Rivlin parallels their stories with those of the struggling families trapped by the legal but unethical practices of pawnshops, payday loan brokers, storefront check-cashing operations, and other predatory schemes.

Broke, USA is a Fast Food Nation for the “poverty industry” that will also appeal to professors who have adopted Barbara Ehrenreichs Nickel and Dimed and David Shiplers The Working Poor.

“The abuse of the working poor, as Rivlin describes it, is a hugely growing industry. This is a book with the potential to stimulate outrageand political reform.” The Atlantic

Rivlin strives to portray the people behind Poverty Inc. in a fair light. . .but his sympathy and the reader’s steadily evaporate with his well-chosen tales of the industry’s coercive tactics and its leaders’ astonishing wealth. . . . Rivlin is the consummate tour guide, quick with a memorable anecdote or telling statistic to engage even the most policy-averse reader.”New York Times Book Review

If you would like to consider Broke, USA (9780061733208, paperback, $15.99) for one of your classes, please use our desk copy form to request a copy.*

*No phone calls please. This offer is valid in the United States only and will expire on June 8, 2011. No more than one book per person. Ship to college address only. Proof of employment at college must be given upon request. Limited supply. Requests will be filled while supplies last. Our receipt of a request does not guarantee fulfillment.

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