Working my way through Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. – How the Working Poor Became Big Business, I thought of my post recently “white trash and rednecks.” In particular, I thought of the exchange between Christ.tine and I that headed in an unfortunate direction. The idea that people from different background speak different languages interests me. I am always eager to identify key areas of misunderstanding.
In my post (or in the comments), I mentioned a new friend suggesting I “go to a pawn shop.” I described how this left me confused and quiet. Going to a pawn shop is something I’ve never considered. Pretty much my only experience with them is in movies when addicts are desperate for drug money. Similarly, when tenants in the duplex I (used to) own paid with money orders, I always thought that was strange. Why pay a fee to get a money order when the landlord would accept cash? “Broke, USA” shed a lot of light on worlds unfamiliar to me.
One thing I noticed, in addition to an education in the payday loan business, is how the author frequently used the outrageous profits made by the businesses as evidence of their shady character. I thought about how I understood that as a shortcut referring to the progressive/liberal thought that exorbitant profiles equals likely fraud at some level. But I also thought about a few people I know who hear “massive profits” and only think “they’re successful.”
What I wonder is if someone whose background is white collar/professional hears about the massive profits and knows, from experience, how many back room deals that dive far into the grey areas of legality, that those profits probably hurt people along the way. And I also wonder if someone whose experience is blue collar/working class has a view of life that says, “work hard, get rewarded” instead of defaulting to the assumption of cheating; applauding the major income makers because they must be doing something right.
I would love it if anyone who is reading this who has opinions would chime in. Unfortunately but understandably, Chris didn’t want to continue our conversation (after I shut it down, told her to “leave”) because she didn’t think we would get anywhere positive with it (my words). When discussing outrageous profits made by businesses, what is the first thought that comes to you?