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Palast writes: "Elizabeth Warren must think she looks good in a shark-skin suit. There's no other way to explain her fronting for a cruel, stupid and frightening plan to turn post offices into loan-sharking bodegas in low-income neighborhoods."

Palast: 'Sen. Warren has endorsed a scheme that would put the US Postal Service into the business of 'pay-day lending' - giving out short-term loans to the desperate poor against their coming paychecks.' (photo: unknown)
Palast: 'Sen. Warren has endorsed a scheme that would put the US Postal Service into the business of 'pay-day lending' - giving out short-term loans to the desperate poor against their coming paychecks.' (photo: unknown)

Liz Warren Goes Postal

By Greg Palast, Reader Supported News

27 February 14


Greg Palast has just released a compilation of his investigative reports for BBC Television and Democracy Now! as a full-length documentary, Vultures and Vote Rustlers. Catch the trailer at

lizabeth Warren must think she looks good in a sharkskin suit. There's no other way to explain her fronting for a cruel, stupid, and frightening plan to turn post offices into loan-sharking bodegas in low income neighborhoods.

As a card carrying progressive, I'm supposed to drink the water Liz walks on. But right now, she's in over her head.

The Massachusetts senator wants President Obama to issue an executive order that would put the US Postal Service into the business of "payday lending" - giving out short term loans to the desperate poor against their coming paychecks.

Her intentions are good. She wants to put private payday lenders out of business. These are the predators, centered in poor neighborhoods, who will lend you money for a few days or weeks until your next paycheck. Here's the catch: you have to sign over your paycheck in advance - and the effective interest runs an average of 391%. No kidding.

But the senator proposes to get rid of these payday predators by turning every post office into a financial fleecing factory.

And the Postal Service can't wait to jump into the shark tank. I've read the Postal Service plan's details. The USPS wants to "partner" with the very banksters now chewing on the payday poor.

The Postal governors crow that their Warren-backed scheme will bring in $8.9 billion in profit: that's $8.9 billion charged to the poorest folk in America.

And that's plain insane - and unnecessary, because there's a much better way to clean out the shark tank.

Warren's plan is based on a scheme promoted by Mehrsa Baradaran, formerly a lawyer with the lobbying firm for the big banks, Davis Polk & Wardwell. In a New York Times editorial (which failed to mention her bank lobbying work), Baradaran wrote that there are "essentially two forms of banking: regulated and insured mainstream banks to serve the needs of the wealthy and middle class, and a Wild West of unregulated payday lenders and check-cashing joints that answer the needs of the poor - at a price."

That's just plain wrong. There's a third system: the one thousand not-for-profit community credit unions across America. These small, customer-owned banks provide full, low-cost services in areas that the big banks won't touch.

The "Wonderful Life" Solution

I guess Senator Warren never heard of Occupy Wall Street — which called for every person with a bank account and a soul to withdraw money from Chase, Citibank, and the other banker bandits, and open accounts at their local consumer-owned community credit union. (Find yours here:

Occupy Wall Street put its own cash receipts into the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union, a short march from Wall Street - and where, I'm proud to say, the Palast Investigative Fund also keeps its working accounts.

People's is a typical community credit union. With branches in Harlem and the Latino "Loisaida," 92% of its loans are given to member-owners whose incomes are near or below the poverty line. It is the only bank in New York that offers accounts for the homeless. And it provides what the bankers - and the Post Office - never will: savings and checking accounts, long-term and short-term (not "payday") loans, mortgages and credit cards at low cost.

And People's, board chair Deyanira Del Rio told me, has a simple goal: not just to replace pay-lenders and loan sharks, but to replace the entire, stinking rotten for-profit banking system.

And that's the difference between the "let's-help-the-little-poor-people" liberal Liz plan and the Occupy Wall Street radical stand: banking for people, not for profit. (For more on People's FCU, Occupy Wall Street and their battle with Goldman Sachs, check out "Goldman v. OWS."

While People's and other community credit unions offer full-service banking - and a chance for low-income folk to get good credit ratings, credit cards, safe-deposit boxes, tax assistance, long-term loans and even mortgages, the postal plan pushed by Warren declares from the outset that it will only provide "non-bank" services, i.e., ghetto rip-offs only: payday loans, pre-paid debit cards (a notorious racket), high-charge money transfers and, weirdly, Bitcoin exchange.

Pre-paid cards will cost $180 a year (!); and postal payday will carry interest triple that charged by credit unions.

(People's CEO wants me to note that credit unions oppose all payday loans - and therefore provide a loan with a bank account, so the un-banked can access full, lower cost services.)

The Post Office admits its sudden interest in the poor is because it is hunting for a "major new revenue" stream to save itself from bankruptcy. (Warren, who once advocated for high reserves and sound banking, wants to turn over poor folk to a stamp-vending operation that itself is begging for a payday loan.)

In effect, Warren's plan to go postal dumps the nation's poor into a back-of-the-bus pre-bankrupt financial kill zone. The big banks, by the way, will love it: it will relieve them of their obligation under the federal Community Reinvestment Act to provide bank services to local communities.

Result: The Warren plan will guarantee a new wave of bank branch closures in low-income and rural areas.

Chase can close its branches in poor neighborhoods while selling them high-fee pre-pay cards, money transfers and payday loans. This is Jamie Dimon's dream: payday loans in New York and other states are deemed a crime - but with an Obama-blessed plan, the crime spree would have federal protection.

Few in the middle class, one-percenters, senators or Harvard professors, have ever been inside a community credit union - but most of us have seen one: In the film It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart plays a banker who wants to drown himself because he's lost his town's money. Do you think Robert Rubin of Citibank ever thought of killing himself for losing a trillion dollars of public funds? No, Stewart was playing the CEO of a "building society," today's community credit cooperative.

(Not-for-profit banker Stewart was saved by angels. If Rubin jumped off a bridge, it's hard to imagine an angel bothering to drop its harp.)

Does Senator Warren understand the disastrous consequences of her good intentions? We're waiting for a call-back from her office.

Senator, if you want to be on the side of the angels and America's bankless poor, here are three easy steps that don't involve turning postmen into loan sharks:

1. Enforce the Community Reinvestment Act. The Obama administration is sitting on its tuchas while banks close their branches by the thousands and "banks" like Goldman Sachs ignore the law's requirement that they provide loans and bank services in under-served areas.

2. Enforce laws against predatory banking. Payday lenders are predators, and their charges are already illegal in many states. A crusading attorney named Eliot Spitzer had planned to announce a lawsuit by all 50 state attorneys general to put an end to all "sub-prime" mortgage loans, predatory on their face. Unfortunately, the case got caught in his zipper. And so the bankster crime-spree continues. Like the old loan sharks handcuffed by the FBI, payday lenders should be put out of business, not have their operations expanded into post offices.

3. Most important: support, expand, and take the shackles off community credit unions. Laws currently prevent cooperative banks from getting the kind of help, capital access, and support the government and Federal Reserve give to commercial banks.

So, here's an idea, Senator. While the USPS wants to "partner" with big banks, why not, instead, allow community credit unions to use post offices as annexes to provide full, complete, non-usurious neighborhood banking services? This is the type of full-service "postal banking" successful in Switzerland and Japan that is envisioned by Ellen Brown, not the payday predation proposed by the USPS. Some of my colleagues have endorsed "basic banking services" pushed by Warren - without noting that the USPS plan, titled "Non-Bank Financial Services," explicitly excludes true banking for the poor, i.e. offering payday loans, not bank accounts.

So there you are, Senator. Shed the shark-suit and give America the chance for a banking system you don't have to lick on the back.

Greg Palast's new film, "Vultures' and Vote Rustlers," including his investigation, 'Goldman versus Occupy Wall Street,' will be released on DVD and as a download today. The film is based on his reports for BBC Television and Democracy Now! your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+67 # reiverpacific 2014-02-27 14:18
I'm usually on the same page as Palast but he's got it all wrong in this one.
Check out by Warren herself on RSN, February 2nd.
Pretty poor stuff from a supposedly tenacious investigative reporter -none of us have the full facts yet so at least wait until they become fully known mate!
It sounded pretty good to me -and most other RSN readers at the time, judging from their posts and votes of approval, and took me back to the days when my parents in Scotland had Royal Mail Post Office savings account and Postal Orders were common currency, long before the bigger banks took over.
-58 # brux 2014-02-27 14:29
Come on, over many years Palest has had the opportunity to do something with his "talent" and all he has done is make sleazy movies and use himself as an attack machine. I would not be surprised if he was hooked up with someone higher up on the right-wing side.
0 # reiverpacific 2014-02-27 15:05
Quoting brux:
Come on, over many years Palest has had the opportunity to do something with his "talent" and all he has done is make sleazy movies and use himself as an attack machine. I would not be surprised if he was hooked up with someone higher up on the right-wing side.

I don't entirely agree or disagree with you but get y'r point.
I actually met him over a couple o' beers with some others a couple of years ago when he was on a swing through Portland Or and Seattle -maybe S.F. too and he was a pretty amiable, if intense feller, with his shiny, battered trilby hat and kind of well-worn raincoat in most weathers giving him the appearance of a kind of Mickey Spillane, 50's dime-store novel detective; -maybe he cultivates that image.
I do think he over-sensationa lizes his deeds and broadcast clips at times -perhaps to to sell product but he he gave KBOO some copies of "Ballot Bandits" book as pledge premiums and pushed the merits of Community Radio but he sure as Hell wasn't shy about pushing his publications too.
Maybe it's just me but for a reporter, he doesn't write all that well or clearly, seeming to be trying to rush it all down, tripping over himself with oft-repeated and sometimes jumbled sentences and choppy paragraphs. Strange for a BBC reporter.
But again, that's just me; -I've no desire to be a grammar/ syntax-Nazi (you get them on RSN). I just have to go with what moves me, informs me clearly and makes me want more.
+18 # Texan 4 Peace 2014-02-28 11:08
Neither of you address any of the actual points of his argument. What do Palast's wardrobe or writing style have to do with the issues on the ground here?
+4 # reiverpacific 2014-02-28 12:15
Quoting Texan 4 Peace:
Neither of you address any of the actual points of his argument. What do Palast's wardrobe or writing style have to do with the issues on the ground here?

You must have ignored my initial post which fully addresses all points at issue.
My second post simply shares bit of personal experience with the author in a kind of light hearted and not at all critical way and my feelings on his writing style (he is a much more effective speaker) are a personal opinion from a part-time writer by y'r leave -all relevant if you broaden y'r perspective a bit.
-1 # brux 2014-03-12 01:40
That's because there really is not much point. If you think local credit unions are going to be falling all over themselves in order to get the check cashing business of the local poor, I'd say I think you are mistaken.

This seems like very phony grandstanding and playing to the crowd for attention, there are not many facts here, there are no real alternatives, and a lot of distracted verbiage that just covers up a lack of thought about the issue at hand.
0 # Artemis 2014-02-28 06:39
Brux again
0 # brux 2014-03-02 23:34
Brilliant, another really amazing logical argument, Artemis.
0 # rose528 2014-03-02 17:37
I'm with you I believe Ms. Warren wants to help the American people not harm them
+7 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-02-27 15:10
As the wise man said, "shall see."
+6 # Artemis 2014-02-28 06:45
There's a post from Greg Palast below which you should all read before you all go barking.
I agree with him, most do not seem to have properly read or understood his article. If there is a debate on his article, then let it be based on understanding it correctly.
+3 # Texan 4 Peace 2014-02-28 11:06
I saw nothing in the piece you linked that contradicts Palast's analysis. As a Warren fan, I was skeptical when I saw his headline, but I think he nailed it. Looking forward to see her reply.
+44 # bingers 2014-02-27 14:20
Postal banking was a great thing before and would be again. I am a huge Greg Palast fan, but I think he blew it big time this time.
+25 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-02-27 14:36
What Warren offers is not what we had in the way of post office banking years ago. Her proposal is that the post office ONLY offer pay day loans. The bill she puts forward will not allow banking services. You can not have a savings account or a checking account. They will only offer short term loans at high interest rates.

What we have here is another Dimocrap acting like they care about the working people of this nation. Things will not get any better until we KNOW in our bones that there is no lesser evil in either of the major parties. We had Kucinich and now Warren who attempt to show us the old FDR side of the Dems---but that died with Roosevelt. There was a real lefty in Kennedy but they killed him, didn't they? Oh, you think Lee Harvey Oswald did it? Yeah, and Muslims took down the World Trade Center? Until we face the truth of just how rotten and corrupt the government is, it will only continue to get worse.
-8 # California Neal 2014-02-27 23:03
As saddened as I was by his assassination, JFK was as disappointing as Obama. It was RFK who seemed really promising.

I don't think generic "Muslims" took down the WTC. I think Al Quaeda did.
+1 # REDPILLED 2014-03-09 14:12
Building 7, as well? Where did they get the accurately-plac ed thermate, and when did they set the charges in all three buildings?
-1 # bingers 2014-03-14 19:39
No sir, you are wrong, and in this case, so is Greg. That is most decidedly NOT the only thing or even close to it.
0 # bingers 2014-03-14 19:40
And by the way, the only dims and the overwhelming number of crap politicians and voters are Republicans and the fools who think otherwise.
+24 # brux 2014-02-27 14:27
> There's a third system: the one thousand not-for-profit community credit unions across America.

Then why are all those poor people into Payday Loans not having Credit Union accounts, Greg?

The only place for Democrats lately seems to be make inadequate small reforms, such as ObamaCare, maybe that is Warren's idea ... I don't know, I'd like to hear what she says ... did you interview her?
-13 # Walter J Smith 2014-02-27 19:58
read the article.

He wrote that he is still waiting for a reply from her office. Obviously, she isn't interested in discussing details about this.

And all the democrats here cannot imagine the blunt reality of her grandstanding. It is all on behalf of the very same 1% that all the elected Democrats worship.
-3 # brux 2014-03-02 23:32
I am not sure I'd be overjoyed to talk to Greg Palast either .... he seems to search only for the sensational and try to whip everything up to panic proportions. He's done a lot of good work, but he should wait until he has a point on this one to publish ... unless his goal is just to attack Liz Warren.
+5 # Texan 4 Peace 2014-02-28 11:10
Because the big banks have limited WHO can have access to credit unions! I'm only able to be a member of mine because I'm a federal employee. If the poor COULD join credit unions, that would obviously be to their benefit.
0 # stanhode 2014-03-10 00:51
"...why are all those poor people into Payday Loans not having Credit Union accounts,...?"
I always wondered why so many credit unions serve narrowly defined groups instead of inviting the public at large.
+1 # Shenonymous 2014-03-10 08:34
4 million people say you are wrong about Obamacares.
+26 # brux 2014-02-27 14:32
> Senator, if you want to be on the side of the angels and America's bankless poor, here are three easy steps
> 1. Enforce the Community Reinvestment Act.
> 2. Enforce laws against predatory banking.
> 3. Most important: support, expand, and take the shackles off community credit unions.

OK, Mr. Palest, you know everything, are you running for office yourself? Did you interview Elizabeth Warren? Maybe you are right, or not, but did you explore the political realities of these ideas and if they would be possible?

If there is something wrong with Warren, write a story about it, but this "what Warren is doing is not good enough story" fails to capture my imagination.
+4 # Jim Young 2014-02-27 20:05
Quoting brux:
> ...
> 1. Enforce the Community Reinvestment Act.
> 2. Enforce laws against predatory banking.
> 3. Most important: support, expand, and take the shackles off community credit unions...

Not to be picky, I like almost all of your posts, but responsible, ethical people in the real estate business saw banks slide somewhat into lower quality loans claimed to be CRA required (but weren't. They were new opportunities to make more money after Glass-Stegall, in my opinion. Read for a little insight into how it degenerated into a free for all (in my opinion) letting everybody to start selling ridiculously high risk loans with almost no standards required, and made so much easier by a corruption of risk pools under the fig leaf of what they had turned Mortgaged Backed Securities (MBS)s into. The older loans, pre 2004, were somewhat oversold but the VA and FHA standards complying ones didn't suffer anything like the failure rates (1,000 times less in one case) of those sold by the risk falsifying "loan originators" who sold them off the same day to get rid of their risk, passing it onto the MBS buyers like the Norwegian Village that found out they had bought included 10th Tranche loans. They were like holders of a 10th mortgage, when they wouldn't have thought they were even buying a 2nd mortgage (second tranche). The Savings and Loan Crises showed what happens when you " take the shackles off"
+7 # karenvista 2014-02-27 23:28
Can you say "Ratings Agency Fraud?"
0 # stanhode 2014-03-10 01:00
EW did not get back to Palast. Did you read the story?

He did write a story about what is wrong with Warren. It is not that she is not doing good enough, it is that she is proposing to use an important institution to exploit the poor and further benefit financial criminals. You are showing worse than a failure of imagination.
+16 # rmk948 2014-02-27 14:35
I've never seen a credit union that offered anything equivalent to payday loans. There may be credit unions on every street corner in NYC, but there damned sure aren't in most cities. Palast is working himself into his usual frenzy for no good reason.
+41 # fenox 2014-02-27 14:44
Our post office here in Belgium has banking possibilities. It works quite well and you pay a lot less of expenses. I'm not at the Post bank as a costumer but why Americans always have the feeling that a new idea is negative. I do not need the Post bank but feel happy it exists for those who have problems to enter the existing banks belonging to the financial world as it exists.
+30 # brux 2014-02-27 15:19
>Americans always have the feeling that a new idea is negative.

As I head Alain De Button say yesterday in a new video, in America it is either the status quo, or it's socialism -> communism -> Nazism -> or worse. The biggest problem with our country is "stupid" ... we just have too many beaten down stupid people who cannot think and are afraid to think or do anything because they think they will lose whatever small thing they do have ... which is right, but they are probably going to lose it anyway.
-10 # Walter J Smith 2014-02-27 20:01
Yeah, and we elect all the stupidest one to the Senate and the House of Congress, reserving for the very stupidest ones the White House; we want the very stupidest ones in the White House, so they can appoint their sister & brother very stupidest to the courts and ambassadorships .
+25 # Working Class 2014-02-27 15:41
Quoting fenox:
Our post office here in Belgium has banking possibilities. It works quite well and you pay a lot less of expenses. I'm not at the Post bank as a costumer but why Americans always have the feeling that a new idea is negative. I do not need the Post bank but feel happy it exists for those who have problems to enter the existing banks belonging to the financial world as it exists.

Thanks for speaking up for your nations Postal Bank. Just one correction - its not a "new idea" in the US. We had a Postal Bank from 1910 to 1967. So it is an old idea whose time has come again. Palast really missed the boat on this article.
+27 # Archie1954 2014-02-27 14:46
I don't believe Warren touted a for profit loan sharking regimen for post offices but rather the same scenario as state sponsored banking.
+8 # Johnny 2014-02-27 16:10
Apparently Palast sees it differently. You may be right. Please share the basis for your belief that Warren's program is state banking, rather than another excuse to channel money to banks.
+5 # karenvista 2014-02-27 23:41
Quoting Johnny:
Apparently Palast sees it differently. You may be right. Please share the basis for your belief that Warren's program is state banking, rather than another excuse to channel money to banks.

Palast didn't do ANY research this time.

The "Payday Loan" portion would offer short term loans at $25. plus 25% interest per annum. The typical Payday Loan rate here in Texas is a 25% fee monthly plus 391% interest annually. - BIG DIFFERENCE!

I don't like the idea that you would have to have your paycheck loaded onto a Postal Service debit card which they would expect to make $15 per month in fees from.

I would think that modifications could be made to the suggested plan, especially by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - Warren's own baby.

Here's the link to the entire USPS prospectus for the proposed Postal Services financial plan.
0 # stanhode 2014-03-10 01:06
CA State unemployment was loaded onto BofA debit card accounts a couple years ago.
+55 # jdd 2014-02-27 15:19
If you really want to reform the banking system, then get behind Sen. Warren's bill to restore Glass-Steagall, the only legislation that Wall Street really fears. All else is just fluff.
+31 # jwb110 2014-02-27 15:25
I have my money in a credit union and in my 64 years I have noticed that everything the Gov't took the shackles off of screwed my over. The only reason I have my money in a credit union is because it has very specific rules and regs. The chances of them doing 'sub-prime' lending is not there and derivatives are possible. Leave the Credit Unions alone.
As for putting other Cash-Payday Lenders out of business. That is bunk. People can still use their services and if their services are less than useful then they can just get competitive and make a better product for their consumers.
If the GOP had not required the Post Office to finance its pension fund 75 years in advance this BS about it going out of business would never have started. This is a push from the Conservatives to Privatize the Postal System.
Lastly, I am glad that you have a People's credit Union down on the Lower East Side. It's only about 3000 miles away but who's counting.
-46 # 2014-02-27 15:43
By all means, put the private companies out of business. That's the business of Socialists !
+13 # conniejo 2014-02-28 09:21
No one is talking about putting private companies out of business - only offering a less costly alternative to people who can least afford to be robbed of the little they have. Some competition might make those usurious companies lower their rates. Competition. Isn't that what capitalism is all about?
+10 # Jim Young 2014-02-28 10:36
By all means, put the private companies out of business. That's the business of Socialists !

ALEC wants government to roll over in their favor to let them insert themselves too often as the rip-off middlemen in every service (except, they say, in cases like law enforcement or fire fighters).

Isn't that generous of them? Of course they want their right to private for profit prisons, with the tax payers guaranteeing them 95% occupancy rates, no matter how they come up with more prisoners for them.

I don't know where people get the idea that any mutual interest group of people or purposes (except of course corporations, and religious groups) can be tagged with "socialism" in the very worst implied connotation.

What term should those of us opposed to corporate take-over of the world, desirous of being further enabled by so called "trade" treaties like TPP and TAFTA, use?

Seems they want to emulate the more concentrated oligarchies that Russia has become, skipping the violent revolutionary stages, and going to the enlightened anarchy communism was supposed to aim for, except with them at the top of what passes for enlightened anarchy (near total deregulation, except for the treaties and their appointed arbitrators with an iron grip on our planet).
+2 # reiverpacific 2014-03-01 19:59
By all means, put the private companies out of business. That's the business of Socialists !

As a "Small business Socialist" you are full of shit!
If I didn't have to be concerned with providing health care insurance (as the right thing to do rather than a federally mandated declamation), I could use some help right now but can't afford a sustainable wage AND heath care -and it's NOT ACA's fault but an entrenched "all or nothing" mentality that is keeping the US hiring process down!
-2 # WestWinds 2014-02-27 15:53
Part One of Two:

Well, that's a big disappointment. Liz Warren evidently has drunk the Kool-Aid and that leaves all of us looking for a new potential candidate for the 2016 run bc Shillary Clinton just can NOT be the one. What a bummer!

Also, I hate to stick a pin in Greg's starry-eyed notions of credit unions in general, but...

We have a credit union here in Central Florida called "Magnify" and I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy. When you sign up, they give you a brochure consisting of all the ways they are allowed to seize your account and any and all of your assets, charge you fees for service(s), interests, and basically everything you are NOT entitled to with them.

-2 # WestWinds 2014-02-27 15:55
Part Two of Two:

And should you not use your Magnify account for any length of time, they will seize any money in your account instead of cutting you a check and sending to you that which is basically yours before they force close your account. Magnify is DECIDEDLY NOT on your side; they are a predatory entity laser focused on their own best interests at YOUR expense. I'd advise you to stay as far away from as you possibly can.

Considering that most credit unions put their funds into some local bank or other, once again, you can take your chances on whether or not you might never see that money again if there is any kind of banking collapse. For now, my recommendation is a coffee can buried in the back yard until we get this country out of the weeds.

As for Liz Warren... I guess she's going to be one of "them" after all, and we need to head back to the drawing board once again for a REAL Progressive candidate who will not buy into the corruption currently occupying the system. What a disappointment. ..
+21 # conniejo 2014-02-27 17:05
Don't give up on her yet. I would like to see details of the kind of plan she has in mind. I also have been a fan of Palast's writing, but just because he says she's a shark doesn't make it so. From her original article, it seemed to me she was talking about something very different, something like the old services the post office used to provide, not the huge money-maker so the government benefits. Sure, there would have to be some level of interest charged to loans from the post office, but they ought to be far lower than the usurious rates the poor currently pay. Faulting the proposal (before we know what it is) because the government may make some money is ridiculous. SOMEBODY will make some money off of giving loans to the poor, whether it be a credit union or a post office lender. For my part, I'd rather see it go to the government to support things like food stamps, education, and - yes - maintaining the postal services in rural areas.
+6 # California Neal 2014-02-27 23:28
I've never dealt with Magnify, but my experiences with credit unions in California for several decades have been excellent. I use one for everything: checking, savings, mortgage, car loan, & line of credit. When one went under in the recession, another bought it out with no interruption of services or damage of any kind to the member. I have received very supportive services from my CUs, which have truly treated me as a MEMBER.

CUs have to consider their own viability & the interests of their members who don't treat them as a repository for a small deposit & then disappear on them. They have to provide advance notice of what will happen if you treat them that way, & whatever else they are required or advised to inform you at the outset. Again, I have no experience with Magnify, but I have several decades of positive CU experiences.
+3 # Jingze 2014-02-27 16:27
Junk mail. A fool who has the chutzpah to call an elected senator "Liz" is nothing more than another ignorant right-wing snot with a personal (perhaps sexist) agenda. I assume the writer is a self-centered teenager, probably in his sophomore year and finally old enough to lift a pint legally. He certainly demonstrates a fear of strong women more intelligent than he, and an inability to address the true merits of significant issues.
+13 # Doug Diggler 2014-02-27 17:04
Palast used to be right on, but he has really lost his marbles over this. There was postal banking in the US for many, many decades. I assume it could only be fairer and less usurous than any Wall Street firm.
+16 # RMF 2014-02-27 17:04
Palast is totally wrong. Postal banking would be great for low income and working class households. Postal banking would include savings as well as borrowing, and one need look no further than Japan for a well-designed model for postal banking in the US. Postal banking in Japin is one of the main reasons that Japan can run such large budget deficits and continue to remin immune from the bond-bear attack dogs. So there also would be substantial macro-econmomic benefits from postal banking.
+19 # Beenie 2014-02-27 17:05
I agree we must support and encourage the return of Glass-Steagall, but I think Greg is being a bit hysterical. All over Europe, Post Offices cash checks, have public telephones and some even sell groceries! And if there is a post office in a poor neighborhood that can take on some of these functions, wouldn't that be better than to have all those Pay Day loan-shark operations that are so prevalent?
+3 # fenox 2014-02-28 01:47
Suppose it could mean poor can get ID cards and vote ..........
+13 # suki 2014-02-27 17:13
I think Liz Warren is terrific and she has a good idea that would do two things. These "banks" would be low interest and not to make big profits. There are many places with s post office but no credit union. Also, it would save the post offices that the republicans are trying so hard to destroy and steal the pensions of the postal workers.
+13 # Robbee 2014-02-27 17:38
Going postal is a reliable alternative to banking, unlike banking, available to all. Despite the predictable, reactive establishment hoopla, Senator Warren's proposal warrants consideration on its considerable merits.
-8 # Mrcead 2014-02-27 17:56
Poor people don't need a "better" payday loan option, they need free personal financial planning courses so they can crush the payday loan sharks with anemic demand. Teach a man to fish and all.
+16 # Billy Bob 2014-02-27 19:47
What they need is a rise in the minimum wage, so they won't be so desperate. They definitely DON'T need advice on how to use their money "wisely", and comparisons to fishing clichés.

The poor spread their money pretty thin. If you want to discuss which brand of bread to buy, or whether or not they should go to the doctor, fine. That's the kind of "financial planning" they're faced with. Until you face those dilemmas first hand, you have NO IDEA what it's like.
+4 # Mrcead 2014-02-28 03:23
I grew up poor FIRST HAND so stop telling me I don't bloody well know anything about it. Keep your talking points to yourself and go find an actual post what fits your rant to dump on. I grew up watching people make bad financial decisions repeatedly because they simply did not have it in their culture to spend what little money they had wisely and as soon as these folks were able to get a step up in their pay, that mindset followed them and they were soon entrenched in debt prompting them to get into more debt to get out of it, sound familiar? I made no mention about minimum wage. I fully support a higher minimum wage if you've ever bothered to read any of my positions. I don't for one minute buy into the route of the lesser evil to fix a problem. That is absurd. A payday loan is merely a crutch and one people should not be coerced into using to solve their problems. There can be other solutions. The bloody conceit that runs rife in America is will be the end of America itself, refusing to consider a sensible suggestion on the grounds it "may" hurt your pride? Are you mad? You learn how to manage your finances first through your family and then through your mistakes. The current economy doesn't forgive such mistakes. You can very well loan people money at very low interest or even no interest but we all know that simply isn't going to happen and that's where I call bs on this. if you are going to help people, then help them. I don't know why that is so hard to understand.
-13 # BKnowswhitt 2014-02-27 18:05
Warren's plan is one to work with the symptoms of the problem instead of the core disease. It would be better to preach to do and go without than pay predatory lenders or borrow against already living beyond your means. That's what i'd rather hear off her lips. And i'm a bit tired of her 'Lip Service' about financial reform. Didn't she already have a position to do that and got virtually nothing done. I liked the reverand Ike he talked about the 'Almighty Dollar' how about encouraging people to do whatever to get free of poverty and white America .. rather than postal service getting a piece off the action of the low functioners of this broken society ..
+16 # Texas Aggie 2014-02-27 20:54
When you are trying to meet rent payments, utility payments, buy food and clothing, get money for gasoline on food stamps and a part time minimum wage job, hearing someone preaching about "live within your means" is a bit annoying. What do you do when there is an emergency and you need to get your car fixed or buy a new refrigerator because the old one finally gave up the ghost after thirty years?
+10 # hammermann 2014-02-27 19:30
I'm not too sure about the accuracy of all this, but frankly doubt it (sorry but I'm in Kyiv, so have been busy). I had all the info about the Fl Voter Purge too but thought it was Palast's story, so held off. He never updated the number of people on the list (42 to 92K), never included Bev's analysis of 12? counties finding that an incredible 42% of listed "felons" were inaccurate (they matched US felons to Florida voters (2 judges ruled that illegal) men to women, blacks to white, and people 50 years apart w the same birthday).

I've found his reporting pretty careless, missing big facts or asking the right questions, and 30-40% of his stuff is dedicated to self-promotion. Course I think Warren is a big hero, and so am resistant to something trashing her, which is why this will get alot of attention (media loves counterintuitiv e stories).

-4 # Walter J Smith 2014-02-27 20:03
Greg, I usually dislike your smug, holier than thou writing style.

But I have to say, you got this one so correct you aligned the whole Democratic Party against you.

They cannot imagine one of there darlings doing something so stupid as this. And they cannot see all the examples coming from every one of their darlings every day.

They are as blind as are the GOPTea partiers about their own darlings.
+7 # Texas Aggie 2014-02-27 20:48
Something about credit unions that hasn't been mentioned yet is that in order to belong to one, you need to be in a specific group. You have to work for the government, for a university, as a teacher, as a fireman, as a hospital worker, in some sort of organization. Different groups have their own credit unions. You can't just walk in off the street and join up.

For that reason, credit unions wouldn't be able to function the way Dr. Warren envisions, but a Post Office bank could.
0 # NAVYVET 2014-03-01 16:25
Credit unions are not nearly as restrictive in membership as they used to be. You may live in a specific town or city. Or have a relative or inlaw who belongs to a specific group. Or work for a company that banks there. I don't belong to it, but the city where I live has a city credit union that anyone who lives here can join, and many have. Never heard any scandal about it.
+13 # ahollman 2014-02-27 20:55
Greg Palast's allegation that Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to turn the Postal Service into a loanshark or payday lender makes no sense, given
Warren's background. I agree that checking into the details makes sense.

From the Huffington Post, 2/1/14, by Sen. Warren, over a quarter of all American households are unbanked - no checking acct for bill-paying or savings acct to hold money - and thus rely on expensive check-cashing and payday loan services.

Her proposal is for the US Postal Service, with its many branches, to provide basic services - bill paying, check cashing, and small loans. This replicates past USPS practice and current practice in other countries, taking advantage of a reliable, local, high accessible government institution.

Bill paying and check cashing sound fine. When it comes to loans, the devil is in the details, and it would take care to ensure that the USPS doesn't become just another loanshark. But, I have no doubt it could be done, and I would like to see it done.

Aram Hollman
+11 # Texas Aggie 2014-02-27 21:00
When someone makes a claim that is the total opposite of previous experience, such as Greg's claim that Dr. Warren is trying to shaft the poor, the most rational route is to demand a lot more proof than if the claim fit in with previous experience. Greg's hypothesis is such an outlier from what Dr. Warren has done in the past that it makes a lot more sense to reject Greg than it does to assume that Dr. Warren is trying to turn local Post Offices into loan sharks.
+14 # GregPalast 2014-02-27 21:21
My oh my! I've really stepped into it, haven't I?

I would appreciate if you'd READ the farking article before commenting.

So, let me give you the article on a postcard: The proposal is NOT in any way a plan to create a postal bank. THERE IS NO POSTAL BANK. THERE WILL BE NO POSTAL BANK.

I like postal banks. I like postal banks so much my family HAS a postal bank account -- in Switzerland (they're Swiss).

I beg you: READ the Post Office's own sickly proposal, whose very title contains its corrosive plan: "Providing NON-BANK financial services to the underserved."

That's right, comrades, the P.O. is promising it will NOT create a postal bank. It will only offer ghetto banking--which Liz Warren's own creation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to BAN.

My guess is, the good Senator has not actually read the plan. I can only guess, because her PR flak has said she'll call me back...but has not. Sorry, but even Saint Elizabeth is not above scrutiny.

If you think a not-for-profit Post Office a la Swiss would be a good idea, as I do, don't complain to me--tell that to the Senator.

In the meantime, follow Occupy Wall Street to your nearest community credit union--and stop banking with the snakes that bite you.
+5 # ormondotvos 2014-02-28 20:07
Greg, you talk fast and nasty, and you never gave the rates proposed, or the fact that payday and small loan banking is high risk for the lender. Our credit union makes unsecured loans, but the rates are, surprise!, three times what secured loans have. That's because credit unions have rules to prevent stupid behavior, like low-interest payday loans. Cut the ranting, put forth fair facts. You sound like Limbaugh.
0 # RobertMStahl 2014-03-04 13:40
Speaking on the subject of betrayal, so very popular these days, what about what this very learned fellow has to say about market manipulation, Dr. Jim Willie,
+6 # BeaDeeBunker 2014-02-27 22:58
Credit Unions, PayDay 'Banks,' your typical loan shark bank, a la your typical bank, they are all going to be around for a long time. It is the nature of the beast. Dealing in cash is a good alternative, but these new modern mattresses are difficult to get those wads of cash to stay put!
A better idea is to go the way of S. Dakota (I believe it is S. Dakota) and have a State Bank. It's just like Jimmy Stewart's bank, but state wide. The 'big' banks hate the state banks, 'cause all the action stays in the state; savings and loans. It all goes back to support the people of the state. Novel idea, huh?

As for Greg Palast, I always listen very closely to anything he has to say. He does indeed do his homework, and his work on Bush, Florida and SCOTUS stealing the 2000 election was stellar. Think where would be if Bush had not 'lead' this country, that we all love, for 8 (eight!) years.
+6 # Pikewich 2014-02-27 23:45
About where we are now, according to Mike Lofgren congressional staffer (and former Republican) for 28 years.

See Bill Moyers site for "Deep State" (read the essay and watch the interview) and you will see the President, congress and the rest of government no longer run the country, and have not for a long long time.
-2 # NAVYVET 2014-03-01 16:19
DON'T YOU DARE COMPARE CREDIT UNIONS WITH LOAN SHARKS! They are so tightly regulated they wear corsets! I am a part owner of my local Fed Credit Union, where we get the best service in town! Yes, there may be a few that break their own rules--but most are as strict and strait-laced as an old-time S&L banker, who disappeared forever in the wreckage of the privateer speculation "banks". We elect our officers. Can't do that in a post office, but other countries do well with post offices that also serve as savings banks. Palast sounds like someone on Faux News with this one!
0 # BeaDeeBunker 2014-03-09 00:01
First off, thanks for your service.
Next, I never compared Credit Unions with Loan Sharks.
Read what I wrote. I said loan shark BANKS! Loan sharks are not banks; they are non-banks. Furthermore I said that 'loan shark banks' were your typical bank. Again, please read what wrote.
I was advocating for State Banks because they keep all the transactions in state. Citizens of the state put their money in the state bank and the state bank lends the money out for state businesses, state borrowers and state wide projects like infrastructure, et al.
Check out the state(s) that have a State Bank and see how well they work.
And, as I said the 'big' multinational banks hate this idea of State Banks. This alone should be reason enough to support them and advocate for their creation.
+2 # preacher teacher 2014-02-28 10:00
Palast is out to lunch on this one. I lived in Switzerland for a few years and there the post office was bank for many people who used it for savings as well as loans. Legislation should take care of the temptation to emulate the predatory practices now common.
+7 # marjb 2014-02-28 10:20
I have lived in countries where people banked at the Post Office and those accounts were a godsend. People who ordinarily would not have had savings or checking accounts were able to open them without fees. Children deposited pennies without complaint into their accounts and the very type of predatory lending emblematic in payday loans was wiped out because small low cost loans were available. Warren has been a huge defender of the little guy when it comes to banking and lending practices. I would find it very hard to believe that she would agree to something that would be a complete and total rip off. I'd like to see a lot more information that has been available in Mr. Palast's article. It seems to give off far more heat than light.
+3 # bmiluski 2014-02-28 10:46
I agree marjb.........t here was a lot of supposition and very few actual facts in palast's article.
+3 # Edwina 2014-02-28 11:16
Thanks, Palast, for the additional information. I thought the system would work something like France's used to work: you could deposit money, pay bills, do ordinary business for a nominal fee. Post offices are a local resource that could be better utilized, and make the U.S.P.S. more relevant.
+2 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-03-01 02:10
The USPS white paper entitled “Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved” may be found at:

The proposal does not have a lot of specifics. However, a suggested amount for a payday loan fee is $25 plus an annual rate of 25%. This compares VERY favorably with current fees paid by the “Underserved” not to mention that there are NUMEROUS credit cards that charge more than 25%. The fee suggested for issuing a prepaid card which could then be loaded with cash or paychecks is $15/month. According to a 2012 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, “inexperienced consumers… spend a median of $32.60 a month on prepaid card fees, including monthly service charges, ATMs, retail purchases, and other fees.” The proposal also includes placing ATMs in post offices where the cards could be used, presumably without fee.

Clearly the devil is in the details. If the USPS proposal becomes a bill which includes exorbitant fees and rates, some of Mr Palast’s criticisms of the proposal will be valid. However, since Sen Warren’s support is predicated on the fees being reasonable, Mr Palast’s lambasting of HER would be invalid.

It is reasonable to charge a fee for cashing paychecks and making loans. Charging usurious rates for these services is predatory. If the USPS can provide these services for reasonable rates, how is that “turning every post office into a financial fleecing factory?”
0 # NAVYVET 2014-03-01 16:09
What eating Greg Palast? It's got merit. The British have combined postal service with small loan savings banking, plus selling phone cards, freeway prepaid cards, and fishing/hunting licenses for many, many years. I was impressed, and as far as their citizens are concerned never heard anything but praise for their postal "general store". Just remove all taint of the privateer banks, and if the post offices need help getting organized let them hold conferences with local small banks and Fed Credit Unions.
0 # Shenonymous 2014-03-01 23:50
It's not a bad idea. I've been happily using a credit union for about 17 years and profits are recycled for member services and benefits, great interest rates on both loans and savings accounts. Even the checking accounts earn interest. We vote for our board and they do not make outtasite salaries! But there are those who can't join a credit union and a post office bank with small loan service could be immensely useful to them. But I've never been too thrilled with a privatized postal service.
0 # Ponder4me 2014-03-02 18:41
If banking and bill paying were more electronic, then facilities to do banking and bill paying could be located in government buildings such as post offices, as well as city, county and state buildings also. Non-profits could be created where the need is great.
+1 # Charles3000 2014-03-04 16:04
Post Offices were used as banks in WWII. It is not new. The money line should run back through the US Treasury. Putting private interests into the PO would be a NO NO!
+1 # bingers 2014-03-14 19:33
One of my heroes, Greg Palast got it wrong this time. see:

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