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Palast writes: "Since my first report in this investigation, I have had to resign a column – and endure several thousand tweets by enraged Liberals – simply for trying to expose the Postal Service's whacky scheme to transform itself into a criminal loan-sharking operation tied to a shady escort service."

Screen shot from the pdf,
Screen shot from the pdf, "Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved" on the Office of the Inspector General of the USPS website. (illustration: USPS)

Brains Lost in Mail – Postal Bank Bunkum

By Greg Palast, Reader Supported News

09 March 14


On the Internet, no one can hear you scream (unless I attach one of those idiot emoticons).

Since my first report in this investigation, I have had to resign a column – and endure several thousand tweets by enraged Liberals – simply for trying to expose the Postal Service's whacky scheme to transform itself into a criminal loan-sharking operation tied to a shady escort service. (This last is a wee exaggerated, but not much.)

he story “Liz Warren Goes Postal” was originally submitted for my regular column at another news site – which refused to print my findings because it did not comport with their political “mission.”

I resigned from that publication, of course. No reporter worth his pencil will take the missionary position with editors. I’m sure my superiors at The Guardian and BBC Television would also love to bend me over their ideological mattresses – but wouldn’t dare suggest it.

As a card-carrying progressive, I’m told I must never write about Senator Elizabeth Warren unless I first shout, “Warren akbar!” – Liz is Great! – while bowing reverentially towards Boston.

So, bless Reader Supported News for publishing the story in its uncensored form, though its editors may not warm to my message. I was well warned that, for reporting facts that do not build the edifice of adulation to Saint Elizabeth, I would endure the slings, arrows, and fervent tweets of outraged Democrats. Indeed, the sonic blast of their chirping has been deafening.


What, you are asking, could cause such a freak-out among my erstwhile comrades? Mass-murder in Syria? ObamaCare melting the Polar Caps?

Wrong! The Post Office.

A couple of news cycles ago, Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed a U.S. Postal Service scheme to allow post offices in low-income neighborhoods to get into the “payday loan” business.

Payday loans, like rats and cops with tasers, are a fact of ghetto life. The desperate poor sign over their paychecks in advance to some sleazy loan-shark who charges “vigorish” (interest) that can eat a third of the paycheck. It’s sickening – and in several states, it’s a crime.

But crime pays: The Post Office projects it can suck $8.9 billion a year from America’s poorest if they can just get into this payday loan racket.

America’s big banks also lust for a payday pound of flesh. But they are barred from this kind of sick-o predatory lending by the federal consumer protection regulations promoted by … Liz Warren.

Yet, under a new Post Office plan endorsed by this same Liz Warren, the P.O. would team up with commercial banks to cash in on payday predation, exempting themselves from the Warren rules.

Are you confused? Surely the senator is.

Why would Warren add her name to such a mean scheme? I can only guess – because last week her PR flack said he’d get right back to me within a day with a time to interview her. A week has now passed; I guess he’s misplaced the senator.

A Non-Bank Bank

Neither the Post Office nor the Big Banksters would ever say, “We want to use federal property to run illegal loan-sharking shops.” No, instead, the Postal Governors are running a slick, slick campaign, telling us, in the opening of their plan, that the Postal Service just wants to help out the "one in four U.S. households [living] at least partially outside the financial mainstream without bank accounts or using costly services like payday lenders."

The P.O. is right: there are 68 million "un-banked” Americans. But the Post Office plan won’t reduce that number at all. Quite the opposite: The Postal Governors, pimping themselves out in anticipation of privatization, see America's vulnerable un-banked as their "single best new opportunity for posts to earn additional revenue."

And the USPS plan makes clear, in black and white, that it will not offer banking services: no bank accounts, neither checking nor savings – and no lending except sharky payday loans.

Nevertheless, Senator Warren and several good and decent folk – based on Warren’s endorsement – are now campaigning for “Postal Banking.”

I invite your disagreement, but have no time for Twit-iots who attack my findings without having read the farking postal service plan. Here’s the link, friends.

The horror of the Post Office scheme is right on the cover, right in its title: "Providing NON-BANK Financial Services to the Underserved."

I’ve included an illustration for the illiterate.

Now what the hell is a “non-bank?” It’s the same old ghetto banking system – except that you can lick the back of it.

When you read through the P.O.’s putrid plan, in pages past the crocodile tears for the poor, it tells us, “Listen up, you poor schmucks – you don’t have a bank and you ain’t getting no bank. All we’ll give you are more payday loans, high-fee pre-paid credit cards and rip-off money transfers.”

Liz Warren endorsed a plan for Postal Banking – which, in fact, is nowhere in the actual Postal plan. A real bank provides savings and checking accounts, credit cards (not "prepaid" cards) and real loans (not "we-hold-your-paycheck-and-charge-34%" loans). The USPS will offer only the costly rip-offs that Liz Warren spent years fighting.

BitCoin Banking and BitNews Reporting

Last week, when I noted that the Empress has no clothes on this issue, I was viciously tweeted upon.

One truly decent activist for the un-banked poor had written a column backing the USPS/Warren ghetto plan – and then slapped me for failing to join the party.

I was ready to concede I’d gotten it wrong: I don’t believe in the doctrine of Journalist Infallibility. So I wrote this thoughtful author (the name is not important) about her knowledge of the details of the Post Office plan. And I got this reply:

“No, I hadn't read the bill. Drowning in work at the moment, but I'll get to it.”


I’ve been busy working too: reading the plan.

Such a snap commentary, the staple of U.S. news outlets, is what I call BitNews. Like BitCoin, it’s imaginary, without any back-up, but you’re expected to buy it. (The image came to me after reading the P.O.’s additional request for authority to set up accounts for BitCoins – but not US currency. I can’t make this up.)

I am an investigative reporter. Sometimes that means hiding in the snow at dawn outside some finance vulture’s mansion; or taking a dug-out canoe up the Amazon hunting for evidence. Sometimes, it’s just reading a law before I write about it.

That’s what is happening here. My progressive friends, and, I suspect, Senator Warren, have decided to review a movie without seeing it.

Oh, yes, they’ve seen the trailer. The “trailer” to the USPS scheme was an op-ed in The New York Times by one Mehrsa Baradaran, called "The Post Office Banks on the Poor."

It’s a terrific piece. But it’s a lie.

It’s a lie because of what it leaves out: that the Post Office will provide nothing but the degraded ghetto “services” already available from a guy in the back room of the corner bodega.

And it’s a lie because the bio of Ms. Baradaran leaves out something crucial. She’s listed as a “professor of law specializing in banking regulation.” But until recently, Ms. Baradaran worked for Davis, Polk & Wardwell. Davis Polk represents the Securities Industry & Financial Market Association and Wells Fargo, the firm's biggest lobby clients. Baradaran’s firm fought tooth and nail against Liz Warren’s banking regulation proposals.

The banksters must have broken out the champagne when they heard they’d hooked Senator Warren.

But this story is not about Liz Warren, nor Greg Palast for that matter. This is about an assault on the nation’s least-defended Americans.

Happily, there is an alternative to Postal predation.

Occupy Wall Street’s Solution

If you’re like me, nostalgic for the good old days of 2011, you’ll remember a movement called “Occupy Wall Street.”

“Occupy” (acolytes only use its first name) called for taking your money out of the Big Banks and sticking it into the not-for-profit banks known as community credit unions.

Occupy itself stuck its buckets of cash donations into New York’s Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union. (See my report for Democracy Now, Goldman Sachs Versus Occupy Wall Street.)

Occupy’s bank, “Peoples,” provides short-term loans (not payday loans) to their members, 80% of whom are near or below the poverty line. The loans cost 10%, not the 34% sought by the PO. They offer real savings and checking accounts, even to the homeless.

There are about a thousand of these community credit unions nationwide. But there should be 25,000.

Are you reading this, Senator? The Post Office has already begun what it calls a "market test" with American Express.

Instead of letting American Express run tests on us, Senator, why not let post offices partner with not-for-profit credit unions to offer real banking services, not usury, to the public?

Postmen to Bagmen?

There’s another issue thrown into this witchy cauldron. Lots of progressives applaud the Postal payday loans because it will keep the USPS out of bankruptcy. But if it’s okay to skin the poor to save the P.O., why stop with ghetto “banking” and BitCoins? Why not let postmen sell cigarettes, forties, spliffs and escort services? These too are overpriced in low-income neighborhoods.

Despite what I read about myself on the Internet, I like Postal Banking – just like they have in Switzerland. My family likes postal banking. In fact, my relations like postal banking so much, they’ve put all their savings into Postal Bank accounts in Switzerland (they’re Swiss).

So, there you have it: The story of the U.S. Postal Bank that doesn’t exist, of lobbyists hoodwinking the best of us when we’re “busy,” my resignation from yet another publication, and my commitment to you that you will never read here some propaganda for someone’s “mission.”

You only get the story ordered by my favorite editor, Sgt. Joe Friday: “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Greg Palast is an investigator of financial and corporate fraud who has never lobbied for the banking industry. His latest investigations for BBC Television and Democracy Now have been released as a full-length film, Vultures and Vote Rustlers, available from the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. 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

+58 # Mouna 2014-03-09 13:42
Horray afor you, Greg Palast! You're teaching us to study and
pay attention, which I appreciate from all your investigations.
I'm sure that our good Senator Warren will reconsider after
reading the "postal service plan" thoroughly. I'm sure she's
very busy, too. Please keep at it, Greg.
+26 # Nominae 2014-03-09 18:01
Quoting Mouna:
You're teaching us attention, which I appreciate from all your investigations.
I'm sure that our good Senator Warren will reconsider after
reading the "postal service plan".......

Good point, Mouna. Warren was also solidly behind Monsanto until her office was inundated with people kind enough to educate her on the truth about GMO crops.

The woman does not walk on water, and, possessed of a first class mind, she *IS* able to learn.

This P.O. scheme is a poser, though, since banking *IS* Warren's area of expertise, unlike, perhaps, Giant Ag shenanigans.

The problem that Palast so valiantly confronts is simply the "Shadow Game" as described in Plato's Cave Analogy from his book The Republic. (google)

People are so weak and terrified that once they identify a "savior", they will "hear no evil" in re said savior even if the neo-deity turns out to be 90 degrees to the Right of Attila The Hun.

The people who attacked Palast for simply pointing to the actual *FACTS* in re: Warren are the same people who wanted to put their heads in the sand when Warren collaborated with the Colorado Senator on behalf of Monsanto.

Lazy thinking abounds, (as in those who reject the facts because they don't *want* them to be true), but what is even more astounding (and dangerous) are those too fearful even to *allow* the truth.

As Palast discovered - tell THEM there's no Easter Bunny and they will tear YOU limb from limb.
-1 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-03-09 18:24
The brain damaged Americans seen to be unable to learn a damn thing even when is is explained to them in the simple words, "NO BANKING SERVICES". The reason they CAN NOT LEARN is because they hang on to the filty lie that there is one whit of space between the fat posterior of a Dimocrap and a Repuklincan. THEY ARE ONE AND THE SAME. Warren is right up there with Sarah Palin. We will NEVER be able to change the cruel greedy evil policies of our nation until we get rid of both the Dirty Ds and the Rotten Rs. We need elected officials who will vote to Represent the people in their district and not to some corporately funded political party of some bag man dumping bribes into the 'war chest' of all of our current 'honored' members of Congress. Aint' NO honor there---just psychopatic greed that is killing the living standards of our working people and who gives a damn about the sick and homeless? Not here in the richest nation on earth. We sic 'Security' on them.
+3 # karenvista 2014-03-10 23:37
Quoting Mouna:
Horray afor you, Greg Palast! You're teaching us to study and pay attention

I have read the "plan" twice now that he has gone nuts over it again.

There are NO GOOD OPTIONS for poor people and those of us living on Social Security.

The "Occupy Wall Street Bank" is the LOWER EAST SIDE PEOPLES' FEDERAL CREDIT UNION and is only open to: "Individuals who live, work, volunteer, worship, attend school, or belong to any organization located in Manhattan Community Board 3 (Lower East Side) or Manhattan Community Board 10 (Central Harlem)." That leaves the vast majority of the country out.

I have paid 391% interest to loan shark payday lenders to get by long enough to pay my property tax and homeowners' association bills so I won't be homeless - Yet!

$25. plus 25% interest per annum would be a lot more affordable, yet he calls it usurious (sharky.) It's a little higher than most credit card rates available to lower income people, but not much.

Elizabeth Warren has read and understood the USPS plan and knows what options are available to the poor. It's not great but better than the alternatives.

Greg Palast can complain when he finds widely available options for short term loans for low income people at, say 10% and then he can write a great big article telling us how to access them. I dare him!

Here's the doc:
+1 # brux 2014-03-11 16:06
Well said Karen. I really do not understand Palast's tone here, unless he is just miffed at having been forgotten or stood up. Call again and ask the Senator's flunkies but at this point they are probably pretty suspicious of what Palest is up to. There articles are just weird.
-1 # brux 2014-03-11 16:04
Maybe if you have ADD it might seem like that.
+2 # karenvista 2014-03-12 01:12
I don't have ADD. I owned my own company for 15 years and was well paid but after suffering a disability and fighting for disability insurance, even after the SSA doctor testified I was totally disabled and they turned me down anyway I used up most of my savings.

You post a lot about things you have no experience with.

I hope you are never wiped out by a disability shortly before you can retire.
+1 # karenvista 2014-03-13 00:36
Brux-Sorry for my previous post. I misunderstood who you were saying had ADD.

I agree with most of what you say which means we'll both be unpopular here.
0 # brux 2014-03-13 23:04
I'm used to being unpopular here ... most of my posts, agree or disagree, make people think ... I think that just hurts some people here.

There seems to be a few people who just go through and whatever I write they give me thumbs down ... LOL! Even if I post to correct a typo.

This is the problem with RSN, there are enough of these losers to swamp the discussion and voting process to almost make it useless.

Don't worry Karen, no offense taken and I was not talking about you having ADD. If I am talking about something I have no experience with though I am more a question asker and a speculator. I hope I don't have a disability either, and I am sorry to here you do.

I have nothing against Greg Palest, he does some important reporting, and the biggest problem I can see is that he shoots himself in the foot getting the information he has uncovered out there in a form people can understand. He also has a penchant for sensationalism and exaggeration ... which considering much of his work he does not need to have.
-14 # DurangoKid 2014-03-09 13:45
Feet of clay, Ms. Warren?
-55 # skylinefirepest 2014-03-09 13:54
Maybe this will be an eye opener for you Greg...liberals cannot stand the truth! They will load you down with wacky red minus points if you tell the truth. They dare not establish the truth for themselves even when told how and where. Even if it comes from the obumma government that they worship!!
+19 # ericlipps 2014-03-09 16:08
Quoting skylinefirepest:
Maybe this will be an eye opener for you Greg...liberals cannot stand the truth! They will load you down with wacky red minus points if you tell the truth. They dare not establish the truth for themselves even when told how and where. Even if it comes from the obumma government that they worship!!

Oh, please.

This is one liberal who won't "load [Greg Palast] down with minus points" for this column, and I'm sure I'm not alone. A bad idea is a bad idea, no matter who supports it.

On the other hand, to judge from some of the other comments here, perhaps Mr. Palast is the one who's in the wrong--at least if it's true that the USPS's plan is in line with what most banks charge AND we agree that the banks are charging fairly. Some of us would question that last.
+13 # Tigre1 2014-03-09 18:39
Look, my fellow tough libby...what's legal and what's JUST are not the same.

Just because the PO would ONLY charge what the banks and the payday screws charge...that makes it OK? NOT NOT NOT.

The idea that my government would screw over the poor so obviously and cold-heartedly makes me want to puke, and I will FIGHT the ethical criminals who try to make that rotten payday loan carcass fly, and I don't mean just I will vote and I will make wordy paragraphs.

As a politically involved citizen(America n, you know) I don't have to let leeches parade as human beings...I have great political resources, and among them are my fellow citizens...
+11 # unitedwestand 2014-03-09 16:30
Are you looking in a mirror when you say "cannot stand the truth!"

Since we are not all able to access all the information that someone like Mr. Palast knows how to get, (it's solely his job), we liberals have no problem reassessing our point of you, and appreciate very much the facts when presented, unlike some of your ilk where it's okay to eat lies and propaganda like candy. (Watch FOX much)?
+1 # RODNOX 2014-03-10 05:09
but CONSERVATIVES cannot understand the truth
-3 # brux 2014-03-11 16:08
Maybe you could point out for this Liberal just where the truth you are so sure I cannot stand is in this article?

This liberal also does not worship the "Obumma" government, but I can spell Obama, and I can deduce that schmucks like you always have to throw stuff like that into your posts so we can be sure that you are schmucks and not just pretending to be.
+43 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-09 14:15
I checked out Greg's link to the Post Office plan. The following figures are from a comparison box on page 13 of their report. From what I read, it seems that the PO plan is totally in line with what most banks charge for their credit card rates, which I think is comparing apples to apples. They're charging a one time fee of $25 for a loan + a 25% APR. This is less than one tenth of what payday lenders charge. And it's a way for those with no or bad credit to get a loan at similar rates as everyone else. I can see why Sen. Warren supports it. What's the problem? I don't get it, Glen; this seems like a non-story. Anyone else here look at the numbers?

Loan amount $375 Average months to repay 4.5 Average bi-monthly payment $99 Total interest and fees $520 Effective annual interest rate* (391%)

$375 5.5 $38 $48 (28%)
+14 # diacad 2014-03-09 14:53
I agree, Betty - it harms Palast's reputation when his defensive rhetoric outstrips the accuracy and depth of his reporting. I hope he will reconsider and revise his position here. Bracketing the USPS loan plan with "payday loans", "rats", "cops with tazors", is something unworthy of Palast. It is interesting that he writes from the UK, where the General Post Office initiated the world's first postal banking services, primarily intended for low-income "unbanked" citizens, in 1861. I am not sure they offer loans, though; perhaps Palast or someone else from UK can report on this. It seems like a logical extension, far more preferable than the private loan sharks many poor people in the US resort to today. Anyway, encouraging thrift by postal banking was one of the most effective ways of helping low-income people avoid the financial trap of irregular usurious loans from sharks, more prevalent in Britain before postal banking, and one of the chief reason for this reform.
+19 # Georgist 2014-03-09 15:02
While this seems to put the lie, or at least sensationalist exaggeration, to Mr. Palast rant and explain how Ms. Warren might have been lured in, I still want to know if indeed local credit unions cannot serve the bankless in non-preditory ways and if so, why do the bankless not use them already?
+21 # unitedwestand 2014-03-09 16:21
You think a 25% APR is okay for the already poor? Mr. Palast has lots of good points. I heard about both the Occupy banks and the USPS banks but until now I hadn't made a comparison. I loved the Occupy bank idea right away, but I've not been able to find how to exactly access it. The USPS sounded like a good idea, as I'm very concerned with the postal service surviving without forcing it to privatize it, but how does it help the people if it is only a smidgen better than the predatory lenders.

I do believe that USPS is not broke, and those that say that are trying to connive the privatization of it. A reminder of why some say USPS is broke. In 2006, Congress, with the help of UPS, FedEX, Dick Cheney passed a mandatory retiree health care benefits savings bill to cover the next 75 years, in 10 years. No other company has that responsibility. You can read about it here:

Thank you Mr. Palast for having the courage to be a real reporter.
+3 # Kathymoi 2014-03-10 15:52
Go to Bernie Sanders' website. He explains that the post office was required a few years ago to stash away pension payouts for all current and future employees 20 years in advance. Nobody does that. The post office has so much money in its pension account that you can't really call the system broke at all. It's rich. It has its funds tied by the republicans who hire think tanks to think up a way to make any and every public service fail. The post office needs to be freed from this regulation about its pension plan. Forget about banking with the post office.
+1 # Tigre1 2014-03-09 18:42
This is catbarf, Bimbala. Payday loans with ANY interest, over time, lead to what they really are...more SLAVERY.

Don't you know the difference between LEGAL rates, set by lapdogs of the banking industry, and what is just? hint: there's a word: JUSTICE.

And I think you've never thought about
"Liberty and JUSTICE for ALL..." right?
+15 # djnova50 2014-03-09 14:33
Thumbs up to Greg Palast. I've been against payday lenders since they first came into existence. I am poor and am able to plan my spending so that my low income can last most, if not all of the month. The Post Office needs to stay completely away from the business of payday lending. What Ms. Warren should be promoting is the rollback of the congressional mandate to prefund USPS retirement benefits.
+5 # Luckyenough 2014-03-09 16:12
Quoting djnova50:
Thumbs up to Greg Palast. I've been against payday lenders since they first came into existence. I am poor and am able to plan my spending so that my low income can last most, if not all of the month. The Post Office needs to stay completely away from the business of payday lending. What Ms. Warren should be promoting is the rollback of the congressional mandate to prefund USPS retirement benefits.

This seems to me like it would work if you are paid in cash. But if you are paid by check, and most low-wage employees are, as they have no bank account for direct deposit, somewhere you have to trade that check for cash so that you can plan to make that low income last most of the month.
+1 # Kathymoi 2014-03-10 15:53
You may be poor, but not in intelligence.
Thank you for your right on comments.
+1 # Kathymoi 2014-03-10 15:56
My comment is to djnova50, not luckyenough. If the employer has a bank, it's possible to cash that employer's check. There is no need to go to a payday loan shark to cash the check.
+1 # cabotool 2014-03-11 20:29
Not true.I go to the bank on which a check is written. Because I don't have an account at that bank, they charge me $5 to cash the check.
-11 # brux 2014-03-09 14:38
>> I invite your disagreement, but have no time for Twit-iots who attack my findings without having read the farking postal service plan.

Well, I just read about 70 lines THAT SAID NOTHING OF INTEREST before getting to this saying we ought to look for facts.

Well ... instead of posting your lame stand up comedy act - just post the facts - please.
+18 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-09 14:43
Here's the scoop on getting loans from the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union that Greg touts in his article. Yes, they lend $ at close to 10%, but you have to open an account there and have all the documentation and credit worthiness that all standard banks require. Most the folks who use payday lenders do so because they don't trust banks, don't have the paperwork and ID necessary for banks, don't have the job history needed or all three. Glen, I think you're really misleading every one on this. Do you have some axe to grind with the PO?

Personal Loans
APR: As low as 10.99%

Subject to approval based on BEACON credit score. All interest rates are subject to change.
+11 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 15:40
Ms Bimbalina, you are doing almost what Greg said everyone else is... commenting without checking your facts. Try reading the same page you quote again, with a calculator in hand. The "required minimum payment" is 5% of a paycheck. 5% of $750 (the total paycheck, of which he could borrow half) is ~$38. A 5.5 month payback implies 11 payments of $38, or $418. Take away the principle, $375, and you get $43, not $48. Add the $25 initiation fee, and the total is $73, which represents 73/375 ~= 19% for 5.5 months, or about 42% per year. Certainly not in loan shark range, but not the 28% that you quoted without verifying.
A better deal than a loan shark, but still a rapacious treatment of our most vulnerable.

(Edited to refine understanding of the numbers, and recognize that the example IS a minimum payment scenario)
+4 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 16:02
Oh, and BTW, if your argument for ignoring the initiation fee is that it is one-time, I would argue that annualization of costs (and thus of interest) would have to consider continuous borrowing, and hence repeated fees.
+1 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-11 15:35
You're right I believe. The PO example did not include the initiation fee in the stated APR %. However, I do argue that this is standard with cash advances on a credit card, which is the closest bank vehicle to compare to. For example, my bank (Barclay Card) charges a "transaction fee" of 5% on cash advances - that amounts to $18.75 on the PO example of a $375 advance. Then they charge 25.24% on the unpaid balance. This is almost identical to the PO scenario. And since banks do not make payday loans to anyone, period, credit card advances for smaller emergencies are the only option for anyone, rich or poor. I don't believe even the world's greatest credit union would make an unsecured loan to someone with no job or credit history. So what choice is there really??
+14 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-09 14:44

Be a current Credit Union member
Complete the Personal Loan application online or on site
$10 Loan Application Fee
Proof of income: choose ONE of the following:
Pay stubs (3 most recent) and/or letter on letterhead from employer
Proof of Public Assistance / SSI / SSD, Pension and/or Child Support
Notarized letters from any household member(s) that contribute(s) income to the applicant
2 years Tax returns, if self employed
Proof of most recent rent payment or notarized letter from primary tenant stating how much member’s portion of rent is or a letter from landlord stating how long member has lived at address, how much they pay in rent and if member is up to date.
Complete LESPFCU Reference Form
*For Debt Consolidation loans the most current statements of all accounts to be consolidated are required
+17 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-09 14:44
To join the credit union, bring the following documents to one of our branches:

At least one government-issu ed photo identification, such as:

Driver’s license
Consular identification card
Proof of your home address, such as:

current telephone, utility or cable bill
current lease or rent receipt
current clinic card showing the address
current HRS letter
voter card

A minimum of $30 to open your account ($25 minimum deposit, plus a $5 membership fee). In order to avoid a monthly fee of $3, you must maintain a balance of $75.

If you are joining through one of the credit union’s partner organizations, please bring proof that you are affiliated with that organization, such as:

A pay stub if you are an employee; or
A letter from the organization on official letterhead stating your affiliation (board member, volunteer, member, etc.)
+2 # NAVYVET 2014-03-10 09:41
Good heavens! I didn't need anything more than proof of address, phone number, and employment--plu s a $100 deposit--when I joined my credit union 15 years ago! However, I believe there was a 3 month delay on taking out a first loan. Can't remember exactly since I didn't need one. Have requirements grown so onerous in the past 15 years?
+4 # Little Old Lady 2014-03-09 14:46
I am disappointed Sen. Warren didn't do her homework before she lent her name and credibility to this shameful scheme. Thank you, Greg Palast, for reminding me not to blindly accept the word of people I admire. To paraphrase The Gipper, even when you trust, you still better verify.
+5 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-09 14:56
Dear Little Old Lady,
You didn't do your homework either. Please check some of my fact filled posts above and below.
-4 # Tigre1 2014-03-09 18:49
Bimbi...JUST, ie, fair, giving each human what is deserved for being alive...
if you rely on the BANKKK who own the legislators...a nd I know something about will ALWAYS come down on the heads of the poor and the striving like the tone of bricks your stuff reads like.

Good luck at church again if you ever go...oh, you go often? Saint Greenbacks' cathedral, where they celebrate whipping Jesus because he loved the poor? I would have guessed...
+1 # Kathymoi 2014-03-10 16:06
Be careful. Use your intelligence and your knowledge as your guide to what is good policy. Check. Elizabeth Warren sounds good, but I strongly suggest watching closely as the democrat party is funded by people and corporations with the money to fund a political party. These billionaires are not "for the people". And the parties that depend on their funding must pay back in favors. The billionaires are not going to fund a politician or a political party that opposes their profit interests. Let's keep watching Elizabeth Warren carefully. Caution is a good policy.
+7 # brux 2014-03-09 14:47
I am not reading anything in this article that says what these Post Office Banks would do, or why it would be bad.

One would think a write are such articulacy as Greg Palest ought to be able to lay out the arguments and facts for us - bang - bang - bang ... but all I read from Greg is attacks on Liberals, attacks on his friends, attacks of Ms. Warren, and bad jokes.

Greg, get to the point, just the facts please.

How would these banks work?
What if any charges would these people have to pay?
How long is their money held up for?

OR ... if there is a problem here,
go back and find out who thought this up,
where did they come from, and why did they
think they can run this by everything.

Why did Ms. Warren sign on to it ... and instead
of taking the tactic that Warren is a ditz, maybe she
made a mistake ... but if you have a fucking brain
in your head you would figure out in simple direct
language what the problem is and ask Warren about
it directly and see what he answer is.

She, as you, as all of us are only human. Maybe she
made a mistake, maybe you did, maybe, maybe, maybe,
but there is nothing here in your article to discuss and
nothing that pushes the understanding of what is going
on ahead one millimeter?

Why is that?
+11 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 16:36
BTW, if you read the article you would see that he HAS asked the Senator to explain - and her office hasn't replied, in a week, after saying that they would reply within a day with a time to interview her....

Oh, yeah - and your complaint in the first sentence - his response probably would be " I SAID, READ THE Post Office's proposal - that's what they will do...." He even provided a link to it, for you to look for yourself, rather than take his synopsis of it.
+7 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:23
Really? a down-vote on something that is just referring to the article? Would you care to enumerate the reasons for the down-vote? If there are factual questions, then I'd like to correct the post.... Perhaps my post sounds too snarky? (It's unintentional, but that's hard to read in a comments thread, of course)
+5 # liandro 2014-03-09 14:50
Greg, what about Betty Bimbalina's comments and comparisons? She read the plan, apparently, and comes to a different conclusion.'

But Greg, bombast aside, even if this plan is all you say, how does that negate all the other good stuff Warren is doing? It seems you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. She and Bernie Sanders are among the very few in Congress who consistently and vigorously support true progressive concerns. In fact, while you compare her support of this Postal plan negatively to her support of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency's works, there would likely have been NO CFPA without Warren's push for it over a number of years.

You may or may not be right about this plan (again, Betty seems to honestly contradict you), but your attack on all that is Warren and implying that she is some sort of phony is off the mark.
+10 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 16:44
Liandro, I think you are inferring something that Greg went to some lengths to avoid. He is NOT saying that she is some kind of phony - just that she has (or her staff has) not read the proposal and spent some time figuring out what the rhetoric implies. This is not being a phony - this is just what Palast bemoans of people in general, and he presents facts to counteract that failing. True, he IS about as abrasive as he can be in his presentation, but you can certainly imagine the frustration of someone who DOES his research, presents it, and then is attacked by the very people he expects to applaud him for opening their eyes.
0 # Kathymoi 2014-03-10 16:13
liandro, you misread what Greg said. Go back and reread.
On the other hand, be attentive, issue by issue. Supporting Monsanto was not supporting true progressive concerns. Senator Warren may have learned not to support Monsanto, but she did support Monsanto for a while. Her support did not make Monsanto a truly progressive corporation. You need to use your own intelligence and research to evaluate the comments of politicians, any politicians.
+32 # Art947 2014-03-09 14:59
Why are we not petitioning for all U.S. governments (Federal, state and local) to bring back the laws of usury?

Why do we still permit the Fed to loan money to the big banks at almost 0% interest rates and then permit them to charge 15%, 18% or higher rates to borrowers?

Why do we charge students interest rates of 6% or more for education loans?

There are a whole slew of questions that we could ask about getting our financial house in order and not let it be run by "thieves" such as the head of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, etc.
+7 # TJGeezer 2014-03-09 15:10
FTA: "Like BitCoin, it’s imaginary, without any back-up, but you’re expected to buy it."

How does that differ from U.S. currency? Except that Bitcoin distribution and availability are controlled by algorithms, not by private bankers. If you trust bankers to do the better job, I'd like to offer you a bridge.

I don't own any Bitcoins; not a fanatic speaking here. I just think it's absurd to put any faith in the U.S. government or in the Wall Street bankers and con men whose scams it refuses to rein in.

Palast certainly has one thing right - the Occupy model of not-for-profit credit unions providing needed short-term services makes a lot better sense than trusting it to the postal no-longer-a-service.

Now if we went back to Ben Franklin's leftie loonie notion of the post office as a government service to the community, not a commercial corporation that must grow and make money or die... yeah, right. Dream on.
+2 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:53
TJ, if we couldn't continue to dream, we wouldn't be wasting our time writing these posts, I suspect.

Keep hoping, keep prodding our flawed, overly human legislators to represent us instead of their bankrollers, and keep dreaming. It takes movements to alter reality. It takes dreams to make movements.
+10 # jwb110 2014-03-09 15:28
If the Congress (i.e. the Bush 2 era) would rescind the law making the USPO finance their pension plan 75 years in advance none of this would never have come up. Strangling the PO is just a rues to push it to privatization. If cashing paychecks makes up the shortfall so be it. The NSA is already a private contracted gov't dept. and look at how they have handled their mission. The USPO is already privatized since the Carter Administration albeit with Gov't Oversight. What Warren is talking about is the height of real Capitalism. Offering more and better services to the people who already use their present services. I doubt very much that this PO Service will gouge the poor to the degree that the private companies do. We might be very well creating the kind of competition that is real Capitalism. Better and more affordable services for the customer.
I know of no one who has ever benefited from deregulation and privatization. We have no say is how our tax dollars are being spent on private companies that the gov't, not the people, have chosen to line their pockets. The American public sees any and all benefits and services, the whole reason to pay taxes, disappearing into private hands.
The gov't should be run from the point of view of value to the citizens, not the "cost" funneling the money of the many into the hands of the few.
+5 # rmk948 2014-03-09 15:37
This whole flap has not been one of Palast's finest moments. Credit unions could of course substitute for payday lenders: if you have an account, a steady job, a decent credit rating and so on. The problem is that most people who cash checks and get payday loans from these places have problems with all of these. A microfinance payday lending scheme based in post offices could allow desperate people to get small loans for food and medicine without paying usurious interest rates. Palast has failed to provide any clear alternative.
+5 # diacad 2014-03-09 16:01
Right, rmk948 - Credit unions are worth considering for those who have or could get an account or loan from a bank. Palast might just as well have advised "Let them eat cake!" Even if he thinks himself progressive, he certainly doesn't understand the plight of the poor sufficiently to give realistic financial advice to them. Certainly not as well as Elizabeth Warren, who seems to be more the target of his vitriol than the postal loan plan itself.
+2 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:09
Umm, I am assuming (perhaps with too much hope) that Palast's suggestion to let the Credit Unions handle the transactions is similar to the current proposal by the Post Office to let the banks handle the transactions (called "partnering with the banks" in the cited proposal).

When you say that these customers couldn't get a CU account, it's not pertinent. They couldn't get a bank account, either, but the banks will process the transactions, taking their hefty fees, anyhow. Just substitute "partner with Credit Unions" for "partner with the banks", and the comparison becomes more understandable, and better for the customers because the CUs aren't dedicated to screwing the last penny out of their customers.
+2 # dick 2014-03-09 15:39
INSTEAD of hysterical, nasty name calling and condescending rhetoric, Mr. B'last might try calmly pointing out specific flaws in the Plans of others and offering SPECIFIC alternatives. His writing sounds like the ravings of an over agitated lunatic. Certainly there is a better way to communicate. HOW COULD the post offices benefit folks who need simple, specific local service assistance?
-1 # brux 2014-03-11 16:02
Yeah, what that dick said! ;-)
+5 # MillValleyMaven 2014-03-09 16:04
Mr. Palast's self-serving sensationalism aside, I hesitate to believe analysis by an "investigative journalist" who doesn't understand the "missionary position."
-1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-03-09 18:18

ROFLOL!! God I missed that :) You are absolutely right!
-1 # brux 2014-03-11 16:11
LOL -methinks GP has over-extended his smart-alecness and it has smacked him right in the face. Good catch.
+1 # WolfTotem 2014-03-09 16:10
I don't quite understand this one. In most European countries post offices have been providing these services for decades - what does Mr Palast have to tell us about that?

I've seen British, French, German, Dutch, Italian Post Offices rightly (and wrongly) accused of all sorts of bumbling and inefficiency, but never of being loan sharks...
+6 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:17
No, actually most of the countries that you note, just like the US, of forty years or so ago, are NOT just providing payday loans - they are providing full service banking, with much lower barriers for entry (don't need a full time job, etc, etc) than a bank - or even the current standards for CUs - require.

That's a plan that EW could easily get behind, but which would not allow the banksters their vigorish - they couldn't compete with CUs in that arena, because of their insatiable requirement for profits.

It's much the same as comparing Medicare for All to the insurance industry's normal operations. No for-profit insurance company could possibly compete in an arena with a fully capitalized non-profit opponent, mostly because the insurance companies don't provide any value for their costs.

CU's and banks do (mostly - there are restrictions in law that protect some of the banksters' more egregious scams) about the same things. The CUs don't have to make a profit (or return it as dividneds), while the banks' only reason for existence is to make that profit.
+12 # Troilus 2014-03-09 16:50
Thanks to Betty and Richard Martin-Shorter for giving us relevant information in sober terms. I'm an idealistic lefty, and yet I grudgingly acknowledge that even a 42% effective annual rate is worth our support, given the political realities and horrible status quo. That's a huge jump in quality of life for millions of people on the margin. Even this bill is going to be extremely difficult to get through; if you insist upon a truly just reform, you're simply submitting to the status quo and comfortably watching from a distance as millions of poor people continue to suffer. Also, I doubt that you'll ever get a better chance to fight against/destroy this insidious, powerful industry. Sad, but our short-term goal should be to help people as much as possible, not score debating points.
I grant you that Greg's point that the financial industry is profiting from this arrangement is repulsive, but frankly it's a drop in a bucket for them, especially when divided up by many institutions. Again, you'll never get a socialistic proposal through, and I think we have to think of real people and their immediate suffering even if the banks(who will lose some of their current indirect payday lending profits)gain some undeserved benefit.

What's with all this pointless vitriol? Palast has been a hard-working, skeptical reporter, and Elizabeth Warren is doing wonderful things. Okay,Greg should lay off the personal attacks, but so should we. This issue transcends petty rhetoric.
+2 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:31
I agree - Greg's frustrations at the attacks from the Left are prejudicing his arguments to many who would otherwise support his ideas, I think. Understandable, because despite being one hell of a good investigative reporter, he's still human enough to feel surprise at attacks from those he thought would support his facts, and not pay attention to his presentation.
+4 # ganymede 2014-03-09 16:58
Mr. Palast, you're one of the great journalists of our time, but I don't think you have a full handle on this issue. There's no way that Sen. Warren is going to support 39% interest payday loans - nor will the vast majority of people in our country. Maybe, it's a gimmick/tactic on her part to get the discussion going and let the public know that we should have full checking, savings and loan services at major Post Offices, and at a significantly lower cost than conventional banks - just like they do in most civilized countries. Sen. Warren is the most pro regulation and anti financial corruption politician we have and, as I said, she will never condone further fleecing of the public by the banksters.
+1 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:40
Ganymede, I hope you are right about Sen. Warren, and that she will rescind her endorsement of the Post Office proposal in favor of something that will help the intended customers more. Palast has suggested, perhaps too obliquely, that a full banking service, provided by less profit-hungry Credit Unions under newly authorized rules, might be that better proposal to endorse. Here's hoping that her staff investigates such possibilities for her, and provides her with what she remembers as "Postal Banking" rather than the villainous, poisonous proposal of the current Post Office that Mr. Palast links to.
+2 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:00
I disagree with Mr Palast's extremely negative view of BitCoins, because of his aversion to its lack of stability (and hence risk, unacceptably high for people with little or no uncommitted income). BitCoin is much like Western Union and other similar means for moving money around the world, except that it has essentially no rapacious fees attached, and is NOT recorded or controlled by any government through whose grasp the funds move.

This is the essence of "money laundering" - meaning passing money around without the authorization and recording by a governmental entity. It is very much like mailing cash, without the risk of the cash being stolen or confiscated.

Governments, of course, portray this as only used by evil terrorists or gangsters, but ignore it when banksters do the same thing while only paying a tax in the form of political "contributions" . See what an outcry happens from these poor banksters when someone suggests a transfer tax on their high speed trading or their credit default swaps.... or, perhaps more to the point, to their FOREX transactions...
+6 # GregPalast 2014-03-09 17:14
Dear Brux,
You're correct. I did not "use [my] fucking brain" to get Liz Warren's explanation. I used my editors at RSN, almost as good as a fucking brain, to contact her office. I used my fingers to dial and speak to her PR flunky--who promised an interview--or at least an explanation, within 24 hours. A week has passed and ... silence.
N.B. I preserve my "fucking brain" for fucking. GP
-2 # brux 2014-03-11 12:19
Greg, thanks for the reply.

Presumable all that stuff involved your brain?
What I have read now is two stories on RSN that are very short on specifics and long on anecdote, innuendo and short on information and actually facts. That's all I ask before you insult Elizabeth Warren who may not know who you are, or care ... since you seem to lapse into profanity at the drop of a f-ing hat. ;-)

I was introduced to your writing by my cousin[in-law] with the "Best Democracy Money Can Buy", which was very good writing, very specific, and relevant. But it was so all over the place that I don't think it had the impact it should have had, considering you pretty much called the fraud of the 2000 election.

If there is something as fishy here I'd like to know about it, and I would personally be willing to go to Senator Warren's website and leave a comment there about it ... if I could figure out what your specific beefs are, what your specific accusation about Warren are, and what your improvements to the payday loan situation is.

I admit, I am not as educated on payday loans as some. I know what they are and am against them, and wonder why they are allowed to exist, except I suppose they are better than the corner loan shark with brass knuckles.

Are you saying this is corrupt, not good enough, that Warrren does not know what she is doing or has not looked into this enough, because the connotion of what you say is pretty negative to Warren in my opinion?
+8 # GregPalast 2014-03-09 17:25
Ms. Bimbalina,
I appreciate your thoughtful comments and questions. Let me touch on a couple of points:
1. The Post Office is NOT offering 28% loans (or even 42% as calculated by Mr. Shorter above). This is PR puffery. The Post Office states it will PRIVATIZE ("contract") the payday loan operation. I don't know of any bank that will offer a "pay-day" loan for 28%, 42% or any percent. The number is pulled out of the P.O's backside.
I would call your attention to the loan rate offered by the Community Credit Union you cite: 10.99%.
2. You complain that Occupy Wall Street's bank (Lower East Side Credit Union) asks you to join ($5-and you become an owner)--and requires you to open a savings account ($25 minimum). This is GOOD. This is how poor folk (80% of their members) develop credit ratings and get real non-rip-off services.
It's true that loan-sharks and pay-day lenders don't ask for your pay-stubs or tax returns--they just want to know where your kids go to school.
And you don't have to have a pay-stub to join the OWS credit union. Most folks don't have jobs or jobs on the books.

And thank you for asking thoughtful questions and raising cogent points. I do, however, hope you'll pay careful attention to the posts of Mr. Shorter, above, who evidences some expertise in these matters.

While I do have a graduate degree in finance, I don't claim that as a source of expertise. -GP
+7 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 17:44
Thanks for the above nod, Greg, but I can't even claim your graduate degree in finance as a source of expertise - just an engineer's predilection for checking the numbers, and a little common sense about for-profit vs non-profit... Thanks for your voice, your research, your reporting, and your unbending principles. We all benefit from all of those things.
+3 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-03-09 19:56
It’s hard to believe that you and I are reading the same USPS proposal. The one I am reading doesn’t claim that it will “contract” the payday loan operation. Your use of the quotation marks means that the proposal uses that specific word in the context you have stated, while in fact, it does not. I take you to task on this point because you have made some nasty comments about people who disagree with your take on this proposal as not having read it. I don’t think that your reading the proposal and then misrepresenting what is in it is better than the “Twit-iots who attack [your] findings without having read the farking postal service plan.”

So contrary to your statement, and that of Richard Martin-Shorter wherein he states that the Post Office wants “to let the banks handle the transactions (called "partnering with the banks" in the cited proposal),” that is not what the proposal says. Yes the proposal mentions “partnering” in several places, but not in reference to the banks handling transactions or to suggesting that the Post Office “contract” out the payday loan operation. The current cash shortage in the USPS means that it might have to borrow from banks or other institutions to make payday loans but the USPS borrower would not deal with a bank, only the Post Office.
0 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-11 15:19
Thanks for responding! I'll try to clear up my statements a bit.

1. You're correct that the Post Office stated their example was purely hypothetical. I didn't notice that on the first quick read. However, there may not be reason to believe there numbers were pulled out of thin air. I'd like to compare their example to my master card from Barclay Bank; there is no other loan vehicle to compare with because banks do not make payday loans, period. If I take a cash advance on my card of $375, I will be charged an initial transaction fee of 5% ($18.75) and an APR of 25.24% on the unpaid balance. This is very close to the PO's example. Banks that partner with the PO may very well be able to offer these kinds of rates because they will be able to minimize their risk considerably with the ability to recover defaults through basically garnishing tax refunds (due to the partnership with the U.S. government). However, if I'm wrong and the rates offered are considerably higher, I'd expect that Sen. Warren would be one of the first people to come down on them, as she has consistently championed the rights of consumers (after getting over that unfortunate corporate experience).
-1 # Betty Bimbalina 2014-03-11 15:20
2. I did not mean to sound like I was complaining about Occupy's Lower East Side Credit Union. They sound great, both for their rate and for the opportunity offered to improve the lot of those who most need it. However, though you may be able to join the OWS credit union without having a job, I doubt that you'd be able to get an unsecured loan from them without that long list I referenced from their site. So what do folks do then in an emergency?

By the way, to add to the resources of us poor (I work but my meagre income qualifies for food stamps and fuel assistance), I just want to mention that in many communities, small local banks still offer free checking with no minimum balance required. Mine in Boston does, and that includes free mobile banking and their ATMs. So no matter how little someone has or earns, they can make their life a little easier by opening one of these checking accounts. These community banks are probably more populous than credit unions, which are also fine if you have access to one.

I am also not an expert in finance, but I've had my credit problems (including bankruptcy), so I am definitely experienced in financial matters and have picked up a few survival strategies. Glad to share.
+6 # GregPalast 2014-03-09 17:33
Mr. WolfTotem,
I assume your literacy skills are the product of America's public school system, so you are not to be blamed for your failure to make it through the entirety of the article.
So, I'll take you there myself: I and my family have such a high regard for postal banking in Europe that they Swiss postal bank accounts. (They're Swiss.)
The USPS is offering "NON-BANKING" services. A non-bank is not a bank, unless my English has also been victimized by watching Fox and MSNBC.
+4 # WolfTotem 2014-03-09 18:44
No, I did read the whole of the article, but I guess I balked at the "NON-BANKING" services, because... Well, maybe THIS weird foot-in-mouth expression is another product of America's public school system. Or of something worse… And I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what the hell it means or could possibly mean and should therefore have been more wary of such bureaucratic gobbledygook. Mea maxima culpa.

In consequence, I jumped rather too quickly to the conclusion that this must be a way of referring to the provision of banking services ON NON-BANKSTER TERMS, like European PO banks. Hence my request for more explanations on your part.

I too am grateful to Mr Shorter for his clarifications, but I can't help feeling that you so lost your cool about this issue that you still haven't spelled out your case as clearly as you might have. Indignado – fine. Apoplectic… Well, that doesn’t help, does it, especially when you’re talking to laymen like me who need a child’s guide if they’re to understand the alleged skullduggery.I wonder, too, whether Mrs W ever got wind of your article or your request to talk to her. Maybe the guy you spoke to had briefed her on the matter, so took offense and threw your request for an interview down the memory hole… Honorable people may not take kindly to what sound like aspersions on their good faith.

We’re allies and so is Mrs W, so let’s try to reserve our bile and our bite for the enemy.
+8 # GregPalast 2014-03-09 19:04
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my non-direct comment on the non-bank. I'm still bitter about my non-schooling in Los Angeles.
It might be helpful to read my first post in RSN, "Liz Warren Goes Postal"
Unfortunately, I wrote it in a calm, thoughtful manner with elegant details -- so that it was much ignored. I'm learning. GP
+1 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2014-03-09 19:13
You mean an old geezer like you can still learn????? Wow - there's hope for me, then, too, I guess.... Hope your next article is better accepted, and the same thoughtful folks who commented here give it a push to the legislators where it will do the most good.

Keep fighting, Greg.
0 # bingers 2014-03-12 10:52
Nice to see you here. I'm a big fan and have all your books and have been pimping you here for years as they ignored you.

I think you are a little bit wrong here. Having the USPS force the commercial operations into bankruptcy is to be desired, but the interest rates should be required to be lower than the old usury rates, preferentially not more than 5%.
+4 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-03-09 19:59
I applaud Mr Palast’s journalistic integrity, even though I think he has erred badly in his appraisal of the USPS White Paper. There is nothing wrong with cashing the checks of the poor or lending people money to tide them over. What IS wrong is taking unfair advantage of ANYONE just because you have the power to do so. Whether it be a predatory lender or a predatory jock stalking nubile girls for the purpose of rape. Exploiting anyone because you can get away with it is wrong.

I am also taken aback by his claim that he will provide us with Sgt Joe Friday’s “Just the facts, ma’am.” He makes this claim after equating Sen Warren with an adulation-seeki ng saint and after comparing a plan to deliver services that are needed and wanted to “rats and cops with tasers” and a “sleazy loan shark who charges ‘vigorish.’” He then alleges that the Post Office “would team up with “big banks [who] also lust for a payday pound of flesh.” All grand hyperbole but hardly “Just the facts.”

The USPS proposals will be a godsend to the “under served” or Mr Palast’s “mean scheme” based not on WHAT they are but on how much is CHARGED. Again, cashing checks and lending money are not criminal or “sharky.” They certainly COULD become “sharky” if the fess and interest rates are exorbitant. So lobby your Congressional reps and senators to keep those fees and rates low enough to save the “under served” a lot of money but high enough for the USPS to turn a profit.
+4 # tauzinger 2014-03-09 22:12
Greg, here's from the report. 391% versus 28% interest. I don't think 28% is too shabby for someone with either no or bad credit. 0% would be better of course, but I think this is an order of magnitude improvement for poor people.

Thanks for making me read the report.

Payday Postal
Loan amount $375 $375
Average months to repay 4.5 5.5
Average bi-monthly payment $99 $38
Total interest and fees $520 $48
Effective annual interest rate* 391% 28%
+2 # brux 2014-03-11 14:08
Tauzinger, thanks for posting that:

Hope this shows up better to make the point -

Loan amount_________ __________:_$37 5______________ ___$375
Average months to repay_______:_4.5-mths_____________5.5-mths
Average bi-monthly payment__:__$99 _______________ ___$38
Total interest and fees_________:_ $520___________ _______$48
Effective annual interest rate___:___391%________________28%

This does not sound like cause to write a hit piece
specifically aimed at Senator Warren to me when it
is in fact a distinct improvement to the current payday
loan dysfunction.
0 # brux 2014-03-11 14:09
OK, well that didn't work ... RSN should use a non-proportiona l font so people can present some actual data.
+2 # Edwina 2014-03-10 10:31
I agree that Palast's snarky presentation doesn't help the arguement, but with liberal electeds like Elizabeth Warren & Bernie Sanders joining the fight to save the Post Office, we need more information on what these bills -- there's more than one -- contain. We do not want the federal government becoming complicit in adding to the debt of poor people. As they have become in "funding" student debt. The gov't could be less abusive than the private sector, and still not be a good deal for the poor. The devil is in the details. Like Palast I am in favor of a Swiss-style system that would provide basic financial services, one that would compete with exploitative payday lenders. Most people have a Social Security number as I.D. The P.O. might need a more sophisticated encryption system, which could be paid for by nominal fees for service. By using already existing gov't resources like local post offices, "we the people" would save money.
-2 # brux 2014-03-11 14:12
> I agree that Palast's snarky presentation doesn't help the arguement, but ...

No "buts" the whole piece was made to look like a blatant attack on Elizabeth Warren personally instead of a factual documented criticism of the Payday Loan system versus the new Postal Loan system - period, exclamation point. And yes, we need more information which Palasts article obscured instead of added to - in my opinion.
0 # Malcolm 2014-03-10 14:32
Greg, another FABULOUS article! And how nice that you've responded to feedback.

I would love it if the PO would simply start doing payday loans, WITHOUT the banksters' involvement in any way, and at the lowest feasible interest rates. Basically, in other words, only enough interest to cover overhead and losses from bad loans.

If it were to become illegal for private sharks/bankster s make usurious payday loans-thus giving the PO a monopoly,-borro wers could only fail to repay loans one time, and would have to repay the bad loan before borrowing again. That might negate the need for some otherwise necessary administrative and security charges.
-2 # BKnowswhitt 2014-03-10 22:04
Greg like i pointed out in my 'tweet' here to that story. Was the Warren 'solution' to loan sharks was to move it to the postal service instead. I said it treated the 'symptoms' of the problem not the core disease. And that it was time for the poor and disenfranchised to instead 'do without' instead of partaking in loan sharking and gamed lending by the crooks who run that show. I like you got big negatives for my views .. maybe it's time for the Left to try to understand what is Right as in Correct. (obviously i dont' mean whacko Right Wing Nut).......... fuck you all very much !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1
0 # brux 2014-03-11 14:15
Poor people are not just stupid, although some are uninformed and confused, most would not make payday loans unless they thought they had a reason and it was their only alternative.

Treating the core problem - which I'd love to see - would require a complete rebuild of our society, overseen by poor people who at least right now do not have the time, energy, resources or understanding, let along the political power to see that it is done and done right - so we end up with half or quarter measures. As such this is a distinct improvement it seems to me.
+2 # andyseles 2014-03-10 23:10
Ahhh...the privatization game. Get your congressional henchmen elected, have them pass a draconian law requiring the Post Office to pre-fund their retirement program and watch the desperation ensue.
Soon you have liberals scrambling for crumbs...making compromises that would shock and outrage their parents and grandparents. The Beast continues its steady, irrevocable slouch forward.
-2 # brux 2014-03-11 14:16
The real problem ... the "beast" ... not Elizabeth Warren.
0 # bingers 2014-03-12 10:46
Payday loans from the USPS could be a very good thing if they had a 2-5% interest rate instead of the 400% rates of the commercial loan banks.

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