:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Sunday, August 20, 2006  

Move on out, sharks...

From "The High Cost of Being Poor" by Barbara Ehrenrich, author of the book Nickled and Dimed:
There are other tolls along the road well-traveled by the working poor. If your credit is lousy, which it is likely to be, you'll pay a higher deposit for a phone.If you don't have health insurance, you may end taking that feverish child to an emergency room, and please don't think of ER's as socialized medicine for the poor. The average cost of a visit is over $1,000, which is over ten times more than what a clinic pediatrician would charge. Or you neglect that hypertension, diabetes or mystery lump until you end up with a $100,000 problem on your hands.

So let's have a little less talk about how the poor should learn to manage their money, and a little more attention to all the ways that money is being systematically siphoned off. Yes, certain kinds of advice would be helpful: skip the pay-day loans and rent-to-pay furniture, for example. But we need laws in more states to stop predatory practices like $50 charges for check cashing. Also, think what some microcredit could do to move families from motels and shelters to apartments. And did I mention a living wage?

I love the idea of microcredit/microlending in the United States. LOVE it. For some reason i've been narrow minded in my understanding of the concept - I've always heard of microcredit working in other countries and hadn't thought of it as an option here, although i'm sure it's utilized in various ways in this country. (Microcredit is essentially lending to low-income unemployed folks or folks with no credit, with the idea that a bit of assistance for a small business or a family can allow the people involved to slowly generate income and not spiral further into poverty. Microcredit organizations around the world have been extremely successful, with most or all loans paid back in full, no sharks necessary).

So, anyone down with starting a sustainable microcredit lending organization with me? The gap between hard-working low-income families in Los Angeles and the wealthy folk is ever-widening (as is happening in many communities across the country). And the homeless population in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles increased almost 200 percent in the last year. Maybe this could be a move to turn the tide a bit (and kick out some sharks).

posted by Anjali Taneja | 8/20/2006 10:55:00 PM | |


Comments:

starting a microcredit lending organization is a beautiful idea. i'd be down for it if i didn't live clear on the other side of the country! good luck to you!

# posted by Anonymous jonie v. : 8/24/2006 10:44 PM  

Hi there,
I live in LA, work in Skid Row and am interested, though I know little about what it would take to start such an enterprise up.....but sure! My name is Jen (I am an old friend of Andru's) and my email is fofo74 at earthlink dot net.

# posted by Anonymous Jen : 8/26/2006 12:06 PM  

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