by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
(You’ll forgive me, I hope, for spoofing the click-bait headline writing of silly sites like Buzzfeed who traffic in sensationalism, fake news, and cat pics.)
A good read in Business Insider:
Lisa Servon, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania and former dean at the New School, had spent 20 years studying low-income communities, and that picture didn’t add up. Most of the unbanked, the roughly 7% of US households without checking or savings accounts, and the underbanked, the nearly 20% that had such accounts but still used alternative financial services, that she encountered were neither naive nor irresponsible about money.
Early on in [her new book, “The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives“], she focuses on her experiences at RiteCheck, which is part of an industry that reached $58 billion in 2010, up from $45 billion two decades earlier. If check cashing was shady, why were more people flocking toward it?
She was surprised by what people told her. Over and over again, Servon heard and observed that check cashers met customers’ needs better than banks did.
She discovered there were three main reasons people used these services instead of banks: cost, transparency, and service.
Read on, Lizzy. A few years ago I wrote a report about the payday lending industry. I produced a chart (see above right; click the image for a readable size) showing “Options for the Poor Who Face an Immediate Cash Shortfall” hopefully to demonstrate the same insight Servon had, that people using payday lenders (and check-cashing services) are likely making rational economic choices.
The moral: those of us who might think such choices are beneath us ought not to use the power of government to take those options away. You might think you’re helping, but you’re actually making things worse.