Friday, November 17, 2006


I mentioned before that banks are evil. That position still holds, and for the same reasons (the Washington Mutual commercials really piss me off), but the Nobel peace prize this year went to Muhammad Yunus, who was on the Daily Show last night, "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below." I like this guy. A whole bunch. Now, I'm paraphrasing but one of the first things he said was that in wealthy countries (US) you need to have something to get a loan. If you want to borrow $10000, then you need to: give the bank $10000, give the bank something worth at least $10000 or pay credit card interest or worse. This is not something that makes sense, unless you are a bank owner and want to make bucketloads of money for doing next to nothing. If you want people to have some sort of upward mobility or for people to get out of debt and be able to live decent (meaning able to provide food and shelter) lives, then this is backwards.

Dr. Yunus' bank provides loans for only a few tens to hundreds of dollars to people with very little (including beggars). They do get their money back, and people move upward. This will never, ever, ever happen in this country. There is no motivation (especially from GOP types who promote their "moral values") to do something that will help people without providing a profit, but imagine that there was. Someone homeless, who is panhandling on the city streets could go into a bank and get a loan for $100, which that person could use to get some clean clothes and a cheap hotel room where they could clean up, and embark for job interviews. (You may not be aware, but ragged, smelly people have trouble finding employment...even at McDonald's.)

Now, here's the rub. Is that true in this country? I would like to say "yes," but I really don't know. Quite a few people have entered this country illegally and they seem to be getting their share of employment despite incurring heavy debt to get here and to get fake documents (more to bring family), and despite speaking little to no english, so is that homeless man who wants change I don't have really unable to get a job? I don't know, but I suspect the answer is yes. Anti-wellfare/unemployment types would say "no" but I suspect the ability to get a job is not something as easy as "can you get cleaned up?" and "can you use a shovel?" Of course this comes back to whether giving out $100 loans would help. Somehow, I really do not think it would much. Some people, sure, but not all, and maybe not most. Part of this is because $100 really does not get you much in this country, but part of it is because people are probably not unemployed and homeless for such easy-to-solve reasons.


Anonymous said...

I hate banks, but I hate credit card companies more. And those check-cashing places; they are the worst.


Jacob said...

Michael? anonymous? forget to sign in?