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<nettime> Almost the Yesmen. Predatory Lending Association
nettime's avid reader on Thu, 15 Nov 2007 14:05:59 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Almost the Yesmen. Predatory Lending Association

Tips on how better to exploit the working poor

Payday loan testimonials from the new Web site of the Predatory Lending 
Association [1], which launched on Tuesday.

    "I was able to turn my heat on for 2 weeks with my payday loan."
    -- Jake G. Parsons, Duluth, Minnesota

    "I would have been homeless two weeks earlier without my payday loan."
    -- Ben R. Gibson, Denver, Colorado

Note: "The Predatory Lending Association is not related in any way to the 
Association of Predatory Home Lenders (APHL), which focuses on the home 
mortgage industry. And while we are partners, we remain separate from the 
Society for Credit Card Fee Maximization (SCCFM), the Association of 
Predatory Money Managers (APMM), and the Society of Predatory Mutual Funds 

One way to expose the growing prevalence of legal usury in the United 
States is to write well-meaning academic papers or outraged blog posts 
detailing the flourishing social blight. Another is to launch a very 
funny, satirical Onionesque Web site that reads as if sprung directly from 
the imagination of Jonathan Swift.

Complete with handy tools like a "Payday Loan Calculator" that helps 
you "maximize your loan fees and profits" and a "Working Poor Finder" that 
includes "maps to find the highest concentrations of the working poor with 
the fewest existing payday loan stores," the PLA Web describes itself 

    The Predatory Loan Association is dedicated to extracting maximum 
profit from the working poor by increasing payday loan fees and debt 
traps. The working poor is an exciting, fast growing demographic that 
includes: military personnel, most minorities, and a growing percentage of 
the middle class. 

The site has already hit a nerve, as testified by real defenders of payday 
loans who are venting their anger in the site's discussion forum.

But maybe the coolest thing about the site is its genesis. The Predatory 
Lending Association is the second project conceived and executed by Front 
Seat Management, a startup founded by ex-Microsoftie Mike Mathieu along 
with two other self described techies, Matt Lerner and Jesse Kocher. (The 
first project was Walk Score [2], a Google mashup that lets users 
calculate the "walkability" of their neighborhoods.)

Lerner, a former Microsoft project manager, told me that both projects 
should be seen "as a form of philanthropy." Mathieu and Lerner aren't the 
first Microsoft alums to dedicate themselves to social change, but as far 
as I know, judging by the PLA Web site, they might be the funniest.

"Mathieu made a lot of money last year," said Lerner, "and he wanted to 
start applying it to some type of social purpose. Mike is a very funny 
guy -- he has progressive values, but also a very dark, competitive 
streak. We thought it would be twisted to really use free market rhetoric 
against payday loans, as a way of demonstrating how as a society, 
converting short-term financial pain into long--term financial pains isn't 
good for our citizens."

(Thanks to Credit Slips' Elizabeth Warren for the early alert. Warren, says 
Lerner, found out about the site when he told her that she'd 
been "blacklisted" by the PLA.) 

[1] http://www.predatorylendingassociation.com/
[2] http://www.walkscore.com/

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