Tod Robberson of the Morning News saysÂ that you shouldn’t be fooled by any Ace Cash Express commercials featuring Ron WashingtonÂ you see Â during this afternoon’s Rangers game:
When you drive down the street and see an Ace Cash Express or CashAmerica or PL$ payday loan shop open in an otherwise downtrodden strip mall, all the colorful awnings and open-for-business signs make the neighborhood look vibrant again.
Don’t be fooled. When those businesses come to your neighborhood, there’s trouble right around the corner. Payday lenders, pawn shops and title-loan companies are all signs that your neighborhood is in deep financial distress. It means there’s a high concentration of people living on the financial edge or rapidly descending into insolvency and poverty.
Robberson places some responsibility for the prevalence of payday lenders in Dallas County on Pete Sessions. Using a strange map, he notes that “nearly half of all of the pawn, payday and title loan shops in Dallas County are inside or within a mile of GOP Rep. Pete Sessions’ 32nd Congressional District.” Â I’m not sure about the validity of the implication of that map, since Sessions’ gerrymandered district makes it so that a huge swath of the county can be said to be within a mile of his district’s boundaries.
But still, Robberson has a point both about the predatory nature of lenders who often charge a usurious rate of 200-300% and about the fact that one of these companies, CashAmerica, is the top contributor to Sessions’ campaign. So Robberson asked Sessions to defend these businesses:
It’s a marketplace answer that a lot of people want and need. I represented the 5th District of Texas for a long period of time. I saw firsthand how people could come and bring in what’s associated with this also is what might be known as the pawn store. Lots of people come and, I don’t know, it’s not unusual to see people bring in a ring and say: I’d like for you to hold this ring. I don’t want you to do anything with it. I’ll hold this as collateral. I think this is an honest and legitimate way to be able to have people who do business maybe differently than, necessarily, the five of us in this room. …
“I’m sure that they’re there for a reason. People can’t get it somewhere else. It’s a cheaper way, not a more expensive way to do business.”