|The Birmingham City Council -- voted on a mortarium to stop the proliferation of payday loan stores|
This is a topic no one dares broach, for the reality of Birmingham in 2012 is that freedom failed. Big time. The great Civil Rights crusade didn't usher in an age of prosperity, economic or academic equality, but instead unleashed, no, liberated nature to provide a lesson in reality that few dare notice.
You see, Birmingham is now 71 percent Black, and the structures of political power in the city are completely dominated by Black people. This, as also happened in Detroit, didn't translate into economic power; nor did this demographic change result in the attracting of outside investment to the city or relocation of business to Birmingham that could ensure aggressive growth and a flourishing middle class.
On the contrary, an August 19th article in the Birmingham News (Group wants Birmingham to add restrictions on payday loan stores) discussed the only type of industry that is thriving in 71 percent Black Birmingham:
A crowd of 60 people chanted "At least a mile!" with raised fists at Harvest Community Church Sunday night, calling on the City of Birmingham to restrict the number of payday loan stores in the area.
The demonstration at the church was sponsored by Birmingham Faith in Action, an interfaith group calling for the city to adopt a zoning policy which would mandate that new payday loan stores cannot operate within a mile of an existing one. The group contends that payday loan stores charge exorbitant interest rates and disproportionately affect the poor and minorities.
To illustrate the point, Quinn Rallins, director of Birmingham Faith in Action, showed the crowd a photo showing dozens of sharks swimming alongside each other.
"We have to pick between living in two oceans. Sharks live in this ocean because it's acceptable that they can feed on the weak," he said, pointing to the photo, before showing another with only one shark. "Which ocean do you want to live in? This is where we're headed if we don't do something about predatory lending."
Rallins said Faith in Action is making a push because the city's ban on new payday loan stores ends in September. He contends that before the ban, Birmingham had the highest concentration of payday loan stores in the nation. He said the group would like the city to adopt a new zoning ordinance which would also mandate distance requirements for payday loan stores from welfare offices.
He told the crowd how a member of his family had struggled against high-interest debt which resulted in her losing her car.
"Three out of four payday loans are used to try to pay off other payday loans," Rallins said. "There's a difference between businesses making a living, and making a killing."
Former New Jersey Secretary of State DeForest Soaries, who is also a Baptist minister who speaks on overcoming debt, told the crowd that he is outraged by a rising tide of consumerism in America, which he said lures people into pursuing lifestyles beyond their economic means. Payday loan stores foster this attitude, he said, by promising quick money to people needing to cover expenses.
"It's cheaper to borrow from the Mafia than it is payday loan stores," he said. "At least the Mafia will tell you the truth -- that if you don't pay them back, they'll kill you."
Payday loan stores are primarily found in minority (Black) areas, because these are the primary customers of payday loan stores. Payday loans stores charge exorbitant interest rates only because their customers (primarily Black people) never pay the loan back, thus the need to charge higher rates to deter those who might be a financial risk from doing business with them.
If the white people who live in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Hoover are capable of making sound financial decisions and living within their means, then payday loans store operators aren't going to make a profit by opening shop in those communities. Conversely, if the Black people in Birmingham present a lucrative cash cow for these businesses, well, it's wise to going fishing where the fish are copious in number.
Back in December of 2011, CBS 42 in Birmingham reported on the extraordinary steps the city council was taking to combat the plague of payday loans tormenting the citizens of The Magic City (Payday Loan Moratorium in Place, December 6, 2011):
Birmingham City Council members adopted a resolution to ban new Payday Loan businesses within the city.Yes, the Birmingham city council passed a six-month moratorium on the opening of new payday and title loan stores in the city. One of the primary forms of economic activity in 71 percent Birmingham - the purest example of what an enterprise zone would consist of in a majority Black area - was regulated by the city council in a bid to offset the lethargy of entrepreneurship. Here's a hilarious article from the leftist local newspaper the Weld by some hopeless Disingenuous White Liberal Madison Underwood (City Council approves six-month moratorium on payday loan shops, December 6, 2011):
The resolution was originally introduced by Councilwoman LaShunda Scales in September. But even as the ordinance came up for a final vote council members still had not reached a consensus on the language.
At one point during the discussion Councilwoman Kim Rafferty declared that the Council as a whole looked like a bunch of fools.
Council President Roderick Royal swiftly found Rafferty out of order.
The debate stemmed from two amendments issued by Councilor Carole Smitherman.
The Amendments were to clarify language in the ordinance to ensure that banks and existing payday loan businesses would not be impacted.
Council members say they need the time to establish better establish rules as to where a Payday Loan business may open to avoid clustering.
Councilor Scales says that with 93 Payday Loan businesses operating within the city limits, these businesses are the number one product the city offers to its citizens.
Scales and Smitherman say that they are opposed to the locations of the businesses and the high interest rates charged.
After more than an hour of debate, the Birmingham City Council approved a six-month moratorium on payday and title loan shops in the city. The moratorium, which was approved by all but two councilors at the council’s regular Tuesday meeting, will allow existing payday loan businesses to continue operating and to change locations, but bars new facilities.Yes, 93 payday loan facilities in 71 percent Black Birmingham; in the words of City Councilwoman Scales, "it is the leading product... that we have."
Payday loan shops offer customers cash advances until their next payday for a fee some say is expensive or predatory. In Alabama, such stores can charge fees up to $17.50 per 14-day, $100 loan, which is an annual percentage rate of 456.25 percent, according to the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit consumer advocacy group.
The moratorium is meant to allow the city time to research the impact of payday loan shops and develop zoning measures to deal with the facilities.
According to Councilor Lashunda Scales, who spearheaded the drive for the moratorium, there are 93 payday loan facilities in Birmingham—more than any other city in Alabama. “It is the leading product, at this point, that we have,” Scales said. “It supersedes any grocery stores, any main retailers that our citizens are asking for, and that’s in every single district.
An earlier version of the proposed ordinance called for the moratorium to end after a year or whenever the Birmingham Comprehensive Plan — which is currently being developed — is completed. But that language was amended over the hour-long process.
Councilor Carole Smitherman suggested that, during the six-month moratorium, Operation New Birmingham, or ONB, be asked to help develop a permanent policy solution to the proliferation of payday and title-loan facilities in Birmingham. ONB is a non-profit public-private partnership that works to promote economic development in Birmingham.
This is the end result of freedom. This is the end result of a revolution that was waged to shame white people into signing over their futures so they could be shackled to the utopian goals of a concept we've labeled Black-Run America (BRA).
It was in Birmingham where events were captured on film and in still photos, which would forever alter the course of American history. Perhaps when those cameras and video equipment return to capture the reality of Actual-Black Run America (ABRA) Birmingham, the course of American history can be altered again.
At the very least, if you're ever in the need for a payday loan --- you know where to go.
The only solution in the future is for a city like Birmingham to be quarantined, for it is the current inhabitants of the city whose financial (an extension of personal) dysfunction is the primary cause for the proliferation of payday and title loan stores. A population that largely subsists off of EBT/food stamps cards, free lunches at school, TANF/Welfare, must be allowed to sink or swim on their own.
Anytime you hear someone say we should celebrate some great "Civil Rights Victory" just smile, and remind them of the moratorium on new payday and title loan stores in Birmingham the city council passed.
That's the legacy of "Civil Rights"-- Freedom Failed.