Even many liberals have felt the need to genuflect before the altar of free markets, but in The Predator State, progressive economist James K. Galbraith suggests that, under the Bush administration, conservatives have clearly abandoned the Reagan dogma and replaced it with crony capitalism. Tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, and such schemes as privatizing Social Security would divert the national treasury into private hands and give rise to "The Predator State."It is no less so today in the Arizona governed by Scrooge McDucey and with Crony Capitalist-in-Chief JD effin' Mesnard.
On Thursday, Mesnard indignantly disrespected members of the House Democratic Caucus who dared to challenge him in floor debate on HB2611. That's Mesnard's bill to imprison everyday Arizonans with ever increasing debt. You may recall that a "thriving" payday loan industry was given a swift kick out the door by voters in 2008 who banned those loans by citizen initiative.
Well, Mesnard and Arizona's Greedy Old Pricks who control lawmaking in our state are now defiantly intent on restoring the payday loan industry. That's what Mesnard's HB2611 is about. It establishes a new "flex loan" industry. Isn't that a swell name? Gosh, it sounds so innocent, innocuous.
Well, during floor debate, Democratic Reps. Debbie McCune Davis, Mark Cardenas, Rebecca Rios and Juan Mendez (and maybe others) had very clear and very strong words to advocate against passage of this predatory lending bill. Here's the video from the 40+ minute debate on the bill.
Here's a rough transcript of Rep. Juan Mendez' comments:
Mr Chairman and members I rise in opposition to this awful bill; predatory lenders are horrible businesses that prey on the desperation of the working class with no other options.
Their loans are awful, horrible deals wherein a borrower gets a small amount of cash at an exceedingly high interest rate and agrees to pay it back in a short amount of time.
If a borrower can't pay it back then they're hit with an avalanche of fees and end up having to borrow more and then its a vicious cycle all the way down.
According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the average borrower ends up paying $1,105 to borrow just $305.
To me this is economic slavery, I’ll now borrow words from Tolstoy to explain.
"The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another’s labor by force."
It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that they must get to live.
This bill attempts to make a market out of the vulnerable working poor people of Arizona who have no other choice but to chain themselves to a high interest loan.
We ended forced slavery, but with this bill economic slavery will be back in full force.
This bill isn’t good for people in need, this bill is for people to make money off others with no other choice.If the video doesn't work here, watch it here, at the legislature's website.
The bottom line in this debate is that JD effin' Mesnard doesn't care whether voters pay attention to this or not. He made no bones about his intent to represent the interests of the predators.
JD effin' Mesnard personifies the Predator State.
THIS is one reason why independent redistricting is so important. If the legislature was allowed to draw its own district maps, they all would be untouchable.
On Thursday, my previous post called for a virtual attack on Dark Money. We did not succeed in getting the amendments Rep. Ken Clark wrote adopted into the bill. But the experiment in direct democracy, or at least enhanced accountability for the elected lawmakers was a success nevertheless.
A first effort in coordinating a social media outreach so voters could immediately email their representatives while floor debate took place, the project provided key insights for beginning to build a real, practical and effective Rapid Response.
We will get the bugs worked out, at least in time for the 2016 regular legislative session. My thanks to Rep. Clark for his role in this initial effort. It was, is and will be even more so a very worthy endeavor.
The time for hand wringing over the brazen ploys by Mesnard and his cronies is long gone. It's time to ORGANIZE and FIGHT BACK. Look for more information on this brand of Rapid Response soon.
Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
HB2611 has gotten the attention of people outside of Arizona. Michelle Styczynski with the Consumer Federation of America was waiting outside of the Supreme Court this morning to get the attention of the media when the oral arguments were finished in the redistricting lawsuit brought by the AZ (GOP) legislature against the VOTERS of Arizona. She had this sign.
The sign, of course, calls out Speaker David Gowan in hopes of shaming him into holding HB2611.
A young man with Michelle also gave me this flyer with additional information.
Look here for the latest status of HB2611.
And yes, I am on the East Coast (in DC) today. :)