Monday, January 5, 2009


I just finished reading "Creating a World Without Poverty" for a second time.

I am a supporter of microfinance and social business.
So, I am obviously a big fan of Nobel Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunus.

I read the book a second time over the Christmas holiday because the topic of Mr. Yunus and microfinance came up in the book, "The Samaritan's Dilemma"... and it wasn't in a positive light. Then, at a cocktail party, I ran into the topic of microfinance again. I figured I should brush up on the issue and where it is headed.

I find it outrageous that low-income people who are struggling to make ends meet are the ones who have to pay the most for basic financial services. New ways to exploit the poor are all around us: subprime loans, payday loans, and check cashing services. 

It may be tempting to blame the poor for the problems they face, but if you take a close look at the institutions we've allowed to be created in the United States, it becomes apparent that money is most expensive for those who need it most. For example, the working poor who don't qualify for a conventional credit card, are forced to take payday loans when extra money is needed for a sick child or a car that breaks down. The fees and interest charges for these loans can come to an annual rate of 250%, or even higher. 

Who could dig themselves out of that kind of hole?

I know it's a soapbox. And I know I'm standing on it. 

Please indulge me.

Poverty denies people any semblance of control over their destiny.
 I see poverty as the ultimate denial of human rights.

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