Wealth stripping – making poverty pay, quite handsomely for the rich


“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”

- Voltaire



Whether they’re predatory loans, payday lending, check cashing storefronts, or court and prison fines and fees, the poor pay to be poor and the wealth extracted from them enhances the bottom lines of large banks, big business, and government.  Years ago sociologist Herbert Gans (1972) suggested that there were functions to poverty – the poor contributed in particular ways to the maintenance of the social order.  The poor do society’s ‘dirty work’ – dangerous, filthy, undignified jobs no one else wants to do. Because the poor are required to work for low wages, they subsidize activities that benefit the affluent. Poverty creates jobs for those who tend to the poor or protect everyone else from the poor. The poor buy goods that no one else wants – day-old bread, fruit and vegetables spoiling, second-hand clothing, substandard housing. 

This sample of research, news, and analysis indicates that it pays – handsomely – to be poor. Of course, not the those who are poor.


·       Wealth stripping: What it means

Wealth Stripping: Why It Costs So Much to Be Poor (2012)

Wealth Building Won’t Work While Wealth Extraction Continues (2022)

Wealth Stripping by Design: The Impact of Predatory Lenders in Memphis (2022)


·       Wealth stripping: What it does

How Predatory Debt Traps Threaten Vulnerable Families


·       Recent stats on wealth stripping

A Short History of Payday Lending Law (Pew 2012)


Payday Loan Debt Statistics in the US (updated 2021)


Payday loans can have interest rates over 600%—here’s the typical rate in every U.S. state (2021)



·       South Dakota caps consumer loan rates at 36%. The sky doesn't fall

Study finds strong continuing support for South Dakota's capping consumer loan rates at 36% interest (Brookings 2020)


·       And Connecticut?

Curiously, the state of Connecticut does not have a law prohibiting payday lenders


·       About the unbanked

Key Findings from How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services - 2019 FDIC Survey (2021)


·       Making imprisonment pay

New Report Exposes Dangers of Costly Criminal Justice Fees (2019)


The New Debt Prisons (2021)


States Need to Reform Criminal Justice Fines and Fees (2021)


"Court debt" a steep barrier to a clean slate for those with criminal records (2022)