Monday, 13 November 2006

Christmas cheer on credit.

Farepak have gone bust, taking with them the savings of some of the poorest people in the country, who will now be faced with a grim Christmas. Probably it's not a name that is familiar to most people. They ran a savings scheme to provide food hampers and gift vouchers through a pyramid selling scheme of agents. The scheme does sound like something from Dickens rather than the 21st century, but it gives a glimpse into the under belly of the economy.

In the same category are catalogue companies which use local agents. In the internet era, they are not about the convenience of home shopping, but a means of providing credit to those that in other circumstances would not be able to get any.

More sinister still are the finance companies offering debt consolidation or credit to those who have previously been denied a loan from a mainstream lender. They advertise on digital tv channels often in the day-time slot, when ad time is cheap and the target audience of the long term unemployed are most likely to be watching. But the dark side of this is sky- high interest rates and debt recovery by intimidation. Only their corporate gloss separates them from the individual loan-sharks to be found on every estate.

It's an ironic and fucked-up feature of Capitalism that the less you need credit, the easier it is to get it. But if it is any comfort to the poor, apparently God agrees that they only have themselves to blame:

"For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away."
Matthew 25.29

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