One of my favorite blogs is written by Juanita Jean, proprietor of “The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc.” Juanita Jean’s real name is Susan DuQuesnay Bankston, and she lives in Richmond, Texas, which she describes as “the heart of Tom DeLay’s old district, and nuttier than squirrel poop.”
Since I frequently use examples from Texas in my classes–the state is a reliable source of “what not to do”–Juanita Jean has been a godsend, covering as she does a range of idiocy beyond that which hits the national news.
Here are a couple of recent examples.
Rep. Steve Stockman is the Tea Party candidate running against Sen. John Cornyn in the 2014 Texas Republican Senate primary. (Cornyn, one of the most conservative members of the Senate–and that’s saying something!–is evidently not sufficiently crazy.) Anyway, Stockman has announced that he is now accepting donations in Bitcoins, a virtual currency.
As Juanita Jean explains,
“Of course, Stockman says it’s about … wait for it … freedom.
“I really think digital currency’s more about freedom,” he explained in a YouTube video. “Because all the time people are trying to get in your pocket, trying to do different things to control you. And if you have your own wealth, and control your own wealth, it’s about freedom, it’s not about anything other than that really. Freedom to choose what you do with your money, and freedom to keep your money without people influencing it by printing money or through regulation.”
Yeah, it’s not about ripping people off with a volatile currency. It’s not even about untraceable campaign donations. And it certainly isn’t about being able to track what Stockman spends that money on. It’s about freedom.”
Juanita Jean is at her best, however, when she explains what passes for social policy in the Great State of Texas. For example, she describes a recent deal between Rick Perry and a payday loan company that will require poor people to visit payday loan offices to set up accounts in order to use a new toll road.
I’m not making that up.
People who want to set up an account to pay their toll charges can do so by phone, mail or online, but the only places to do so in person in El Paso are at ACE stores. ACE is a payday lender. Individuals who make the transaction at the payday lender will be charged a $3 fee to set up the account and a $2 convenience service fee to replenish a non-credit card.
Let Juanita Jean take it from there….
What the partnership is essentially doing is sending thousands of potential first-time customers directly into the stores of a payday lender.” said Diane Standaert, senior legislative counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending.
But it does not stop there.
Additionally, the man Perry appointed to be Texas’ consumer watchdog, William White, is also vice president of payday lender Cash America. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently fined the company $19 million.
Do you wanna know what interest Cash America charges for a 14 day loan? 533%. No, that’s not a typo. It’s three numbers starting with a 5. Some poor guy working two jobs living paycheck to paycheck has a sick kid. Where’s he going to get medicine before his next paycheck? Welcome to Cash America! He even charged higher rates to United States service men and women.
William White is going to hell. But, meanwhile, he’s Texas’s consumer watchdog.
Don’t you just love Texas?