The idea that poverty is an industry, a large and very profitable one, shouldn’t require a whole lot of argument. From the Los Angeles Times comes word on the rise of yet another franchise of social difficulty and economic dysfunction turned into an entrepreneurial opportunity: rent-to-own tires. Scrambling to survive, driving everywhere, wages and home equity not quite what it used to be, many working people find themselves in financial trouble – but are not able to do without motor vehicles. The ones that can’t afford tire replacement are now finding their way to retailers who will set them up with four tires and a payment plan.
A prison guard and a nurse are mentioned in the piece. Strapped for cash even though they are working people, the couple end up paying over nine hundred dollars for tires that would cost maybe one third that amount when purchased elsewhere. While a good set of tires at a moderate monthly payment can keep a person mobile and employed there is also apparently a growth in tales of excessive interest and aggressive repossession policies directed at tire renters who miss payments. Not a surprising development really when you consider the strapped demographic turning to the rent-to-own industry. You have to remember, too, a car tire is a poor object for which to attach yourself to debt. They begin wearing out when you drive off with them and they can be damaged or destroyed in use.
In the past, tires and wheels were often purchased on installments as upgrades by the go-fast crowd, usually young guys. It must be a sign of how raggedy the lifestyle based on automobiles, fossil fuels and real estate has become that ordinary people patch up their ordinary participation in the work force with resort to high-interest unpleasantness just to keep the family wheels moving.
Good thing the Reeves Octoauto is a thing of the past.
See also: (236) Broke USA
image: Wikimedia Commons