Dear Russ Parr Morning Show,
Last week, you interviewed Hollywood film maker Michael Moore about his new movie “Capitalism: A Love Story.”¬† The documentary focuses on the financial crisis that began last year and continues on today.¬† Even without seeing the film, many of us have some knowledge of what lead to the greatest financial collapse in recent memory.¬† We’ve heard about the games and extreme risks Wall Street took with toxic mortgage assets.¬† Many of us know of the predatory lending practices where companies loaned money to high-risk individuals at high interest rates.¬† ¬†Knowing that, it makes the decision of your morning show to have Alfredas and Shaqwana do a “WeFixMoney.com” advertisement spot right before the interview that left me dumbfounded.¬† Now I’ve always had problem with a morning radio show with an urban listening audience promoting pay day advanced loans, but hearing that advertisement spot immediately preceding an interview of a man whose latest film exposes the corruption, greed and PREDATORY LENDING that created the financial crisis left me completely perplexed.
In order to make sure I wasn’t overacting, I went to the WeFixMoney.com website.¬† They do offer debt settlement and debt relief, both of which I’ve heard advertised on your morning show.¬† However, they also offer payday loans.¬† Since its also listed as the first item on their site, I’m also figuring that’s probably their best selling product.¬† Honestly, that’s part of the scam.¬† Sell people bad loans with ridiculously high interest rates and then when they get into financial trouble, sell them “debt consolidation” products.¬† Its like financial entrapment.¬† Payday loans might be one of the most blatant examples of lending companies taking advantage of people in financial need for their own profitable gains. ¬†Not only do most financial analyst recommend against payday loans (as well as loans using the title of your car) but some states have actually gone as far as make them illegal. Yeah I know, in the hands of people “responsible” payday loans aren’t that bad if paid back immediately.¬† The issue is, the people that need payday loans are already in situations caused by irresponsibility and generally can’t pay them back on time.¬† Payday loans only make their situations worse.
I think the thing that bothers me even more than the ridiculousness of advertising the types of loans that lead us down this financial rocky road right before interviewing Michael Moore, is the manner in which your show does it. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard Alfredas and Shaqwana suggest getting payday loans for “shoes when your credit card is maxed out” or when “you need a little extra cash to go to the mall.” ¬†Are you serious?¬† Taking a loan out for shoes? ¬†Not rent or food to feed your family.¬† But another pair of shoes because you were already irresponsible enough max out your credit card. That has to be one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard from people that are suppose to have a clue. ¬†Its one thing to advertise payday loans, its another to do it in such a reckless manner as to promote even further irresponsible behavior.¬† Not only does that directly contradict the spirit of Michael Moore’s movie but it also contradicts what the President himself has warned us about (Irresponsible behavior).¬† I’m sorry but its hard for me to reconcile you and Alfredas talking to Michael Moore and praising him for calling out Wallstreet and corporations for exploiting people when you yourself are right there peddling the same harm and damage to your own people.¬† It makes me wonder if you really watched his movie and if you did, did you really understand what he was trying to say.¬† Do you understand that it wasn’t just big Wallstreet Firms that were using highly unethical methods that got us into this mess.¬† Its actually highly ironic when I think about it.¬† You interviewed and praised a man whose new movie rails against the evils of capitalism while your show gets sponsored, i.e. makes money, to turn a blind eye to those same evils.¬† Ironic, stupid and sad all wrapped up in one.
Let me break it down for you.¬† You are the host of a nationally syndicated morning show whose main demographic is African Americans in inner cities and urban centers.¬† Your demographic was (and still is) the number one target of companies that offer high interest loans to people that can’t really afford them.¬† Everyone else is talking about saving money and making fiscally sound decisions and sacrifices, while your co-hosts are in essence endorsing payday loans for things as trifling and trivial as a new pair of fly shoes.¬† People that get paid day loans are typically those that can’t afford to pay them back. Do you know those people will end up paying interest on these loans that is equivalent to 390% to 780% when expressed as an annual percentage rate.¬† Seven Hundred and Eighty Percent.¬† Payday loans exploit people’s financial hardships for profit.¬† Since you are making money off of them advertising on your program, then logically, you are also exploiting people’s financial hardship for profit.
To be honest, I don’t really expect you to address this.¬† I expect the typical “my hands are clean” spiel about how you don’t really endorse payday loans and how WeFixMoney.com is really more about debt consolidation.¬† ¬†Either that or you’ll say something about how you really don’t have any control over the ads and sponsorships you do. ¬†Honestly, I’d rather you ignore this letter than use the second excuse as a cop out. ¬†The WeFixMoney advertisement you do isn’t a typical recorded commercials. ¬†On air personalities do it enthusiastically.¬† I’m pretty sure if you took a stand and said “I won’t support products that harm my community” people would listen. ¬†See, the real lesson of this financial crisis is that there were (and still are) a lot of people who could have stood up and said “This is wrong” but didn’t. ¬†You and your morning crew are in the same category.¬† You have the power to say “No more”.¬† The question is, will you do it.