RushCard Locks Out the Poor From Their Money for Ninth Consecutive Day

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Yesterday I saw the blurb on the right at the New York Times. Russell Simmons. RushCard. On the blink for eight days. That sounds like a drag. I wonder what this is all about? Why haven’t I heard of it before now?

Jamelle Bouie explains:

RushCard, according to its website, is a prepaid debit card that lets users get paychecks up to two days in advance….It’s meant to solve the real problems that come with being unbanked or underbanked. In reality, however, it’s a trap. In exchange for early access to their money, users face a web of fees and charges.

….If RushCard were reliable, this might be a fair price for convenience. But it’s not. Beginning last week, thousands of people were locked out of their accounts following an alleged “technology transition” from the company. As Jia Tolentino notes for Jezebel, these are people with no access to cash outside of RushCard. It’s what they use to live their lives.

….This is a disaster, largely uncovered because of whom it affects.

Yep. If this were a problem with, say, American Airlines mileage awards, it would have gotten about as much attention as the Space Shuttle exploding or the Obamacare website melting down. That’s because lots of upper-middle-class folks use these miles, and so do lots of journalists. But RushCard is mostly used by the invisible poor. It turns out that RushCard’s problems have been big news for the past week in a few places that cater to either the hip hop community or looking out for the poor, but in the mainstream press it’s been mostly ignored. That’s probably because very few mainstream journalists either use RushCard or know a lot of people who do.

The rest of Bouie’s column is about postal banking, which you all know I’m sort of skeptical about. I suspect there are better answers to helping the unbanked. But as a comment on the press and the invisibility of the poor, this story deserves more attention.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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