Connect With Us

“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman

7. Cashing In On Poverty

Sources: THE NATION*, Date: May 20, 1996, Title: “Cashing in on Poverty,” Author: Michael Hudson; THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE*, Date: July 15, 1996, Title: “Bordering on Scandal What Some Pay for Credit,” Author: Michael Hudson [*Excerpted from the book, Merchants of Misery. How Corporate America Profits from Poverty, Edited by Michael Hudson (Common Courage Press, 1996)].

Corporate America is in the poverty business and making huge profits from the destitute in the United States. Sixty million poor people without bank accounts or access to competitive-rate loans must instead use pawn shops, check-cashing outlets, rent-to-own stores, finance companies, and high-interest mortgage lenders. These businesses generate yearly revenues of $200 to $300 billion and are increasingly owned or subsidized by Wall Street giants such as American Express, Bank America, Citibank, Ford, Nations Bank, and Western Union.

While affluent credit card holders can pay as little as six to eight percent annual interest, low-income people are paying as much as 240 percent for a loan from a pawnbroker, 300 percent for a finance company loan, and even an amazing 2,000 percent for a fast “payday” loan from a check-cashing outlet. Large corporations use sophisticated marketing strategies to lure in new customers and increase their business. The overall number of check-cashing outlets in this country has nearly tripled to 5,500 since the late 1980s, and rent-to-own stores have skyrocketed from 2,000 to 7,500 in the same period. With a typical loan rate of 200 percent, Cash America’s chain of pawn shops has quickly grown to 325 in the United States and expanded abroad with thirty-four outlets in the United Kingdom and ten in Sweden.

The main investor in America’s $4.5 billion rent-to-own market is Thorn EMI PLC, a British conglomerate. American Express finances ACE Cash Express, a national chain of 630 check-cashing outlets. Charges average three to six percent of each check’s value. Cash America, the country’s largest chain of pawnshops, is bankrolled by Nations Bank and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Even though many of us think of Ford Motor Company in terms of its automobile sales, their Fortune 500 status has actually been achieved through financial services holdings. In 1993, three-fifths of Ford’s earnings came from car loans, mortgages, and consumer loans. Associates Corporation of North America is a Ford subsidiary targeting low-income, blue-collar, and minority consumers. In 1994, it financed $18.5 billion in mortgages and consumer loans and earned just under $1 billion in pretax profits. Stock analysts estimate that used-car loans for people with shaky credit now top $60 billion a year. Non-bank finance companies like Ford and defense contractor Textron make small loans at rates as high as 300 percent in some states.

Along with astronomically high charges, many low-income consumers are also victimized by additional hidden fees, forged loan documents, and harassing collection tactics. And unless there is increased government protection for the destitute or a growth in alternative nonprofit financial institutions, big business will continue to expand these practices.

SSU Censored Researchers: Jody Howard, Anne Shea

COMMENTS: Michael Hudson coauthored and edited the book, Merchants of Misery. How Corporate America Profits from Poverty (Common Courage Press, 1996), from which both of these articles were excerpted. According to Hudson, this issue has received very little media attention. “I know of no significant network TV stories on the `poverty industry’ in 1996. (The most recent network TV story was a 1993 60 Minutes piece on a single company, Fleet Financial Group, that was accused of fleecing minority borrowers. Since then, a number of companies have moved, without much fanfare, to fill the void left by Fleet’s departure from the high-rate mortgage market.) Several magazines and newspapers have done stories on the extraordinary growth of the ‘downscale’ lending market, but almost none of them have looked in depth at the price gouging and predatory practices that are widespread in this `poverty industry’… but these articles typically fail to report the vast number of lawsuits and law enforcement investigations that have raised questions of fraud, usury, and other illegal practices in the industry. These allegations have involved some of the biggest players in the downscale market, such as subsidiaries of Ford Motor Co. and Nations Bank.”

Hudson believes media exposure of this subject “would inform the American public about a nationwide scandal that directly affects as many as 60 million consumers. Widespread attention would help warn potential victims of credit gouging, fraudulent practices, and collection harassment—giving them the information they need to avoid predatory credit deals in the first place, or at least informing them of their rights to fight back after they realize they’ve been mistreated. Further, if the full extent of the problem were known, it’s likely the public and policy makers would take steps to improve consumer protection and fair-lending laws and create alternatives to high rate predatory financial services. Exposure might also help fuel broader political reforms by exposing the influence that the finance industry wields with lawmakers sympathetic to its profit margins and unsympathetic to consumers. Greater exposure of this story would also encourage more questions in general about corporate conduct and corporate responsibility in America.

“Given the wide array of abuses against low-income and minority consumers, it’s impossible for this story to be completely ignored,” says Hudson. He says a growing number of local newspapers—such as the Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Richmond Times-Dispatch—have dug into the subject in recent years. An op-ed piece that accompanied release of the book, Merchants of Misery, was picked up by 15 newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, but mainly smaller papers.

“In the end,” says Hudson, “the story will just keep getting bigger and bigger. More and more Wall Street companies are getting into the market as word spreads about the potential for profits. As Time noted, the industry’s wild growth `has sparked some 25 initial public stock offerings, many in the last year. [The value of] shares in a number of the newly public mortgage and auto-finance companies [is] up astronomically: Southern Pacific Funding is up 82 percent, Cityscape Financial has risen 288 percent, and RAC Financial Group Inc. has appreciated 300 percent … Another shot in the arm has come from Wall Street underwriters including Lehman Bros., Alex Brown & Sons, and Merrill Lynch, which bundle sub-prime loans, selling them off to investors as asset-backed (mobile homes, for example) securities.’ In fact, the nation’s highest paid chief executive is Larry Coss, CEO of Green Tree Financial of St. Paul, Minnesota, a company that makes higher-interest mobile-home loans to people with weak credit histories. He earned $65.6 million in salary and bonuses in 1995, and was projected to earn $100 million in 1996,” says Hudson.

Facebook Comments