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Brains Lost in Mail—Postal Bank Bunkum

Posted on Mar 9, 2014

    Screen shot from the pdf "Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved" on the Office of the Inspector General of the USPS website. Illustration by USPS

By Greg Palast, Reader Supported News

This piece first appeared at Reader Supported News.

On the Internet, no one can hear you scream (unless I attach one of those idiot emoticons).

Since my first report in this investigation, I have had to resign a column – and endure several thousand tweets by enraged Liberals – simply for trying to expose the Postal Service’s whacky scheme to transform itself into a criminal loan-sharking operation tied to a shady escort service. (This last is a wee exaggerated, but not much.)

The story “Liz Warren Goes Postal” was originally submitted for my regular column at another news site – which refused to print my findings because it did not comport with their political “mission.”

I resigned from that publication, of course. No reporter worth his pencil will take the missionary position with editors. I’m sure my superiors at The Guardian and BBC Television would also love to bend me over their ideological mattresses – but wouldn’t dare suggest it.


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As a card-carrying progressive, I’m told I must never write about Senator Elizabeth Warren unless I first shout, “Warren akbar!” – Liz is Great! – while bowing reverentially towards Boston.

So, bless Reader Supported News for publishing the story in its uncensored form, though its editors may not warm to my message. I was well warned that, for reporting facts that do not build the edifice of adulation to Saint Elizabeth, I would endure the slings, arrows, and fervent tweets of outraged Democrats. Indeed, the sonic blast of their chirping has been deafening.


What, you are asking, could cause such a freak-out among my erstwhile comrades? Mass-murder in Syria? ObamaCare melting the Polar Caps?

Wrong! The Post Office.

A couple of news cycles ago, Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed a U.S. Postal Service scheme to allow post offices in low-income neighborhoods to get into the “payday loan” business.

Payday loans, like rats and cops with tasers, are a fact of ghetto life. The desperate poor sign over their paychecks in advance to some sleazy loan-shark who charges “vigorish” (interest) that can eat a third of the paycheck. It’s sickening – and in several states, it’s a crime.

But crime pays: The Post Office projects it can suck $8.9 billion a year from America’s poorest if they can just get into this payday loan racket.

America’s big banks also lust for a payday pound of flesh. But they are barred from this kind of sick-o predatory lending by the federal consumer protection regulations promoted by … Liz Warren.

Yet, under a new Post Office plan endorsed by this same Liz Warren, the P.O. would team up with commercial banks to cash in on payday predation, exempting themselves from the Warren rules.

Are you confused? Surely the senator is.

Why would Warren add her name to such a mean scheme? I can only guess – because last week her PR flack said he’d get right back to me within a day with a time to interview her. A week has now passed; I guess he’s misplaced the senator.

A Non-Bank Bank

Neither the Post Office nor the Big Banksters would ever say, “We want to use federal property to run illegal loan-sharking shops.” No, instead, the Postal Governors are running a slick, slick campaign, telling us, in the opening of their plan, that the Postal Service just wants to help out the “one in four U.S. households [living] at least partially outside the financial mainstream without bank accounts or using costly services like payday lenders.”

The P.O. is right: there are 68 million “un-banked” Americans. But the Post Office plan won’t reduce that number at all. Quite the opposite: The Postal Governors, pimping themselves out in anticipation of privatization, see America’s vulnerable un-banked as their “single best new opportunity for posts to earn additional revenue.”

And the USPS plan makes clear, in black and white, that it will not offer banking services: no bank accounts, neither checking nor savings – and no lending except sharky payday loans.

Nevertheless, Senator Warren and several good and decent folk – based on Warren’s endorsement – are now campaigning for “Postal Banking.”

I invite your disagreement, but have no time for Twit-iots who attack my findings without having read the farking postal service plan. Here’s the link, friends.

The horror of the Post Office scheme is right on the cover, right in its title: “Providing NON-BANK Financial Services to the Underserved.”

I’ve included an illustration for the illiterate.

Now what the hell is a “non-bank?” It’s the same old ghetto banking system – except that you can lick the back of it.

When you read through the P.O.’s putrid plan, in pages past the crocodile tears for the poor, it tells us, “Listen up, you poor schmucks – you don’t have a bank and you ain’t getting no bank. All we’ll give you are more payday loans, high-fee pre-paid credit cards and rip-off money transfers.”

Liz Warren endorsed a plan for Postal Banking – which, in fact, is nowhere in the actual Postal plan. A real bank provides savings and checking accounts, credit cards (not “prepaid” cards) and real loans (not “we-hold-your-paycheck-and-charge-34%” loans). The USPS will offer only the costly rip-offs that Liz Warren spent years fighting.

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