Maxed Out

Seven Hills, NV

“I think you’ve just got to be in a master plan, where there are CC&Rs and they can’t build a mobile home right next door or a nail shop. You know, it’s just strictly a planned community. You’re gonna get your dollars out.”

“I could not have paid for the construction of that house if I hadn’t got the loan-to-value, which means they appraised the house when it was done and loaned me money as what it would sell for.

[Title card: This is the same accounting technique used by Enron.]

“So, I didn’t have to come up with anything for the construction. So, that’s an very ingenious way to get people to continue construction on expensive homes. If that interest rate goes up by the time we move in in April, I might not be able to afford the house anymore. If you look like you make money, I guess eventually you will. You know?”


Sutherland Films: The Wise Use of Credit [Educations film, copyright 1960 — used for intro sequence]


Las Vegas, Nevada
Robin Leach says that people want to look up to wealthy, not down to poverty.


Nashville, Tennessee
[Montage of Dave Ramsey on his radio show answering various questions.]


[Voiceover:] The credit card companies keep flooding our mailboxes with 4 billion offers a year.




[Title card: Mark Mumma, Oklahoma City, OK] “…I finally got tired of it and registered

“An actual Providian employee told me all about how they hold checks until the accounts both go late and go over credit fee, generating another $70 per account for Providian. She said some of the checks they hold; some of them they just shred.”


[Title card: In 2001-2, Providan pays $400 million to settle charges it defrauded its customers.

2 years later, President Bush appoints an ethics “czar” to clean up corporate America…] [Voiceover:] “The man President Bush tapped to lead his new S.W.A.T. team on corporate crime, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, now faces questions about his ties to a troubled credit card firm, The Providian Corporation.”

[Title card: He chooses a director of Providian.]


[Title card: John Ballew, New Albany, IN]


[Title card: The #1 qualification for working at a bank is suggestive selling experience.]


[Title card: Debt buying is one of the fastest growing industries on Wall Street.

Last year, investors bought $75 billion of bad debt alone.]


[Title card: Larry and George, Co-Founders,]


[Title card: Chris and Bob, Minneapolis, MN] [Chris and Bob at restaurant dining table:] “You know our company is called People First Recoveries for a reason, is that, you know, we put people first — we try to be professional with them and we try to be, you know — stand up above, you know — just really treat them fair in what we’re doing. And, you know what? It’s working — it’s gonna get people to work with us.”


[Louis C.K. standup clip]


[Yuppie Pawn in Seattle, Washington]


[Title card: The largest check cashing chain in the US is funded by Wells Fargo, the 4th largest bank…

(His [the pawnbroker’s] bank, Wells Fargo, also funds Cash America, his biggest competitor.)]


“We’re so trusting of the system because we see names like Bank of America and Bank This and Bank That — ‘Well, gosh, they’re not going to take advantage of me’ — and exactly the opposite is true — those are the entities that will take advantage of you.”


[Elizabeth Warren:] “And one of the vice presidents for CitiGroups called me in my academic office and said, ‘I’d like to do a seminar for all of the executives here and would you come in and present your statistics on bankruptcy?’ I had a new book out about bankruptcy. And he said, ‘I think this is going to be very enlightening for people.” And I, ‘Sure!’

In effect, my message was: if you would screen the weakest customers, those who are overloaded on debt and least likely to be able to pay, you could cut your bankruptcy losses by 50% in the blink of an eye.

“Then, a fellow in the back said, ‘Professor Warren…’ And everyone got quiet and, you know, it’s that classic moment when you realize: that’s the guy who has all the power here. And, he said, ‘Very interesting, but if we cut those people off, that’s where we make all of our profits and we won’t make nearly as much money.’ If you cut out the people who are least likely to be able to repay — if you cut out the most marginal borrowers, the ones who are deepest in trouble, then you’re cutting out the heart of our profits because that’s where we make most of our money.”


[Title card: Mike Hudson, Investigative Reporter]

“I started just, uh, you know, just sort of a garden variety police reporter, you know, working for a daily newspaper here in Virginia. I wanted to writer about why it was so difficult for folks to get out of poverty.”


[Title overlay: Aberdeen, Mississippi]


[Title card: The Browns had a low interest government subsidized mortgage.

Cityfinancial replaced it with a longer, higher-interest loan they can’t afford.]


[Mike Hudson:] “You know, after slavery, we went to the sharecropping system and it was really — it was a debt system — a sort of debt slavery where people got caught owing money to the bank, owing money to the landowner, and could never really get out of debt. And, that’s kind of where we are now.”


[Title card: In 2004, thirty states sue the banks for predatory and discriminatory practices.

The federal government’s top regulator rushed to the banks’ defense.]


[CNN video clip title:] FIRST USA TO PAY $40,000 FOR EACH TEEN’S TUITION


[Title card: Trisha and Janne, Norman, OK — the two speak about thousands of dollars of credit card debt their college-attending children accumulated]


[Title card: In 1999, Trisha and Janne testified for a bill that would have banned credit card companies from college campuses.]


[Suze Orman:] “You hear me say it over and over and over again that one of the most important parts of your entire financial foundation is your FICO score. Your FICO score determines the interest rates that you pay on car loans, credit cards, mortgages…

[Title card: (She has a deal with FICO’s parent company.)

“…whether you get a cell phone, whether a landlord will rent to you, many times if an employer will hire you — it has to do with everything.”


[David the Louisiana lawyer:] “They portray it as being like the Coca Cola formula — that each of their algorithms are akin to the Coca Cola formula. But, in reality, they want to keep it secretive because they don’t want to be attacked on the basis of discrimination or to be shown that there is some defective logic behind it.”


[Title card: One thing we do know is that FICO has nothing to do with your income…
And an inaccuracy rate of over 90 percent.]


[Title overlay: Clearlake, Minnesota]


[Doris:] “…my loan that I had taken out for my daughter that is deceased, it was supposed to put on there as transferred and forgiven by the government. And someone put in there that I was deceased. So, it was just a real big typographical error.”


[Chris or Bob of People First:] “It’s not illegal for us to call your neighbors and try to get a message to you, to have a neighbor try to get you to call back. How embarrassing is that to somebody, you know, if they have to get a message through a neighbor?”


[David (blue-shirted lawyer):] “A few years ago, a close friend of mind who’s an in-house council to a sheriff here in a Louisiana parish called me and says, ‘David,’ he says, ‘Equifax has come here to the sheriff’s office and they want to give us a terminal, but we don’t really need one.’ He says, ‘Can we just hook ’em up? They said we can hook ’em up on everybody’s desk.’ And I said, ‘Well, what legitimate business need do you have for a credit reporting terminal there at the sheriff’s office?’ ‘Well, I don’t know — they said we could pull it on suspects and, you know, we could pull a credit report on anybody we want.’ I said, ‘No — that’s not true.’ And I said, ‘Well, what did they ask from you reciprocally?’ ‘Well, they want us to provide information to them.’ ‘About what?’ ‘About everything we do, everything from tax deeds to tax liens to criminal matters — they just want us to report a lot of information back to them.’

They’re using that information, manipulating the data, repackaging it, and reselling it and sharing it and spreading it around because, consumers, they think they have privacy. I mean, if I walked up to on the street and I said, ‘Well, tell me about your right to privacy from me or from a company as a private individual.’ You’d say, ‘Well, the constitution.’ No, the constitution doesn’t provide you a right to privacy from me, it provides you a right to privacy from the government. Where’s your right to privacy from me? If I want to get in your hair and study everything about you, where’s your right to privacy from me? And the fact is, you don’t have a constitutional right.”


[Title overlay: Consumer Credit Hearings, 2005 — Dodd asks Gramlich where credit card data comes from.]


[Title card: Hint: The government’s favorite information vendor is Choicepoint.]


[Title card: Homeland Security has since hired Choicepoint to finger terrorists…like Doris.]


[Title card: Between 1994 and 2004 over ten million Americans jumped off the plank and declared bankruptcy…

This year more Americans will go bankrupt than will divorce, graduate from college, or get cancer.]


“…I don’t know how in the world I give more to God and have less to keep, I wind up with more — that’s spiritual mathematics.”


[Title card: (His [George W. Bush’s] top campaign contributor is MBNA, the country’s second largest credit card issuer.)]


[Title card: Brandie and Will, Nashville, TN]


[Elizabeth Warren:] You know, this is one of the reasons the credit industry wants to change the bankruptcy bill. Because it is the only, single way that people can stop the collection. They say, ‘That’s it — I’m in bankruptcy. You can have all of my assets, but then it has to stop.’ If you can get rid of those bankruptcy laws, then it never has to stop. You can keep calling those people and collecting from them until they die.


[Title card: Bush endorses a bill that will make it much harder for middle-class Americans to get a second chance. The bill was written by MBNA.]


[Title card: At least one of the bill’s sponsors offers an apology…sort of.]


[Title card: Helena Durst, Manhattan, NY]


[Title card: Her grandfather built the national debt clock in 1988.]


[Title card: surfing (n). the practice of paying off debt with more debt]


[Title card: 1983–1988
Reagan “borrows” $300 billion from Social Security to pay the interest on the national debt.]


[Title card: 1989-1993
Bush takes $350 billion from the Social Security trust fund and replaces it with IOU’s.]


[Title card: November, 1995
The government runs out of money anyway and shuts down for 3 days.]


[Title card: Clinton borrows billions from pensions and Social Security to avoid defaulting on interest payments.]


[Title card: November 2004,
The government runs out of cash again. Bush ups the debt limit by $800 billion.]


[Title card: By 2005, the federal government has spent every penny of the Social Security “trust fund”…just to make its minimum payments.]


[Title card: The US Government spends more on interest than on homeland security, education, and healthcare combined.]


[Title card: fiscal straightjacket (n).
(1) a device which, in theory, restrains Congress from irresponsible spending.
(2) a convenient excuse to cut government programs that don’t benefit influential taxpayers or corporations.]


[Heartbreak/suicide montage.]

One thought on “Maxed Out

  1. These who are supposed to be caring for the country and the PEOPLE better wake up before we have to fix their mess!

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