By Bob Lawless, University of Illinois, College of Law.
Today, I am visiting my parents' home and went for a walk that included a stroll down the commercial strip on the busy street near their house. Along this commercial strip in a solid middle-class neighborhood in Peoria, Illinois, is a small red brick building that thirty years ago I remember housing an insurance agency. What is there today? A payday lender.
My stroll turned into my own personal metaphor for the change in the middle class over the past generation. In place of an institution that cushioned against risk, the neighborhood now has an institution that creates it.The local bowling alley is shuttered as well -- everyone now just can "bowl alone."
The payday lender that inspired this post does not even really stand out. In that one-quarter mile stretch of that commercial strip, there are are now five payday or auto title lenders.