Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, a.k.a. “The Internets Celebrities”, have a new video titled Checkmate in which they do a “ha ha, just serious” on-the-street report on those cheque-cashing places you see in urban areas.
“America’s most valueable resource,” says Penn, “is poor people. Poor people drive our economy, okay? Poor people…with checks”. In the report, they explore a number of themes, including why the poor favour cheque-cashing places over banks, usury, economic instability, commercial banks and their profit line, the cycle of poverty and how hard it is to cash a giant novelty cheque.
[This is a New York “street humour” piece, so yes, there will be swearing. You’ve been warned.]
A couple of interesting observations in the video:
- There’s always a cheap jewelry store beside any NYC cheque-cashing place. As the Internets Celebrities put it, “Why would you want to leave a check-cashing place with all your money?
- The banks-per-1000-people ratio is a very telling indicator of the neighbourhood’s socioeconomic status. Brooklyn Heights, where an ex of mine lived, has a bank for every 1,000 people. Bushwick has one for every 50,000.
- Equally telling — and one idea I’ve covered before — is Starbucks. The more banks a neighbourhood has, the more Starbucks it has. “Bank workers love to drink Starbucks,” observes Penn.
In their blog, they write:
Commercial banks don’t exist in the ‘hood. People with no money to save don’t need them. What they need is a facility that gives them the cash they need to buy their groceries, pay their bills and copp their drugs. Poor people need cash. It keeps them on the economic grid. What is more patriotic than going into debt? Our government has a zillion dollar deficit. If they can do it why shouldn’t the backbone of America also follow suit?
We vacillated on whether check cashing joints were really the devil in disguise. For many of us there are no other options. These establishments aren’t here to help poor people gain economic stability. They are here to provide a service and for that service they extract their blood, just like any other service that is contracted to the poverty class. Just be aware of that when you step inside of those doors.
Go watch the video. It’s a fun and informative 9 minutes and 44 seconds.