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Scurlock - MAXED OUT Hard Times Easy Credit and the Era of...

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MAXED OUT Hard Times, Easy Credit, and the Era of Predatory Lenders James D. scurlock SCRIBNER NewYork London Toronto sydney
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PREPRODUCTION ’q think everyone knows that something just isn’t right." --Dave Ramsey THE COUNTRY Music HALL OF FAME sits on the edge of dmcntovm Nashville, across Broadway Street from a row o{ [[run-down buildmgs, one o{ which houses a PedEx Kinks store. Downtown is, llke most midsize American cities, oddly quiet. The busiest spot is a Starbucks tucked into the mezzanine of a mid- rise office building occupied by a bank. At night, retired couples and newlyweds wander past the H~I of Fame and the FedEx Kinko’s on their way to a little strip of bars and restaurants, like the Hard Rock Ca[e and Sbarro, the pizza place popular with tourists. The only due that this is Nashville, and not Louisville or Minneapolis, is a young
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James D. Scurlock man in a wife beater and a cowboy hat strumming a guitar on top of a box. He tells the few good folks who pause to listen that he’a looking for a record deal, and they seem to appreciate the lonely note of authenticity he’s lending their vacation, but it’s hard to fig- ure how he’s going to end up across the street someday, in that mu- seum. The fans he’ll need are being bused from their hotels over to the Grand Ole Opry, a hnge entertainment complex near the air- port. And the music producers ate scattered around the suburbs, workhlg out of small offices and home studios. He’d have better luck perching outside a strip mall Starbucks, waiting for one of them to emerge with a Frappuccino. But if this cowboy decided to make that short trip, setting out past Vanderbilt University and into the suburbs, he’d discover just how much the world has changed. He’d pass countless pawnshops, check-cashing outlets, bank branches, title loan stores, and financing companies. He’d see that most billboards were advertising loans of one kind or another~nd he’d also see plenty of smaller ads, mostly on the sides of the city’s buses, for credit repair companies and bankruptcy attorneys. He’d soon learn that Tennesseans have become obsessed with debt: how to get it, get rid of it, or, most coma monly, how to "surf it," i.e., how to ride larger and larger waves of debt without wiping out. Indeed, if the cowboy headed east along the interstate toward Brentwood, the state’s plushest suburb and home to many of his idols, he would see several billboards advertising a middle-age man with abald head and a silver beard, a man who could easily pass for an aging country music legend ~ a man promising "Freedom." This man, the cowboy would discovers has the number-one radio show in Tennessee, and one of the fastest-growing audiences in the country. This man reaches millions of Americans in over 260 cities who listen to him reJJgionsly. He travels the country and com- mands adorin 8 audiences in the thousands. He has his own reality
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MAXED OUT television show in development. And he can’t even sing or play the guitan His name is Dave Ramsey. He sells freedom from debt. And he
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