Discovering that the Poor Pay More: Race Riots, Poverty, and the Rise of Consumer Law
44 Ford.Urb.L.J. 1319 (2017)
15 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 26, 2018
David Caplovitz is remembered primarily for his book The Poor Pay More and his writing about poor consumers. This article addresses why this work propelled the reconstruction of consumer financial protection law, by placing it within the context of widespread urban rioting and the civil rights movements of the 1960s. It argues that Capolvoitz presented the American political center with a clinical, denatured sociological explanation for urban rioting, which involved a more palatable and less threatening suggested response to unrest than explanations premised on intrinsic white racism or class oppression. According to Caplovitz, the riots more than anything else reflected a political and social failure to appreciate the importance of consumer finance. He recommended addressing racism and deeper social grievances through major revisions to commercial and consumer law. Sidestepping other “root causes,” Caplovitz helped courts, law-makers, and many middle-class Americans revalue consumer law and its connection to domestic peace, poverty and economic justice.
Keywords: consumer law, David Caplovitz, urban riots, consumer protection, Kerner Commission, Walker-Thomas Furniture, 1960s, consumer clinics
JEL Classification: N3, K19, Z13, Z10, K20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation