When it comes to middle-class financial woes, Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor and author of How the Other Half Banks, notes the shifts in how lenders and borrowers look at credit:
Marquette [the Supreme Court decision Neal Gabler discusses] marked a pivotal cultural shift. Not only did it render centuries of interest-rate caps practically meaningless, it de-stigmatized the practice of usury.
Usury laws were designed to protect vulnerable borrowers from exploitative lenders trying to profit from their distress. Once the caps were lifted, so was the shame of charging high interest on loans. Today, payday, subprime, and credit card lenders peddle predatory products under the cover of law.