"It's the Repo Man! Repossession is my occupation / It's not my fault you facin' foreclosure, I told ya"
The Repo Man is a stand-in for all the folks who come to collect—whether it's about the repossession of your car or the foreclosure of your home.Deep Thought
Before we go on, let's get a couple definitional issues straight: according to investorwords.com, "repossession" means "The taking back of property by a lender or seller from the borrower or buyer, usually due to default." Default, by the way, means you didn't pay the bill owed to the actual owner (such as the bank, car company, money-lender). "Foreclosure" is similar to "repossession," but typically takes it a step further: the item in question is re-sold to pay off the debt. Those who were following the news between about 2007 and 2011 should be familiar not only with the word "foreclosure," but with its alarming partner word, "crisis." Foreclosure crisis was the talk of the nation—but head to the Meaning tab for more on that.
"Three day notice from the landlord on the seat"
In California (and lots of other states), landlords are only required to give three days' notice when they want to evict a tenant for failing to pay the rent.Deep Thought
California landlords are also allowed to give only three days' notice to tenants found doing something illegal, tenants who have been "a nuisance" to their neighbors, or tenants who have messed up the property. Eviction in other cases requires that landlords give at least thirty days, and in some cases sixty or even ninety days of notice to tenants before they are legally required to leave. When you see all someone's stuff out on the street, you can probably assume they only got that three-day notice. For most people, three-day notice means staying with family or, if that's not possible, slipping into homelessness.
"I'm tired of infomercials with them five-year payment deals"
Ah, to live again in the mid-1990s, the purported hey-day of infomercials.Deep Thought
Well, actually, it's less that it was the hey-day of infomercials, and more that it was a time for some particularly ridiculous infomercials (prompting the more recent birth of a whole YouTube series called "90s INFOMERCIAL HELL"). And, perhaps more pertinent to Boots Riley's point here, many of these infomercials tried to get people to buy things that they couldn't afford, promising payment deals and even selling products like cash loans and credit cards.
Cash loans are a "product"? Yep, that's pretty much exactly what they are. Companies in the money business (banks and money-lenders) lend out money at a certain interest rate. When the cash comes back with interest, ideally the company makes a profit. Lots of companies making small loans (often loans to poor people in emergencies or "payday loans") have interest rate hikes in the fine print that can put the borrower in the position of paying back the money at outrageous rates, in some cases upwards of 300%. According to most financial advisors, those lenders who use infomercials to push their products are probably not to be trusted. Boots' point? Pretty much the same thing: stop selling us stuff we can't actually afford.
"Even hillbillies at a party line dancin / Get they Ford trucks with poor financing"
This clever rhyme points out that poor folks from all walks of life end up getting "poor financing"—bad loans and the like.Deep Thought
Purchasing a car in a lot of ways works just like purchasing a house: you can pay it all up front (most people can't), or you can "finance" it, which essentially means getting the car on loan while you gradually pay off the cost of the car—with interest, of course. For people with bad credit, auto loans are also available, but the risk of falling behind due to large interest rates can be even higher.
"Banks that give the loan figure, d--n, in the worst case / We makin money cause we had it in the first place!"
Taking out a loan (or a mortgage) is often much riskier for the individual than the bank.Deep Thought
When banks don't receive their payments on time, they eventually gain the right to repossession or foreclosure; they may not make all the money back, but they are protected by the right to some form of collateral. For the human being on the other side of the deal, this can mean that your house or car that you've already made payments on can be taken away from you if you don't make your payments on time. Even before the foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s, sudden repossession was always a possibility for families who had gone outside their means or accepted loans or mortgages without really understanding the terms. For the banks, Boots Riley points out, the practice of making these loans was relatively un-risky.