LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ballot initiatives give Missouri residents power over payday lenders

Thursday, May 3, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Hundreds of volunteers have gathered thousands of signatures to qualify two citizens' initiatives to support economic dignity for Missouri families through limiting the rate of payday loans and raising the minimum wage. Missourians are taking these issues into our own hands, inspiring a far-reaching faith and community movement. The payday lenders have used every intimidation tactic in the book, from threatening faith leaders to running deceptive advertisements. We are not deterred, and our leaders stand with us. The state auditor and secretary of state, in their work to uphold ballot language on behalf of residents of this state, are countering predatory lenders' attempts to thwart the democratic process.

Auditor Tom Schweich was correct in saying: "The payday loan industry spreads money around Jefferson City like butter, and this is only the latest attempt to protect their 400 percent interest rate on payday loans." For too long, Missouri's legislature has failed to rein in abusive practices. Now that so many of us have done the hard work to take this issue directly to the people, we applaud our leaders who work to ensure Missourians' voices are heard at the ballot box in November.

Eva Schulte is the executive director of Communities Creating Opportunity. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Ray Shapiro May 3, 2012 | 1:03 p.m.

("Missourians are taking these issues into our own hands, inspiring a far-reaching faith and community movement.")
("The payday lenders have used every intimidation tactic in the book, from threatening faith leaders to running deceptive advertisements.")
("For too long, Missouri's legislature has failed to rein in abusive practices.")
("...predatory lenders...")
What I see are people needing to borrow money who sense desperation and perceive no other option but to use the services of these payday loan establishments.
I'd much rather know that they are using these legal businesses for money than illegal activities to survive during hard times.
And yet, I read no where of churches offering alternative payday loans from the coffers of their own treasuries, obtained from their congregations, or nonprofits setting up payback loan service programs from their own budgets.
Instead I see "faith-based" minded people pushing to put these businesses out of business and encourage those who have no other legal recourse to engage in illegal activities to survive in the manner they think is necessary.
How misguided are you political lobbyists and those you sway for petition signatures.

(Report Comment)
Michael Kaylen May 5, 2012 | 12:22 p.m.

Wow, what a joke of a name, “Communities Creating Opportunity.” Eva Schulte, the executive director, has a letter to the editor promoting two citizens’ initiatives, one to limit the rate of payday loans and one raising the minimum wage. Neither of these creates opportunity. What they do, in fact, is limit choice. Consider the payday loan initiative. Suppose a hitherto unemployed person lands a job interview and needs suitable clothes but is destitute. It could very well be an entirely reasonable choice for that person to borrow money at very large interest rates to get a short term loan for suitable clothing for the interview.
Here’s a suggestion. Anyone who thinks current payday loan rates are usurious, ought to consider actually creating opportunities for others by setting up competing payday loan operations that charge lower rates. Wouldn’t this be a better use of the time and money currently going into nothing more than limiting others’ choices?
The exact same type of reasoning applies to the proposed increase in the minimum wage law. The proposed increase just takes away people’s right to choose. If someone has the choice of whether to work for $7.25/hour, they can currently choose. However, if the proposal passes, they will no longer have that choice. If a business owner can hire someone for $7.25/hour and just break even by doing so, the business owner currently has that choice. If he has to pay more, he won’t hire anyone. If the argument is that the big bad business owner can afford to pay more, then once again I suggest those making that argument set up a competing business.
Why is Eva in favor of limiting choices? Ultimately, it must be because she either doesn’t believe people are capable of making good choices for themselves or because she just doesn’t like their choices. Not liking peoples’ choices is hardly a rationale for passing laws. On the other hand, if Eva believes people are incapable of making good choices, I would suggest she put her efforts into educating them as opposed to restricting everyone’s choices.

(Report Comment)

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