A scourge on vulnerable citizens

Last modified: 4/4/2011 12:00:00 AM
I almost choked on my Cheerios when I read Sen. Sharon Carson's misleading doubletalk in her column, 'My bill will help struggling consumers' (Monitor Forum, March 21).

Her bill, SB 160, would usher in short-term 'installment' loans (similar to payday loans) with interest rates that can hit 400 percent a year. Current state law limits interest rates to 37.5 percent.

The only people who will benefit from SB 160 will be the payday loan sharks and the politicians they write checks to. A new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says campaign donations made by the payday loan industry increased by 80 percent between 2006 and 2010. What promises did Advance America (an out-of-state corporation) make to Carson and our other senators? What's the price for unleashing this scourge on our most vulnerable citizens, just as the Legislature rips the safety net out from under them?

I grew up in an Army family, watching sleazy predatory lenders grow up around the military bases where we lived, putting a blight on the neighborhoods. That's how the payday loan industry got its start, preying upon low-paid servicemen and women. Today the military protects its people through a law like New Hampshire's - capping interest rates at 37.5 percent. We should keep this cap in force in New Hampshire to protect our own citizenry from a vicious cycle of poverty and despair.

There are many horrific bills in the Legislature right now, but don't lose sight of this especially bad one. Urge your legislators to oppose SB 160.



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