Column by Chris Graham
David Cox seems to still be thinking through the payday-lending issue.
“I would very much favor some kind of curb. I would not be in favor of ending the practice and business altogether – but I do think that government needs to set some limits on some of these things so that people aren’t really taken advantage of – as seems to be the case,” Cox said in response to a question in an interview on “The New Dominion Show” last month.
Cox, the Democratic Party nominee in the 24th Senate District, will face Republican incumbent Emmett Hanger and Libertarian Arin Sime in the November general election.
The payday-lending issue is one that has had my attention for the past couple of years – as Virginia legislators struggle to deal with the criticism that has been lobbed their way for opening up the Commonwealth to the industry in 2002.
Critics of the payday-loan industry say that payday lenders exploit people through exorbitant interest rates and short payback periods that often force borrowers into taking out additional loans to be able to make ends meet.
Supporters say that the industry meets a need for lending aimed at a higher-risk economic population.
Philosophically, at least, Cox seems to come down on the side of the former more than the latter.
“There’s a principle that comes from the Bible – and that is, You shall not gouge your neighbor. And I think the kind of price-gouging that goes on in the name of payday loans and such really is contrary to the best interests of all,” Cox said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.