Since when is 36 percent APR good?

Op-Ed by Patricia Chafee

piggy-bank_thumbnail.gifBack in the 1950s, as I was trying to earn money in the summer to help with college expenses in the fall, I worked for a printing firm alongside two little old ladies, bent almost double from the hard labor they had experienced even as children when there were no child-labor laws.

Also, as I was growing up, I remember Tennessee Ernie Ford singing, “I owe my soul to the company store” – expressing the enslaving cycle of payday money going to take care of past bills and workers never getting ahead.

Now there are payday lenders charging exorbitant interest rates so the poor end up borrowing money over and over again to pay their debt. One loan calls for another to pay the last loan.

Lately, I’ve read of a possible interest cap of 36 percent. Granted, that 36 percent is better than 72 percent, but where did the “low” rate of 36 percent come from? Doesn’t sound like a low figure to me.

As Americans, we can be proud that in the past, laws have been passed to aid the helpless, but we need to be ever-vigilant to have laws and policies to help the poor and abased.

The golden rule that Jesus taught, “to do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is an excellent guide for any age and time.

I am only one person with one voice and one pen, but I ask for mercy for the poor, and I implore the powers that be to think long and hard about this situation and act to make changes for the better.

Patricia Chafee resides in Afton.


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