Banks offer payday loans | Aug. 24
Predatory lending imperils poor
I am outraged that major U.S. banks have introduced direct deposit loans, their version of payday loans — a certain debt trap, especially for low-income people.
Although the banks claim they are different, these predatory lending products look and smell like payday loans with the same devastating effect. They are aimed at the working poor, who will quickly find themselves in financial quicksand.
According to the Center for Responsible Lending, "Before making a loan, legitimate lenders assess the ability of potential borrowers to repay it. Payday lenders do not. Their business model is built on making loans borrowers cannot afford to pay off, keep them coming back and paying repeated fees on the same small amount of money borrowed."
The banks' introduction of the predatory products comes at a pivotal time for the banking industry. With tightened regulations protecting the consumer, the banks face intense stockholder pressure to find new sources of revenue. Sadly, these new predatory lending products will further devastate their customers.
A nationwide enforcement by all states of a comprehensive interest rate cap at or around 36 percent for small loans will begin to address the debt trap problem caused by predatory lending.
Michael Doyle, Tampa
Shaping a new world order | Aug. 26, commentary
Wake up, Washington
Andrew J. Bacevich is correct in stating that too few Americans are taking notice that history has entered a new era. Maybe he should conduct a workshop in the White House based on his excellent, thought-provoking article. Someone has to wake up these people in Washington's "intellectual dead zone."
Suzanne Swahn, Spring Hill
When hospitality turns nightmare | Aug. 26
It's a criminal matter
What an unbelievable state of affairs. Vincent and Donna Remeika can't even get the police to tell a trespasser to leave? The police have been mistrained for years that this type of thing is a civil matter. It clearly is a criminal matter. They acted like this person the family wanted to leave their home had "rights." Where are the private property rights of the homeowner?
Now the Remeikas have every right to turn it into a civil matter by having their attorney submit a bill to Hillsborough County for the extra power, water and food bills from the time they first contacted the police to get the person off their property. Then perhaps the cities and counties would stop this absurd mistraining of the police.
Claude Hensley, Clearwater
Hobbled economy needs bold jobs plan Aug. 25, editorial
Inject some confidence
The last thing our economy needs is another so-called compromise out of Washington. The fix to what ails our economy may lay less in what the government does and more in what it says.
The U.S. economy certainly has the potential to regain traction. A recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds that the companies that comprise the S&P 500 alone have more than $1.1 trillion in cash on hand.
American businesses and consumers will invest and spend if Washington can simply provide some measure of confidence. This can start with the president leading the charge to make permanent the Bush tax cuts. Other measures that will go a long way toward stimulating this economy would include a reduction in corporate tax rates, and a relaxing of regulations that unnecessarily stifle productivity.
It is also time for Obama to acknowledge that the implementation of his health care act is adversely impacting employment and causing considerable uncertainty as it makes its way through the courts. While it may seem unlikely that the president and his fellow Democrats would reconsider this legislation, reversing course on this expensive and unpopular entitlement program would undoubtedly be a positive for the economy.
Our economy needs to get on the path to sustainable growth, not the short-term fixes we normally get out of Washington compromises.
Walter B. Stackow, CFA, St. Petersburg
Sen. Marco Rubio
Taking care of seniors
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., recently gave a speech in which he explained how Medicare and Social Security have spoiled us. He recalled how, years ago, we naturally took care of our parents, grandparents and neighbors facing adversity. However, once "the government" assumed responsibility for us, we no longer worried about saving for our future or a rainy day. As a result, we have been undermined and weakened by federal social programs.
Rubio is too young to remember, and apparently didn't learn in history class, that before Medicare was established in 1965, fully one-half of seniors had no insurance. Many seniors went without medical care.
Before Social Security, one-third to one-half of seniors were estimated to be living in poverty. Today that number is down to 10 percent — still too high, but much better than in "the good old days."
Would Rubio prefer that we go back to those days? Does he not realize that, while a lot of us still care for our parents and grandparents, the sad reality is that many of the elderly are alone. Should we, as Americans, care about them?
Jackie Gavrian, Brandon
The skinny on fatty acids | Aug. 25
Benefits of seafood
Consumers should not be scared away from eating fish. There are no cases of mercury poisoning in the entire medical literature due to commercially bought fish in the United States.
The benefits of eating seafood — healthful protein, vitamin B12, selenium and omega-3s — far outweigh the hypothetical and trumped up risk from mercury.
J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst, Center for Consumer Freedom, Washington
Fine earned; now pay up | Aug. 26, editorial
I am not a Scientologist, however, I worked in downtown Clearwater for years. I never experienced any reason to call the Church of Scientology a bad neighbor or detriment to the town. On the contrary, I've seen them bring in business and work to beautify the downtown as a whole.
Joe Niewierski, Tampa