Amscot goes on offense | Oct. 8
Put an end to predatory lending
Despite founder Ian MacKechnie's howls of protest, the days for his golden goose — Amscot's debt trap of payday loans at usurious terms — are numbered.
Amscot's business model feeds on our community's blight — the financial distress of its customers. It plies its destructive trade on the backs of our most vulnerable, perpetuating unjust economic structures that keep poor people trapped in their poverty. Amscot payday loan products with 300 percent interest rates devastate economically naive customers — millions of low-income people, many without work, raising children in poverty and haunted by fears about their economic security.
Proposed rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would rein in the worst abuses of payday and car title lending. The proposed ability-to-pay principle is the commonsense concept that if lenders make loans, they must ensure the borrower can repay without reborrowing or defaulting on expenses.
The consumer bureau rules begin to provide justice. However, the injustice of payday lending is more deep-seated. It is the inevitable result of the economic structures of our society, including low wages, underemployment and unemployment, and the high cost of housing. Of all the U.S. households with incomes below the poverty line, nearly half spend more than 70 percent of their household income on rent and utilities.
Nationwide enforcement by all states of a comprehensive, loophole-proof, interest rate cap for small loans will begin to address the debt trap problem caused by predatory lenders like Amscot.
Michael Doyle, Tampa
Comfort to our enemies
After the second presidential debate, Mike Pence said that Donald Trump "showed humility and he showed strength and he expressed genuine contrition." What has our country come to if what we saw was "humility" and "genuine contrition"? Political discourse has degenerated to new lows — surpassing prior bitter elections going back as far as 1800. The whole world is watching — with dismay from our allies and glee from our enemies.
Michael S. Greenberg, Clearwater
Mental health lesson
Of all the extremist statements Donald Trump has made, the one to veterans about mental health may be the most harmful and may cost lives. According to your article, "Donald Trump told a group of veterans … that some members of the military develop mental health issues because they are not 'strong' and 'can't handle it.' "
To equate mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, to weakness discourages military veterans from seeking the help they need. Even with all of the counseling and programs being offered, many military personnel won't use them because of the stigma of mental illness.
Trump's comments can only add to the epidemic of the 20 veteran suicides that occur daily.
Susan Blanchard, Clearwater
The stakes are high
Bill and Hillary Clinton are not Ma and Pa Kettle. Donald Trump is really dealing with Bonnie and Clyde. The words Trump spoke on the 2005 video have been spoken by most every red-blooded American male and are considered locker room banter.
On her part, Clinton's actions have led to people being killed in Benghazi, set the Middle East on fire and seriously compromised America's national security. Her history of corruption, lies and incompetence, should she be elected president, will crush our economy, sabotage our borders and our jobs, dismantle our military and bring America to its knees. This is our last chance to take our country back.
Maryann Jask, Englewood
Locker room talk?
Locker room talk? All men engage in it? I guess women now have some choices to make. What do we believe?
1. Donald Trump is speaking the truth — all men talk like this when women are not listening. That would include our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.
2. It is not true — all men do not use this degrading, disrespectful language toward women. But Trump really believes it's part of being a man. As for the men who agree, it speaks volumes about their character as well as Trump's.
It seems that perhaps Trump knows his ship is sinking. He's shown his willingness to take the Republican Party down with him, and now he figures he will bring the men of America along.
Edie Backman, Tampa
Prescription for change
All of us who want change in our country should not forget that the election of our next president isn't the only choice we need to make on Nov. 8. Down-ballot candidates deserve our scrutiny even more. Consider this about the party in the majority: The GOP currently holds 246 out of 435 seats in the U.S. House, 54 out of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, 31 out of 50 U.S. governorships, and four out of eight Supreme Court justices.
In Florida, the GOP holds 81 out of 120 seats in the House, 26 out of 40 seats in the Senate, and the Florida Supreme Court is rated the eighth-most-conservative court in the country.
So if we want change, why would we re-elect the same GOP candidates who haven't changed anything while in office?
Anthony Edl, Odessa
Don't let utilities fool you
Utilities are attacking solar across the nation. They won in Nevada two years ago, and since then the solar industry there has contracted by 92 percent.
In Florida, the utilities have spent more than $20 million to create and promote "wolf-in-sheep's-clothing" Amendment 1, which in reality is anti-solar. Floridians are encouraged to learn the facts and vote no on Amendment 1.
Allen Gezelman, Lutz