- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Payday lending

The article “Council eyes slashing payday lenders’ rates,” (Business, Friday) failed to mention that payday lending is already regulated in the District of Columbia and in 37 states.

The current D.C. regulations include: A maximum fee of 10 percent of face amount of check plus a $5-$20 fee based upon the face amount of the check (example of the fee on a $100 advance is $16.11); a maximum loan amount of $1,000 (maximum amount of customer’s check or checks); a maximum loan term of 31 days. In addition, all fee schedules must be posted in English and Spanish.

The D.C. Council’s proposal to cap interest rates on payday loans at 24 percent APR is essentially a ban on the industry. If passed, the maximum fee a lender could charge is 92 cents per $100 loaned. Payday loan stores in the District would be forced to close their doors, putting hundreds of employees out of work and denying thousands of D.C. residents access to a popular, regulated short-term credit option.

LYNDSEY MEDSKER

Community Financial

Services Association

Alexandria, Va.

Conservatives and quicksand

The Senate’s rejection of “comprehensive immigration reform” (“Immigration bill quashed,” Page 1, June 29) was a welcome development hailed nearly across the political spectrum. However, some conservatives advocated their position unwisely in fanning the flames of populism and public passion. Even theeditorial “The people killed amnesty” (June 29) comes dangerously close to this approach.

While conservative radio talk show hosts provided a vital service conducting virtual “hearings” that Congress itself should have held appealing to public opinion in and of itself is a weak argument (in fact, a logical fallacy) and inflammatory to boot. Certainly, the public ultimately blanched at both the bill and the process, but the bill failed on the merits as its many egregious provisions became clear.

The problem with Sen. Trent Lott’s criticism of talk radio is not that he was ignoring the “will of the people” but that he demonstrated contempt of the conservative base crucial to his party’s electoral strength. And, contrary to some voluble commentators, there were “elites” (and certainly closed strategy sessions, i.e. “back-room deals”) on both sides of the issue.

Constantly referring to “the American people” and obsessing over whose proposals draw higher numbers is not an endeavor conservatives should be engaged in. The false god of populism can be unleashed in any number of directions in favor of a “living wage,” universal health care, smaller classrooms, the Fairness Doctrine and many other boutique liberal causes that might make for a compelling slogan.

Screaming “power to the people” (as one prominent conservative is wont to do) is closer to the radical demagoguery of Rousseau or Howard Dean than the traditions of Locke and Burke and of America’s Founders.

Amid legitimate complaints about vetting every move through polls and focus groups, today’s politicians hardly need exhortation to be more slavishly driven by public opinion. Conservatives should be more confident of their position and less reliant on the shifting sands of popular whims.

GREGORY C. MCCARTHY

Arlington

First the border, then the system

Victor Davis Hanson’s column “Victorious revolt,” (Commentary, Saturday) gets it absolutely right. The American public is a much smarter group than the “inside the Beltway” crowd gives us credit for. Looking at each piece of the problem instead of rushing to pass another massive and ultimately worthless bill is the best way to honestly attack the problem.

The next step I would recommend, as soon as the new border fence project is under way, is a thorough examination and revamping of our present immigration system and procedures. The people with the skills and abilities from around the world who we want to allow into the United States are being strangled by our inefficient and cumbersome system that often allows itself to be hijacked by manipulative and deceitful sponsors who keep immigrants as their personal “helpers” past the time when they should have received their work papers or green card.

TINA OWENS

Fairfax

Why do people pledge?

I fully support those individuals who wish to exercise their right to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States (“Pledging allegiance with liberty, breakfast for all,” Metropolitan, Sunday). That Chick and Ruth’s Delly chooses to do so every morning is their right to freedom of expression and speech. However, what disturbed me about the article is the suggestion that reciting the pledge is meaningful, yet at the same time, it is done more out of “respect” than personal belief, most clearly seen when foreign diners place their hands over their hearts, when they are clearly not making a pledge.

A pledge is supposed to be deeply meaningful. It is not merely a position taken in a debate or even a proclamation in a public setting. A pledge is an expression of one’s values and self-identity such that one is promising to uphold the substance of that pledge. A pledge of allegiance should not be taken lightly. Those who support the Pledge of Allegiance and wish to see more individuals take the pledge should look more toward individuals acting it out than reciting the words for it. Saying a pledge to be polite does not show it respect.

ALEXANDER MCCOBIN

Research Assistant

Reason Foundation

Philadelphia

Presidential qualities

David Bossie makes a forceful argument concerning the conservative bona fides of former Sen. Fred Thompson and the desirability of his candidacy in the 2008 presidential election (“Thompson’s political potential,” Commentary, Sunday).

In the context of a conservative constituency, Mr. Thompson appears to be the man of the hour, a definite plus in the primary sweepstakes. However, notwithstanding his “meteoric rise,” in the national election such “bona fides” will only go so far.

The victor in November 2008 will be the candidate the electorate believes presents the best plan to protect the freedom we enjoy. In the absence of that freedom, all else is for naught. The linchpin of such protection is our armed forces.

Mr. Bossie observes Mr. Thompson stands tall on “military issues,” earning a “perfect 100 ratings from the Non-Commissioned Officers Association and the Military Officers Association of America.” This speaks highly of Mr. Thompson. But the nation will be looking for the leader who will provide the best solution to (a) the Iraqi enigma, (b) the threat of terrorism, (c) our insecure borders and (d) protection of our civil liberties to the extent possible while dealing with the foregoing.

And America will be looking for the leader most likely to achieve these objectives while protecting our armed forces, who have placed themselves in harm’s way, and preserving the honor they have earned in a hard fought, increasingly unpopular war.

Such a leader will have taken the first step in protecting the freedom we cherish, and in doing so fulfilled what Mr. Bossie refers to as the meeting of “an and moment.” Whether Mr. Thompson can convince the citizenry he is that “man” remains to be seen.

ROBERT HARGEST

Alexandria