- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New rules for military pay

We take exception to retired Col. Ronald A. Durchin’s hysterical Op-Ed column attacking the payday advance industry (“Predatory lenders stalk our troops,” Commentary, Tuesday).

According to the Government Accountability Office, just 7 percent of military personnel have used the services of payday lenders. Furthermore, the payday advance industry has been proactive in developing and implementing additional safeguards for military personnel.

Suspiciously, Col. Durchin advocates H.R. 97, legislation sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves, Missouri Republican. This legislation would effectively prohibit payday advance companies from loaning to military personnel while protecting Pioneer Financial Services Inc., a predatory lender in Mr. Grave’s district, and the largest maker of loans to military personnel. Pioneer Financial Services exclusively targets the military community and is notorious for hiding fees buried in complicated loan applications.

Legislation to be voted on in the House this week, the Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act (H.R. 458), is a much better way to go. This legislation sets strict rules that all lenders, including payday advance companies and Pioneer Financial Services, must follow when lending to military customers.



Community Financial Services



Fur and fashion

Nordstrom’s preview of fall designer collections cannot be considered a “feel-good affair” where “all hope springs forth” when showcased garments were laced in fur (“Springing into fall fashions,” Life, Monday). There was no hope for the animals who lost their lives for this event.

Aiding nonprofit groups does not have to be done at the expense of animals’ lives.

Helping both nonprofits and animals could have been accomplished easily simply by eliminating fur from the runway.



CAFTA and American industries

Donald Lambro’s otherwise fine Monday Commentary column, “Embargo needed on CAFTA myths,” mistakenly suggests that U.S. textile manufacturers oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of the U.S. textile and apparel supply chain. In fact, 11 major textile and apparel trade associations have voted to support the agreement.

U.S. cotton farmers, yarn spinners, fabric manufacturers, trim suppliers, apparel companies, textile and sewn-product equipment makers and others have come together to support swift enactment and implementation of this agreement for one simple reason: Central America represents one of the best markets for U.S. textile companies. Without CAFTA, this region quickly loses its competitive advantage to lower-cost Asian suppliers. Seventy percent of the clothing made in the CAFTA region is made from U.S. yarns and fabrics. In contrast, Asian garments contain less than 1 percent U.S. content.

For the U.S. textile and apparel industry, passage of CAFTA is a strategy that helps keep the U.S. industry, in partnership with firms and workers in Central America, competitive.


President and CEO

American Apparel & Footwear

Association (AAFA)



National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO)


“CAFTA’s benefits” (Editorial, Sunday) rightfully highlighted an adverse consequence of restricted trade: American sugar producers have had it too sweet, too long.

Unfortunately, while the rest of the world pays less than 9 cents a pound for sugar, Americans are forced to pay 22 cents. In short, every cake, caramel, candy bar or cola you purchase includes a 13-cent-per-pound tax to protect 6,000 domestic sugar producers.

The Central American Free Trade Agreement would slowly align U.S. sugar costs with the world price over the next 15 years by allowing marginal increases in imports.

CAFTA opponents believe protectionist economics will shelter domestic jobs, but they should consider this alarming fact: Over the past 10 years, Chicago lost 6,800 candy manufacturing jobs as companies moved overseas to escape high sugar prices.

That’s almost 6,800 jobs lost in Chicago alone to protect 6,000 sugar producers.

Suddenly, our sugar does not taste as sweet.


Falls Church

Burning flag amendment issues

Those who disagree with columnist Mark Steyn’s opposition to the anti-flag-burning amendment may be dismayed to learn that even if adopted, it would not — as currently worded — accomplish its goal (“Fireproofing fuse,” Commentary, Monday).

A statute criminalizing “physical desecration of the flag of the United States” would not prohibit protesters from burning something that appears to be — but technically isn’t — the U.S. flag.

Burning a look-alike flag — for example, one with 49 or 51 stars — would be indistinguishable to most onlookers from burning the flag itself and would have exactly the same effect, but the proposed amendment wouldn’t give Congress the power to protect anything beyond the flag.

Moreover, in criminal prosecutions, it may be impossible to prove that the object burned was a flag, even if it was, because few observers could swear beyond a reasonable doubt as to the number of stars, whether there were more red stripes than white, etc.


Professor of public interest law

George Washington University Law School


Protecting America’s children

Every new case of child abduction and violent sexual assault proves that we must find a better way to identify risk to prevent the next one. However, the approach advocated by Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican (“Making prey of the predators,” Commentary, Friday) panders to every parent’s worst nightmare yet fails to offer an effective response.

What we need are not tougher laws, but smarter ones. Florida has the strictest sex-offender-registry law in the country. Nevertheless, the state’s hard-line approach did not prevent the hideous abductions and killings of Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde.

Instead, we need a bold approach that funds treatment that works; ensures effective community re-entry; monitors those who pose the most risk; and invests in prevention for the estimated 90 percent of offenders who are never caught: family members and others close to the child, not just the stranger near the bus stop.


Researcher, U.S. Program

Human Rights Watch

New York

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