Apparently, some of our local politicians in the Phoenix area are upset about payday loan companies. According the an AP report in the AZ Republic:
The stores cater to customers who live paycheck to paycheck who need
quick access to a few hundred dollars for rent, car repairs or just to
make ends meet. Banks traditionally don't make those type of small,
So these stores provide loans to people no one else will touch. And customers use their services of their own free will. So what is the problem? Well, not surprisingly, the rates on these loans are high, and the default terms tend to be drastic. "Activists" think that people are making the wrong decision using these services, and, to be fair, I would certainly advise anyone who asked to try to find another alternative. But what do my preferences matter? Its easy for me to say in my middle-upper class hubris that such services don't make sense, but I have a steady job and ready access to bank loans. In a free society, both I and those activists are free to convince people to not use these services, but its wrong to artificially limit people's choices out of some elitist sense that we can make decisions for other people better than they can for themselves.
Besides, lets think about the alternative. These folks are not going to get bank loans -- in fact many customers may be illegal aliens who are, post 9/11, effectively barred from the banking system. The only other alternative before these payday loan companies were loan sharks, whose interest is even higher and whose penalty for non-payment even more dire. This reminds me of the people who decry Nike "sweatshop" jobs in poor countries. "Activists" similarly decry these jobs as if the alternative is $25 an hour office work, when in fact the alternative is actually grinding subsistence agricultural work for half the pay. You may not like the payday loan companies, but they are replacing a much worse system.
But the really funny thing about this article is their proposed solution to the problem of rates for these payday loan services being too high. Their solution? Limit competition! (emphasis added)
Arizona now has more than 600 payday loan stores - with 165 in the [Phoenix suburb] Mesa area alone - and some residents are upset about it.
"People are sick of it in west Mesa," said Dave Richins, a neighborhood
activist and executive director of the West Mesa Community Development
Richins and other critics claim the stores exploit customers with high interest rates.
[Phoenix suburb] Peoria blocks the shops from opening within 1,000 feet of a competing
store. Phoenix and Tucson are looking to that city's restrictions as a
model for new rules in their communities, with action possible by early
Gee, I bet that will help keep rates down -- make sure there are no competitors nearby! Lets make sure it is as hard as possible to compare rates, particularly since the customer base is one that can't afford the gas, or doesn't even have a car, to drive all over town shopping. I wonder why no one is suggesting the same thing for gas stations to keep gas prices down, lol.