Archive for June 9th, 2009
Just maybe, attitudes of Americans are changing regarding Israeli policy regarding the Palestinian people. A debate has begun to surface in Congress, small but significant. Consider this excerpt from this Truthout article byIra Chernus:
“The fact that there is any debate at all on this issue in Congress marks a sea change in Washington.” . . .
“What the hell do they want from me?” Netanyahu reportedly complained after his talk with Obama. In the weeks and months ahead, we can expect a growing chorus in the US Congress to echo the changing views of American Jews and answer: We want you to heed the president’s call to stop settlement construction completely, comply with international law, and open the door to serious negotiations with the Palestinians toward a two-state solution. Every time that answer is heard publicly, it widens the crack in AIPAC’s wall and brings us closer to the day when that wall, inevitably, crumbles.
I represent consumers in several class actions against payday lenders. The suits are all based in Missouri, but payday lenders freely do business in most states.
What are “payday lenders?” Here is a six minute video by the Center for Responsible Lending that will give you a good idea. To best understand what goes on, ignore the industry rhetoric. Instead, recognize that payday loan shops commonly charge more than 400% interest to the working poor, setting people up in debt traps from which the end result is financial ruin. Why not simply ban shops that engage in these practices? Good question. Ask your elected state and federal representatives why the hell they aren’t taking serious action. Hint: the problem has a lot to do with campaign contributions.
One more thing: the payday loan shops try to exculpate themselves with arbitration clauses that ban all class actions and class arbitrations. These clauses make it extra difficult to successfully sue these businesses, even when they are flagrantly violating the loan laws that do exist. By using these mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses, payday lenders are essentially giving themselves Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards.
What do Americans owe on their credit cards? A huge aggregate amount that constitutes a ticking time bomb that could further devastate the economy. Here are the details, from Consumeraffairs.com:
Average bankcard borrower debt, defined as the aggregate balance on all bank-issued credit cards for an individual bankcard borrower, inched upward nationally 0.82 percent to $5,776 from the previous quarter’s $5,729, and 4.09 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008. The highest state average bankcard debt remains in Alaska at $7,476, followed by Tennessee at $6,869 and Nevada at $6,677.
This is per individual bankcard borrower. For the average debt of a married couple, then, double the average amount.
The same site reports that the number of consumers who are three or more months behind on their credit card payments is up 11 percent over the same period from 2008.
In an article titled, “The Trouble with Democrats,” William Greider of The Nation documents the many ways in which the democrats lack the moral will to rein in predatory lending and enact real economic reform. How about modestly adjusting the bankruptcy code to allow 1.5 million people to keep their houses? Forget it. How about capping payday loans at 35%? No way. You see, most Democrats are scared of payday lenders unless the interest cap is 390%. How about putting meaningful rate caps on credit cards? No way, because the financial services industry doesn’t want that.
This article is a thoroughly disgusting review of Democrat spinelessness and a reminder about who pulls the strings in Washington. Hint: it’s not The People.