Monday, July 10, 2006

Edwards gets it wrong on "predatory" lending

John Edwards, a probable Presidential candidate who I am generally positive about(mainly because he's so positive himself), has a problem: a weakness for demonizing business and infantilizing the poor. In a speech in Iowa, he said that something must be done to stop predatory lenders who prey on working families.

Interest rates are high with payday loans because of the high risk of default. Cap the rates, and high risk consumers will simply not be able to get credit. Now I would bet that to John Edwards, this is just fine. He doesn't think they should get credit anyway, because the won't use it wisely.

So as I said, he's managed to demonize business and infantilize the poor in the same speech. I've said before that Edwards' only real weakness as a candidate is his tunnel vision acquired from his experience as a trial lawyer, where he saw the dirty underbelly of business practices. It probably also didn't help that many of the people he represented were in fact helpless.

In order for Edwards to become President, he'll need to demonstrate that he'll represent all Americans, not just "the little guy". He'll also need to show that he believes that we, the people, are adults capable of making our own decisions about the use of credit.

Besides, payday loans are local businesses and thus not subject to the federal governments' regulatory jurisdiction. Edwards would also do well to understand the Constitutional seperation of powers between the states and the federal government. Only states have the power to regulate strictly local businesses.