Arizona Cracking Down on Payday Lenders
Finally, some good news about Arizona. This state is a hotbed of rightwing activity. Everyone’s heard of Sheriff Joe “Have You Killed A Swarthy Immigrant Today?” Arpaio. And there’s a rightwing Republican who might unseat John McCain this November because McCain is too liberal. (???)
But Arizona is just about to remove one of our society’s most malignant tumors: the payday loan industry.
Several years ago Arizona established a 36% cap on annual interest rates. Payday lenders were granted a temporary exemption from the law, and that exemption expires this June. Arizona’s payday lenders often charge more than 400% annual interest. (No, that wasn’t a typo.) And now they’re wailing that a 36% cap is so restrictive, they’ll just have to shut down their entire loanshark operation in Arizona. Good fuckin’ riddance.
Checksmart is a nationwide payday lender that operates in eleven states, including Arizona. Make that ten, as of this June. Their CEO, Ted Saunders, sobbed that consumers “are looking for a dog to kick. They want to find a villain. They’ve done a good job of painting a big X on my back.”
Arizona won’t be the first state to get rid of payday loansharks. North Carolina — another state you don’t associate with meddling socialist bureaucrats — and the District of Columbia have already done this. Hopefully more states will follow suit.
If the Republicans were still in power, the payday loan industry could have fallen back on the banking industry’s favorite tactic: bribing Congress into deleting all of those pesky state laws. When it comes to state versus federal authority, the Right has two soundbites: “States’ Rights!” and “a patchquilt of state and local regulations.” And whichever soundbite they’re blurting out at the moment, they completely forget about the other one. It never existed.