This week on Utah NOW - we're exploring the high-cost debt industry in Utah.
In particular, we're focusing on payday lenders who have found a niche in places where there are a high number of working poor, minorities and elderly. Some say this trend is changing the culture and the assumptions we hold about borrowing money.
We'll ask if these lenders are providing a needed service or exploiting the most vulnerable people in society.
Click below for more information.
Christopher Peterson is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Florida and a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Utah where he teaches courses on contracts, commercial law, and consumer rights. Professor Peterson's research interests have focused on the law and policy of consumer debt, particularly high cost debt.
Prior to his appointment at the University of Florida, Professor Peterson served as judicial clerk with the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and then as consumer advocate with the United States Public Interest Research Group, a public interest organization in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, Professor Peterson lobbied Congress and federal regulatory agencies on behalf of approximately one-half million members of state public interest research organizations around the country.
Professor Peterson has lectured widely on credit policy, including recent presentations at Harvard Law School, New York University, and The Ohio State University as well as international presentations in Berlin, Lima, London, Warsaw, and Zurich. Numerous media outlets have covered his work, including USA Today, The Washington Post, The Guardian, American Banker, the Chicago Tribune, the National Law Journal, ABC News, and the New York Times. Professor Peterson has given invited testimony before the United State Senate Banking Committee. His research has appeared in various publications including the Florida Law Review, the Temple Law Review, and Ohio State Law Journal, the American Law Review, the Cardozo Law Review, the Catholic Law Review, and the Minnesota Law Review. Professor Peterson is also the author of a book on the history, economics, and law of high cost consumer debt which won the American College of Consumer Financial Services Layers' outstanding book of the year award for 2004. Prior to the collapse in nation's subprime home mortgage industry, Professor Peterson wrote an article exploring regulatory problems in this market. This piece was recently named the outstanding law review article of the year by the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers. Last year, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators named Professor Peterson the nation's outstanding consumer advocate of the year in recognition of his role in promoting an act of Congress limiting the price of loans made to military service members.
For at least 35,000 years mankind survived in tribes under the guiding principle, that one should not ALLOW others to do to others; they don’t want to be done to them. But, as communities became larger and first religions (later governments) assumed control, this guiding principle was soon changed in what is now known as the golden rule: one should do to others, as he would have others do to him.
This not only shifted responsibilities in communities from individuals to those in charge, but also provided excuses for individuals not to get involved in their communities and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
Genetically, since humans hardly evolved, but societies did, I think people still want to adhere to the original principle, but it is often others or situations that justify them to act against this principle. How many times haven’t we heard the excuse: “But everybody else is doing it too”?
Many of your and Bill Moyer's guests seem to acknowledge this and many of our problems would be solved if we adhere to the original golden rule, but then not any longer as individual tribes, but as the human tribe living on earth.
Only then could we hold everybody, including politicians, accountable for the wellbeing of the human tribe and their environment.
Will it ever happen?
Probably not, since those now in power clearly prefers the status quo.
Posted by Peter Maier, Saturday April 19th, 2008 @ 10:18 am
I've just gotta say how much I enjoy seeing Bill Allred on KUED's Utah NOW program. His humor, his candor, and his ability to catch the attention of the youth are perfect for such a show. Today, by comparing a story about payday advance loans to a story about international porn star Ron Jeremy, he brought his unique style of journalism to full light. Thanks, Bill. Keep it up.
Posted by Michael Jensen, Sunday April 20th, 2008 @ 12:07 pm
Your show about payday loans was very eye-opening. I knew that such businesses were commonplace but I had no idea of exactly how commonplace before watching the program. Those exact numbers should be repeated for the viewers benefit in the show description above.
The facts of 520% averaged APR for Utah loans and a number of operational establishments that surpass the number of many popular fast food restaurants both point to a serious problem in our state and nation. I think it would be important to hear estimates about the number and dollar volume of loans transacted in order to have a more complete understanding of the overall situation.
It would seem that our right to utilize such establishments and general good common sense do not go hand in hand. The point that there is marketplace demand, is understood. I think that most people would agree that emergency situations arise where this type of financing would be acceptable, but the pervasiveness of these establishments points to a pattern of regular use that must be addressed. If society is unable to acquire the financial common sense and household budgeting skills from our basic school education to understand that we are being taken advantage of with a 15%, or greater, two week loan (400% and greater APR), then guidelines unfortunately must be set in place. To think that you can legally make twice as much money as the Mob loan sharks did, should point to a problem.
In a few small ways this problem is akin to the 'Adjustable Rate Mortgage' situation of only a few years ago. The game is played and when it is all said and done, a few people become more wealthy and a many more become much less. Then government has to step in to try and solve the problem of our nations' poor and financially distressed. Everyone asks, "How did this happen?" It is happening before our very eyes. Any action sooner is always better than later.
And while legislation should be a last resort, based upon the numbers it looks like we might be there.
Thank you for your fine work at addressing the issues that affect our community.
Posted by C D, Sunday April 20th, 2008 @ 1:11 pm
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