It’s an ICYMI day here at It’s All Hood, El Paso.
First up, the El Paso Times had a good Sunday piece, Payday-lending official: Borrowers responsible for their decisions. Everything about it was fascinating, and it says a lot about Texas.
First, you find out that the man Gov. Perry appointed to be the watchdog for Texas consumers, William J. White, is also “vice president of Cash America, a major payday lender that the new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last month socked with its first sanctions for abusive practices.” Thanks for nothing, Perry.
The article goes on to quote White blaming any problems with payday lending on the borrowers: “People make decisions. There’s nobody out there that forces anybody to take any kind of loan. People are responsible for their decisions, just like in my life and in your life.”
It’s not a bad argument, really. I’ve known a few people who have received payday loans, and, yes, they’ve generally been people who make a lot of bad decisions in their lives. But it does seem kind of dirty to base your whole business model on hoping people will make a dumb, desperate decision.
The kicker of the story, to me, was toward the bottom:
A report by Texans for Public Justice shows that between 2009 and 2012, prominent Republicans such as Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus were the biggest recipients of campaign funds from the payday lending industry. But it also showed that more liberal-leaning officials and groups such as state Sen. Letitia Van de Putte and the Texas Legislative Black Caucus also received five-digit contributions.
The Democratic candidate for governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis, is a major proponent of increased regulations and is not on the list of big recipients.
The idea of Wendy Davis becoming Texas governor gets sweeter and sweeter every day, doesn’t it? Sadly, I doubt Texas is ready for that.
Today, the Times told us the Border Highway toll lanes to open by Jan. 8. I still can’t imagine anybody is going to use those, with two free lanes sitting right next to the toll lane. I’m guessing in 5 or 10 years, when we’ve all forgotten what the deal was, they’ll make all the lanes tolled.
We’ll see. Maybe I’m wrong and there are a bunch of El Pasoans who can’t wait to spend some money driving Downtown.
Casting stones at sinners
Though I’ve been saddened by Phil Robertson’s biblical defense of his hateful words — and the many Christians who have chimed in to defend him — I haven’t felt like writing much about it. I’m not intelligent enough to do it well. But Rachel Held Evans is. I highly recommend reading her entire post: Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony.
Here’s an excerpt, but seriously, go read the whole thing.
The biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes.
Heck, you could make a pretty good biblical case for gluttony being a “lifestyle sin” that has been normalized by our culture of “Supersized” portions and overflowing buffet lines, starting with passages like Philippians 3:19 (“their god is their belly”), Psalm 78: 18 (“they tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved”), Proverbs 23:20 (“be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat”), Proverbs 23:2 (“put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite”), or better yet, Ezekiel 16:49 (“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”)
Yet you don’t see weigh-ins preceding baptisms or people holding “God Hates Gluttons” signs outside the den of iniquity that is Ryan’s Steakhouse.
- Houston’s Payday Lending Reform Sends Strong Message to Stagnant State Legislature (burntorangereport.com)
- Cash America faces $19M in fines and refunds (wfaa.com)
- Regulators Are Right to Ban Abusive Payday Lending (usnews.com)
- El Paso Times editor honored with national award (abqjournal.com)