Friday, 8 August 2008

It's time government reined in payday lenders

Not the first time I have higlighted the yellow storefront crowd.
But, "In the common parlance," the [Manitoba Public Utility] board said, "payday lenders could be considered loan sharks, albeit minus the intimidation factor associated with the definition. How else would one describe lenders charging rates ... 100 times and more than that of banks and credit unions, to borrowers reportedly unable to obtain credit elsewhere?"
The answer seems to be that it is accepted that their costs are higher than banks and credit unions (which is why they won't touch these kind of loans) AND
"We need to rein in these guys, but not to the point where we drive these services into the hands of organized crime."
Which is the real problem.

So only Nova Scotia has set maximum rates - and BC is looking at it but not doing much other than consulting the industry. Not, so far as anyone knows, actually setting its own house in order, since it is often government's policies towards payments to the poor that creates the need for such loans in the first place.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Limits to China's pledge of change

There is a thread which joins the Chinese Communist Party, Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal Party and Tony Blair's Labour Party. They all won an Olympics venue - and thought, just as Adolf Hitler did - that it would be a propaganda triumph.

This BBC story uncovers some of the uncomfortable truth behind Beijing's games. In all three cases the chance of a two weeks or more of international tv coverage has distorted priorities. The only thing the media really picked up on this week as a result of the rock fall at Porteau Cove was "what if it happens during the Olympics?"

From our comfortable distance now the most memorable moment - or perhaps the one most replayed on tv - from Berlin 1936 was Jesse Owens win - the Furher stamping out. I don't know if that was the most played scene on the newsreels then. Probably not in Germany. We all know about Tianamein Square - I suspect most Chinese don't.

I wonder what the "unintended consequences" will be this year, 2010 and 2012. As long as there are reporters like John Sweeney, and real news gatherers like the BBC, there is hope that the modern day poseurs will be shown up yet again.