Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Local Republican Limits Options for the Poor

I am not a member of the Republican Party, but it is my understanding that they tend to prefer free markets and personal responsibility. They would like to tackle poverty by lowering taxes and deregulating businesses. And they don't want a nanny state. Or at least that is what I thought.

Lately I have been perplexed and disappointed by the activities of Racine Alderman Greg Helding, a Republican. Helding has been leading the effort to limit the number of payday loan stores. In todays Journal Times, Helding has urged the city council to impose a ninety day moratorium on pawn shop openings. Though he doesn't think the city can ban pawn shops, he stated "I will certainly find out."

Helding justifies his actions by saying "I think though (a pawn shop) can be run in a way that provides a service to some folks... you can have people taken advantage of. The last thing you need when they are hurting for cash is to take advantage of them."

No, the last thing you need when you are hurting for cash is for a politician to limit your legal options. Helding is making it more difficult for poor people to borrow money, and now he is making it more difficult for them to sell their possessions for needed cash. With fewer legal options for obtaining money, crime will become a more attractive option.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Denis,
You defend the Pawn shop because it is a legal business. Isn't any illegal activity legal until it is made illegal by a governmental body, one that is, at least in theory, controlled by the people. Do we control the state or federal government...not very much, due to several factors such as, distance and the size of those governments, therefore I would probably not want those bodies making Pawn shops in Racine an illegal business. The people of the city do have control over the City Council, one can call their Alderman at home in most cases to voice an opinion, one can attend any open meeting of the council, and if that does not work they can vote for a new Alderman every two years. If the people of the city control the law making body of this government then it is really the people of the city determining through that body, the type of city in which they choose to live. I guess I do not see the problem in the people making this choice. I know you will probably say that the people can make this choice with their pocketbooks and let the market decide if the city wants this type of business. Also, you may dispute my premise that the people of the city control the government, or at least the City Council. I am not naive, it may be a pain in the ass to keep an eye on, and exert control over even local government, however, it can be done.
Wade

Denis Navratil said...

Wade: I think it is time for another get together. I actually tried to call you recently but couldn't find your # in the phone book. It seems that we differ over the concept of individual rights. You seem to favor local government infringing on our rights, as it would be preferable to the state or federal government doing so. I think that no government should infringe on our rights. Individuals should make this choice. Look at what we are talking about here. The city council seeks to prevent the exchange of goods for cash, because they claim to know what is best for us. On any given day, people exchange money for goods or services, and for the most part, those exchanges, while regulated perhaps, are the choice of individuals. The city council wants to declare that some exchanges should not be allowed. Why? Because a pawn shop could engage in illegal activity. Well any business could engage in illegal activity. Why not outlaw all business? Some people might be taken advantage of. Again, it could happen with any business.

You ask whether illegal activities are legal until the government makes them illegal. Yes, but there are limits to what the government can do. Would you be OK with the city council passing a $40 per hour minimum wage or passing a law that prevents blacks from purchasing property? Of course you wouldn't. Just because the local government is making the law, doesn't make it right.

Kathy said...

Denis, You are not wrong here. I understand freedom and choices. I believe that all things are connected. I believe that my actions have consequences that may/will affect other people. It is in this domino effect that I understand what Mr. Helding is saying (not about pawn shops, but about places like payday loans). If people are hurting for money and need to borrow money, how is lending them money and charging them outrageous charges and fees going to help them to get out of debt? Let me give you an example. My Grandmother, who was an extremely proud woman was living on a fixed income. Her fixed income was barely enough to get her by. Her home needed some repair. Rather than to bother family with her troubles she opted to go to the bank and see what they could do for her. Being a homeowner, and having a meager savings account this salivating, parasitic worm of a banker talked my Grandmother into taking out a loan. She fixed her home, and traded in her old car and got a newer car. Time passed and soon she found herself with her fixed income and more debt. Now in her late seventies, she HAD to go out and get a job. Now in her late seventies, her health wasn't all that great. Needless to say, my Grandmother had to sell her house to cover her loan. She died in her apartment above a mechanic's garage and her very meager savings account was used to bury her. I realize that the senario is different, but the premise is the same. Maybe these places do help some people, but I fear that far more people are being taken advantage of. I find it hard to believe that my Grandmother's situation is unique. So, I guess what I would like to see happen is that there would be measures put in place to regulate these businesses(particularily the charges and fees). Take a step back and ask yourself that aside from the people that get taken advantage of, how does the enormous rate of people filing for bankruptcy and homes being forclosed on affect our economy and community?

Wade said...

This is off the subject, but I have been wondering this for some time. What is a fixed income, and I am just asking for clarification. Don't Social Security payments get a cost of living raise every year, and don't most pensions? I don't know as I don't recieve either. If they do go up then they are not "fixed" incomes. They may not get raised as much as one would like, but neither does my salary. I am really on a fixed income too, no one randomly gives me extra money there buy putting me on a floating income. Denis, Kathy, someone help me out here.

Wade said...

Denis,
The issue of protecting people from making bad choices is really only part of the problem for me. The issue is also that there are certain businesses I don't want to live around, and I think hurt the community. There may be a market for the exchange of sex (services) for cash (cash) but I don't want the guy next door opening a brothel. For one, however conveniant for me, (just kidding) I don't want my family around Hookers and Johns, but also if outside people see that Racine is the type of place that has brothels they might not come here to shop at Racine's thriving import shops, and I like those shops to do well for the sake of our local economy, and tax base and such. Of course if the city can make Brothels, or say Pawn shops illegal (which we appearently cannot, the Pawn shop that is) then what is to stop the city from making import or curiousity shops illegal. Well, as they say, there in lies the rub.

I understand that if there is a market for Pawn shops in Racine the the city has problems it should address, that Pawn and PayDay loan stores are only a symptom. But can't we address both the symptoms and the disease at the same time.

Maybe I am out of my mind and I need to get back to my root belief that government only screws things up and they should stay out of our lives. We do need to get together for another discussion. I have called but you were either off peddling your goods or playing tennis with your son. Working and spending time with your family, I ask you sir, were are your priorities?

Denis Navratil said...

Kathy,
What happened to your grandmother is most unfortunate. If we were to draw any broader conclusions from this episode, then we should also consider the closing of banks, as their loans can sometimes negatively impact the borrower, like your grandmother. And why stop there. Any business transaction could result in a negative consequence for either party. For example, a grocery store could, and no doubt does, contribute to the problem of obesity. Do we close down grocery stores to prevent obesity? I think one can see the absurdity of governments attempts to protect people from themselves, because it can lead to larger problems. In the case of closing down grocery stores to prevent obesity, we will create the greater problem of starvation. Also, I should add that for every sad story, like your grandmothers, there would be happy stories as well. Suppose your grandmother needed to sell her television to a pawn shop in order to pay for life saving heart medication. Wouldn't you want her to have that option? Now of course it would be best if everyone had everything they need, and that your grandmother could have her home, her TV, her new car, and her heart medication, but we must live in the real world which includes scarcity. Given the unavoidable problem of scarcity, I believe that it is best if people are free to make the decisions that they believe that are in their own best interest. Government does not have enough information to consistently make better choices for your grandmother than she could make for herself.

Wade,
Yes, lets get together. But I do not have your phone number.
I would like to help you on your fixed income question, but it seems that your knowledge on the subject is superior to mine.

Regarding your desire to not live next to a pawn shop or brothel, I would share your concerns. But we must distinguish between the two. The selling of sex has been declared illegal for everyone. The selling of stuff like TV's, jewelry, etc... is not illegal. Yet the city council is trying to make it illegal for some, legal for others. I would think that there might be some equal protection legal arguments here, but I am not a lawyer.

Now if you do not want to live next to a pawn shop, you have the option of moving. How could we solve this problem any other way? Your desire to not live next to a pawn shop might conflict with my opposite desire to live next to one. If government would stay out of this, we could both be happy. I could move into the home that you depart. If government gets involved, one of us is going to be harmed, and needless anomosity will result. As an aside, the exact same problem applies with regard to schools. Government provides money only to public schools. People who might like a religious or private education are deprived of a proper choice.

I don't want to live next to MacDonalds. Futhermore, I don't want any neighbors. I do want an unobstructed mountain view on one side, and an ocean for my back yard. Should I look to government to provide for my every desire? Again, we get back to the issue of scarcity. People have desires that exceed what is possible. There are two ways to attempt to address the unsolveable problem of scarcity. You can have things go to the highest bidder (capitalism) or you can have an all powerful government allocate resources. I think capitalism and associated freedoms have demonstrated over and over again to be superior to government control of the economy and our lives.

And finally, you ask if we can address symptoms and causes simultaneously. I wonder what efforts have been made by government to address the disease. In fact, I don't think it is possible currently because government does not realize that they are the disease.

Kathy said...

Wade,
Social Security does give raises but unfortunately it does not match the rate of inflation. Try to live on $1,800 a month with no health insurance. I'm guessing that it would be pretty tough. Because social security does increase, technically I guess you could say that its not "fixed" per se. However, if you are allotted a certain amount of money every month and that's all you're getting, I think that most people would agree that that's "fixed". In closing, I have a technicality of my own to support my theory. I looked up "fix" in the dictionary. Interstingly enough, I found that the noun "fix" means: jam, pickle, hot water(all colloq.), plight(difficulty,condition). I think that its safe to say that my Grandmother's income got her into a jam. She found herself in a pickle, which got her into hot water. That was her plight. :)
Denis,
What happened to my Grandmother is unfortunate. I want to believe that she had other options available to her. She did what she thought was best for her and found herself a victim of a predator. I realize that this does not happen to everyone and that banks do help people.I appreciate what you've said, but I still believe that there needs to be regulations in place. People can still have their freedom and their choices, but there needs to be some measures to protect people. I agree with you about the pawn shops. I don't necessarily have a problem with them. I do however have a problem with businesses that loan out money to people in need and charge exorbitant fees for such loans. I know that people have a choice to take out these loans, but "desperate times call for desperate measures". If you've ever been there then you what I mean. I have to say that I love your grocery store analogy. Frankly, its got me thinking about my relationship with the grocery store and how I want everything, yet need some things. However along that same line of thinking, one could also argue that restaurants have regulations placed on them so that people do not get sick, while retaining their right to choose to eat elsewhere.

Denis Navratil said...

You make a good point Kathy regarding regulations. But Alderman Helding is not trying to regulate the pawn shop, he is trying to prohibit its opening. There is a substantial difference between the two. I do think we are overregulated, but I am not advocating the end of regulations, or laws. But the regulations should be as minimal as possible and should apply equally to everyone. And we should keep in mind the saying, "the power to tax is the power to destroy", and I think the same is true of the power to regulate. Unfortunately, Mr. Helding is not trying to regulate pawn shops or payday loans. He is trying to prevent the former and limit the latter. As such, you and I are denied the opportunity to compete in the payday loan business, while the present payday loan operators get to ply their trade with limitted competition. And lack of competition always results in a worse deal for the consumer. And one look at our school system should suffice to prove that point. By the way, I am enjoying the dialogue. Thanks for your thoughts.

Wade said...

Denis for State Senate. Just kidding. Denis I would have thought you would have addressed the fact that my post had some humor, like referring to shops that sell curiosities, I thought that was funny. I guess you just have to get down to business on the blog.
How about Alderman Helding and his buddies voting themselves a pay raise? I think Alderman Helding earned a raise, but the others I am not so sure.

Kathy,
You have not sold me on the whole fixed income thing, but thanks for shedding some light on the subject. I am glad, like Denis, that we are able to participate in the market place of ideas through this forum.
Regards

Denis Navratil said...

Hey Wade,
Your comment was funny. And I am sure that there are a few wack jobs around Racine that would like my business closed, either because I am a critic of RUSD or because the items that I sell are made in foriegn countries. It is people like this that gravitate towards government, so we need to be careful. As for Alderman Helding deserving a raise, I would agree, even though I have been bashing him a bit on this forum. It is not personal, and I hope he realizes that.

Wade said...

I am so lame, I should not go around begging for you to compliment my attempts at humor.
I can see someone night liking you shop b/c you sell foriegn goods. I can just picture some union guy saying, " he shouldn't sell foriegn imports he should sell American imports."
Alderman Helding knows none of this is personal. I just hope you never need a liquor license.

Kathy said...

Denis and Wade,
You guys are too funny! I too have enjoyed this exchange. Being a "words of affirmation" person myself, was not my arguement the least bit compelling? :)

Denis Navratil said...

Geez guys, when I start a self esteem blog, I will let you know.

Kathy said...

Denis,
That's cute. Meanwhile....

Kathy said...

Kathy,
I found your arguement very compelling. In fact, upon reading your comments I was quite moved. I laughed. I cried. You are so talented that I feel it a priviledge to have access to your thoughts. :)

Wade said...

Alright, alright, that's enough.

Terry said...

and now since we opened the Pawn Shop some 5 months ago, we have recovered @ $7500 in stolen goods returning them to the owners and putting at least 2 thieves in jail. Out of the 7 deals we found to be stolen 3 were prosecuted, the others were family, but at least the property wasnt sold on the street and lost forever...it's a good thing... we work hand in hand with the burglary detectives