John Clark Response:
Dear Representatives Beverly Earle and Kelly Alexander:I'll share any response I receive.
I’ve just learned about a bill to increase the interest rates on consumer loans that was passed by the N.C. House of Representatives on June 2, 2011. Thankfully, it has yet to pass the Senate, but that may happen during the upcoming short session of the General Assembly.
The bill is a travesty and in my opinion hurts the working poor in this state. I am not surprised that Speaker Tillis and his right-wing cohorts got it passed (look at the major donations from the consumer loan industry to him and others). I am, however, shocked that you both co-sponsored this legislation and voted for it. As a volunteer for four years at Crisis Assistance Ministry, I interviewed individuals and families who struggled to make a living. They had jobs but a sick child, a car problem or other mishaps created a crisis for them. I’m sure you are familiar with these situations. The people do not need to get trapped into these kinds of loans at the ludicrous interest rates. I read where this bill had some safeguards. An example was the borrower could not take out a second loan unless she had paid off half of the first loan. That’s called a ‘safeguard’? Here are some provisions that are really absurd.
- Allow 36 percent interest rates on unsecured consumer loans up to $1,500. Now they’re only allowed on loans up to $600.
- Increase the maximum size of unsecured loans from $10,000 to $15,000.
- Allow lenders to charge higher interest rates on a larger portion of those loan balances. They could charge a 30 percent interest rate on the first $5,000, 24 percent between $5,000 and $10,000 and 18 percent above that.
The 30 percent interest rate had applied only to the first $1,000. The rate for the rest of the balance was 18 percent.
I urge you to reconsider your position on this legislation. Yes, I know you cannot change your vote (or maybe you can?), but at least come out and make a public statement that you now believe the legislation is harmful to our fellow citizens including, I imagine, some of whom you represent.
….My stride lengthened. I got where I was going, did what I’d gone to do and decided to walk back. When I got home I saw that the bad feeling had washed out of me. I was purged. The walk purged me.
I realized then how ordinary my depression was. Ordinary and predictable, ordinary and daily. Daily depression, that’s all it was. I saw, as though for the first time, that daily depression eats energy. Without energy inner life evaporates; without inner life there is no animation; without animation there is no work. A life in thrall to daily depression is doomed to mediocrity.
In the same moment I saw that this was loneliness, the thing itself. Loneliness was the evaporation of inner life. Loneliness was me cut off from myself. Loneliness was the thing nothing out there could cure.Having lived a good part of my adult life alone, I found this observation to ring with truth. As you know, the point of the realization is not new. The theme of 'know thyself' or 'the answer is within,' has become a cliche although if we look around us, the evidence of it being practiced is hard to find.