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Help the poor

In the Friday Dec. 23 Virginian-Pilot there was an Associated Press article about the state of North Carolina shutting down payday lenders who charged an excessive interest rate.

Charging as much interest on payday (small) loans as the lenders want to is legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Several years ago our representatives passed legislation that allows loan sharks and credit card companies to charge as much interest as they want to with no limit.

Most of the people who get payday loans are at or near the poverty level. The loan sharks know that many of these people roll over their loans when they come du, thereby incurring additional interest charges in a seldom-ending cycle.

So why should we be concerned?

First, the representatives we elect to the general assembly are elected to look after the interests of all the citizens in their districts, not just the ones who are able to enrich their campaign funds. They should know (and I suspect they do) that the people who borrow from the loan sharks are living from payday to payday and have to struggle to pay bills and feed families, even without the state lottery and loan sharks. Some actually borrow from loan sharks to buy lottery tickets under the delusion of becoming rich and being able to pay all of their bills.

These people are natural prey for the loan sharks.

That will never change; however, our lawmakers should not be party to these people sinking further into debt.

As more and more of their limited funds are siphoned off to loan sharks and other predators, they become dependent on the welfare system for their survival, thus making taxpayers who do not use payday loans

pay for those who do.

At one time Virginia had usury laws that limited the amount of interest small loan companies could charge borrowers and loan sharking was outlawed. Campaign contributions have changed that so that now the sky is the limit.

It is hoped that in the coming general assembly session some lawmakers will introduce legislation to change this situation in spite of contributions from money lenders and other bloodsuckers.

Macon N. Sanford

Suffolk