Thursday, August 31, 2006

Military Families in the Modern Era

Thanks to the person who posted the Boston Globe story about "flat daddy and Flat Mommy" today.
It is one of the most truly weird news items I've ever come across, but people seem to like it, at least the ones talking about it in the papers. Another modern military family issue is a new approach to helping families cope following the return of their traumatized loved ones. You can read about it here.
As I looked for more news items about this "Flat Daddy" phenomenon, I wound up at some military families websites. Those folks are quite concerned with a problem I hadn't seen much in the mainstream news (although I could have missed it): predatory lending to military families. If you'll read it, you'll discover that military families are victims of those paycheck loans that wind up costing more than the paycheck. There is currently a bill to curb some of this in the senate, and the military itself is a major sponsor of the legislation. The bill is currently in committee, having been called back by the senate banking committee (aka, the hirelings of the banks/credit card companies) who have gutted it. According to the 'Center for Responsible Lending" Press release:
Fed up with these predations, the Pentagon issued a report earlier this
month saying these predators bankrupt and ruin young soldiers. And that
wasn't all. Payday lenders are hurting the military's ability to defend the
"Predatory lending," the report said, "undermines military readiness,
harms the morale of troops and their families, and adds to the cost of
fielding an all volunteer fighting force."
It called for a 36-percent ceiling on interest on payday loans to
members of the military -- the same cap many states impose in their usury
laws to ban loan sharks.
Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) then added the 36-percent cap to a
bill he introduced that had already passed the lower house of the
The bill was about to go to the floor of the Senate for a vote when the
banking committee called it back. At this point the committee had a chance
to help the people who protect this country. Instead they went AWOL: They
stripped the 36-percent interest-rate cap.
The military, hoping to get at least some protection for service
members, is supporting the watered-down bill, but still wants the
36-percent cap.
It may get that, instead, from Congress. U.S. Senators Jim Talent, a
Missouri Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, got the
36-percent cap passed in an amendment to a defense bill. While the payday
lobbyists stalk Capitol Hill, the amendment awaits its fate in a
House-Senate conference committee.

Here's an older story on the issue of predatory lending more generally, by David Sirota.

As someone who has struggled with compulsive spending and debt problems for many years, I feel a little bit like old Carry A. Nation when I read these articles about lenders hanging out around military bases looking for cash-strapped soldiers' families.


reb said...

sorry about the formatting there. I'm not sure what happened, but it's late and I've gotta go to bed soon.

Anonymous said...

A cardboard cutout of a parent?
Rhesus moneys get a better deal.