I was going to gloat over the 11% decline in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s circulation because of their frequent biased and idiotic editorial attacks on the payday loan industry. However, I have to credit reporter Sheryl Harris of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer for providing a balanced article on the payday loan industry in Ohio. Ms. Harris reported on Checksmart providing free financial literacy seminars in conjunction with the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus and Congress of Racial Equality.

Naturally, those opposed to the industry somehow see these seminars as evil. Why? Because they are utterly biased against the industry. Why? Because they are naturally in a position to see what happens to irresponsible borrowers, or those harmed by a handful of bad apple lenders. Why? Because they belong to Cleveland Diocesan Social Action Office and the Faith Community United Credit Union. It is these types of organizations that people go to for help. What these organizations always do is draw a conclusion based on sampling bias — since all they see are people in trouble, they conclude that nobody is actually being helped by payday loans — which they are, in droves.

Kudos to Rep. Sandra Williams, who recognized that Checksmart was giving something back to the community in the form of these free seminars, and permitted the Black Legislative Caucus to lend its name to the seminar. If she is as astute as she has always been in the past, she will prevent Rep. Matt Lundy’s ridiculous bill to kill payday lending in Ohio from seeing a vote in the Assembly. She will recognize it as political grandstanding by a shifty politician with questionable ties to another other dubious organization, the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. COOHIO and its overpaid Executive Director, Bill Faith, are puppets of the Center for Responsible Lending, itself a front group for the Self-Help Credit Union, which peddled truly dangerous predatory subprime loans and killed our economy.

Tom Allio, the senior director of the Social Action Office, should be ashamed of himself. He wondered if the seminar, entitled “Avoiding Financial Pitfalls” will advise participants about the pitfalls of payday lending. Perhaps Mr. Allio should have actually attended the seminar himself. But he didn’t, did he? No, he just formed a conclusion without even bothering to check it out. This is called ideological bias. It’s too bad. If he attended, he might have learned something — such as the fact that payday lenders don’t want irresponsible borrowers who aren’t certain they can pay back their loan.

Rita Haynes, who runs the Faith Community Credit Union, was reported as being “shocked when she saw a flyer for the program. “I was concerned the payday lenders are now painting themselves as the teachers of how to handle finances,” she said. Remember, she runs the Faith Community Credit Union — and those members of the faith community know that one should never judge another person until they have all the facts. But fortunately, as a member of the faith community, she can always petition God for forgiveness for her rush to judgment. Because she didn’t attend the seminar, either, did she?

I know of at least one other chain of stores that offers a free financial seminar. It happens to be run by Christians. Should we also assume that these Christians also have nothing but the worst in mind for their attendees?

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