So, Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the Legislature's payday lending regulations, a rather mild bill that put minimal requirements on legalized loan-sharking.
That's not surprising — the Gov loves his veto pen. What's interesting is his reason. He said the government did not need to be in the business of dictating personal decisions.
"Boiled down, it is this administration's abiding belief that government's role is not to protect people from their own actions, unless those actions in substantial form impact the lives of others."
Why does the governor always choose the exact wrong example to make a good point? If he's serious about this, perhaps he should right some long-standing wrongs. Say:
--Lift the ban on poker and casinos in South Carolina.
--Repeal the seat belt law.
If he doesn't, well, that's kind of hypocritical.
Did we learn nothing?
The payday lending legislation would cap loans at $550 and require a one-day waiting period between loans for a borrower's first seven. After that, there would be a two-day waiting period.
Sue Berkowitz, director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, has been pushing for more regulation, and she characterized the bill as a rather minor victory, a "baby step."
She says Sanford's decision to veto it is ridiculous.
"Did we learn nothing from the mortgage crisis about what happens when we lend money to people who can't pay it back?" Berkowitz says. "It's scary to think this man is supposed to be running the state. He's out of touch with real people."
No, being out of touch with real people would be like threatening to hold up unemployment checks in a state with some of the highest jobless rates in the nation. Or trying to ignore federal requirements on stimulus money — even though it may have been a bad idea — just to make a point.
Like the state is some kind of economics class experiment.
Sanford is actually right. It's not the government's job to save us from ourselves — can't do it anyway. The problem is the government futzes with people when it takes a notion.
Gambling doesn't hurt anybody but gamblers, so quit listening to the mouthy moral minority that doesn't want it here.
Quit fining us for not wearing seat belts when we're only risking our own lives.
For that matter, Berkowitz says, quit inspecting restaurants. If somebody gets food poisoning at a local eatery, well, it's buyer beware. If you want to paint your house purple with pink polka dots, who cares what the neighborhood association thinks? And if you want to buy liquor after sunset, what business is it of anyone else?
That's how they treat payday lending. What's fair is fair.
Of course, the Legislature will likely override Sanford's veto. Which they should because it allows somebody to hurt somebody else. But then they should apply his philosophy generously and strip every law off the books that doesn't hurt anyone else.
If they don't want to be hypocrites.