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Posted on 01/22/2006 12:07:25 PM PST by voletti
Stealth sponsorship of talking heads and op-ed columnists is surprisingly common
In the opinion industry, pundits who present themselves as independent voices sometimes turn out to be quietly financed by powerful interests. The latest example BusinessWeek has unearthed: The Hill, a Washington newspaper read closely in Congress, published an opinion piece last June extolling "payday loans." Readers weren't told that the author, Tom Lehman, a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, had taken money from the industry that pushes these controversial high-interest loans.
In other instances, BusinessWeek Online has recently identified Douglas Bandow and Michael Fumento, two prolific authors of newspaper opinion pieces who received undisclosed payments from business interests they wrote about. Both lost their nationally syndicated columns as a result. Fumento acknowledged just last week that in 1999 he benefited from payments totaling $60,000 from agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. (MON ), a subject of praise in Fumento's opinion columns and a book. Scripps Howard News Service canceled his column. Bandow resigned last month from Copley News Service after he admitted writing as many as two dozen op-eds for which he was paid $1,000 to $2,000 each by embattled Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The phenomenon of pundit payola drew attention early last year when conservative commentator Armstrong Williams lost his weekly column with Tribune Media Services (TRB ) and apologized publicly after media reports that he had accepted $240,000 from the Bush Administration to applaud White House education policies. Two other columnists also were found to have accepted government cash in the Williams affair.
More often, money flows from an industry or a lobbyist rather than a branch of government. All this has editors at some of the country's most prestigious newspapers worried.
(Excerpt) Read more at businessweek.com ...
Loan sharks would be proud.
With a PayDay loan, a poor person can pay his rent on time, and thus take care of his family and maintain a good relationship with his landlord, for a fee in a couple weeks of $20 - $40.
The alternative would be to present a bad check to the landlord, which 1) might be criminal, 2) might not be honored by the bank, thus risking the initiation of eviction proceedings (or worse, if the landlord is a thug), or 3) might be honored by the bank, but which in the process would cause an avalanche of fees adding up to more than the PayDay loan fee.
That's the price of paternalism. Goevernment should get out of the way, and let free people contract.
Payday loans, as a general industry, are predatory lenders taking advantage of the stupidity, lack of education and poor credit of the least capable consumers. And while I am not making an argument that all of the high risk / high interest lending should be abolished entirely or that stupid people shouldn't be taken advantage of by the government in every circumstance, lets be honest.....the mob charges less in many states.
Take a state like Georgia where there is an unlimited interest rate potential due to the ability to 'refinance' a 7 day loan which was already at 25% interest (25% over 7 days mind you) when the borrower is late (which the lender knew was about a 1 in 3 chance and hopes for 1 in 2). When you see an APR which has mid-three digits in it, there are some serious issues which need to be raised.
I could also make an argument that the best place for a bar is right next to the place where they hold AA meetings. But I wouldn't expect anybody to publicly thank for me for my civic service.
The offhand line "...a subject of praise in Fumento's opinion columns and a book..." doesn't cut it from an anonymous accuser.
Let the anonymous little a**hole accuser at Business Week dump out ALL the facts and let US be the judge of the "praise" that Fumento lavished on Monsanto.
Since I doubt that anything of the sort will be forthcoming from BW, the accuser can just shut his pieliehole.