The Arizona Desert Lamp

Oops! PIRG did it again/They played with your card, got lost in the game

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 22 May 2009

Credit CardOne of PIRG’s pet issues, both locally and nationally, has been increasing regulation of credit cards. Now, with the President’s signing of H.R. 627/S. 414, their wish seems to have been granted. Among its many provisions:

Minors: For consumers under 21 years old, a company must get the signature of a parent or another to take responsibility for the debt, or it must obtain proof that the under-21 consumer can repay credit.

Of course, this has always been the attitude of the regulatory mind – citizens generally aren’t capable of making decisions for themselves, and thus Papa State must step in to make sure that they don’t mess up. This is exactly the same sort of mindset that justifies the current drinking age – after all, we’ve all seen what those wild underage kids do after they’ve got a little Captain in them. Certainly, students can abuse credit and get themselves into debt – but as neo-prohibitionists will readily remind you, students can get themselves into even bigger trouble with alcohol. After all, no one has died from binge crediting. Either 18-21 year olds are adult citizens, or they are not; PIRG and the supporters of this bill have taken the latter stance.

PIRG’s defense?

Edmund Mierzwinski, consumer advocate at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), said after the bill’s House passage Wednesday that he expects the limits on aggressive marketing tactics will ultimately reduce students’ debt. As for limiting student access to credit, Mierzwinski said students who can afford to pay off credit cards won’t be affected at all.

“Nobody’s intent was to prevent students from getting cards,” he said. “I think the banks are using [that argument] as their whipping boy.”

“Oops, sorry! We didn’t mean to restrict your access to credit, honest!” Mr. Mierzwinski seems content to make 18-21 year olds second-class citizens, who are assumed uncreditworthy until proven otherwise. It’s useful to consider this attitude in wake of their recent push for a mandatory fee here at the UA. The student chapter of PIRG wanted students to pay more hidden fees on tuition so that they could fight hidden fees on credit cards, all while making it harder – accidentally, mind you! – for these students to get credit for themselves.

Image courtesy of Flickr user SqueakyMarmot

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