I love watching Jack Layton give speeches. Comfortable in the knowledge that he will never be held accountable, he can say absolutely anything he wants to in an effort to woo a few voters over to the NDP.
Today, I watched him talk about how he will forbid any credit card companies from charging over 5% over prime in interest.
That sounds great to the masses who won't think it through. It sounds especially great to those who have fallen on hard times and have been forced to take on credit card debt to keep themselves afloat. I'm sure it sounds even better to those financial wizards who carry balances on credit cards to fund discretionary purchases they can't wait for or can't actually afford.
But this isn't a rant on the financially irresponsible.
This is a laugh at Jack Layton making up stuff that can't possibly happen or that would hurt the people he's pretending to try to help.
Firstly, credit cards are not low interest borrowing products. They hold unsecured debt so that debt is expensive. It's expensive because there's a relatively high chance of default so they need to cover their losses. That's the theory anyway. This isn't a rant about credit card companies either, so we won't go into all the issues with the premise.
The fact is, without the high rate of interest, it would be a lot more risky to give everyone and anyone a credit card. If they had low rates, they wouldn't be so profitable, and so they wouldn't let just anyone have one.
So basically, the people who stand to benefit most from this change, which I assume don't qualify for a line of credit, wouldn't get to have them anymore.
Now this might save many of them from getting themselves into trouble they don't need to be in, but it will also hurt a lot of people who just need a bit of emergency money to legitimately carry them through some sort of temporary shortfall.
I guess Jack wants to push those folks to the payday loan people.
Way to go, Jack! Looking out for the little guy!
Now if I were in some sort of position of power, I'd make it part of my mandate to ensure that high schools have mandatory financial literacy classes required for graduation. But that's just me.
Here's hoping Jack promises to eliminate income tax. That would be fun to hear!