What others are saying

March 22, 2007

Recent hearings held by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to examine fees, interest rates and grace period practices used by credit card companies have produced some eye-opening testimony. The public airing should put enough pressure on the credit card industry to either change its tactics or provide a much higher level of transparency.

CEOs of the top three credit card issuers in the United States all testified, along with Ohio consumer Wesley Wannemacher, who used a Chase credit card in 2001 and 2002 to pay for about $3,000 in expenses for his wedding.

Here's hoping Mr. Wannemacher's credit card wedding usage didn't strain the marriage. Although his expenses exceeded his credit card limit by only about $200, over the next six years he made payments toward the debt averaging about $1,000 per year and, as of February, he had paid about $6,300 on the $3,200 he charged. His statement showed that he still owed $4,400, for a total of $10,900 for the $3,200 purchase.

Whether buying a fur coat or a gallon of milk, Americans should be aware of the often onerous fees and interest rates that may saddle them with a debt they can't seem to shake off. At the very least, more-understandable systems and more-transparent fee structures, voluntary or otherwise, are needed to help consumers understand debt before they incur it. These hearings should be a step toward that end.

- The Buffalo (N.Y.) News

Many Georgians don't believe they should apologize for slavery since they had nothing to do with it. That's fine.

The NAACP, however, wants the state of Georgia to apologize for its official sanctioning of slavery, which is a very different thing. Given the state's historic role in promoting and protecting slavery, the General Assembly ought to comply.

"Repentance comes from the heart," Gov. Sonny Perdue said recently in explaining his misgivings about a slavery apology. "I'm not sure about public apologies on behalf of other people."

But again, Mr. Perdue would not be apologizing as an individual or on behalf of other people. He would be apologizing on behalf of his predecessors, the Georgia governors who signed Slave Codes and those who signed Jim Crow laws. That will not change Georgia's past. But it would confirm that Georgia is committed to a better future for all its citizens.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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