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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 2014 / 18 Adar I, 5774 / 28 Tishrei, 5774

Fix the post office, help the poor and nail a vulture, in one stop

By Kevin Horrigan





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | To say that turning post offices into banking centers is a good idea would be wrong. No, this is a spectacular idea.

Here's the U.S. Postal Service, forever on the verge of bankruptcy. It has threatened to close post office branches and stop Saturday delivery. The price of a first-class stamp just went up 3 cents to 49 cents. And so forth.

Last year it cut its operating losses to $5 billion; believe it or not, that's good. The USPS makes its own money, but answers to Congress anyway, and Congress says it must fund its pension liabilities 75 years into the future; last year that cost $5.6 billion.

If post offices offered basic banking services, the postal service could easily scrape off 10 percent of the $89 billion spent on "alternative financial services" each year.

That money is spent largely by the 68 million American adults who don't have bank accounts. They pay their bills with cash or money orders. The average unbanked household spends $2,412 a year on alternative financial services, often falling prey to so-called payday lenders.

The average payday loan is for $375. It carries an average effective annual interest rate of 391 percent. Most are paid back over 4 months, costing $520 on top of the principal. The post office could make money by charging 28 percent interest, even giving the customer an extra month to pay. The $375 loan would cost only $48 in fees and interest.

Now it might be argued that turning the post office into banking centers would be unfair to payday lenders, title lenders, rent-to-own centers and pawnshops. The proper response to that is, "What goes around, comes around."

This spectacular idea has been kicked around by policy wonks for years; indeed, until 1967 the postal service operated a kind a savings bank. But on Jan. 27, the big idea received a ringing endorsement in a white paper issued by David C. Williams, the postal service's inspector general.


Mr. Williams' proposal was quickly seconded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. In an article in the Huffington Post, she noted that underbanked households spend about the same on predatory interest rates and fees as they do on food.

"If the Postal Service offered basic banking services — nothing fancy, just basic bill paying, check cashing and small dollar loans — then it could provide affordable financial services for underserved families, and, at the same time, shore up its own financial footing."

Another positive: The postal service owns or leases a lot of real estate — 35,000 parcels. Thirty-eight percent of them are in ZIP codes where there are no commercial banks. An additional 21 percent are in ZIP codes with only one bank.

(Of course, in many of these ZIP codes, there are lots of payday loan outlets.)

So if this is such an obviously spectacular idea — and to repeat, it is — why hasn't it been adopted?

Part of the answer is inertia. The postal service likes being the postal service, not a bank, even if it means it has to close branches and stop Saturday mail delivery. Change is hard.

Change would require modifying offices and retraining personnel, but most business would be done electronically. The system could start by selling pre-paid cards that could be used to withdraw cash or pay bills, the IG report said.

Eventually, if a customer had his paycheck loaded onto his postal card, he could become eligible for a cash loan. The report suggests a $25 loan fee and an annual interest rate of 25 percent.

It's obviously a better deal than a payday loan, which is why the industry would fight it to the death. If we're lucky.

Big banks might hate it, too, even though unbanked customers are, by definition, not their customers. Payday lenders are. A study by the advocacy group National People's Action found that in 2009, major banks provided at least $1.5 billion in credit to payday lenders. The study found that one bank, Wells Fargo, financed 32 percent of America's 23,000 payday loan stores.

Big banks have a lot of clout in Congress, on both sides of the aisle. "They frankly own the place," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., blurted on a radio talk show in 2009.

But this may be the very best part of the spectacular idea: The postal service may not need congressional approval to get into the banking services industry.

"The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act generally prohibits the Postal Service from offering new non-postal services," Mr. Williams' report says. "However, given that the Postal Service is already providing money orders and other types of non-bank financial services, it could explore additional options within its existing authority."

This would be bold, an adjective not usually associated with the postal service. But it could do an awful lot of good for an awful lot of people who today fall victim to vultures, which liberals will like. It might encourage thrift and savings, which conservatives will like. Spectacular.

Comment by clicking here.

Kevin Horrigan writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Previously:


Pouring milk on a bowl of cereal is just too much

A guy who no longer knows how to get things done

Hey, New York, keep it to yourself

Falling in (and out of) love with Libor

Facts, schmacts; what's in it for me?

What if honest apologies become the norm?

This just in: Watching the Oscars is NOT a waste of time

A meditation on horsemeat lasagna

How to get the most out of your worrying time

© 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Distributed by MCT Information Services

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