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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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March 28, 2005

Digging a Credit Hole

Our story about a bill to regulate credit-card marketing on public college campuses begins with an anecdote about WSU student Brea Thompson. She said she got her first credit card just before she left home for college. “Now a senior,” the story says, “Thompson said she spent thousands of dollars on various cards before realizing she was digging herself into a hole of debt.”

Really. Here is a college senior--who happens to be WSU's student president--who spent thousands of dollars before thinking about paying back the debt.

State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, sees it as a political issue. She has introduced a bill that would require colleges to adopt a regulatory policy for credit-card marketing on campus. The bill says the colleges should consider banning giveaways like candy and T-shirts, and that it would have to include efforts to “inform students about good credit management practices.”

Probably these things wouldn't hurt. And yet there is a whiff of the nanny state about them. Here are students above-average in intelligence and at least age 18—an age at which one can work at an adult job, vote, join the Army and buy cigarettes. At 18, one can sign a contract and be bound by it. That someone could sign up for a credit card, spend thousands of dollars, and not realize she was creating a debt problem—well, that sounds like her problem.

Handling credit is a problem for a lot of people, not just college students. It has little to do with adding numbers and a lot to do with controlling wants. For the most part it is not something the Legislature can manage.

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at March 28, 2005 01:11 PM



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