Letter: About those money lenders near the temple

(Photo courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill via Salt Lake City Planning Division) Rendering of the lobby and other street-level features of a new 28-story office tower proposed by LDS Church-owned City Creek Reserve at the northeast corner of State Street and 100 South in Salt Lake City.

I couldn't help but notice the coincidence in the placement of articles on the front page of the Nov. 12 edition.

On the top right, an article on the skyrocketing of payday loan rates, and the piece below on the development of a new high-rise office building by the real-estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The first article reports that the number of payday lenders is decreasing, while at the same time the loan rates they charge the poor have escalated to double what the Mafia charged. The second article shows the dominant religion in the state is becoming a dominant player in the private real-estate market.

With that being the case, the question comes to mind: What would stop that religion, or any religion, from entering the private lending business and bringing down rates for the poor to a level that truly befits the level of risk?

The lending article reports that under 7 percent of payday loans go into default and result in litigation, and yet the lenders still collect 527 percent interest. I would think that a less voracious lender could make a profit and perform a needed public service at a rate far under that number while at the same time ridding our state of a civic blight.

Why wouldn’t religious folk jump at the chance to emulate the Savior by driving these overly voracious money lenders out of our society?

Lew Baker, Salt Lake City

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