With soaring gas prices and food shortages approaching “global crisis” level, more and more Americans are tightening their belts. While anti-fat fanatics fight to ban “unhealthy” foods (or make us feel as guilty as possible about eating them) and organic activists whine that food is too affordable, those outside the world of small-minded activism are finding it harder to make ends meet. One Virginia news station report on Wednesday suggests why most consumers have more important things to worry about than meaningless dairy labels and ubiquitous calorie counts:

The pain at the pump is forcing some people to pawn anything of value to fill their tank until they get paid…
Eve Epstein and her husband run Epstein Pawn in Phoebus. They say now more than ever people are coming through their doors desperate for a loan just to get by.
“They are having a hard time buying food, buying gas just to get to work,” said Epstein. “We’ve been here 25 years, almost, and this is the worst we’ve seen.”

At a time when so many Americans are facing unprecedented financial difficulties, it seems out of the question to take short-term loan options away from consumers—especially when many of them have few alternatives as it is. But for self-righteous individuals who would prefer to make decisions for all of us, protecting choices (or offering more of them) is a low priority. Mirroring the arrogance of food police who will stop at nothing to dictate what we put on our plates, the meddling elitists driving the crusade against payday lenders have no qualms about getting between you and your wallet.
Like his misguided cohorts in Virginia, South Carolina, and Colorado, Arkansas Attorney General and government-knows-best aficionado Dustin McDaniel has been the latest politician to rail against payday lending. As we reported in March, McDaniel’s mission to annihilate the payday lending business in Arkansas is one of legal intimidation. Last week, CCF fired back in the Arkansas Baxter Bulletin:

McDaniel’s efforts would take away short-term loan options for Arkansans no matter how many people use it responsibly when they find themselves, or their family, in a budget crunch. Once the rhetoric is switched off, payday lending’s usefulness to borrowers in tight spots is pretty easy to understand. The service allows consumers to borrow against a future paycheck, meaning that the car gets an urgent repair, a critical check doesn’t bounce, or the heating bill gets paid…

Borrowers are best served when they have more choices to pick from, not when politicians eliminate what is for many their only option.