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For some reason, Christian leaders have rushed to hand kudos to Craigslist for closing its “Erotic Services” listings. I don’t understand their excited affirmation, particularly one Christian-leader-tweet I saw saluting Craigslist leaders for doing their best to fight sex trafficking.

I, too, am glad Craigslist has closed its listing. Good actions should be reinforced, so perhaps the company deserves a small pat on the back.

But before we get too warm and fuzzy please note that to get to this point took months of pressure, legal wrangling that continues, and some 17 state Attorneys General recently making this a national issue.

Please also note that Craigslist is not pleased, that it’s not clear the listing will remain unavailable, that the company posted “Censored” in bold letters rather than just remove the section, and that this kind of listing has apparently not been removed internationally.

Craigslist is opening another listing soon called “Adult Services.” This listing will assist legitimate adult businesses, but what this means remains to be seen.

So I’m not ready to anoint Craigslist with a halo. The company has made multiple millions on the sex trade, is loudly unrepentant, and no one really knows what’s going to happen next.

If Craigslist wants to be a responsible corporate citizen it has a ways to go. And Christian leaders would do well not to rush to judgment.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com, or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

In the late eighties when I was an academic dean at The King’s College in New York, my office regularly received stacks of postcards from credit card companies requesting that I place these postcards in each student’s mailbox. The postcards were enrollment forms offering credit to college students “for use during emergencies,” “to help build your credit history,” or, more incongruously, “independence.” Instead of student mailboxes I placed these credit card invitations in the academic dean’s waste basket.

In the late eighties credit card companies began targeting college students as a new, growing, and potentially profitable market demographic. Credit card companies offered credit with spending “limits” like $8,000 or even higher, zero or reduced interest for the first year, and acceptability at all kinds of businesses. Of course these companies make money when people carry debt incurred on their cards, a fact that makes college students and easy credit an appealing mix.

Unlike some financial advice gurus, I’m not against credit cards. My wife and I have a few of our own. But if older adults are sometimes tempted to spend-via-credit beyond their means, how much more so younger adults whose financial skills and experience are at best limited?

I know a couple, for example, who spent the first five years of their marriage paying off fairly substantial credit card debt that one of them had incurred during college. They sought help through Christian oriented financial advisors like Dave Ramsey, identified their goals, worked hard and acted with self-sacrifice and discipline, paid off their debt, and celebrated with their friends when they emerged free from the wrong kind of debt. Now they are purchasing their first home. That’s a financially stressful story turned success story. I salute them. Unfortunately, many young adults do not possess the self-discipline to do the same.

Most college students, even if they are working, are not earning sufficient funds to make them attractive consumers. But they still possess two important characteristics that credit card companies require: an economically bright future, and parents who pay off their debts. So the downside for the credit card companies offering easy credit to college students is lowered to an acceptable risk with a potentially big payoff. Credit card companies know that only 20% of college age users pay down their balances each month, while 67% carry a balance from month to month incurring interest charges, and about 11% eventually cannot make their payments. In all these scenarios, the credit card companies win (make money) and the college students lose (pay more for their purchases with added interest than the purchases would cost with cash, or take on more debt and thus more interest).

While I do not necessarily like the idea that credit card issuers target college students, I cannot condemn them for working legally within a free economy, allowing adults—even if young—to make their own decisions. Responsibility for personal financial well-being rests with the person in this case not the corporation or the public.

At Cornerstone University we throw away bulk mailed credit card enrollment pleas that have been sent to any of our offices. Of course we cannot throw away those enrollment cards that are individually addressed to given students, for in this instance the card is a legally protected piece of the United States postal system. But when we can, we toss the stack, for we believe the choice to acquire a credit card is something rightly in the hands of our students, along with possibly their parents.

Now credit cards can be acquired online. Free applications, no annual fee, no transfer fees, “increased buying power,” “a cushion for emergencies,” “ability to shop online,” or “protection for your purchases,” it’s all online, just a click or two away. But the danger of financial difficulty, possible bankruptcy, and financial ruin via too-easy credit is still real.

The moral of this story is, like so often in a capitalistic system, caveat emptor…let the buyer beware. If a college student is going to buy credit, he or she needs to understand the extent of the financial risk involved, needs to demonstrate the maturity to handle credit, needs to be responsible for paying for his or her own debt, and should as a matter of practice avoid using credit cards.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

 

Beer companies are now pushing organized drinking games for university students. Groups of guzzlers crowd around the ends of tables trying to lob ping pong balls into cups of beer at the other end of the table. One team scores points and the other team downs cup after cup.

It’s called a “beer pong championship,” and it’s usually sponsored by a beer or beer pong table company. Urban Outfitters offers a beer pong kit called “Bombed” as well as boxed sets of rules for other games. In January, 2006, the first World Series of Beer Pong is scheduled in Las Vegas. Earlier this year, Anheuser-Busch began marketing a game called Bud Pong. Official rules state that water, not beer, should be used—which protects the company but fools no one. Miller is also promoting beer pong events.

It is, of course, ludicrous to believe that beer companies are genuinely interested in marketing games that encourage water drinking. This new foray by beer companies into university age binge drinking also calls into question their purported concern for promoting “responsible drinking.” None of this makes any sense.

Beer drinking, often to excess, has been a staple of the university experience for decades if not centuries. Many universities have worked valiantly to warn students away from the negative side effects of excessive drinking, curtailing tailgate parties, prohibiting beer and alcohol in some residence halls, offering seminars or other public service instruction on alcoholism, and more. Some campuses have tried to ban drinking games to limited success, usually because bars nearby provide all the action drinkers want.

Beer or alcohol consumption is not intrinsically evil. There is no explicit biblical prohibition of drinking, though there is a proscription of drunkenness. Many dedicated and sincere Christian people, including some scholars and pastors, have long warned the faithful away from drinking entirely. Generally, they build their case on the biblical teaching enjoining followers of Christ not to do anything that harms their bodies, the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” And, believers are also warned to stay away from beer or alcohol altogether because consuming it can undermine their testimony of faithfulness and tempt them with other sinful practices that tend to associate with drinking.

Whatever your view on these matters, clearly binge drinking by university students—many of whom are under the legal drinking age—is not a healthy activity. Beer companies and others in the industry who indirectly promote binge drinking while maintaining a legally parsed distance in their marketing are disingenuous at best. Binge drinking contributes to student traffic accidents, injury, and fatalities, reduces student inhibitions toward sexual activity, and degrades students’ ability to perform well academically.

Binge drinking and university students are not a healthy mix. Beer companies who ignore this reality are more interested in the mighty dollar than responsible drinking. Universities and parents should lobby the beer companies to adopt a higher standard. No one is saying they should not market their product, just that they need to develop socially “responsible marketing.”

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.