Legitimate regulation ensures the citizenry is shielded from serious effects of situations or activities from which we as individuals cannot reasonably be expected to protect ourselves — polluted water, unlicensed surgeons, and fraudulent investment schemes for example. Unfortunately, regulations have expanded well beyond the limited scope of those that are appropriate and now extend to “protecting” people from their own poor, unwise, even irresponsible decisions. The latest case in point: the massive new  regulatory agency is zeroing in on pre-paid debit cards. Evidently they’re bad, bad, bad — even though they provide consumers a choice to buy, or not to buy, the service. Just look at what one consumer had to say.

Eric Jefferson, a Durham resident who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting, said he was planning to try to set up direct deposit of his paycheck to a prepaid card since he said it included offer perks such as free activation. 

But then he said he was made aware of fees including a $9.95 monthly fee, among others. The card had appealed to him at the time, he said, because he said he had a negative balance in his regular bank account.

“I feel like I should have researched more,” he said.

Bingo. He may now believe he made a poor decision, but whose responsibility is that? The feds’ regulations czar wants financial decision-making to be the bank’s responsibility, not the consumer’s. And that’s just poor policy.