Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Usury

I am delighted to see Ochlophobist skewering with his usual eloquence the evil of usury. Check it out.

Here are some gems from the original post and the ensuing discussion:

"The worse thing still is that the virtue of wealth is no longer linked to such things as hard work, the production of goods or other such natural virtues, but rather through "making your money work for you." Which, to be certain, is nothing more that what the Church has always called "usury." It is a rather strange proposition, that money can somehow do work. What this really means is that we are to earn interest with our money by the labor of another. Theft really ..." -Lotar.

"Why, if one wants to be ascetical as an Orthodox living in America, do we not consider the option of following, in an unpronounced manner, the norms of Orthodox piety, while taking upon oneself the suffering associated with the acquisition of some form of voluntary poverty?" -Ochlophobist.

"Why, when speaking of ascesis in an American context, do we not even consider in our rhetoric the option of encouraging Orthodox singles and families to live lives in which they will make little money (or at least less money), and thus dress and act and carry themselves in the manner of Christians who happen to be, say, in the bottom 35% of the American socio-economic scales? Would this not be a better interpretation of Chrysostom's many admonishments concerning money and family life than either trendy ascesis or pseudo-monk ascesis?" -Ochlophobist.

"The most unfortunate aspect of what you have pointed out is how narrowly the word "usury" is now defined. It is sad that folks do not put two and two together to realize that "making money work for you" entails that someone, somewhere is being inhumanely robbed or manipulated." -Joseph Schmidt.

"The value of money is created through labor by the production of goods and services. So, if you are making money without labor (ie, making your money work for you, charging interest, etc.) then you are making money from someone else's labor." -Lotar.

"The Gospel also makes total demands of the human person. [...] While the OT demands 10% of our gain, the NT demands we give all we have away. A NT tithe is the widow’s mites. Very few live up to those demands." -Ochlophobist.
- V.

3 comments:

les said...

If you listened to the discussion surrounding GW's first rescue/bailout/corporate welfare package it became apparent that it was all about usury and the fact that the big money institutions were not lending as freely. We needed more usury they were saying.

Later, as nearly as I can understand it, it came out that so many of these vultures had piled on to take a cut off the top of too little productivity that when house prices dropped, and defaults on mortgages started coming in, the whole top-heavy pile of them crashed to the ground. The average American had it right at the time. Calls were coming in to Congress 100-1 to let the greedy vultures crash and burn.

All of it was based on the presumption that house prices would continue to climb forever and ever amen. If there ever was an unholy alliance of the political left, right and centre, that was it. The left in Congress was forcing banks to lend to people without income or money, and the so-called right, with a nudge-nudge wink-wink, was looking the other way as money managers and money manipulators were coming up with all kinds of new "products" to sell pieces of this monstrous debt so that everyone could skim a little and get rich. And a lot of

les said...

(Sorry about that. Hit the wrong key by mistake. To finish the thought;)
A lot of the debt was set up with mortgages that had an introductory low rate and then went way up on renewal, just like some of these credit card scams. So there was a lot of speculation on future high interest. Again, this was all considered "safe" because the house prices were rising.

Clearly, there was little real value, backed by real goods and real income. A nightmare created by usury run wild.

Without usury there is an entire class of people that would have to find real work, to provide real products or services. Not a bad idea.

V & E said...

Not a bad idea at all.

- V.