When asked, ‘What is to be said of making profit by usury?’
Cato replied, ‘What is to be said of making profit by murder?’
—Cicero (44 B.C.)
Someone who practices lending at interest is known as a usurer. Usurers have been hated by people throughout history, not just out of envy for their wealth, but because once usurers are in charge of any nation’s economy, wealth inequality explodes: the rich continue to get richer, the middle class stagnates, and the number of people living in poverty grows larger.
Modern economists, many of whom are nothing more than lobbyists for the usurer class, have rewritten the entire science of economics with usury at its foundation, so much so that only one in a thousand economists can be found who can think critically about the effects of usury on the nation’s economy. The majority are so immersed in Usurer Economics that for them to question anything about usury feels the same as questioning the value of breathing air.
What is so bad about earning and paying interest anyway? Shouldn’t a person who lends $10,000 USD to a business earn something in return?
There is one species of this price or reward …when money is lent on a contract to receive not only the principal sum again, but also an increase by way of compensation for the use; which generally is called interest…the enemies to interest… hold… any increase of money to be indefensibly usurious. And this they ground as well on the prohibition of it by the law of Moses among the Jews, as also upon what is said to be laid down by Aristotle, that money is naturally barren, and to make it breed money is preposterous, and a perversion of the end of its institution, which was only to serve the purposes of exchange” “and not increase. Hence the school divines (scholastic theologians) have branded the practice of taking interest as being contrary to the divine law both natural and revealed; and the canon law has proscribed the taking any, the least, increase for the loan of money, as a mortal sin.
—Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England: Book the Second, as quoted in Usury in Christendom, emphasis mine.
Some people who borrow money make profits through the use of this money, so that paying an interest rate of 5%, for example, is of little consequence to them. If you borrow $10,000 at a 5% annual interest rate, you will only have to pay $500 at the end of the year. That’s very little if during that year you made $2000 from the money you borrowed. Your profit is 20%, while the interest rate is 5%, meaning that you make a net profit of 15%, or $1500, during that year. The usurer who lent you the money is satisfied, and you who borrowed the money are satisfied.
To most people today, this seems like a perfectly fair and just transaction.
But it is not. It is one of the most evil and unjust transactions that humans have ever invented. According to the New Testament, the only time that Jesus used violence during his entire career was against the usurers.
Hermann Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire from 1891 to 1911, says: “No amount of money given in charity, nothing but the abandonment of this hateful trade, can atone for this great sin against God, Israel and Humanity.” He is attacking usurers for using philanthropy (widely publicized acts of charity) to justify their usury, saying that no amount of charity will absolve them.
In Europe, during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, usurers were among the most despised classes of society, they had the same social standing as brothel owners, cesspit cleaners and public executioners. It was a source of pride for Christians that they did not engage in usury.
As the centuries passed, usury become commonplace. Usurers rebranded themselves as financiers, capitalists and industrialists, and through performing acts of charity, the majority of them were (and are) also known as philanthropists.
So what is the big deal with usury?
The problem with usury is that the profits of lenders always grows faster than the profits of borrowers. When you borrow $10,000 at 5% interest, within this transaction is the embedded assumption that your prosperity will grow by at least 5% in the next year. This is why Aristotle and many other philosophers and intellectuals call usury “unnatural.” The profits of usury are separate from the profits of the actual economy in which it exists. When usurers lend at 5%, they are maintaining a parallel alternate reality in which the economy grows at 5% in the next year, regardless of whether the actual economy grows at 5% or not.
While some borrowers make good use of the money they have borrowed and make more than 5%, so that they can pay off the usurers and still make a profit, others, because of the millions of different chances that operate in the reality of an economy, make a loss on the money they have borrowed.
They may have borrowed $10,000, and a year later they only have $8,000 left, because their business dealing didn’t work out as they expected. But the usurer, in his alternate reality, continues to pretend not only that the $10,000 still exists, but that the $10,000 made a 5% profit. He collects $500 from the borrower at the end of the year, leaving the borrower with $7500 in cash, and a $10,000 debt to pay off. If the borrower continues to be unlucky the next year, he loses another $2,000 of his cash, but he still has to pay about $500 to the usurer, so now he has $5,000 left in cash, and a $10,000 debt to pay off.
Meanwhile, during these two years, the usurer has earned $1,000 in profit, without losing any of the $10,000 he gave to the borrower, since the borrower is required to pay it back regardless of his or her profits or losses.
Usury is a way of earning money by the virtue of having money, while making others to carry the burden of any risk that comes out of using the money. It is an amazing deal—for the usurer. For the borrower, sometimes it is a good deal, sometimes it breaks even, and sometimes it is pure slavery.
A modern, poignant form of debt slavery today is student debt. A usurer lends a student $200,000 at, let’s say, 5% interest. Within this debt is the assumption that not only will the student be able to use their $200,000 degree to earn that much back over their career, but that they will also make a 5% profit, every year, over the cost of the degree.
As it happens, some students graduate and succeed in the business world, so that they pay off the loan in 10 or 15 years while enjoying a good, or at least an acceptable, standard of living.
But for many students, this is only something that they can dream of. They borrow tens of thousands of dollars, only to spend the rest of their lives barely being able to make the monthly payments on their loans. And ten years after graduation, due to changing economic, political or technological conditions, their degrees may be completely worthless, meaning that they racked up $200,000 or more in debt for something completely useless. This $200,000 will hover over them like a dark cloud for the rest of their lives.
Meanwhile, the usurer in his or her high tower, continues to extract a 5% interest, or $10,000 a year, from the student, with the law enabling them to maintain an alternate reality in which that completely useless degree is actually worth $200,000, and also that that useless degree is enabling the student to earn a 5% yearly profit over the value of the degree.
In 2015, there were 2.8 million Americans over the age of 60 who were still living with student debt. US law, authored by usurers and their lobbyists, prohibits these people from declaring bankruptcy so that they can get rid of this cloud that has been giving them constant stress since their early adulthood. The law forces them to pay it off, and empowers usurers to seize these people’s wages and properties to get not only the original $200,000, but an additional $10,000 yearly profit over and above that for every year these people have had their debt, which, for a person of 60, means for their entire adult lives. Student debt has turned these people into money-making machines for the usurers.
Usury is about creating an alternate reality in which the economy grows at 5%, or 20%, or whatever the usurers are currently lending their money at, and using the law to force this reality on the population, regardless of the actual economy.
In the real economy, each year and each month’s profits are different from the previous ones. One year the economy may make a 5% profit, another a 2.5% profit. A war may break out, or natural disaster may strike, causing the economy to make a loss. Political conditions can change. Trade wars, currency speculation and terrorism can severely damage an economy’s profits.
But in the blissful alternate reality of the usurer, none of this happens. Each year is full of sunshine and great harvests, and the population will have to subsidize this alternate reality for them, by their very blood if they have to.
If all the businesses in the United States borrow $5 trillion from usurers at 5% interest, but they only make a 2.5% profit, they will actually make a 2.5% loss, since they have to pay 5% to the usurers. That is a $125 billion loss that will have to be paid to the usurers.
A business may declare bankruptcy, in which case the government auctions off their assets to pay off the usurers. In such cases the usurers can lose a lot of money. Usurers use this risk of bankruptcy to justify their profits. While this risk does exist, it is the amount of the risk that matters. While usurers do make losses sometimes, their profits are always greater. The whole economy operates like one big rigged casino for usurers, in which 10% of the time they lose, and 90% of the time they win, regardless of economic conditions.
The wealth of usurers grows faster than the wealth of the population, meaning that they always have the upper hand in the economy. They get to buy the most profitable companies and the most profitable patches of land and real estate. They own the biggest mansions and the nicest cars. They live in a blissful alternate reality where every day is a great day—all subsidized by the sweat and blood of the rest of the population.
They are celebrated in the media as philanthropists and art collectors, rather than being cursed for being leeches draining the blood from the rest of society.
Why? Mostly because they own most of the media. You will never, ever hear a critique of usury in the media, whether it is from conservatives, liberals, environmentalists, libertarians or any other media group that claims to have the good of the people at heart.