Did you know the Roman Catholic Church once excommunicated members of both laity and clergy for practicing usury? In the Third Council of the Lateran (1179), usury was declared heretical. In 1745, Pope Benedict XIV issued the encyclical, Vix Pervenit, condemning the practice.
The papal prohibition on usury meant that it was a sin to charge interest on a money loan. As set forth by Thomas Aquinas,
the natural essence of money was as a measure of value or intermediary
in exchange. The increase of money through usury violated this essence
and according to the same Thomistic
analysis, a just transaction was one characterized by an equality of
exchange, one where each side received exactly his due. Interest on a
loan, in excess of the principal, would violate the balance of an
exchange between debtor and creditor and was therefore unjust (Wikipedia).
Now, why is this significant? Well, it simply reminds us that the teachings of Jesus were antithetical to the practice of usury, as well as a lot of other things that we experience everyday in the USA. And they say we are a Christian nation! Jesus would never approve of capitalism. Fundamentalist Christians should re-read their Bibles. Pay close attention to the book of Acts:
All that believed were together, and had all things in common;
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as
every man had need.
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned
lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.
They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as
any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom
the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of
encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the
money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
That’s pretty straightforward. I wonder how they explain this away?
Mark Steele reminds me of Keith Moon. A very interesting fellow.
This weekend, I’ve been listening to lectures by Dr. Richard Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. This man is a brilliant economist, one of the best America has produced. It would be to our advantage to heed his words. He has some great ideas on how to get us out of the mess we’re in. His personal web site is here.
The following talk is an excellent introduction about how the bankers and our so-called leaders caused the second greatest financial crisis in our history.
Capitalism Hits the Fan: A Marxian View from UVC-TV 19 on Vimeo.
Is it still true that we in America enjoy a capitalist democracy? I am of the opinion that we do not. In fact, capitalism and democracy are hurtling away from each other at a seeming break-neck speed.
The interests of capitalists, these days, are diametrically opposed to the good of the people. This, of course, is no new development. Capitalism has been gnawing away at our political voice for a good number of years. The corporate lobbying that is so much a part of “our government” is blatantly anti-democratic. Why? Because, apparently, the money promised to politicians is just impossible to turn down. Campaigns cost a lot of money and we citizens don’t have the kind of cash on hand that would help these poor ladies and gentlemen get elected. Hence, elitist business interests take precedence over the needs of the masses for health care, education, good roads, etc. It’s not even a debate anymore; it’s overwhelmingly obvious!
A capitalist democracy may sound good in theory, and might even be possible if campaign finance laws were changed. But, it is not a part of current reality. We vote for candidates of two predominant parties that have the same underlying agenda; we go to the polls, telling ourselves that we will vote for the lesser of two evils; but the lesser of two evils is still evil. It is evil when corporations, in the guise of possessing the rights of an individual, exert control over the populace, via seducing our leaders into their bed of harlotry, to the disparagement of millions of people who try their best everyday to put food on the table, to provide shelter, and to feed and clothe their children. It is evil when our supposed leaders take heed to the interests of corporations, and their lust for more profits, to the detriment of the well-being of millions of American men, women, and children. This is not simply a misunderstanding on the part of our leaders; they fully realize what they’re doing.
I envision a day when Washington D.C decides to do the right thing and reject the allure of filthy lucre. If there were ever a day on our history when morality was needed, people, it is NOW!