The Thinking 
Housewife
 

Usury and Homosexuality

January 25, 2016

 

EVER wonder why corporate America is so enthusiastic about the “gay family?” Here is one example of many television commercials featuring homosexual couples that have appeared in the last two years. This isn’t just some fluke, some daring ad by a rogue company, but a common phenomenon among corporate retailers who advertise on TV. You can find on the Internet videos of similar ads by Expedia, Chobani yogurt, Cheerios, Nabisco, Allstate Insurance, Microsoft Outlook, Tylenol, Hallmark, Nordstrom’s, Taco Bell, Abercrombie and Fitch, Urban Outfitters and others. Chobani even went so far as to show two young women undressed in bed together.

Those who are angered by this, especially because children are exposed to these ads, and who wish to oppose the ads by boycotting certain products quickly find it difficult because of the large number of companies who have jumped on the bandwagon. As far as I know, there is not single ad that is critical of the homosexual agenda.

You would think that it would make more marketing sense to pitch products to middle class, mainstream families who have children and spend more money on consumer goods. But instead we see retailers appealing to a tiny subset and going out of their way to anger conservative families.

Why do they do it? Why not just play it safe and remain non-controversial? No one’s going to sue companies for not having two dads in their commercials.

Some people would say that all this is just because of the politics of the people who work in the advertising business and in corporate offices. But businesses rarely choose politics over profit. There must be a business motive.

Last fall, I attended a talk by E. Michael Jones, the author of Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Labor and Usury, and he made an interesting point about corporate promotion of homosexuality. While I cannot reproduce his exact words, this is the gist of his argument. First, he said societies in which usury (the business of profiting from interest-bearing loans) is rampant tend to be ones in which homosexuality is more common. He did not provide historical examples but from his book, there is the case of the devastation usury caused to family stability in Renaissance Florence.

Choosing usury over investment, including higher wages in the wool industry was quite literally starving Florence to death, but the oligarchs were too rich to notice. The wool industry was the source of Florentine wealth, and yet but he early 17th century, the number of wool workshops had dropped from 84 to 46, resulting in the impoverishment of the most marginal classes.

[..]

Not only were families not being formed among the proletariat, workers were fleeing because they were hopelessly in debt. (pp. 155-157]

Sound familiar? Think of America’s closed factories. A system that favors investors over labor undermines financial independence, family and manhood. It encourages sterility. For corporate America, it makes business sense to glorify homosexual liberation not just to perpetuate an oligarchic system that is far removed from “free enterprise” and to romanticize the harm it causes, but to subvert anti-capitalism among the grass roots.

Leftists used to be anti-capitalist, Jones pointed out. Self-respecting hippies were opposed to bullying corporate monopolies and suspicious of Big Business. But that changed a few decades ago. They became fixated on the sexual revolution and specifically homosexual liberation. (Jones places much of the blame for this on the influence of Michel Foucault, the French philosopher and literary critic.) By pushing homosexuality into the faces of traditional Americans, confident corporations are not just fostering this distraction but they are in a way saying to the middle class, “Back off. You lost. You have no power over us at all.”

— Comments —

Lydia Sherman writes:

Your recent posts on usury are finally hitting home, as we now personally know more people in debt for life. With the cost of interest alone, they could have paid cash for homes for their families. These two signs define it all:

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Mrs. Sherman adds:

Every April the IRS requires citizens to report all income, deductions and expenses, in detail. This requires producing receipts and transaction records.

Every year, the Fed and the IRS give NO accountability back to the people who finance them. We get no list of expenses, charitable contributions, or procurements of any kind. They require of us every jot ant tittle of our personal income and outcome. Why is that? Does anyone have an idea what the Fed and IRS spreadsheets might reveal?

Mrs. Sherman continues:

Do you remember when the FED raided the US treasury for a loan, claiming that without it the economy would collapse? Paulson did the drama on his knees behind closed doors, in order to secure the “loan.” Ben Bernanke, in a hearing before members of Congress was asked, “What are you going to use the money for?” And he replied, “It is none of your business.”

Here is where he tells Congress an audit would mean a takeover.

Bert Perry writes:

I’m no friend of the current student loan program, but it’s worth noting that the woman had a 6.5% interest rate and a monthly payment of about $166, but was only paying $118/month or so, and that for the extended term of 30 years. To pay things off for the standard term of ten years, you’re talking $300/month.

So please allow me to get my world’s smallest violin out for someone who apparently expects us to bail her out when she didn’t even read what the payments were on her loan, and presumably also made little, if any, effort to figure out whether her course of study would pay her enough to pay off this loan.

I think there are a lot of problems with student loans, starting with the fact that most of them go to students whose ACT scores indicate that they don’t have any business in college at all, but when you’ve got an unsecured loan at 6.5% when secured mortgages were at 7-8%, we’re not exactly talking about the work of your seedy neighborhood loan shark, to put it mildly. The woman in that poster had a pretty sweet deal and she trashed it by failing to get a degree that would enable her to make payments.

Laura writes:

Still, she ends up paying about triple what her tuition costs were. That’s a lot. Few 18-year-olds understand what it means to borrow that amount of money.

I don’t think anyone should be making profits off student loans, no matter what the field of study is.

Joe A. writes:

While Mr. Perry plays Ebenezer Scrooge over some ill-considered, Victorian notion of personal responsibility, the victims of the University-Wall Street Complex are reacting with smaller families, later in life. Their children are artificially deprived thanks to the family’s debt service, adding salt to the wound.

Laura writes:

Mr. Perry was reacting to the idea that everyone else should pay for the loans of those who agreed to them. That’s a difficult issue. The whole profit-making student loan industry should be outlawed, but I don’t know what the right solution is to the outstanding loans.

Mr. Perry writes:

Let’s add some more calculations here. Had she paid $300/month, she’d have been done in ten years and would have paid a mere $36000 or so. Had she paid $166/month, she’d have been done in 30 years and would have paid about $60,000. The only reason she’s paying threefold for her college “education” is because she didn’t make her payments.

To argue that she’d been faithfully making payments, she was either foolish or lying, since in her files are the truth in lending statements, and the banker would have told her that the term was X years and the payments were $y.

Now, let’s put her into the old Hebrew system where you could not charge interest to loans for fellow Hebrews. She asks her relatives and friends for a loan for what is arguably a luxury, and they know that she is either financially incompetent or dishonest.

For better or worse, she’s not going to college in such a system.

Laura writes:

Or she might have worked first and then, if she really wanted it, gone to college.

Or she might have found a much cheaper school to attend and, if many were in her situation, there might be more inexpensive but quality education because pervasive borrowing would not lead to rapid inflation in tuition.

Or, if many more were in her situation, given the unavailability of loans, employers might find other ways to sort through the work pool than college credentials.

Eighteen is far too young — far too young — to understand a large loan and its future consequences. It’s unconscionable that students are able to sign off on loans without even parental approval.

 Bill R. writes:

You’re not arguing that the concept of interest per se is immoral, are you?  Economics is not my strongest suit, to be sure, but I always thought that usury was charging an exorbitant rate of interest (checking the dictionary definition, I see that it includes interest per se, adding that it means especially, but not necessarily, at an exorbitant or illegal rate).  The idea of making some profit off of loaning money to someone else has never struck me as immoral.  If you ask me for a loan and I give it to you, then I have sacrificed my ability to have that money available for my own needs or pleasure so that you can have it immediately for yours.  That sacrifice is worth something, is it not?

Therefore, I would tentatively side with Mr. Perry in that 6.5% is not exactly loan sharking.

On the other hand, you say, “I don’t think anyone should be making a profit off student loans.”  Do you mean that it is something specific about student loans that make such profit wrong, and if so, what?   If the answer is limited to the fact that they’re government loans, I might agree with that.

But you also made mention of the woman’s presumed age of 18.  But that means she was not a child, nor presumably was she someone suffering from diminished capacity.  At some point, society has a right to expect people to accept responsibility for contracts that they sign, notwithstanding Joe A.’s attempt to deride it as a “Victorian notion” — which in my lexicon is a compliment, by the way, although I hardly think Victorian England, for all her accomplishments, deserves credit for inventing the notion of personal responsibility.  As for playing “Ebenezer Scrooge,” well, well, well, Joe A. will forgive me, I’m sure, if I bear him in mind the next time I’m need of a loan, just as I’m sure he’ll forgive me when I fail to pay it back, which is exactly what I intend to do before I even ask for it since I already know he’s going to be a good sport about it — another one of those Victorian notions — and not want to be a “Scrooge,” a “Scrooge” being apparently anyone, in Joe A.’s mind, miserly enough to actually hold you responsible for paying back the money you borrowed.

If we don’t expect responsibility from people at 18 years of age, then it has to be 19 or 20, or whatever, but at some reasonable age of presumed maturity, we have to allow that individuals are deemed competent to engage in contracts (what is a privilege to them at the beginning and what presumably the lady holding the poster about her debt burden was glad to get at the time) balanced by the responsibility they owe to uphold their part of the contract until its conditions have been satisfied (what later is often a burden to them that they would rather be free from in a manner other than that prescribed in the contract, which, by the way, is one of the main reasons we as a society engage in contracts and why economic arrangements between various parties in an orderly, developed society are inconceivable without them).

By the way, I noticed in the lady’s sign that she says she has paid faithfully for 23 years yet still owes more than half the total.  My guess is the contract probably gave the total figure she will have paid back at the end of 30 years, so all she needed was a calculator or paper and pencil to divide that figure by 360 months to know at the time what she was looking at for the next 30 years.  If she pays, say, only $100 a month for the first 15 years, she can easily calculate, then, that she’ll have to be paying $300 for the 15 years after that.

If it’s really true that “few 18-year-olds understand what it means to borrow that much money,” then perhaps the education she has received in struggling to pay it back was more important than the education she received from getting it.  A single 18-year-old getting pregnant for the first time may not understand what that really means either, and we may even forgive that, but it would not be right for that forgiveness to include simply relieving her of the burden, nor make us “Scrooges” for insisting that she accept it.

One final point on a related issue hinted at by Joe A.  I’m not at all sure that lack of money or even indebtedness drives people to have smaller families.  I think it may be just the opposite.  Not that everyone is rich, mind you, but simply that we live in an affluent society where even the “poor,” by our standards, have too many things available to them, too much distraction, too much ease, too much fun, to want to be saddled with children, and what, furthermore, our women have been taught is the ultimate dead end job of them all, motherhood.  It’s not the richest societies having all the children, but the poorest.  Everything we’ve seen in the modern era suggests that a rise in living standards actually correlates with smaller families.  In short, the more money people have, the more they seem to want to spend it only on themselves.  That’s playing of Ebenezer Scrooge!

Laura writes:

You’re not arguing that the concept of interest per se is immoral, are you?  Economics is not my strongest suit, to be sure, but I always thought that usury was charging an exorbitant rate of interest (checking the dictionary definition, I see that it includes interest per se, adding that it means especially, but not necessarily, at an exorbitant or illegal rate).  The idea of making some profit off of loaning money to someone else has never struck me as immoral.  If you ask me for a loan and I give it to you, then I have sacrificed my ability to have that money available for my own needs or pleasure so that you can have it immediately for yours.  That sacrifice is worth something, is it not?

Well, no, it’s actually not that much of a sacrifice for someone who is rich.

There are hardly any capital costs in the business of lending. As Brian O’Brien writes in The Tyranny of the Federal Reserve,Charging interest on money is merely the shuffling of money from the pockets of the poor into the pockets of the rich. The higher the interest rate, the faster the rich are filling their pockets with the earnings of the poor.”

Yes, I am arguing that usury practiced by private, profit-making entities is immoral. Philosophers and theologians have argued that for thousands of years. Aristotle wrote in Politics:,

“The most hated sort [of making money], and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest.”

There’s a difference between lending at interest and investing in a project, which involves shared risk. Lending by public entities is a different matter too because the interest can be returned to the community at large.

As private lending works its way through an economy, with the compounding of interest and fractional reserve banking, which allows banks to create money based on a fraction of their reserves, wealth becomes more and more concentrated in the hands of the few.

O’Brien writes:

As observed over the millennia by a collection of humanity’s greatest thinkers and moralists, usury is an unnatural and corruptive method for earning profit out of money itself, the practice of which should be recognized as a crime against modern civilization in the same vein as slavery and piracy.

He continues:

Recognizing that fractional reserve banking is a particularly noxious form of usury which results in a destructive and destabilizing boom and bust cycle, it must be made illegal. Fractional reserve banking should be seen as a fraud that has been perpetrated on the American people— a fraud by  which banks promise depositors access to money that is not kept in bank vaults but is actually collecting interest as loans and is multiplied by many times the amount of money that actually exists. This fraudulent practice causes instability in an economy and has become dependent on the backing of governments and taxpayers to keep the whole pyramid scheme going. This practice of lending more money than is kept in banks— more money than actually exists in the economy— has distorted economic production, played havoc with employment, devalued money and has concentrated economic and political power into the hands of a few usurers and speculators who have corrupted our government, our economy and our culture. Through a process of inflation, deflation and confiscation, international bankers have seized the wealth of the American people and now threaten our very liberty and independence. This system, which pyramids debt upon debt, has allowed bankers to create money out of nothing and rise to global power and prominence. Fractional reserve banking has been destructive to the prosperity and liberty of the American people and it should be seen for what it is: fraud. The lending of money at interest from private banks should be banned in the United States.

(p. 123-124 Kindle Edition)

Bill writes:

If it’s really true that “few 18-year-olds understand what it means to borrow that much money,” then perhaps the education she has received in struggling to pay it back was more important than the education she received from getting it.

Public schools in America — and most private schools too — teach nothing about money. As for the lesson she learns from the racketeers profiting off her ignorance, well, I guess all forms of exploitation teach lessons.

Bill writes:

One final point on a related issue hinted at by Joe A. I’m not at all sure that lack of money or even indebtedness drives people to have smaller families. ..  Everything we’ve seen in the modern era suggests that a rise in living standards actually correlates with smaller families. 

We haven’t seen a rise in living standards in recent years. For instance, median wealth for middle class households dropped by 28 percent between 2001 and 2013. (Source.)

One reason why the poor have more children, aside from the general disinflation to plan, is that they have the time. In other words, their time is worth less than for those among the higher classes in advanced societies. The decline in the birthrate in the West correlates with a reduction in the amount of time women have for child-rearing. It takes two incomes to keep up. There’s obviously truth to your point too; it’s not solely economics. It’s a moral issue primarily because people can have children despite poverty or lessened circumstances.

Mrs. Sherman writes:

No one is screaming for student loan bail outs. It is the interest on the loan that is inexcusable and criminal. The woman in the picture already paid off the loan. Now she is paying the sum of the loan multiple times in interest.

Mrs. Sherman adds:

Besides the money was never really borrowed. It was created out of thin air. Interest for borrowing this pretend money is added to the debt. The borrower, however, cannot pay the interest out of thin air. He must pay in real work with his real paycheck that did not come out of thin air.

Bill R. writes:

Thank you for the very interesting and substantive reply.  I’m definitely of an open mind on this and it’s worth looking into further, particularly this aspect of large banks and the involvement of government, which tends to enormously complicate the issue by nullifying and distorting the corrective disciplines of the free market and the true reflection it provides of the actual economic reality.  Please don’t get me wrong when I speak of us as an “affluent” society.  It’s a relative term and by no means intended to convey the idea that the only problem with our financial situation is that things are too good.  Even if nothing else did, our national debt alone would utterly quash that idea.  Nevertheless, compared to most nations on the planet, we are quite affluent and, even with a median wealth reduction of 28 percent since 2001, able to provide even the poorest of our people with considerably more than just the bare necessities.  Also, it seems to me a lot of people end up in debt not because they’re struggling to obtain what they need, but rather to obtain more — the boat, the fancier car, the jet skis, what have you.  They’re incurring debt, is my impression, more often because it’s a second or third car they want rather than a second or third child.  You write that, “The decline in the birthrate in the West correlates with a reduction in the amount of time women have for child-rearing. It takes two incomes to keep up.”  Perhaps so.  By the question is, keep up with what?  The payments on the third car or the clothes and food and other care their third child’s needs, or because they want a third child?  I say, it’s likely they neither had nor wanted the third child because they preferred the third car instead, or the boat, or what have you, and what time they had to spare they wanted to spend enjoying that rather than raising another child.

It seems there’s another point about interest that hasn’t been mentioned so far.  And that is the issue of the degree of assurance the lender has that the borrower will pay back the debt, even the principle, let alone with interest.  So the lender not only has the factor of the sacrifice I mentioned earlier, of the use of his property so that you could have use of it, but the risk he’s taking that you may not even pay it back.  Look at the sub-prime mortgage crisis of a few years back.  What was at the root of it?  An artificial — that is to say, not reflective of actual economic realities — government intervention in the housing market in which mortgage companies were being pressured to provide loans to high-risk borrowers that, because of their credit histories, would normally not have qualified for such loans and never received them.  Sure enough — and my guess is, exactly in the proportion that their actuarial tables predicted — these borrowers defaulted, and guess who picked up the tab?  Normally, that tab wouldn’t have been presented to the taxpayers because the interest profits earned by the loan companies could have covered a normal, predicted, degree of defaults, but not the much higher degree of defaults artificially created by the government (in another attempt, essentially, at preferential treatment for non-whites).

As I said, I’m of an open mind on this, but I must say, my instinct is to be very skeptical of the concept that interest per se, at any amount, is immoral and unjustified.  When I reduce it to basic principles, the notion that it’s simply wrong doesn’t settle right, something seems off, there’s something missing.  If I have something of value — property, in other words — that another person does not and they want it, what is wrong with asking that they buy it or rent it from me?  And let’s assume I’m in a business, not just someone faced with a neighbor wanting to borrow a pair of trimming shears.  If what the person wants from me is my money, why should that be in a special category that says it’s wrong to charge for that, but okay if, say, I had a fleet of trucks and they wanted to rent a truck from me?  What’s the difference?  Are they not both my property?  And after all, what is it that I bought the trucks with in the first place?  And what, fundamentally, did that money represent?  It represented my labor.  Therefore, call it “interest” or whatever else, fundamentally what I am doing is charging the person for my labor, whether it’s money I loan them or a truck I rent them or a house I sell them.  The only difference with money is that it is not a fixed form of property like a house or a car, but a liquid asset, which is simply to say it is a uniquely versatile form of property, a universally recognized and accepted representation of the value of my labor that can be easily divided (unlike, say, a house) into virtually any conceivable level of value to represent a corresponding value of my labor with which I can then purchase the equivalent of someone else’s labor.  But, in the end, it is still a form of property, no different than the truck renter’s trucks.  In sum, therefore, explain to me why making money in the money-lending business is any more immoral than making money in the truck renting business?

Laura writes:

There’s no question there’s affluence in our society but debt is rampant. Public debt and personal debt. No matter how much affluence you see, we are facing trillions in national debt that will impoverish future generations if something is not done about our monetary system. And the vast majority of the poor and middle class have virtually no liquid assets. They owe the banks, and where there is debt, there is not freedom. Look at the soaring credit card indebtedness. This debt is masking a reduction in adequate income for the middle class and poor. It’s not just that people are in debt because they’re unrestrained consumerists. They can’t make ends meet.

Also, what we are seeing everywhere in the decline of the family and cultural norms and civility is a reflection of what I mentioned earlier: a critical lack of time. People have two cars but they are hounded, constantly rushing, to pay for them. Community life is almost non-existent in many places and crime has risen as the stress of finding a living has dramatically increased. Free trade, which is an offshoot of our usurious system, has decimated middle class manufacturing jobs. Our economy has been off-shored. Combine that with mass immigration, another crucial and inescapable element of our monetary system, which inevitably leads to centralized control of the media and politics in favor of those seeking cheap labor, and we see a real reduction in prospects and an increase in anxiety. What do you think this election is about? The people are angry. They are angry because they have been shafted. Unfortunately, they do not fully understand what has happened.

You write:

It seems there’s another point about interest that hasn’t been mentioned so far.  And that is the issue of the degree of assurance the lender has that the borrower will pay back the debt, even the principle, let alone with interest. 

The science of assessing risk is quite sophisticated these days. A person who cannot pay ends up in bankruptcy and is denied access to further credit. It’s all fantastically profitable, and that’s why banks load everyone up with credit cards.

Look at the sub-prime mortgage crisis of a few years back.  

And look at the way banks and other lending institutions were bailed out with the people’s money. We assume some of their risk. 

That’s one of the great things for lenders in our system. The government backs them up. The government is the collector and has the whole apparatus of the state to enforce taxation, which is payment on those debts that the banks create. The banks lend money to the government at interest and the people pay for it through taxation when the whole time the government could be creating and issuing that money itself.

If I have something of value — property, in other words — that another person does not and they want it, what is wrong with asking that they buy it or rent it from me? 

The poor are always looking for more money. Usury drains their future away. However, under a fair monetary system, in the hands of the public and not the private banks, there should be ample money to provide everyone with a decent, basic income. We have the resources, we have the labor, we just need the medium of exchange to make it run more smoothly.

 If what the person wants from me is my money, why should that be in a special category that says it’s wrong to charge for that, but okay if, say, I had a fleet of trucks and they wanted to rent a truck from me? 

The difference is that the truck is a concrete object and money is a symbol. It really has no value except the value it is assigned by the community at large. You can’t use the money to heat your house or drive down the street. You can’t use it for anything except as a medium of exchange. This medium of exchange does not belong to private, profit-making entities. Right now, all of our money is created as debt. Most of it is never in the form of paper or coins, but figures in computerized accounts. The banks don’t have the money you borrow from the to use their credit cards. They create it as figures in your account. It is created as debt.

Louis Even, author of In this Age of Plenty, wrote that our monetary system takes our immense plenty and crushes it into debt. It is a “pernicious dictatorship:”

In a world where one cannot live without money, one understands that a system which gives to private interests — the banks — the power to regulate the amount of money that they please, puts the world at the mercy of the makers and destroyers of money.

Those who control money and credit have become the masters of our lives. No one dare breathe without their permission. This is what Pope Pius XI said:

A striking point must be emphasized:

It is production that gives value to money. A pile of money without corresponding products does not keep anyone alive, and is absolutely worthless. Thus, it is the farmers, the industrialists, the workers, the professionals, the organized citizenry, who make products, goods and services. But it is the bankers who create the money, based on these products. And the bankers appropriate this money, which draws its value from the products, and lend it to those who make the products. (In this Age of Plenty, Pilrgims of St. Michael, 1988; p. 40)

 

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