Daily Archives: July 6, 2011

Usury and the Money Problem, a Message to Faith Communities

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is an international interfaith movement that has been working for peace, justice and nonviolence for almost a century. As a result of meeting Ray Foss during my tour of Oregon and Washington about a year ago, I reconnected with FOR. Ray has lately been instrumental in raising the issues of “usury” and “the money problem” amongst various faith-based communities. I think it is largely through his efforts that a recent issue of Fellowship, the magazine of FOR, had a major focus on Rethinking Money.

Starting with a fine editorial by Mark C. Johnson, FOR executive director, that section of the magazine contains articles by both Ray and myself. My article Money, Usury, and the Economics of Peace, can be read online.

The arguments against the practice of usury/interest go way beyond scriptural prohibitions. It is now obvious to anyone who cares to see, that there are solid economic and social arguments that should be sufficient to persuade any rational person that our present system of money and finance, based as it is on compound interest (usury), is not only unjust, but also destructive to the natural environment, the social fabric, and the common good.

World debt has been growing much faster than any measure of economic output, even GDP (gross domestic product), which includes not only the production of goods, but also the production of “bads.” The financial crises we are seeing in various countries and economic sectors are evidence that the debt burdens have grown far beyond what can be borne by either the private sector or by governments.

The growth of debt must stop. A new economic and financial order must soon emerge, if not consciously and deliberately, then it will happen on its own through the descent into chaos. If political and financial leaders cannot accept the end of the old order of things, then the people themselves must take the lead to develop new arrangements that build a peaceful, more equitable society, from the bottom up. How that might be done s the subject of the latter (prescriptive) chapters of my book, The End of Money and the future of Civilization.