Tag Archives: usury

Universal Basic Income, an idea whose time has come…again

In ancient Israel, Mosaic Law, in addition to the division of the land among the tribes and families, delineated several ingenious provisions to assure the welfare of all. Recognizing the tendency in organized societies for inequities to develop over time, it prescribed such measures as the sabbatical year, the jubilee year,  gleaning and the prohibition of usury. Some of these, in some form, were carried over into the Christian era, but over time mercantile and industrial demands overshadowed social concerns. The mid-twentieth century saw tremendous gains in productivity along with renewed demands by the laboring class and racial minorities for a more just distribution of the collective wealth, but over the past 35 years many of the social programs that were instituted by governments have been under systematic attack by powerful reactionary forces resulting in massive increases in the disparities of income and wealth. These disparities bring with them increased violence, crime, addiction, and deteriorating quality of life for all.

Now, with automation rapidly reducing the need for human labor, the separation of livelihood from jobs is becoming an obvious necessity.

Here below are two pertinent videos, and this article mentions a few places where basic income allowances are being tried.

Counting the Cost – Money for nothing

Tarek El Diwany and Jem Bendell have done a great job in this Al Jazeera interview program explaining the dysfunctional features that are built into the corrupt global system of money and banking. They also cover Islamic banking and mutual credit clearing. This is a “must watch” video.—t.h.g.

A History of Usury, Interest, and the “Great Con-job”

Here is a well done video by Islamic scholar Tarek El Diwany, in which he outlines the history of usury and interest and explains difference between them. He goes on in parts 2, 3, and 4 to describe the evolution of the present destructive debt-money system and the choice before us. Well worth viewing.–t.h.g.

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.

Usury, Interest, and Islamic Banking

One of the most popular posts on this site has been David Pidcock’s View on the State of Islamic Money, Banking, and Finance, which was posted in January of 2008. Over the past few years, these subjects have continued to draw increasing attention, and interest in interest-free financing has continued to grow in both the east and the west. It is not only on the basis of religious belief that the subject of usury is once again being debated (mainly in the Islamic world), but increasingly on account of the obvious and overwhelming expansion of debt throughout the world.

In November of last year (2010) the First World Conference on Riba was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Riba is the Islamic term for usury). In recent correspondence from David, he argued that there still are no truly Islamic banks. He also sent along one of his papers that he presented at the Riba conference. Whatever your preconceived opinions about the subject might be, I think you will find his paper to be interesting and informative. I have made it a permanent part of this website, which can be found in the sidebar under Other Resources, or just click on the title here, Riba? Part 1.


The Inevitable End of the Central Banking and Political Money Regime

The present disorder in the financial markets and the cascading failures of financial institutions come as no surprise. Those who recognize the impossibility of perpetual exponential growth and who understand how compound interest is built into the global system of money and banking expect the continuation of periodic “bubbles” and “busts,” each of increasing amplitude until the systems shakes itself apart.

Engineers call this phenomenon, “positive feedback.” Such a system cannot find equilibrium. Imagine a heating system in which the thermostat, sensing a rise in temperature, calls for more heat instead of less. Such is the nature of the debt-money system. The imposition of interest on the debt by which money is created, demands that more debt be created. Such is the debt imperative which gives rise to a growth imperative. Among other things, it prevents the emergence of a steady state economy.

Is this the final round? Who can say? Can the system be saved yet one more time? Maybe.

Under the central banking regime which has become all but universal in countries around the world, money has been politicized. The collusion between politicians and international bankers enables governments to extract wealth from the economy by deficit spending and banks to extract wealth by charging interest on money as they create it by making loans. These two parasitic elements take wealth away from productive members of society and lavish it on military adventures, international intrigues, wasteful boondoggles, and financial finaglers.

When the system spins out of control what will come out of the chaos? It is impossible to predict but here are two strong possibilities. When the dollar collapses the financial and political elite class will certainly try to orchestrate a new global monetary regime based on the same old mechanisms for centralizing power and concentrating wealth in their own hands, seeking to complete the New (feudal) World Order which has been abuilding for the past three hundred years. Another possibility is the emergence of the kind of decentralized, democratic, and sustainable system we have been advocating for a long time.

We had better get ready to seize the opportunity that accompanies this impending crisis.

How? By organizing ourselves in our local communities and affinity groups to reclaim the credit commons, to create interest-free, non-dollar, non-bank exchange mechanisms and payment media. This is not as hard as it seems We already know how to do it. All it takes is organization and will.

Back to the current crisis, we should consider the possible actions of America’s creditors. According to Paul Joseph Watson & Yihan Dai, in and article in Prison Planet (http://prisonplanet.com/) dated Friday, September 19, 2008, “China Finance, China News and Chaobao Financial News, all state owned media outlets, slammed the Fed for taking action that will only make long term economic conditions worse and devalue the dollar by “creating money that does not exist which leads to the inflation of liquidity,” a policy contrary to China’s position as a holder of vast reserves of US dollars.”

Central banks have one true function, that is to manage the effects of the parasitic drain, to decide who will pay the price, who will feel the pain. They can either (1) restrict credit, thus causing recessions, bankruptcies and unemployment; or (2) they can expand credit and inflate the money supply by monetizing debts (either public or private) that are uncollectible.

Given China’s position as one of the United States’ biggest creditors, it is in a powerful position to determine the outcome of the current and future financial crises. If they don’t like the restructuring plan that the financial elite wants to put in place, they can kick over the table by dumping their dollar holdings and causing the value of the dollar to crash through the floor. Organized others acting in cooperation might do the same.

“The king is dead, long live the king.”

My upcoming book, “The End of Money,” due to be published early next year by Chelsea Green, will elaborate these points.


New Links and Resources

We have added some new websites to our Recommended Links (in the right hand column). One of these is the Inspired Constitution link which has recently added an html version of Edward Popp’s classic book, The Great Cookie Jar. This version is searchable via google.