Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Junk Writing on Usury

From a popular book:
Finally, Leo signed a papal bull that said: “Usury means nothing else than gain or profit drawn from such a thing that is by its nature sterile, a profit that is acquired without labor, cost or risk.” (p. 93) With the stroke of a pen Leo made lending money lawful in the eyes of the church since every loan involved either labor, cost, or risk, sometimes all three. “As long as a loan passed that easy test, the lender was off the hook. Fugger's lobbying had paid off in spectacular fashion. He and others were now free to charge borrowers and pay depositors interest with the full blessing of the church. Leo's decree, issued in conjunction with the Fifth Lateran Council, was a breakthrough for capitalism. Debt financing accelerated. The modern economy was under way.” 
No he didn't.  Just not so... if you'd like read a Pope as recently as 2009 on this:
Furthermore, the experience of micro-finance,which has its roots in the thinking and activity of the civil humanists — I am thinking especially of the birth of pawnbroking — should be strengthened and fine-tuned. This is all the more necessary in these days when financial difficulties can become severe for many of the more vulnerable sectors of the population, who should be protected from the risk of usury and from despair. The weakest members of society should be helped to defend themselves against usury, just as poor peoples should be helped to derive real benefit from micro-credit, in order to discourage the exploitation that is possible in these two areas. Since rich countries are also experiencing new forms of poverty, micro-finance can give practical assistance by launching new initiatives and opening up new sectors for the benefit of the weaker elements in society, even at a time of general economic downturn.
Now, microfinance is booming, without usury.  Expressly without usury.  How anyone can claim today usury is accepted by the church is being simply mendacious.

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