National Commentary

Usury & the Next American Revolution

bentonmug“Usury” is an old-fashioned word, and not by accident. It has been virtually stripped from the English language in the last 60 years for obvious reasons, at least from the banker point of view.

That’s because, in its historic form, it carries with it a moral dimension, and not a good one.


It has its root in the Latin word, “usura,” which means “interest.” You know, that additional 30 percent or more you now owe your credit card company over and above what you’re spending.

As if Wall Street and the big banks didn’t screw the American public enough with all their predatory lending, off-the-charts leveraging, gross lack of accountability for what they did with their taxpayer bailout billions, and now unconscionable salaries and bonuses for their revered leaders.

Now, in an veritable orgy of devouring human flesh, the banks have in many cases quadrupled the interest payments owed by their credit cards holders over the course of just the last six months, without so much as blinking an eye, or offering a reason. A myriad other new “service charges” are also assaulting customers.

These banks know they have only until next February before some stiff limits to the amount of interest they can charge will become law. So, naturally, from their point of view, this gives them a special license to gouge their customers beyond belief.

Yes, this is the ugly “usury” denounced in the Bible as an “abdominal thing” akin to rape, murder, robbery and idolatry. If only that passage from Ezekiel was quoted one 100th as often as other more famous Old Testament prohibitions.

Plato and Aristotle condemned it as contrary to the “nature of things,” and Cato compared it to homicide. Ironic, since the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. opposes any government regulation of its practice.

Because of a long, long history linking usury to sin and depravity, including more recently by Chares Dickens and by Jimmy Stewart et al in the 1946 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with the rise of consumerism and buying on credit in the U.S. beginning in the 1950s, the word and its moral connotations were swept under the rug.

Now, not only have these giant corporate practitioners of institutionalized depravity rooted hundreds of thousands in the U.S. out of their homes, triggering what many believe will match the Great Depression before it runs its course (and a Dark Age if it fails to), but they are fleecing every American credit card user with a level of usury that was probably unheard of in the past, except perhaps among some of the most brutal, tyrannical societies of human history.

But what’s amazing about the current situation is the fact the public is not being beaten into submission, jailed or muzzled to accomplish this atrocity. Average Americans have become so systematically conditioned to accept the terms of their own consumer-grounded life-styles that they passively accept their fate, and even praise their oppressors.

How many of the angry Tea Party types in the U.S. are unemployed, underemployed, on the verge of foreclosure and in way over their heads in credit card debt? How clever of their ideological controllers to divert their anger from the banks responsible for all this to their government, which is struggling to prevent the banks from engaging in their predatory practices and causing modern civilization to unravel.

The American public is suffering from a mass case of collective co-dependency. It is deluded by the notion that the more authority figures, like abusive fathers, husbands or pimps, beat them, the more they really love them.

It’s time for collective America to wake up. The banks and Wall Street do not love you, America! What you’ve been experiencing is not love, but socio-pathological, unfeeling selfish cruelty and depravity by the richest and most powerful against all the rest of us. What more proof do you need than the fact these banks reach into your pockets while you are sleeping and triple the interest on your credit card? Do they care that, in the economic crisis, you are struggling already? Hell no.

There remains a real likelihood that these Wall Street-financed Tea Party and other angry anti-government populist uprisings will get all revved up, only to turn into Frankenstein monsters that turn on their creators. That would be some sweet justice.