Usury and Finance Capitalism

Usury, I believe, is forbidden by both the Bible and the Q’uran, but not by the state and by finance capitalism. I have written about this before, but the U.S. mail compels me to consider it again. In today’s mail is a missive from “the company ranked #1 in customer loyalty,” namely Discover card. Discover is offering me a credit card for which, it seems, I am “pre-approved.” The mailing lists the supposed advantages of accepting this card, which list makes the idea of having a Discover card tempting, or so they hope.

But it’s usury, nonetheless. Money costs big financial interests essentially nothing, as close to zero interest as you can get without actually being free. If I am to believe what I read in the newspapers, the government, or rather the Federal Reserve, which we all know has no connection with the government and is also fully independent of corporate and capitalist influence, has established this ultra-low discount rate, currently 0.75 percent, to encourage banks to lend money to consumers. This rate is the interest rate at which qualified banks or other financial institutions may borrow funds directly from a Federal Reserve bank. The Federal Funds Rate, the interest rate at which banks and other depository institutions lend money to each other, is even lower, at 0.25 percent. One can, indeed, after dizzying rounds of credit checks and other hoops, get a mortgage at about 3.25 percent, about prime, if your credit score is above 800.

But it’s usury when it comes to credit cards. Even though there was supposedly a credit card “reform” passed by Congress, the rates charged by credit cards are simply banditry. For example, the offer from Discover was magnanimous, a mere 16 to 19 percent! Oh, pardon me, 15.99 to 18.99 percent. Every once in a while I receive an offer from a credit card company to write a check to myself for which the interest rate is zero for a short period. Consumers, tempted to take advantage of such seeming largesse, and far too frequently drowning in debt, far too often do write such checks. Most probably fully intend to pay off this interest-free loan within the allotted time, but credit card companies don’t make such offers out of the goodness of their hearts. They know full well that most of these debts will not be paid off in time, and the interest on the balance will jump to the customary usurious rate. And it’s all perfectly legal. You tell me, whose interests is the state protecting here? Not mine, and not yours. The state is protecting finance capitalists, to whom the state is in thrall.

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