Keeping the record straight

January 30, 2015 § 34 Comments

Some folks who don’t agree with my writing on usury, while apparently lacking any argument against, are reduced to slander:

“I’m just some guy. I have an MBA, I’ve started and run a few small companies, and I have quite a bit of experience as an investor.  I became interested in usury in 2008 during the financial crisis, and was surprised to find myself in perfect agreement (as best as I can tell) with St. Thomas Aquinas on the subject.  I’ve read every single Magisterial statement on the subject in Denzinger, everything I could find by Aquinas, a number of old books, some academic papers, and a bunch of stuff on the web.  I think I have it right, but I’m not some high-falutin authority.”

Above translated using Google Life Experience.

I was wiped out in 2008 and wanted to intellectually justify not paying my debts, rather than simply being declared a bankrupt and starting over with no debts and no credit.  With all my spare time I read Denzinger and then Aquinas.

Had I made a ton of money with my leveraged gamble, rather than losing, it I wouldn’t be against usury.  I am the fox without a tail.  If I can pin the blame on others then I won’t have to change myself which I would find difficult and scary.

Since I cannot borrow money for the next 5-10 years because of my poor Credit Rating I don’t want anyone else to either.

They can just delay starting families and buying homes until they have saved up 500,000 dollars in cash, in a zero interest environment.  Maybe by the time they are 40, with a little luck, they’ll be able to have a child.

For the record I’ve never been ‘wiped out’ financially, no investor other than myself has ever lost money investing in one of my personal ventures (though not many have had the opportunity), I actually made money during the 2008 crisis because I was in a position to buy when everyone was selling, and I’ve never failed to repay a debt (whether usurious or not).

Oh, and I don’t give financial advice.

UPDATE 2/2:
Commenter TM Lutas is now posting in the linked forum too. Feel free to check it out. When he posted a comment here calling me a liar (among other things) I put him into moderation. Folks can feel free to engage in that sort of content-free discourse somewhere other than here.

Modern “vocations” murder the spirit

January 24, 2015 § 52 Comments

A fairly typical comment in casual conversation:

“He was considering becoming a priest, but chose to pursue a career in medicine instead.”

The vocational alternatives to vowed religious life are not careers.

The vocational alternatives to vowed religious life are family life and bachelorhood/spinsterhood.

There is nothing wrong with these latter vocations: they really are the right place for those who are called to them.

And there is of course nothing intrinsically wrong with pursuing a career, just as there is nothing intrinsically wrong with building a house or working a farm.

But by overwriting the conceptual place reserved for vocations with careers, modernity takes one more step forward in its project of murdering the spirit.

No comment

January 23, 2015 § 10 Comments

First a bit of free advertising for an article on usury by David Warren at The Catholic Thing, which buckyinky pointed out in the comments below.  It is a good article and worth a read.

I attempted to comment on the article, and the following ensued:

Me (in the combox):

One of my readers pointed out this article to me. Folks interested in usury might find my Usury FAQ (also available as a free ebook) topical:

https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/usury-faq-or-money-on-the-pill/

Result: Comment removed.

Me (combox):

My comment was not SPAM.

Result: Comment removed.

That Catholic Thing representative (hereafter “R”) via email:

Subject: Sorry

We don’t allow links un (sic) Comment section at The Catholic Thing. – R

Me (combox):

Apparently links are not allowed here, but my usury FAQ and (free, not selling anything) ebook cover this subject in detail. Aquinas was exactly right and modern people are financially ignorant.

(A reader of mine referred me to this article).

Me: (email):

Subject: Re: Sorry

My bad.  I posted a new comment without a link.

Result: Comment removed

Me (email):

Subject: Re: Sorry

Apparently commenting without a link wasn’t sufficient?

I’m on the author’s bloody side, for crying out loud.

R (email):

Subject: Re: Sorry

You’re also doing advertising. Sorry.

Me (email):

Subject: Re: Sorry

It isn’t advertising.  Sharing ideas and documented references is not advertising.

But whatever.  I’m not pushing on a rope anymore.  One of my readers thought the article was right in line with what I’ve been writing lately, but you’ve definitely succeeded in making me not care.

The “clarifications” will continue until divorce and “remarriage” are approved

January 23, 2015 § 10 Comments

Notice the framing of this question:

There is bitter dispute over the meaning of the Encyclical Letter, “Vix Pervenit.” …

“… the penitent perseveres in his plan of giving money as a loan to business men, and objects that an opinion favorable to such a loan has many patrons, and, moreover, has not been condemned by the Holy See, although more than once consulted about it.” (Emphasis mine)

Notice this part of the encyclical in question:

“One cannot condone the sin of usury by arguing that the gain [on a mutuum loan] is not great or excessive, but rather moderate or small; neither can it be condoned by arguing that the borrower is rich; nor even by arguing that the money borrowed is not left idle, but is spent usefully, either to increase one’s fortune, to purchase new estates, or to engage in business transactions.” (Emphasis mine)

If your goal is to get ‘pastoral’ approval for your favorite sins, one of the most effective ways to do so is to build the answer you want into the questions you ask; even when that means turning the questions themselves into lies.

Against the stenchus fidelium we declare “invictus manure!”

January 22, 2015 § 16 Comments

I’ll attempt to clarify the point I made below.

Compare this:

“If a penitent does not confess the gain from money given in a loan, and appears to be in good faith, these confessors, even if they know from other sources that gain of this sort has been taken by him and is even now being taken, they absolve him, making no interrogation about the matter, because they fear the penitent, being advised to make restitution or to refrain from such profit, will refuse.”

to this:

“The principle according to which it is preferable to let penitents remain in good faith in cases of error due to subjectively invincible ignorance, is certainly to be considered always valid, even in matters of conjugal chastity. And this applies whenever it is foreseen that the penitent, although oriented towards living within the bounds of a life of faith, would not be prepared to change his own conduct, but rather would begin formally to sin.”

If the former constitutes a reversal of doctrine on usury, then the latter constitutes a reversal of doctrine on contraception.

Did the Church reverse course on contraception in 1997?

January 22, 2015 § 20 Comments

If you buy that the pastoral changes of Pius VIII and Gregory XVI reversed Church doctrine on usury, you might also be inclined to buy that John Paul II reversed Church doctrine on contraception:

The principle according to which it is preferable to let penitents remain in good faith in cases of error due to subjectively invincible ignorance, is certainly to be considered always valid, even in matters of conjugal chastity. And this applies whenever it is foreseen that the penitent, although oriented towards living within the bounds of a life of faith, would not be prepared to change his own conduct, but rather would begin formally to sin.

Guest post: Usury and chattel slavery

January 21, 2015 § 13 Comments

The usurer says, Care for my property and pay me for the opportunity. Keep it intact. Make good every loss and return to me an increase which you by your energy and effort may produce.

Not only does financial slavery exact more labor for the amount invested, but it is more heartless than chattel bondage. The master had a personal interest in the slave he bought. His health and strength was an object of his care and his death a great loss. There was also often a mutual affection developed, as is sometimes found between a man and his horse or affectionate dog. There was sometimes real unfeigned mutual love. The master had a tender care over his slaves in their sickness and in their decrepit age, and sorrowed at their graves. The slaves were inconsolable in their grief at the death of their master.

The usurer has no personal interest in his slave. He has no care for his health or his life; they are of no interest to him. He may live in a distant state and has no anxiety about those who serve him. Their personal ills give him no concern.

Many faithful, industrial and honest borrowers are unable to return the loan. It is as difficult to retain property as it is to earn it. New inventions, new processes, new methods, new legislation and the changing fashions and customs, often sweep property from the shrewd and careful. “Riches make themselves wings; they fly away.” If for any cause the borrower fails there is scant sympathy from the usurer.

Usury: a Scriptural, Ethical, and Economic View, Calvin Elliott (1902)

The Grand Inquisitor shows pastoral mercy to usurers

January 21, 2015 § 12 Comments

For your reading pleasure I transcribed the entries in Denzinger on pastoral changes with respect to usury made by Pope Pius VIII in an audience and by the Holy Office under Pope Gregory XVI, so that everyone can see them for themselves in black and white. There is of course a pastoral context to all of this, as there ever is, and you can’t really get a grasp of that without reading some old books. But the actual voice of the Magisterium on the subject is right here. I have included all of the entries in Denzinger from the supposed “reversal” on usury during the 1800’s, which hermeneutical discontinuitists assure us did indeed occur (presumably in the hope that we won’t actually check up on their assertions).

Feel free to play “where’s Waldo” for yourself and find the part that doctrinally legitimizes (e.g.) consumer credit card interest or a full recourse consumer auto loan.  Some may note that the word “loan” in everyday speech, especially by the time these were promulgated, doesn’t always mean a simple mutuum; and that the term “a loan only” appears in a couple of places in these citations.

Response of Pius VIII to the Bishop of Rheims, given in audience, August 18, 1830

The Bishop of Rheims in France explains that …, the confessors of his diocese do not hold the same opinion concerning profit received from money given as a loan to business men, in order that they may be enriched thereby. There is bitter dispute over the meaning of the Encyclical Letter, “Vix Pervenit.” On both sides arguments are produced to defend the opinion each one has embraced, either favorable to such profit or against it. Thence come quarrels, dissensions, denial of the sacraments to many business men engaging in that method of making money, and countless damage to souls.

To meet this harm to souls, some confessors think they can hold a middle course between both opinions. If anyone consults them about gain of this sort, they try to dissuade him from it. If the penitent perseveres in his plan of giving money as a loan to business men, and objects that an opinion favorable to such a loan has many patrons, and, moreover, has not been condemned by the Holy See, although more than once consulted about it, then these confessors demand that the penitent promise to conform in filial obedience to the judgment of the Holy Pontiff whatever it may be, if he should intervene; and having obtained this promise, they do not deny them absolution, although they believe an opinion contrary to such a loan is more probable. If a penitent does not confess the gain from money given in a loan, and appears to be in good faith, these confessors, even if they know from other sources that gain of this sort has been taken by him and is even now being taken, they absolve him, making no interrogation about the matter, because they fear the penitent, being advised to make restitution or to refrain from such profit, will refuse.

Therefore the said Bishop of Rheims inquires:
I. Whether he can approve the method of acting on the part of these latter confessors.
II. Whether he could encourage other more rigid confessors who came to consult him to follow the plan of action of those others until the Holy See brings out an express opinion on this question.

Pius VIII responded:
To I: They are not to be disturbed. To II: Provided for in the first.

Gregory XVI, Declarations about a response of Pius VIII

A. To the doubts of the Bishop of Viviers:

1. “Whether the aforesaid judgment of the Most Holy Pontiff must be understood as its words sound, and aside from the title of the law of the prince, about which the Most Eminent Cardinals speak in these responses, so that it is just a matter of a loan made to business men.”
2. “Or whether the title from the law of the prince, about which the Eminent Cardinals speak, must be so understood that it is enough that the law of the prince declares that it is licit for anyone to agree about a gain made from a loan only, as happens in the civil code of the Franks, without saying that it (law of the prince) grants the right to receive such gain.”

The Congregation of the Holy Office responded August 31, 1831:

This has been taken care of in the decree of Wednesday, August 18, 1830, and let the decrees be given.

B. To the doubt of the Bishop of Nicea:

“Whether penitents, who have taken a moderate gain from a loan only, under title of the law, in doubtful or bad faith, can be sacramentally absolved without the imposition of the burden of restitution, provided they are sincerely sorry for the sin committed because of doubtful or bad faith, and are ready in filial obedience to observe the commands of the Holy See.”

The Congregation of the Holy Office responded Jan 17, 1838:

Yes, provided they are ready to observe the commands of the Holy See.

If it makes your skin crawl, there may be a good reason

January 19, 2015 § 19 Comments

In Kristor’s superb post Reality versus “Marriage” he observes:

The sad reality – sad for homosexuals, given how much they’ve poured into this campaign – is that once homosexual “marriage” is legal, everyone will look at them as they walk along together and know that their wedding rings signify that they are only “married,” because everyone will know, just as they now do, that they are homosexuals. Perhaps, then, the truly married will need no special sign. People will look at them, walking along, and know that they are heterosexual, and so their wedding rings will signal that they are married, rather than “married.”

Commenter JMSmith makes an observation I have often made myself:

I think it is only fair to point out that homosexuals aren’t the first to contract sham marriages.

That is what makes “gay marriage” into a kind of step backward for progressives. Unlike the heterosexual sham which came before, it is impossible for the homosexual sham to maintain outward appearances. Heterosexual serial fornicators can easily maintain the outward appearance of marriage, thereby partaking parasitically in its deontological status. Homosexual sodomites, not so much.

Homosexual “marriage” is the part where the hemorrhagic fever becomes so acute that the liquified interior starts bursting through the skin: where the bugs infecting the interior burst forth to crawl on the surface.

Possessed by unreality

January 19, 2015 § 80 Comments

A test of economic actuality:

If it is possible for an owner to take possession of X, to transfer possession of X to a buyer or borrower, or to repossess X from objective reality independent of the borrower when the borrower stops making payments, then it is possible for X to be objectively real actual property.

If it is not possible for an owner to take possession of X, to transfer possession of X to a buyer or borrower, or to repossess X from objective reality independent of the borrower when the borrower stops making payments, then it is not possible for X to be objectively real actual property.

Abstractions like “time value of money” and “opportunity cost” – and by-definition foregone choices generally – fail this test precisely because, even though they may be useful abstract parameters in various economic theories, it is not possible for them to be property.  That you could have married Martha but actually married Jane may be true enough, to the extent that truth can obtain of counterfactuals.  But it cannot be property.

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