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.

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.

§ 34 Responses to Keeping the record straight

  • Zippy says:

    My critic is apparently doubling down on his ignorance and speculation about me, and another fan weighs in. Needless to say none of it actually addresses the subject matter in any substantive way.

  • CJ says:

    Disqualification is the go-to strategy for internet discourse. The first attempt missed, so its only a matter of time before someone points out you’re a cismale white Christian.

  • I echo Alte. How bizarre. They’re not even trying to address what you actually said.

  • Silly Interloper says:

    It’s more stupid than bizarre. I would expect that kind of crap from a teenager, so if his picture is right, he hasn’t improved a single brain cell in about 40 years.

  • Peter Blood says:

    I wonder what housing prices would be if they weren’t inflated so high by the easy availability of usurious finance? (Much like the cost of college edumacation is inflated by the easy availability of lock-you-in student loans.)

    Also, I didn’t wait until I lived in a bank-owned house to start a family. I was able to do it in a rented apartment.

  • Peter Blood says:

    The upshot is when you worship Mammon, you become his slave.

  • Zippy, I apologize for the rancor over at SD. Sadly, I think it reflects the fact that having a fruitful discussion about usury is a difficult proposition pretty much wherever you turn. My sincere hope is that the discussion over there will become more fruitful soon.

  • Zippy says:

    Catholic Economist:
    I don’t see where you’ve done anything except attempt to have a productive discussion, so I’m not sure what you are apologizing for (though I nevertheless appreciate it). Something about this subject – some perfect storm of priors, most likely – does seem to make actual conceptual engagement very difficult .

  • irksome12 says:

    Except, it isn’t slander. It’s libel.

  • Zippy says:

    Next thing you know, pedants will be allowed to marry.

  • Zippy: [Long, detailed explanation of what usury is and why it is wrong.]

    Some blue-haired chick:

    Wow, I had no idea Zippy was still around. Can’t stand that guy

    Zippy, you are the licorice of bloggers.


  • Sergi says:

    Well, both Greg and Erin are quite liberal. They’ve been that way for years (on many different matters).

  • Mark Citadel says:

    I wouldn’t take much seriously coming from a person who states their religious affiliation as ‘Kung Fu’ and fails to make a cogent point. Modernists work on the policy of personal destruction, from Marat to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    They have no argument. Your treastise on usury was well thought out and since they are irked by your dissent to the world they love so much, they can do nothing but hate you.

  • William Luse says:


    “Except, it isn’t slander. It’s libel.”

    There you go. Fortunately, Zippy’s too noble to sue people whose brains are bankrupt.

  • Elspeth says:

    That was strange, and there has never been any condition that one own a home before starting a family.

    Mr. Citadel is correct. The modern strategy of disagreement is to discredit or destroy your opponent if you can’t disprove the validity of their arguments.

  • jf12 says:

    Peter Blood asks “I wonder what housing prices would be if they weren’t inflated so high by the easy availability of usurious finance?” It’s a valid and eminently *answerable* question, at least by the big-name deep-pockets economics forecasters who do this for a living. They do a lot of contingency modeling.

    Housing real estate prices, and rents btw, remain too high specifically to protect investors, and more specifically the murky oceans of money of insurance companies. Let’s suppose they have to show extra assets of $20B. On their books it makes perfect sense to them to have an extra (for example) 200,000 houses that haven’t sold in years and cannot be sold because their prices are an extra $100,000 too high. They are “assets”, though, on their books. And they also occasionally get rented, for too much rent, even though renters often skip out. Win, Win, (lose).

    I’m certain that idolatry of an invisible false god (“nothing” as a false asset) is as idolatrous as when you can see the false god (charging for Monopoly money, e.g.).

  • jf12 says:

    I managed to not lose any money in the housing bubble crash because I had lost all my money in the dotcom crash. But due to the extraordinarily low interest rates I refinanced before the crash, and I will be paying off my mortgage in fewer years with considerably smaller monthly payments.

  • TMLutas says:

    I would agree that the criticisms described here are more tribal and knee jerk in nature than substantive, so far. That does seem to be an especially noticeable problem with the modernists, but not only the modernists.

    My more substantive critique, hopefully, will not be lumped in with the tribal chest thumping.

  • Zippy says:

    In order to make a substantive criticism though you first have to correctly grasp what you are criticizing. It does not appear that you are there yet.

  • TMLutas says:

    Zippy, I entirely grasp what it is you are trying to say. You are setting up a straw man and trying, via that straw man, to define a licit transaction as illicit. The consequences of you succeeding would be pretty horrific as the people you would lead astray would be disproportionately likely to alleviate the capital drought among the world’s poor. It would be tempting to say that this is chopping off your nose to spite your face but it’s pretty unlikely that it is your nose at risk.

  • Zippy says:


    Zippy, I entirely grasp what it is you are trying to say.

    You obviously don’t. But for those who do, your comments provide a good example of the kind of anti-realism which lies at the root of usury.

  • TMLutas says:

    That response is entirely content free, just name calling. You still don’t understand time value of money. Whether it is property or not is irrelevant to whether it’s licit or not.

  • Zippy says:


    Whether it is property or not is irrelevant to whether it’s licit [to charge rent for it in the form of interest payments] or not.

    You’ve identified your error right there.

  • TMLutas says:

    I will pay you X now or X+Y later for a service is illicit. Right. You can’t give discounts for prompt payments, nor charge a fee for late payments.

    After all, St. Thomas says that money isn’t about a standard of deferred payment, a store of value, or a unit of account. He says that the only use for money is in exchange. “Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange.”

    The fact that modern money is all these things would make a normal person just a bit wary about taking St. Thomas as the be all and end all of debate. But you are certainly made of sterner stuff.

  • Zippy says:

    You aren’t even trying now.

    I will pay you X now or X+Y later for a service is illicit.

    Actually there is a licit way to do this, which I describe in my FAQ. In fact a mechanic’s lien and the like as usually practiced today is perfectly fine, as far as I can tell.

    But it is true enough that for millennia the Church was very suspicious of “hidden usury” in these kinds of deals. Look for profitable claims terminating in something other than property and you’ll find “hidden usury”.

    He says that the only use for money is in exchange.

    Actually that’s wrong too. You aren’t any better at paraphrasing Aquinas than you are at paraphrasing me.

    I’ll give you extra credit if you can find the part in the Summa where Aquinas explains how (what today we call) insurance can be morally licit and usury-free.

  • TMLutas says:

    Now you’re being insulting. You are neither my teacher nor my superior so step down from your imaginary teachers podium. I don’t depend on your grade for my future.

    I do grant that it’s an innovative use of the Squirrel! technique to divert so points to you for that.

    Aquinas says in the quote above that “the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange” and then treats money as if exchange is the only use of money or at least the only licit use in the rest of the passage. What are the other licit uses for money that Aquinas writes about?

  • Zippy says:


    What are the other licit uses for money that Aquinas writes about?

    I’ve written about it before. Since you apparently consider yourself qualified to paraphrase both Aquinas and myself, I leave it as an exercise for you to discover it. It is in his De Malo in addition to the section of the Summa Theologica on the Sin of Usury.

  • TMLutas says:

    Sorry, no link, no quote, no legitimacy.

    You don’t really understand what a FAQ is, do you?

  • Zippy says:

    You are the one misrepresenting Aquinas. I’m not pulling your sorry self out of what you’ve stepped in, and folks who’ve followed along already know the answer. Do your own due diligence.

  • Mike T says:

    Dude’s dumber than dog #$%^ if he thinks it was difficult to make money without resorting to exotic financial products in 2008. I was constantly buying and selling (not day trading) because I was thinking the market would bottom out at any time given the crap that was happening and I made 60% on my investments. Had I just held on, not worried and soaked my worries in beer, I’d have made several hundred percent easily. Turns out, it’s pretty effing easy to make a lot of money when you buy at a 4k DJIA and sell when the market is 14k again…

  • Mike T says:

    Sorry, no link, no quote, no legitimacy.

    If you know the source enough to get in Zippy’s face like that, then surely you can use a little Googlefu to find it.

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