Tuesday, October 14, 2008


'Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.'*

Revolutions bring revelations, and the first revelation which the current financial revolution brought to me was that the United States economic system is based on borrowing money.

As we've watched the economic system collapse, and heard of failing banks and panic selling of company shares, we've repeatedly been told that without a healthy banking system we, the people, could essentially do nothing: We could not go to college because we couldn't borrow the money to go. We couldn't buy a house because we couldn't borrow the money for a mortgage. We couldn't buy a car because we couldn't “finance” it. We might not even be able to buy clothes if things got so bad that banks wouldn't lend us money via our credit cards. And if business owners couldn't borrow payroll money, their employees would go unpaid.

I got the impression that few Americans have actual money and pay for things. All most people have are debts -- and their right to borrow money from “lending institutions” was equal to their right to life and liberty. The most drastic emergency actions were needed to preserve the right not to live within one's means!

I oversimplify, but simplicity is needed here. A secret of control of societies by huge financial institutions interwoven internationally is a camouflage of complexity which gives most people the helpless feeling that there is no possible way they can understand the system. For many intelligent people I've talked to, the mysteries of quantum physics are at least as fathomable as the workings of monetary and financial machinery.

Banks Hide Reality Not Only Behind Impressive Facades, but Also Behind a Smokescreen of Complexity

Here's one simple question: Is it really to the advantage of society to encourage everybody to live on borrowed money? Can the answer be anything but “no” in light of the crash brought on by U.S. banks lending mortgage money to “subprime” borrowers (people with such bad “credit histories” that the odds were against their paying the money back)?

Why did banks loan massive amounts of money to “subprime” people who predictably might not repay it? A major reason is that America was excitedly inflating a housing bubble in which real estate rose in price weekly, and a house bought for $120,000 in March would sell for $200,000 a year later. Thus the banks enabled a subprime person to “buy” a house which the bank could take and sell at a profit if the mortgage payments weren't made. Meanwhile the bank could collect fancy fees as well as interest payments.

If a society based on borrowing is bad for society, then who benefits from it? The banks, of course. Never forget that your local banks make their living from renting out money at “interest”, plus various “costs”. The picture of a lady saying gleefully, “I'm so lucky! I got the loan! The bank gave me a loan!” should instead be the banker saying gleefully, “I sold a loan! I sold a loan!”


*Shakespeare, Hamlet. “Husbandry” in Shakespeare's time meant domestic management, thrift, or frugality.

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