Periodically, typically only in the throes and writhings of economic catastrophe, society decries the greedy evilness of usurers and of those financial pirates and gamblers who would wildly speculate with the wealth so hard-earned by the real producers of a civilization’s prosperity. But when Fortuna’s crushing wheel turns again, and many are brought upward in economic circumstance, those who once cried woe and outrage, becalm themselves and lower their heads back into the yoke. And as any good set of silent conspirators, they ride the wheel aloft toward their own personal material gain even as many below them are still caught beneath the crushing wheel, gnashing their teeth and groaning-out their impotent wailings. And then the wheel turns the rising toward the downward spin, and the cyclical decline returns.
Although this manic, perpetual cycle of boom and bust is well-known to be directly due to the imprudent speculation of those who vacuum-up of the society’s profits through their financial-market activities, few seem willing to admit the inextricable nature of the intricate and intrinsic binding of moneylending to the business cycle.
Over one hundred and fifty years ago, here upon this very continent, here within this very nation of nations, the explanation was delivered by the financial thinkers of the age, but none did harken to their simple wisdom. Perhaps none put it as plainly as Edward Kellogg when he explained…
“If interest exceeded net returns on invested capital, the moneylenders would eventually gather to themselves the whole wealth of the nation.“
Alack, there it is, the Star Of Bethlehem, the fiery pillar– the glowing word of Truth which would lead us toward our salvation, but none pay heed. Instead, on we go, extending our agonizing time upon the wheel.
Alexander Campbell, too, shared his knowledge and concerns, warning us that interest rates from loans would eventually concentrate the wealth of an economy into the hands of the moneylenders. And backing-up his philosophy with science, he analyzed the rate of economic growth for the United State from the dawning days of the Constitution until the cusp of the Civil War Era, and he found that the return on money was steadily greater than the return on other capital. And one need not be an economic genius to understand that these greater returns to the moneylenders continuously compound, so that every passing year the moneylenders are not only absorbing more of the economy’s profits, but absorbing them at a faster rate. Campbell saw well enough– before the time of our grandfathers’ grandfathers– that the interest charged by moneylenders accounted “for the rapid centralization of the property of the nation in the hands of a few capitalists.”
Such it was, such it is, such it ever will be– unless there grows a civilization manly enough to wrestle back from the greedy jaws of the moneylenders, the wealth that rightly belongs to the economy’s actual producers.
Until such time, the lions will mew and the eagles will weep, and the day belongs to the unhunting vulture, and to the hyena trailing the game. The harder the true producers of the economy work– the more sweaty their brows, the more bent their backs, the more calloused their hands– the quicker will the moneylenders collect their gains. This is not a moral judgment, but a mathematical certainty, a functional equation of the compounding summation of the difference between the profit earned from enterprise, and that slightly greater amount perpetually earned by the lending of funds… a malignant redistribution of wealth from the producers to the non-producers, the sucking of life-blood from the host to the parasite.
Concerned with the same perplexing problem of the continual ill-distribution of wealth which every generation grapples with (as perplexed as if this ancient problem was something new under the sun!), William H. Sylvis, writing in the same postbellum era as Kellogg and Campbell, declared that… “For twenty years I have been trying to discover some remedy for the great wrongs imposed upon labor– to find the reasons why a small portion of the population enjoyed ninety percent of the wealth of the nation, while the many whose labor produced everything lived in poverty and want.” And after twenty years of searching, to what conclusion did Sylvis’s quest and conscience lead him? To the same conclusion as Kellogg and Campbell… “Interest acts as a tax-gatherer,” wrote Sylvis; the moneylenders take their share from every economic endeavor– each of those shares, individually small enough in themselves, but summed and compounded, eventually grow into monstrous sums. The charging of interest, said Sylvis, “enters into all things and eats up the price of labor.”
Henry C. Carey was writing even before the Civil War of the dismal and unjust plight of the real producers of the economy. Recognizing that moneylenders only profited by taking a percentage-cut from the proceeds strenuously procured by the producing population, Carey observed that “the owner of money, then, profits at the expense of all other capitalists.” The monopoly of money, he declared, is “the mother of all monopoly.”