Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Breaking: U.S. Senate Supports Usury

Usury, noun.  In Scripture it referred to charging any interest on loans and was expressly forbidden as immoral by Jesus.

In Puritan New England there were strict limits on the amount of interest that could be charged. Ever since we have had usury laws that limit the amount of interest charged–so that loans are not a form of economic predation and exploitation. 

But, since 1981, credit cards have been unregulated in the U.S. in the amount of interest they could charge customers.  The industry did some minimal self-policing with “best practice” standards keeping interest under 10% unless customers were repeatedly delinquent. But in the ’90s this was eroded with credit cards marketed to the poor and to the young with “teaser rates” (e.g.4.5%) that, in the fine print, one found only lasted 6 months before raising to 15% or more.  Now, since the recession, with people out of work forced to rely more on their credit cards as they look for work, the banks and credit card companies have no shame whatsoever.  They are raising rates without warning, on customers who have never been delinquent, to 20-30%.

Congress has vowed to stop the abuse.  The House passed a (too weak) version of a credit card holder’s bill of rights. (But it won’t go into affect until next year.)  The Senate was working on a tougher version, but still with a 9 month delay.  But today the most important provision, a ceiling on credit card interest rates, was defeated.

The U.S. Senate voted to keep allowing credit card companies to practice usury–thereby slowing the recovery by keeping people from being able to consume much at all–maybe not even the basic necessities of life.  This is legal robbery.  The list of DEMOCRATS who voted to continue selling the American people into debt slavery are here.

Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that the banks own the Senate. Tonight, the Senate proved him right.  And the banks lobbied for this horror with money from the bailouts. That is, they used OUR MONEY, which is keeping them from bankruptcy and insolvency, to lobby for the “right” to keep abusing us.

This isn’t about me. I have 2 credit cards. Both have under $1,000 charged on them. Both are under 30% of my credit limit.  Both will be completely paid off within a year.  But it has taken my wife and myself years to get here. We were victims of fake consolidation offers with teaser rates. And then victims of “debt consolidation and debt reduction” programs that actually made the problem worse.  And we are highly educated.  If they could sucker us, what about others.

No, this is about right and wrong. This is wrong. Nations are judged by how the powerful treat those with little or no power.  Our nation will be judged very harshly.


May 13, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

    Pingback by Interest Rates » Breaking: U.S. Senate Supports Usury « Levellers | May 13, 2009

  2. If you are doing research, use the internet to find a debt consolidation company. This is also a place where you can easily compare deals. It can save your time and effort.

    Comment by Debt Consolidation Bad | June 10, 2009

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