Instead of A Book (1893/1897)

by Benjamin R. Tucker (1854-1939)

[III.] Money and Interest.

[III.9] Usury.

[Liberty, November 26, 1881.]

IOB-III-9.1 Paying money for the use of money is a great and barbarous wrong. It is also a stupendous absurdity. No one man can use money. The use of money involves its transfer form one to another. Therefore, as no one man can use money, it cannot be right and proper for any man to pay for the use of that which he cannot use. The people do use money; consequently, they should pay whatever the money may cost.
IOB-III-9.2 Money is necessarily a thing which belongs to society. This is one of the great truths of civilization which has been generally overlooked. For this whole question of the rightfulness of interest turns on the question, “What is money.” So long as the people shall continue to consider money as a thing of itself objectively – why, there is no hope for humanity.
IOB-III-9.3 All wealth is the product of labor, but no labor can produce money. There can be no money until some wealth has been produced, because money is a representative of wealth.
IOB-III-9.4 Money is a form of credit – credit in circulation. It is not a thing of substance. The great object of money is to exchange values. Now, value is an idea, and money is used to represent, count, and exchange values. The symbol or token of money is not the money itself. Therefore, as money is not a thing of substance, and cannot wear out, it is and ever must be a great wrong and an utter absurdity to give wealth for the use of an idea.
IOB-III-9.5 In equity compensation implies service or labor, and as money does not cost labor, why, labor cannot justly be demanded for its use.
IOB-III-9.6 But let us look at it practically. The people use money; the people furnish the money; and, if the cost of issue is paid, there can be no other expense. The great difficulty touching this whole matter is a barbarous misconception of the nature of money and a more barbarous disposition to monopolize power and rob the weak. For – let us ask – who pays the great tax of interest? Not those who have and handle the money; not those who use the money; but the poor, the weak, the ignorant, the dupes of the ruling class. We can illustrate this by a fact of to-day. If five or more men having one hundred thousand dollars, and no more, organize and establish a national bank, just so soon as their bank is in operation they have the use and income of one hundred and ninety thousand dollars. Now, is it not clear that, this company having got ninety thousand dollars for nothing, somebody has lost that amount? For, if one man gets a dollar that he has not earned, some other man has earned a dollar that he has not got. That is as certain as that two and two make four.
IOB-III-9.7 If all men could use their own credit in the form of money, there could be no such thing as interest. Yet, to put this idea into practice, there must be organization and consolidation of credit. Commercial credit, to be good, must be known to be good. A man’s credit may be good to the extent of a thousand dollars, but, that fact not being generally known, he must, as things are, exchange his credit for that which is known to be good, and pay a monopoly price for the privilege of using his own credit in the form of money.
IOB-III-9.8 Let us remember that no man can borrow money, as a good business transaction, under any system, unless he has the required security to make the lender whole in case he should lose the money. What a stupendous wrong is this – that a man having credit cannot use it, but must exchange it and pay a monopoly price, which is really for the privilege of using his own credit!
IOB-III-9.9 And again, he cannot pay this himself, but must compel the poor man to work out this tax; the latter must pay this interest in the enhanced price of goods. I wonder if the people will always be thus blind and stupid!
IOB-III-9.10 So long as business men, as such, and laborers shall permit the few shrewd moneyed men to monopolize commercial credit – that is, money – just so long will it be hard times for business and labor. What we want now is the organization of credit on a just and equal plan. William B. Greene solved this whole matter and summed it up in two words: “MUTUAL BANKING.” This is what we want.

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