Mortgages usury bondage and freedom

“Usury once in control will wreck the nation”
William Lyon Mackenzie King

Perhaps the single reason why more people feel they can’t join the leisure class is that they must earn the money that they need to pay off their mortgage. The mortgage being the primary cause of their wage slavery.

When does mortgage lending become usury?

Usury is the practice of making unethical, immoral or unfair loans to people that really can’t afford to pay back the debt. Usury is bonding for life.

Before we move on I’d like to run this up against the definition of structural violence which is the form of violence that occurs when a social institution (say a bank) harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. I don’t really think about needs as absolute. They are a continuum, but for the sake of the argument shelter from the elements could be considered a basic human right.

The case may be made that the forces within society that deny my basic need for shelter are a form of structural violence against my livelihood. The banks then exploit this opportunity by lending me money that I cannot afford to easily repay in the short term (usury).

Some will argument that if I am in horrific mortgage debt it is of my own choosing and that I could live more modestly or that I am not sufficiently wealthy to own property, but what of those too poor to rent? Why should their basic need for shelter be denied? The people that make such arguments generally believe in personal responsibility. Poor individuals have chosen and actively choose poverty while successful folk, like themselves, are rightful home owners.   Those making such assertions should suspend their mortgage payments for two months and test whether they really do own their own homes. If poverty or wealth is simply a matter of personal capability then why don’t more wealthy people agree to trade their personal circumstances with a homeless person. Surely if the world is a meritocracy as they claim it will not be long before the homeless person has lost their gifted wealth and the newly poor has recovered to their former level through application of their brains and sweat equity.

Silly ideas aside I think everyone should view debt or mortgage debt as voluntary wage bondage or knowing usury. That way we are not deluded into believing that the banks are our friends or that they are doing us any favour by lending us sums of money that require a life time in labour to repay. More might chose a simpler shelter than they elaborate walls and roof they currently work to pay for.

Fundamentally, don’t we all have the right to meet our need for shelter more simply that we can currently and more affordably? Shouldn’t I expect that living in a civilized society affords me the opportunity to be able to meet this very basic?  When we were savages the tribe ensured caves for all. As barbarians we came together to build dwellings for each new family added to the clan. In the middle age the village sheltered all of the town’s people who cared to live there harmoniously. Many hands were turned to the task of constructing the shelters of village members without money or debt or bondage.

Yet here in the period of history that we occupy and after some 10,000 years of social, scientific, spiritual  cultural and technological development people who lack the means to bond them self to financial institutions must sleep in a doorway in the street.  From the perspective of access to shelter our street dwelling homeless (who do not actively choose this free way of living) would have been better off born a neanderthal.

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