Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scaling back the financial sector

The problem of banks isn't that they aren't occasionally useful.  They are.  The problem is that less than 1% of what they do is actually useful--the other 99% is downright destructive.  And now this destructiveness accounts for over 40% of what we now jokingly call the economy.

What we need as a society are banks that specialize in the useful stuff.  Banks that are interested in the growth and prosperity of the real economy.  Such banks would operated as a regulated utility and have civil service pay grades.  They would be the only banks backstopped by the taxpayers.  The private "banks" that insisted on operating as casinos would be on their own.

Ideas like this have been around awhile here in USA.  In fact, much about the real economy that still works is based on them.

Legal Tender Act passed
February 25, 1862 
The U.S. Congress passes the Legal Tender Act, authorizing the use of paper notes to pay the government's bills. This ended the long-standing policy of using only gold or silver in transactions, and it allowed the government to finance the enormously costly war long after its gold and silver reserves were depleted.
Soon after the war began, the federal government began to run low on specie. Several proposals involving the use of bonds were suggested. Finally, Congress began printing money, which the Confederate government had been doing since the beginning of the war. The Legal Tender Act allowed the government to print $150 million in paper money that was not backed by a similar amount of gold and silver. Many bankers and financial experts predicted doom for the economy, as they believed that there would be little confidence in the scheme. There were also misgivings in Congress, as many legislators worried about a complete collapse of the nation's financial infrastructure.
These notes, called "greenbacks," worked much better than expected. It allowed the government to pay its bills and, by increasing the money in circulation, greased the wheels of northern commerce. The greenbacks were legal tender, which meant that creditors had to accept them at face value. The same year, Congress passed an income tax and steep excise taxes, both of which cooled the inflationary pressures created by the greenbacks.
Another legal tender act passed in 1863, and by war's end nearly a half-billion dollars in greenbacks had been issued. The Legal Tender Act laid the foundation for the creation of a permanent currency in the decades after the Civil War. more
Civil War Era monetary policy too trendy for you?  How about a dose of good old-fashioned Christianity.
The Sin of Usury: Time for Christian Protesters Outside of Banks!
Why don't we see more Christian protesters outside of banks?
It's fairly common to see them outside of abortion clinics. You'll see them outside city halls where insidious civil unions are making couples out of people who love each other. You'll even see them outside of school boards demanding the right to ignore any scientific discoveries that took place after 1800. But you very rarely see them outside of banks. Or investment firms. Or student loan offices. And I want to know: Why aren't Christians marching up and down Wall Street?
Maybe you think this is a silly question. But maybe that's because you've never heard of one of the gravest sins of all. Usury. While abortion isn't mentioned even once in the Bible (unless you stretch passages that wax poetical about an omniscient, eternal being “knowing” you before you were born), usury is mentioned at least a dozen times. Each time it's mentioned, it's clear that it's a bad thing. A really bad thing. Take for instance what God says to the prophet Ezekiel:
If he has exacted usury Or taken increase -- Shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, He shall surely die; His blood shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:13)
His blood shall be upon him? Wow. That sounds bad. But what's this usury thing? What does that mean, if he has “taken increase”?
It means that he did what every financial institution in the modern world does every day. He lent money at interest.
That, my friends, is the definition of usury. If you lend money to someone and expect the borrower to pay back more than what you lent him, you are a usurer. And if you work in a bank, in an investment firm, or with the federal government (which gives out the aforementioned student loans), you are complicit in aiding and abetting the sin of usury. So why aren't their Christians outside of YOUR office window? Where are the signs that say “God hates usurers” or “EZEKIEL 18:13”? Maybe you're reading this at a bank right now. Take a peak outside. See any? more
Of course, one way to scale back the income of the moneychangers is to stop paying on that underwater mortgage.  Here Dylan Ratigan explains some of the current thinking on the matter.

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