Usury in it's original meaning, was the practice of taking interest for monetary loans. It was originally condemned in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In practical terms, Capitalism is often a euphemism of Usury.


Usury is condemned in the Judaic Religion, but it was allowed to a limited extent when loans were made to outsiders. Loaning at interest became important in some cases where Jews were forbidden many livelihoods.


The story of the money changers is present in all four of the canonical gospels.

Usury was originally condemned and forbidden in Christianity. Over a period of many years, Christianity relaxed their stance on usury. We have to wonder how much lobbying of the Vatican it took to get that done. Seriously though, most Christians no longer condemn all usury, but have problems with excessive interest, and interest on loans given for necessities or need. Christians advocate charity in cases of necessity or need. Republican Christians (is that an oxymoron?) are an exception, they are quick to condemn Welfare, Obamacare, etc., and want Capitalists to be able to make huge profits loaning to people who desperately need food or medicine.

Western nations generally

Today English speakers in the UK [1] and USA [2] restrict the term usuary to cases where excessive interest is charged. Humanist morality is also inconsistent with charging high interest. More Liberal nations have laws against those who charge excessive interest.

A Loan shark is someone who lends money at exorbitant interest. Usually loan shark refers to criminal money lenders but any money lender who charges far too much interest can be called a loan shark. [3]


Usury is condemned and forbidden in Islam. The Islamic condemnation of usury may be one of the driving motivations for escalating conflict in Islamic Countries. Neoliberals are quick to point out that both Capitalism and economic development are missing in Islamic Theocracies. Having 23% of the world's population and two thirds of the world's Oil unavailable to western Capitalism has to be driving them wild with envy! It's just heartbreaking so see those people suffering when neoliberalism could do so much there.

So, What do Liberals Consider Usurious?

Usurious Capitalists can be very creative. Credit practices can evolve quickly to find ways around Usury laws, excess profits from Usury can be used to promote political and judicial candidates friendly to all Capitalist practices, legislation to limit usury can be very difficult to obtain, and redress in the courts can be impractical.

Some Usurious practices.

  • Excessive interest
  • Excessive fees or penalties considered non-interest
  • Dishonest or deceptive negotiation
  • Automatic Arbitration at arbitrator of lenders choice
  • Jurisdiction for court set distant from borrower
  • Contractual limitations of Consumer or other legal rights
  • Public Shaming of debtors
  • Excessive demands for payment
  • Harming delinquent debtors physically, socially, or in the workplace
  • Steering delinquent debtors to Usurious lenders
  • Limitation of consumer rights based upon class of loan, commercial v. consumer
  • Fraudulent accounting
  • Hidden bank fees. A new form of bank fee has made some checks negotiable only with the payment of a bank fee.
  • Artificial manipulation of time available to act as a means of limiting ability to study and negotiate terms.

So, Why is Usury our problem?

Perhaps the biggest problem with allowing usurious lending is that it impacts the better lenders. Reasonable consumers will avoid usurious lenders, but shit happens. Situations may arise which create immediate need for credit, and consumers may find it necessary to take usurious loans for short-term or low dollar loans. Once a consumer has one of these loans, the consumer will almost always try to pay off the loan with the worst fees penalties and interest first. If another financial crises occurs, and the consumer has to choose which loan to pay, it will be the most usurious one. This effect has a tendency to harm not only the better lenders, but all of society. If it's allowed to go on long enough, the financial sector will take most of the money, and demand in the other markets will suffer.

What can we do?

There is a long list of usurious practices in the marketplace, and these practices evolve faster than protection from them. We urge all to compare both price and terms, and read carefully. Many consumers remain unaware that credit business transactions actually involve two separate negotiations, the first to agree on price and the second to agree on terms. There are also situations in which careful negotiation of price and terms are practically impossible, and changing laws and practices in these situations can be very difficult, so be careful.

How do Liberals treat these situations

Liberals, and liberal governments have enacted laws to limit some of the most harmful usury. These laws limit the amounts of interest that can be charged to customers, how interest can be computed, and how debts can be collected, and how debtors are to be treated when they can't pay their debts. In the United States, most states used to have and enforce usury statutes. However, federal courts have defeated many of these State statutes, and Businesses have chosen to locate in States with the loosest usury laws.

Conservatives resist most government intervention in markets, and have generally tried to limit or eliminate usury laws. At best, conservatives will enact or reform usury laws only after usurious practices have harmed enough of society that the harm is blatantly obvious.

Liberals believe that for Capitalism to work, buyers and sellers must be able to agree on price and terms of a business transaction in a competitive market. Liberals believe that Transparency, honesty, and competition are necessary to achieve the benefits of a free market. We Liberals believe that buyers sellers and lenders have a responsibility to try to achieve an agreement where each party knows what it's giving and what it's getting. We Liberals also believe that sometimes parties to these bargains are unable to fulfill their obligations, and that government must intervene and try to make the best of a bad situation. We believe, that in those situations, it's necessary to try to try to come as close as possible to fulfilling contractual obligations without destroying the ability of parties to meet their needs and other obligations. Liberals also believe that given proper legal guidelines Capitalism can in most cases function fairy efficiently. However, we also believe that there are cases when a fair transaction is very difficult to achieve, and believe that greater market intervention is necessary to protect parties to transactions in those situations.

For example, imagine a city served by a privately owned fire-fighting company. Imagine your house is on fire, and the firefighters have arrived in their truck. The firehouse administrator comes to your door to offer you firefighting service. While your house is burning down, the administrator must determine if your insurance covers the use of his services, and/or negotiate a contract to put out the fire. This is an extreme case, but certainly possible, and the chance for extortionate pricing or usurious terms certainly exist because of time constraints, lack of competition, and dire need. Now imagine the case of the parent with a dying child at the local for-profit hospital. Once again, the chance for extortionate pricing or usurious terms exist. Most reasonable people would agree that regulated markets or publicly owned services are necessary. There's just no way to negotiate a fair agreement in some situations.

Modern Liberals are certainly not in agreement on the degree which we wish Our governments to control the marketplace. Just like liberals of the past, we fear giving too much power to government, and we wish to have only as much government as we need. However, modern liberals, like liberals of the past, are likely to agree that our governments exist, in large part, to protect our societies, and the individual members of our societies not just from outsiders, but also from each other. We recognize that to some degree, an attack on one is an attack on all. We recognize that there will always be those among us who are willing to prey on the weak, and that we have a duty to protect all our people, as well as the market economy.

We believe that those who would ask the question "Am I my Brother's keeper" have likely already ceased to be goodly (or Godly if you'd prefer) members of society, and that Corporations, by their very nature, are not bound by the morality which guides most individuals. We reluctantly accept that we must, through the powers of self-government, limit some of the most destructive market transactions.

CFPB Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

First proposed in 2007, by Senator Elizabeth Warren, and created in response to the Great Recession in 2010, by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB is a U.S. Federal Agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector.[4]

Conservatives hate it, and Republicans have been trying to hamstring or destroy it since its creation. To date, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have reduced CFPB oversight on two occasions, first removing auto loans from oversight, and later exempting some banks.