Free the Slaves
The desperate plea from a fan broke my heart. “Linda, please help. I lost my job in the restaurant business. I can’t pay my rent, I can’t afford food, and my credit card is maxed out. Now, because I have missed some payments, my bank hiked my interest rate.”
Those heartless blood suckers. Have they no soul especially during these difficult pandemic days? No, because greed prevails in this money-driven world where, like lemmings falling off a cliff, consumers have become slaves to debt. In Canada alone, households now owe a record $2.33 trillion, and while $1.53 billion is mortgage debt with more affordable rates of the interest, there’s still another $802.1 billion in consumer debt, including credit cards which commonly charge rates of 22.99% and higher, plus annual fees. This is usury and a political sin considering the Bank of Canada rate sits at a record low of 0.25%.
Now, here’s what you may not know: That once upon a time on this planet charging interest was banned, and considered one of the worst sins - an abomination that broke God’s Eighth Commandment, “thou must not steal.”
In fact, to this day, the Islamic faith rules that charging interest is forbidden, which is why institutions in countries like Iran, Sudan and Pakistan have taken steps to eradicate interest from their financial systems.
Centuries ago, under Jewish law, loans made to fellow Jews had to be interest-free. But charging interest on loans to non-Jews was allowed. Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, once condemned charging interest, but by the 19th century and with the rise of capitalism, the practice of charging interest became more and more common.
Still, the Bible’s message is clear - that charging interest hurts our fellowman. The Book of Ezekiel classified usurers as people who have shed the borrowers’ blood. And Proverbs 22:7 warns: “the rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
So, here we are today: Slaves on the never-ending debt treadmill, while the misery grows. For every $1 in disposable income, Canadians now owe $1.77 – with our household debt ratio now hitting at an unsustainable 176.9%. And while the most vulnerable get hurt by usury credit card rates – falling mortgage rates encourage homeowners to take on even more debt, by borrowing from skyrocketing home equity, while our kids are shut out of the housing market. And poor seniors, who want to protect their savings by investing in safe, interest-bearing vehicles, like guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) which are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. (CDIC). With GIC rates of return close to 0%, they are forced into the roller coaster stock markets, where there are no guarantees, and where they do not have time on their side to make up for big losses.
For years, as a crusading Sun Media financial editor/columnist in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton, I campaigned against the high cost of credit – taking this crusade to Parliament Hill, just as my predecessor Garth Turner did back in the 1980s when he took busloads of angry homeowners to Ottawa to win a moratorium on mortgage renewals when rates hit as high as 22%.
We won a few battles, but not the war.
Let me be clear: Rates will rise, and rates will fall – but the greedy will always find ways to fleece our pockets, and too often our regulators are blinded by the light.
The subprime mortgage madness is a prime example. The wolves on Wall Street cleverly got rich promoting rotten loans to home buyers, then bundled up this rotten debt into investment vehicles, called Asset-Backed Commercial Paper, slapped on Triple A credit ratings, and floated it to the world – bankrupting nations like Greece and Iceland. Not one of those Wall Street wolves went to jail.
The year 2009 ushered in the Great Global Recession. Now it’s 2020, and we’re suffering from the Great Global Pandemic, plus a record number of atrocities that are plaguing Mother Earth.
In the book of James, chapter 5: 1-5, it was prophesied that in the last days the rich “will heap up treasures” by exploiting the poor. And the book of Revelation warns a Day of Reckoning will arrive. This is the Great Global Armageddon.
It is time to free the slaves.