How About Murder?
Opposing Student Debt Forgiveness Subborns Evil:
A Christian Perspective
*Perhaps unwisely, I am publishing this as-is and unedited. It’s a little rough and not as artfully brushed together as I’d like. Still, it’s rather irrefutable – from any good and honest perspective. I may touch it up some, or not; I have one of the darndest head colds ever and don’t feel at all like going any further. Enjoy.
As far as I can tell, there are two primary reasons why one would oppose eliminating American student loan debts, in particular, and (perhaps) all fake, credit-based, usurious loans, in general: 1) one is either ignorant (and/or stupid), or 2) one is possessed of wickedness, of a spirit of evil. I understand there may be categorical overlap. There are multiple reasons to favor loan forgiveness. Chief among them are the facts that these loans: 1) are greatly assisting the general destruction of society; 2) consist of legal, economic, and monetary fraud stacked upon fraud, and; 3) contravene the tenets of Christianity, directly opposing the will of Jesus Christ and His Father.
Herein, I will concentrate on the Christian perspective. Lately, Christians are making their voices heard on this matter. Dark state puppet and fake president Biden, allegedly a Catholic, has stirred interest and controversy by touting a plan to shift some debtors’ burdens ($10,000 – 20,000 per debtor) via another spending spree bill. The plan, as presented, is fraught with problems, though it is a stumbling, half-step in the right direction. Many reactions to the plan, even from other alleged Christians, are at best selfish, short-sighted, and solipsistic.
Even Ron Paul has objected. I suppose that he understands the true underlying evil and would – I know he would – right all the wrongs. Others don’t get such benefit of the doubt. Thanks to a friend’s email about something else, I inadvertently came across a Tweet(!) by a Matt Walsh:
Yes, you were scammed when you took out your student loans. You got suckered. You bought a worthless thing for way too much money. That’s true. But making someone else pay for your mistakes is a greater injustice. It sucks that you have the debt but it is your debt. Not mine.
-Tweet(!) of Matt Walsh, August 23, 2022.
Not knowing who Matt Walsh is, I did some quick research. The man purports to be Catholic, like former vice president Biden and myself, and also describes himself as a “theocratic fascist.” He also appears to be in league with Benjamin Aaron Shapiro, so I suppose there might be a question as to the theos in the theocracy. But his statement sums up much of the current hyperbole: he acknowledges that a scam suckered the victims, whom he then blames, shuns, and disowns.
Other comments I have seen, from the left, the right, and the inebriated libertarian center, go further and to worse effect. Most of them fall along the lines of argumentum ad personalem (I paid my loans! I’m better than you!) or argumentum ad hominem (You ain’t paid yer loan! You ain’t good as me! And your major sucked, you commie…); both miss the reality that there is a world outside of the self. It is not all “me, me, meeee!”
Before moving to Biblical precepts, I thought it advantageous to briefly examine the thoughts of two men well-grounded in reality and logical reasoning. Neither of them were Christians, both living and dying before the Holy Birth of Christ. Yet their thoughts which I give in example are in-line with the teachings of the Catholic Church – consider it further proof of Truth by universal acceptance and understanding.
In or around 44 BC, Old Tully related an alleged conversation between the mighty Cato and a presumably ambitious young Patrician. I’ve elsewhere read that the younger man was attempting to goad Cato into ratifying the man’s pre-selected occupation. The conversation is presented as an example of competing expediencies or comparative outward advantages. It did not go exactly as the young man had hoped:
To this class of comparisons belongs that famous saying of old Cato’s: when he was asked what was the most profitable feature of an estate, he replied: “Raising cattle successfully.” What next to that? “Raising cattle with fair success.” And next? “Raising cattle with but slight success.” And fourth? “Raising crops.” And when his questioner said, “How about money-lending?” Cato replied: “How about murder?”
-M.T. Cicero, De Officiis, II, § 89 (W. Miller) (Loeb, 1913).
Keep that response in mind: why did Cato equate money-lending with murder?
We’re going to get to the answers. But first, a brief look at the magnitude of the problem currently faced by American college students and graduates who indebted themselves in pursuit of academic credentials.
Ye Old National Debt Clock, as of Wednesday, August 31, 2022, says the total US student loan debt is somewhere around $1.768 trillion (it’s higher, now that you’re reading this). That’s a lot of debt, and a considerable portion of the total outstanding personal debt in the US. It averages to about $40,000 per debtor, which mathematically produces a total college debtor class of about 44 million people. (As an aside, the Debt Clock explains in stark terms, and immediately below the student loan numbers, how and why all the credit money is utterly fake – statistically, there is zero real money in the economy. Again, that is an aside.).
The Census Bureau recently told me, as far as I one can trust them, that about 85 million US residents and citizens hold some level of college education (roughly 25% of the total US population). Either 44 million or 85 million is a little high, in my estimation; I would presume that fewer than 10% of the population has any real need of or derives any real benefit from higher education. This assumes that any of them are receiving an education – which most of them are not. Mr. Walsh is correct as to the scam and the suckering. Of course, that falls under the decline of society and outside the parameters of this essay.
Also outside the Christian scope of discussion – but still worth noting – are the inflationary effects of too many people attending college. That inflation, along with many other factors (women in the workforce, immigrants in the workforce, massive credit financialization in the general economy, etc.), has completely erased the definition and the concept of money, regarding education or anything else. If the wages of 1950 had kept pace with the cost of a new house, then today the average single-job annual salary would be around $300,000 nationwide. Minimum wage would pay something like $75,000 per year. As-is, NBC “News,” in another of those cherished “you gotta go to college!” hit pieces, says “good jobs,” only obtainable with a sacred degree, have starting salaries of … $35,000. It’s not that something doesn’t add up; nothing adds up.
Like houses and other large-ticket items, education has soared far above and beyond the corresponding costs of labor. (In other words, kids, you are losing). And, sadly, there’s something uniquely or exceptionally American about the disparity. The late, great Tom Moore wrote School For Genius (2006) about Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology, or ETH. Lately, ETH charges around 730 CHF per semester in tuition, which roughly equals $1,500 per year. MIT offers a similar education (or, it once did), for an annual tuition of $57,000. Back in 1950, when the average American man earned $6,000 per year, MIT, like Harvard and other “elite” schools, charged something like $500 per year.
It’s like this for each and every other US school. For many or most students, the only way to cope is through loans, which repeat and exacerbate the problem. Scam. Suckers.
What would Jesus say about all of this? He said forgive it.
“And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.” Matthew 6:12.
For the quantum edits folks, the Codex Sinaiticus quoted, in Greek, “debts” not trespasses. That, for what it’s worth, was in or about 350 AD.
Some Christians and churches have transmuted that part of the Lord’s Prayer into “sins” rather than “debts.” That is somewhat understandable, though incomplete. Elsewhere in the Gospels, it’s: “…and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. …” Luke 11:3-4. Sin and debt go together, and both are forgiven upon righteous and humble request.
Jesus drove home the importance of forgiveness of debt, along with the punishment for refusing to forgive debt, in the Parable of the Wicked Servant:
Then the master sent for the man and said to him, “You wicked servant, I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow-servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt.
One is reminded that, as Jesus came to fulfil rather than replace The Law, so His New Testament generally mirrors the Old. Forgiveness of debts stems from the Levitical Law and the Code of Legal Holiness.
Leviticus, Chapter 25, concerns the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee Year. Sabbatical years, which concern far more than debts, come every seventh year. Seven cycles of seven years, or forty-nine years, leads to the fifttieth year of Jubilee. The Sabbatical and the Jubilee may be thought of as minor and major resets. In years seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight, thirty-five, forty-two, and forty-eight, as to debts, there is a “relaxation” or “remission.”
At the end of every seven years, you must grant remission. The nature of the remission is as follows: any creditor holding a personal pledge obtained from his fellow must release him from it; he must not exploit his fellow or his brother once the latter has appealed to Yahweh for remission. A foreigner you may exploit, but you must remit whatever claim you have on your brother. There must, then, be no poor among you. For Yahweh will grant you his blessing in the country which Yahweh your God is giving you to possess as your heritage, only if you pay careful attention to the voice of Yahweh your God, by keeping and practising all these commandments which I am enjoining on you today.
Note that the Lord, here, prescribed the debt-creditor remissions of His People of the day, the Israelites. The point of inclusivity is that among the Hebrews there was to be economic equality of a degree, and that the blessings of God only extended to the degree His Laws were honored.
The Jubilee Year dealt with, in addition to elimination of domestic debts, a complete ancestral and cultural reversion. See, Leviticus 25:8—. Much of this law was exclusive to the Israelites and held, even as to them, some exceptions which might not be applicable to modern peoples, Christian, Karaite, or others (land within or without certain walled cities, for example).
Leviticus also contains a strict prohibition against usury (one of several in the Pentateuch and the Old Testament) as to fellow Israelites. “Do not charge [your brother or countryman] interest on a loan, but fear your God, and let your brother live with you.” Leviticus 25:36. For those who fail to fear and honor their God, Chapter 26 explains the rather exacting Punishments of Disobedience. These are the same punishments the Hebrews (and “Jews”) eventually succumbed to upon their rejection of Christ.
Christ came to fulfill, and in a way, simplify the laws which very few had been able to faithfully follow through the many long years. It is interesting that the forgiveness of debts survived to become a central tenet of the Lord’s Prayer. It is also interesting, though not exactly necessary to point out, that at all times, Jesus, His Father, Moses, Aaron, and everyone else, were concerned with debts based on real money, whether silver shekels, Roman silver, gold, etc. Usury was prohibited, even in terms of actual money with legitimate value in and of itself, as a sin.
St. Thomas Aquinas examines the nature of the sin of usury, in Question 78 of the Summa Theologiae. After listing, and before defeating, seven objections to the concept of usury as a sin, Aquinas explains:
On the contrary, It is written (Exodus 22:25): “If thou lend money to any of thy people that is poor, that dwelleth with thee, thou shalt not be hard upon them as an extortioner, nor oppress them with usuries.”
I answer that, To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice. In order to make this evident, we must observe that there are certain things the use of which consists in their consumption: thus we consume wine when we use it for drink and we consume wheat when we use it for food. Wherefore in such like things the use of the thing must not be reckoned apart from the thing itself, and whoever is granted the use of the thing, is granted the thing itself and for this reason, to lend things of this kin is to transfer the ownership. Accordingly if a man wanted to sell wine separately from the use of the wine, he would be selling the same thing twice, or he would be selling what does not exist, wherefore he would evidently commit a sin of injustice. On like manner he commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat, and asks for double payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the other, the price of the use, which is called usury.
On the other hand, there are things the use of which does not consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted: for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or vice versa, he may grant the use of the house, while retaining the ownership. For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for the use of his house, and, besides this, revendicate the house from the person to whom he has granted its use, as happens in renting and letting a house.
Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.
– Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, § 78, Sin of Usury (“THE Philosopher” is Aristotle).
Again, in Aquinas’s thirteenth century, money, debt, and usury, was calculated as to legitimate money, rather than ones and zeros summoned effortlessly from a computer. How much worse is our present situation, when all the money, not just the elusive interest, does not exist? Also, usury means interest, period, and not “excessive” interest as modern usurers tell.
The fake “money” for a modern loan, like a student loan, is created by the loan itself. It does not exist in reality. Under no circumstances does the interest for a loan otherwise exist. Repayment, with interest, works like this: a loan (real or fake) is made; the debtor must work to obtain money (real or fake) to repay it, and; the debtor must work extra hard to conjure the interest money (real or fake), in essence robbing Peter to pay Paul. This process of robbery and overwork, for something that does not exist and which cost the lender nothing to loan, requires the debtor to literally give up a portion of his life in repayment.
Without the benefit of Hebrew law, Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, or any other part of Christianity, Old Cato was onto something. It’s something that nominal Catholics like Mr. Walsh and poor Biden (and others) would do well to consider.
The fifth commandment [6th to some (8th(!) to a very few)] forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.
The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them. …
–Catechism of the Catholic Church, Para. 2269 (2nd Ed., 1994).
Usury is not theft. It is not robbery. It is a form of full or partial murder.
PS: for a great summary, for those who don’t read, of the economic and societal evils of the debts, listen to Vox’s Darkstream No. 919.