There is so much suffering in the world. I was in the library this morning and read a National Geographic report on hunger in the United States. Yes, even in the so-called richest country in the world millions go hungry each day. Many of them are children. The same thing is happening worldwide, in rich and poor countries alike. People are going hungry.
I know a lot of people who would like to help. But they don't know how. Many well-meaning attempts have been made to extend credit to the poor. However the credit is offered at interest and that, I believe, is wrong. It is wrong morally and is bad economics.
People borrow either to obtain necessities (n) or to create capital (c). The current system charges interest on both of these, necessities (n) and capital (c). That does not make any sense either practically or historically.
If my neighbor's children are hungry it is my duty to offer them food. If my neighbor needs to fix her roof to keep her family safe and warm and dry, it is my duty to lend her money. Sure I can expect that the money be returned to me when she can do so but to expect interest would be plain wrong. It defies any kind of economic logic as well--my neighbor is in need. She is not applying my loan to the making of money elsewhere. She is in need and I must fulfill that need. That acts creates bonds of reciprocity that make up a tight, well-functioning society.
I can expect that my loan will be repaid but I can not expect interest from her. To expect or even accept interest would be to gain from her misery. That is a very destructive act and splits us apart. I become the money-lender and she becomes my victim. For how many centuries have such relationships plagued the world? Have they ever created a happy society, have they ever ended suffering?
If my neighbor starts a business and wants to borrow money from me I may lend him money at interest. After all he expects to gain from the investment. He intends to create capital and I may share in that venture and rightfully expect a fair return on my share.
So interest on money borrowed for capital (c) may earn a positive market interest rate. That is fine. But money lent for necessities (n) should never carry any interest.
Historically the charging of interest for necessities (n) was called usury and forbidden by the ancients. Alas we have forgotten their wisdom and in our greed extended interest to everything borrowed and lent. In doing so we may have well lost our souls.
I would suggest that the term interest be only applied to interest for capital (c). Henceforth interest on necessities (n) should be widely viewed as inhumane, economically unsound and no longer be called interest at all.
Interest = c + n
I am proposing that from now on
Interest = c
Which means that necessities (n) be free from the tyranny of exploitation.
As Gandhiji once said, "the world has enough for everyone's needs but not enough for everyone's greed." Without the false yoke of interest, we can easily help our neighbors and suffering can end. This can happen very quickly, in our own lifetime.
Posted by Abhay Burjor Ghiara at 9/06/2014