Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hug a capitalist today

From The Economist

...Scorn for moneymen has a long pedigree. Jesus expelled the moneychangers from the Temple. Timothy tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Muhammad banned usury. The Jews referred to interest as neshek—a bite. The Catholic church banned it in 1311. Dante consigned moneylenders to the seventh circle of hell—the one also populated by the inhabitants of Sodom and “other practisers of unnatural vice”.

...This prejudice has proven dangerous. Without money to grease them, the wheels of commerce turn slowly or not at all. Civilisations that have eased the ban on moneylending have grown rich. Those that have retained it have stagnated.

...Prejudice against financiers can cause non-economic damage, too. Throughout history, moneylenders have been persecuted. Ethnic minorities—most obviously the Jews in Europe and America but also the Chinese in Asia—have clustered in the financial sector first because they were barred from more “respectable” pursuits and later because success begets success. At times, anti-banking prejudice has acquired a strong tinge of ethnic hatred.

...In medieval Europe Jews were persecuted not only because they were not Christians but also because killing them was a quick way to expunge debts...The crisis of 2008 showed that global finance requires tough medicine...but demonising bankers will not solve these problems—and may well, if unchecked, bring a lot of ancient ugliness back to life.  (...Read more)

How many people are anti-Igbo (among Nigerians), hate Ijebus (among Yorubas), feel mad at Nigerians (in Africa), abhor Jews, or maybe believe that Wall Street "casinos" are evil?  Read The dangers of demonology to appreciate the long history of banker-hate and its dangers.

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