Have no fear, the House Commerce Committee crafted and passed a bill that would limit interest rates on car-title loans, wherein Usurers could not exceed the usury rate of 21 percent annually -- a rate that’s still equitable to a “pound of flesh” in Shakespeare’s day. Iowa’s Attorney General, Tom Miller, noted that Iowans have paid annual interest rates as high as 360 percent on car-title loans. (Sound of Al Capone having a posthumous coronary arrest here.)
For those of you unfamiliar with "usury," let’s review:
Usury is derived from Latin and means “interest” or “excessive interest.” The term usury was originally applied to interest charged for the use of money, but after moderate-interest loans joined the mainstream and were accepted by the business world, the term metamorphosed into “excessive interest.”
In Iowa, the legal rate of interest is 10% and general consumer transactions are governed at a maximum rate of 12%. But here’s the rub, folks. Thanks to high inflation in 1980, the federal government passed a special law which allowed national banks (any bank that has the word “national” or the term “N.A.” in their name, and savings banks that are nationally chartered) to ignore state usury limits, pegging the rate of interest at a certain number of points above the federal reserve discount rate. This exception was also applied to specially chartered organizations like small loan companies and installment plan sellers, who have their own set of rules.
Now let’s take a stroll down Usury Memory Lane and see how historical figures have responded to Usurers:
WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?): In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasizes lending without concern for a return - or even repayment:
If ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest, for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil. (Luke 6:35)
WWSD? (What Would Satan Do?): Using Dante’s “Inferno” as our moral compass, we observe that Dante casts Usurers south, down to the inner-ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, where they shack up eternally with Blasphemers and Sodomites (non-refundable deposit required). I can only imagine the parties these guys throw, eh Christopher? These sinister roomies take residence in a desert of flaming sand with fiery flakes raining form the sky. (see left) The Blasphemers lie on the sand, the Usurers sit, and the Sodomites wander about in groups Sounds like Spring Break on South Padre Island without the booze. Hmmmmmm...
WWRD? (What Would Rants Do?): Rants would oppose any legislation that sets usury limits, arguing “consumers should be free to make their own decisions, and lenders have the right to set terms for risky loans. As long as the terms are clear, then ‘buyer beware.’”
Long Live Usury!!!
Long Live Usury!!!
Long Live Usury!!!
For his sake, I hope Rants has been stockpiling SPF 1000. Rumor has it that it gets pretty hot down in the Seventh Circle this time of year.
Meanwhile, Political Fallout would like to issue the following “Voter Beware” alert:
“Voter Beware”: The support of any legislative representative who supports, condones, or turns a “blind eye” to Usurers or any effort to thwart usury in the state of Iowa, should be considered dangerous to the eternal life of your soul. Guilt of usury or any such association may result in condemning your soul to the Seventh Circle of Hell, the literal loss of a pound of flesh, and/or the repossession of your soul by the Repo Man – whose charge is to burn your temple in an unmarked trash can before releasing it into the “Inferno.” (see below)