Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time For a New Jubilee


What Really Happened
This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when every one of you shall return to his own property, every one to his own family estate. Leviticus 25:10

Do not exact interest from your countryman either in money or in kind, but out of fear of God let him live with you. You are to lend him neither money at interest nor food at a profit. "When, then, your countryman becomes so impoverished beside you that he sells you his services, do not make him work as a slave. Rather, let him be like a hired servant or like your tenant, working with you until the jubilee year, when he, together with his children, shall be released from your service and return to his kindred and to the property of his ancestors. Leviticus 25:36-42

Jubilee is an ancient Hebrew tradition in which every fifty years society is "reset." Debts were forgiven, slaves were freed, property restored to those it was taken from. It's even in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our debts..." Rome adopted this tradition, as long experience had shown them that the practice of lending money at interest inherently destabilized society. Rome instituted numerous limits and occasional outright bans on the practice of usury out of fear that souring debt would drive their people to rebellion. When Christianity became Rome's official religion, many Hebrew practices were abandoned, including the Jubilee. Without that occasional push of the reset button, Rome's debts piled up until Rome fell.

Then, in 1300, Pope Boniface VIII issued a Bull entitled Antiquorum fida relation which called for a Jubilee-like "Great Forgiving"; to erase all accumulated debts. Needless to say this was a popular idea with everyone (except the lenders) who gladly undertook the required pilgrimage to Rome to have their debts erased by Holy Edict.

Debt forgiveness is still a common practice. Much third world debt (some of it owed to the US) has been forgiven by the World Bank. Japan forgave 17 nations that owed it money in the 1980s. Congress regularly forgives Israel for loans over and above outright gifts made by the US Government. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger forgave Enron $9 billion in debt. And of course, the bailouts represent a form of debt forgiveness for corporations in that their debts have been shifted onto the backs of US taxpayers.

Which brings me to my point.

Where is the Jubilee for the American people? While common sense and morality says that we should honor those debts we willingly undertake ourselves, what of the debts created for us without our permission by a government which has been so reckless in their borrowing? The debt-burden of the US Government upon the people is so great that even the President cannot find anyone for his staff who is not in arrears on their taxes. The TV networks surge with commercials for tax resolution services.

So, time for a jubilee. Just wipe it all out. It doesn't exist any more.

Now, many (the lenders) will scream that this harms the lenders who in good faith loaned money to the US Government. But stop and think for a moment. The vast majority fo that money borrowed by the government did not come out of anyone's pockets. It was printed up, out of thin air, by the Federal reserve. I am not kidding you; that is where the Federal reserve gets the money they loan to the government at interest. They just print it up, or type the numbers into a computer somewhere. It is imaginary money. So is the interest owed on that imaginary money. Yet We The People, ordered to repay that debt, are not allowed to print the money up as we need it. We must work, provide physical labor, in exchange for that paper money demanded bny the government and the bankers.

And it is foolish to think that forgiving the national debt would harm the Federal Reserve since they have already made back in interest payments way more than they have loaned to the US Government. All we are talking about is deciding that they have made enough off of us, without our permission, and it is time to stop.

Rome lasted as a Republic for about 500 years. The Rome of the emperors lasted another 400 years and the eastern empire another 500 years after that. In contrast the United States has lasted 233 years and is on the verge of collapse. Maybe it is time to acknowledge that the idea of a periodic wiping out of all debts of the people isn't a bad idea.

The US Government has run up trillions of dollars in debts without our permission, then snears at us when we cannot keep up with the payments.

It is time for the American people, from whom the US Gvernment and Wall Street have taken so much, to demand their own bailout.We did not create that estimated $40 trillion in governmnent debt; it was created for us without our permission. The lenders created the money loaded to the government out of nothing. They lose nothing by wiping out that debt. In the long run, with a revitalized debt-free economy the banks stand to earn more profits then by wresting the last few crumbs of food from our children's mouths.

I present this not as a suggestion, but as a warning. Because the present course this nation is on of robbing the poor to give to the rich has only one possible outcome.