Thursday, August 27, 2009

Defence of Usury

239: From Bentham: Defence of Usury, Letters I-V:

Supposing any body, for the sake of extraordinary gain, to be willing to run the risk of supplying him, although they did not look upon his personal security to be equal to that of another man, and for the sake of the extraordinary profit to run the extraordinary risk; in the trader, in short in every sort of trader whom he was accustomed to deal with in his solvent days, he sees a person who may accept of any rate of profit, without the smallest danger from any laws that are, or can be made against usury. How idle, then, to think of stopping a man from making six, or seven, or eight per cent. interest, when, if he chuses to run a risk proportionable, he may in this way make thirty or forty per cent. or any rate you please. And as to the prodigal, if he cannot get what he wants upon these terms, what chance is there of his getting it upon any terms, supposing the laws against usury to be away? This then is another way, in which, instead of serving, it injures him, by narrowing his option, and driving him from a market which might have proved less disadvantageous, to a more disadvantageous one.

III.12 (paragraph number)

Outstanding point!

1 comment:

King of the Paupers said...

Jct: Why would anyone pay usury to borrow money when the King's tallies can be borrowed interest-free? What's the advantage to paying interest when you can get the loan interest-free?
Of course, in civilizations where the King's tallies aren't loaned out interest-free, usury for a loan may seem a boon, until you reach the death stage of the mort-gage death-gamble.
There is no defence of usury and I'm sure if you could contact Bentham burning in Hell, he'd have changed his mind.