Monday, June 21, 2010

Shylock Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. That's the provocative idea behind the provocatively titled "Criminalize Credit" piece in The Atlantic. Governments can only spend what they take in. Citizens cannot make a purchase--any purchase--that puts them in the red. And banks can't lend money for money. That, according to this article, is the road to everlasting economic salvation. This may seem like a radical idea (and it probably is), but the author maintains that
...prohibiting the collection of interest for loaning money is an idea that has been around for a long time. In fact, it is a central tenant of modern Islamic banking, based on the belief that since money has no value in itself, it should not be allowed to give rise to more money.
I'm not sure I'd want to borrow too many ideas from Islamic law--they tend to want to criminalize a lot of things, including margaritas and femininity, to name just a couple of imperishable essentials of life. But besides that, we have the matter of the word tenant in this context. A tenant is someone who lives in a dwelling--usually a rented dwelling, which they occupy because they can't borrow money to buy a home. A tenet, meanwhile, is a belief or dogma, such as the doctrine that lending money at interest is wicked--and that's the word to be used here.