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Thomas Aquinas’ point that charging interest on a mutuum loan (usury) involves selling what does not exist

[The following proposition is condemned as erroneous:] Since ready cash is more valuable than that to be paid, and since there is no one who does not consider ready cash of greater worth than future cash, a creditor can demand something beyond the principal from the borrower, and for this reason be excused from usury. – Various Errors on Moral Subjects (II), Pope Innocent XI by decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679 (Denzinger)

It has also been established that Magisterial silence on a moral or doctrinal question does not constitute approval. Those who insist that the Magisterium has approved the title of lucrum cessans at all, let alone that the proposed title can be interpreted as a license to recover opportunity costs in for-profit mutuum loans as opposed to charitable loans to the poor where there is no intention of recovering even the principal from those who cannot afford it, are simply wrong. The reason why these folks never produce a Magisterial proclamation to that effect is because it never happened.

No. Opportunity costs are not ontologically real assets. When a mutuum lender attempts to sell his “opportunity cost” to a borrower in exchange for interest payments on the loan, the thing that he has attempted to sell does not actually exist. The fact that he cannot do so demonstrates St.

No. The “future labor of a worker” is a potentiality, not an actuality. This potentiality inheres in a person, not an asset. It is morally licit to purchase assets (including assets with potentialities), but it is not morally licit to purchase persons.

If it actually existed then when the borrower defaults the lender would be able to foreclose and retrieve his property, or the property in which he has purchased a claim

17) Traditionalist scholastics claimed that you can’t sell time; progressive scholastics asserted that the worker’s wages are a counterexample. Weren’t the progressives right?

No. Time is just a convenient proxy for the worker’s actual productivity. If time itself were a salable asset then the worker would be entitled to compensation even if he stayed home in bed and never came to work.

Actualities go to my blog have their own distinct existence, whereas potentialities inhere in actual things from which they cannot be separated. It is licit to purchase and sell actual things, whether for consumption or in order to acquire economic potentialities which inhere in actual things. But it is not licit to purchase persons to acquire economic potentialities which inhere in persons. Attempting to purchase the potentialities of a person is an attempt to purchase an economic share in a person, as opposed to a thing: this is what makes usury fall into the same genus as slavery.

18) Traditionalist scholastics claimed that you can’t sell risk; progressive scholastics asserted that an insurance bond is a counterexample. Weren’t the progressives right?

The “future labor of a worker” is not an asset or piece of property: it is not something the ownership of which can be transferred from the worker to the lender when the transaction is made, because the future labor of the worker cannot be alienated from the worker himself

No. If risk qua risk were a financially transferrable asset, gamblers would be entitled to a profit. An insurance bond is just a pooling of financial assets in which one party benefits when things go according to plan, and the other party’s losses are mitigated by financial compensation if things don’t go according to plan. As long as recourse is limited by the contract to the pool of real assets, however it is structured, the arrangement is not usury.

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