"The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason:
it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it
from the process which currency was meant to serve.
Their common characteristic is obviously their sordid avarice."
(384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics I, ch. 10, 1258a35 (c.335-323 BC), ref: Aristotle Politics, Oxford University Press (1995)
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Reader comments about this quote:
You'd think after a few thousand years, the common man would learn his lesson.
 -- Anonymous, Chicago     
    Aristotle needs a course in Economics 101. He obviously has no concept of the time value of money.
     -- S. Engel, Fredericksburg     
    Aristotle got out of his field on this one. That was as wrong as anyone can get.
     -- Anonymous, Birmingham, AL     
    I agree with the first Anonymous. Banks are at the top 3 of my !#%#! list, right above insurance companies and below the Republican party.
     -- Anonymous II, Meridian     
    I think someone said “the second giant leap for mankind (the first being the industrial revolution) is when we no longer contrive to survive” Was it Shaw?
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
    Few people understand the way a fiat currency works -- that's why it works so well (for the banks). It destroys the independence of a people and a nation. The comments above from Fredericksburg and Birmingham certainly show their lack of knowledge of history and they do not have a clue as to how it works -- they probably think the bank actually has the money it is 'loaning' (they don't -- it is created the moment it is 'borrowed'). Do your homework and make an argument if you think Aristotle is wrong. Charging compounded interest on nothing is indeed a sin against humanity. It has conquered more kings and kingdoms than Alexander the Great.
     -- J.P., New York City     
  • 2
    Hear, hear! The wisdom of the ancient is not to be ignored nor neglected.
     -- Jodopo, Canada     
    I agree with JP of New York remark above regarding S. Engel and Anon Birmingham. However JP is also wrong, as is Aristotle. Aristotle was stating that to lend money is avarice. It's not. Money lent benefits the community, money hoarded does not. However to buy and sell currencies is avarice and all goverments should impose a small levy on every currency trading transaction to discourage the practice.
     -- Miekol, Australia     
    He's talking about a central banking type of scheme.
     -- Anonymous     
    The time value of money... what an overlooked concept. Even the socialist private wealth-haters would have to agree that money now is better than money later, and if you want or need more money now than you have, you might be willing to pay a small premium to utilize someone else's money now (interest). How much interest? In a free market, that should depend on the law of supply & demand. Of course, the most fiscally strait-laced answer is not to borrow at all ("Neither borrower nor lender be" - Ben Franklin), just wait to buy something until you have the cash. However, in the case of running a business or making investments, borrowing money to make money with can make you more money than it costs you, but only if you're prudent.
     -- Bill, Sarasota     
    It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. "Henry Ford"
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
  • 1
    First of all "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" is Shakespeare (Hamlet), not Ben Franklin. The rest of the verse reads, "...For loan oft loses both itself and friend/ And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." It's interesting how those who tell others to "read up on history" are often the most ignorant of it themselves. Context is important here. When Shakespeare and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in denouncing interest (or 'usury' as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only thinking of the private moneylender. Try running a modern company (or government) with only the cash on hand. Those who hate moneylenders in this day and age are usually those who are in debt up to their eyeballs.
     -- Joe, North Caldwell, NJ     
    Why do you think they call it "interest?"
     -- Bob, Eugene OR     
    There is a big difference between actually 'loaning' something of value and charging interest and simply printing up 'notes' backed by nothing and charging interest! That is where Joe and other defenders of economic slavery have missed the historical boat. So what if a business cannot acquire 'credit' -- that levels the playing field instead of one guy having a monopoly on money itself and can print up as much of it as he likes and buying anything, everything, and everyone with it! What good is easy credit if it crashes the currency for everyone in the end? If the People ran the central bank and kept the profits for social programs, we would be the richest nation of sovereigns in the world -- and we would pay no taxes except the inflation that comes with such a system. It is better than running up an unpayable debt for irredeemable paper simply printed up for nothing. If the world requires fiat currencies, then let the People be the beneficiaries and let corporations pay the interest. But we still need hard currencies as well and the choice between cash or credit in trade.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Owning a bank is a license to steal. A bank "loan" is both a debit and an asset at the same time. A debit because "money" was loaned , and an asset,because it is to be paid back with interest.And when the debts go bad, we suckers, known as taxpayers , pick up the check. (See the first sentence).
     -- jim kilpatrick, austin , texas     
    If you don't like it don't borrow it. Go find a good communist country and move there. Oops, guess that doesn't work. All the wealth there will be in the hands of the government and who ever the government sees fit to give it to.
     -- warren, olathe     
    Fellow commentators, with the few exceptions above, we all are right from our individual perspectives. For those who wish to truly understand not just what Aristotle was saying, but what is said in the Torah, what was said by Jesus, what is in the New Testament, the Koran and said by many others including Shakespeare in his plays, is to first believe within oneself, in a totally different value system other than the one that 'directs' most of us globally, in our day to day lives which permeates not only us as individuals, but us as a family, as a community, a society, as a nation! If you are truly interested in taking the first step to understand what Aristotle said and why ...... then 'google' the term "Money as Debt" and spend around 40 odd minutes to watch what could be a documentary that will hopefully instigate some understanding of the world we are living in and the extent to which we have been and continue to be held 'captive' by the financial structure! The current global economic crisis speaks for itself! Remember, this is just the first step to understanding -- to truly 'understand and feel' the change we need to undergo, then each of us needs to be ready to make a paradigm shift of the belief structure most of us have today -- be it economic, scientific, social, spiritual or cosmic! Take care and best wishes
     -- Arem, London     
    Arem, you have it right. Aristotle makes the point that money cannot cause productivity. For example, lending money may create productivity for the lender, but in the long run it does not for the borrower. I've simplified here, but check out "Money as Debt" and be prepared to change your financial mindset; financial growth is not infinite, and is coming for a crunch. Our economy is driven for now by cheap fuel, which is running low. Check out "Peak Oil" and congratulations, you're on a path to personal growth and you're joining us in the 21st century.
     -- Anonymous, Tassie     
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
    Our "Global" banking system is one of control. It is created out of nothing, it has no assets to actually loan other than paper tickets with ink on them. It inflates and deflates at will. It is the reason that the Eurozone is a complete failure and the reason the US as we know it will soon disappear. If we are to survive as a nation, we must first abolish the Federal Reserve and return to sound money. Life, Liberty, Property.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    It is hard to make use of these quotations confidently without knowing how they are sourced. Is there a citation?
     -- Anonymous, Atlanta     
    The source has been added.
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
    Aristotle hit the mark that's why there is hurt with the avarice....
     -- Robert, Anytown     
    J.P. New York has hit the button.... well done!
     -- Robert, Anytown     
    Great quote, and it seems to have angered all this dip shit financial wannabes 
     -- based and true     
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