The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is the leader of the Church of England and the world’s 80 to 85 million Anglicans. He’s also, of course, a member of the House of Lords, and sat on the panel of the 2012 Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. I think it’s safe to say that he’s got a lot of clout. Welby, a former oil executive, revealed yesterday to Total Politics magazine that he had put Errol Damelin, CEO of British payday lender Wonga, on notice that he wanted to shut him down:
“I said to him quite bluntly, ‘We’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence’. He’s a businessman, he took that well.”
Via Raw Story:
Wonga is one of Britain’s best-known providers of short-term, high-interest loans. It also operates in South Africa.
Its customers are typically charged an interest rate that, expressed in annual terms, equates to 5,853 percent.
The loans are usually for amounts well under £1,000 ($1,500, 1,200 euros) and are agreed for up to six weeks.
Payday lenders are increasingly coming under fire in Great Britain, where the industry reportedly makes £2 billion a year with often quite predatory loans.
There’s a word for this, that word is “Usury” and it’s something that, funnily enough, is severely frowned upon in both The Bible and The Koran (Banks operate much differently in predominantly Muslim countries, where charging interest is, generally speaking, outlawed. Why not here?)
“The archbishop is clearly an exceptional individual and someone who understands the power of innovation,” said Damelin, Wonga’s founder, of the meeting with Welby. “There is mutual respect, some differing opinions and a meeting of minds on many big issues. On the competition point, we always welcome fresh approaches that give people a fuller set of alternatives to solve their financial challenges. I’m all for better consumer choice.”
He’d have to say that, wouldn’t he? If there is such a thing as “social justice,” (or karma for that matter) may Errol Damelin’s immoral business be crushed by the free market like a bug on a car windshield. Anyone who sets themselves up in life to siphon off money from those who can least afford it deserves whatever he gets. I’m not a believer myself, but I harbor a secret hope that there’s a special compartment of Hell reserved for child molesters and the financial elites of this brief passage of history that we find ourselves passing through…
“One of the most exciting trends in western Christianity is that the Spirit of God is drawing Christians together,” Archbishop Welby said recently. I’d go one step further and say that it would be a monumentally exciting trend for Christians and non-believers to START AGREEING ON WHO THE REAL VILLAINS ARE. Justin Welby could be an important part of that.
Worth noting in this context that the British government is also getting in on this, investing £38 million in credit unions to fight the scourge of payday lenders gouging the poor.
Archbishop Welby launched a non-profit credit union for clergy and church staff last month and is campaigning to expand credit unions as alternatives to the high interest rates payday lending firms charge. It’s an absolutely brilliant idea. Use the free market—and hello, let’s not forget about a lil’ thing called morality!) against the “bad guys.”
What would Jesus do, right?