If you are a Christian free-market Republican or Libertarian who opposes our 36% rate cap on payday and title lending on the grounds that the sacred FREE MARKET will keep things fair, this is for you….
This is the Mercat Cross here in the market centre of Aberdeen, Scotland. ((They spell market like they say it here in Scotland, mercat. And no I’m not intentionally using British spellings now (i.e. center or centre), autocorrect does that – apparently it can tell where I am.))
These structures are in many European cities that existed in the Medieval Period. These were erected as designations of Royal permission to physically designate a spot as a market for free trade. Markets were forbidden elsewhere and it was because at Mercat Cross buying and selling and trading could be overseen by the Soveriegn. These rulers of medieval Christendom erected these to regulate economic activity to thwart bad actors and make sure the poor had access to necessities. Mercat crosses effectually policed economic activity and kept trade fair. In the name of economic justice their times were regulated to ensure common poor people had access to goods in preferance to financial speculators. These markets were free and not taxed because the rulers knew that fair buying and selling helped everyone in the society. A purely free market like we long for today was considered barbarous because of the ease in which “it graduates into the exploitation by brigands.”
Today these exploiting brigands are payday and title lenders who dish up the financial equivalent of rotten meat to serve the starving (poor). We need market crosses in every place of our economy. I’m not saying over regulation but there is a Christian duty to make sure the poor aren’t being exploited. We are probably past the day when a state government like ours can erect a cross in the middle of an economic market. However, through strict rate caps and oversight we can effectually ensure these Christian values of concern for the poor govern our economy.