Read Amos 8:4-6
Back to the economy…
“Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
I just can’t shake this one. God is incredibly angry at Israel for … well, can I just say it? For doing business like Americans have done business for years.
Business is quite simple: Spend as little as possible in the creation of your product, and sell it for the highest possible cost. That’s good business. Supply and demand. Taking advantage of whatever the market will bear.
Two things come to mind this morning. Black Friday, and the Dodgers.
BLACK FRIDAY: To paraphrase 8:5, “When will the Thanksgiving holiday be over, so we can sell our stuff?” The heart of the “good” businessman is to take advantage of every opportunity to make a buck … even if it means running roughshod over sacred traditions.
And we all know that these stores make a killing on Black Friday, even with the lowering of their prices. How can this be? Because their products, when sold at “retail” or “suggested manufacturer’s” prices are marked up at incredibly high levels. To paraphrase 8:6, “We make the value small and the price high, hide the products’ true worth, and control the market, forcing the poor to overpay for their food and clothing.”
THE DODGERS?: Speaking of overpaying for value received … here in Arizona, tickets are on sale already for spring training games. For my family to go to one of these exhibition games (featuring scrubs and wannabes), it would cost $64. Plus parking. Plus, if we’d like a bite to eat. exorbitantly overpriced food. In short, well over $100. Honestly, we can’t afford that right now.
Why do the Dodgers charge so much? “Because they can.” Someone will pay it. And that “someone” is a well-off person. Because the rich can, the businessman will, and the poor can’t.
And, of course, this isn’t limited to baseball games: it’s true of good food, housing, health care, transportation, you name it. When the rich work the system, lining their pockets at the expense of the poor, God calls this “trampling on the needy”, and “bringing ruin to the poor of the land” … all for a bit a growing pile of silver, and a closet full of shoes.
What kind of economics do you think Jesus wants to find being practiced by His people when He returns? Shall we be found helping the poor, or exploiting the market? If the whole system is fraught with greed and selfish ambition, how do we rise above it?
Perhaps, instead of spending $10 on a grossly overpriced, disposable, “Made in _____” product for a “loved one”, maybe we should spend that $10 on some truly needed and valuable farmers’ market goods, and give them to some “loved ones” … or, as Jesus calls them, “the least of these” (read Matthew 25:31-46). That would fly in the face of Amos 8 economics … and be gifting Jesus.