At Church of the King we encourage people to spend a lot of time in the Book of Proverbs and I personally read through it daily in the months of January and July in my personal Bible study. I have been posting short bits of wisdom from Solomon this month on Facebook but had some additional thoughts on a single verse from yesterday’s reading: “Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s; All the weights in the bag are His work.”
Now we don’t see weights and scales much in our commerce today [in fact our local market does not even have the scales for produce up any more :(]. So it is important that we remember what is being said here and help the younger generation to grasp the meaning. In the old days a grocer would weigh out a pound of flour for the homemaker and this is the type of honest transaction the Lord is concerned about. The scale must be accurate and if he put his thumb on the scale as he was weighing out the flour he was cheating the buyer! Today when a package says something is 16 ounces we expect it to weigh sixteen ounces or when we pump a gallon of gas we expect a gallon. Our government even has agencies called the Bureau of Weights and Measures to enforce such honest transaction.
So does this concept of just weights and measures apply to the very government currency that we use in our modern transactions? We know from history that this could be a huge problem and brought down many an empire. As rulers spent more than they could afford on the military or domestic programs in the past one of the ways they would ‘stretch’ the budget was to produce silver or gold coins that did not have as much precious metal as they represented by either shaving the edges or mixing in other less expensive metals. If they were discovered, and they often were, it could bring about a revolution and a change of leadership. In recent history we have seen governments try to literally ‘paper over’ this problem with the use of paper currencies but those have also been found out as they were in Germany or Argentina or more recently in the case of Zimbabwe where they actually printed $100 BILLION bills because their ‘money’ was so worthless!
As we try to help our younger folks, and some older ones who have not thought much about all this, understand how such things happen today, let me share a couple of examples. When I first got my driver’s license in the 1960′s I could take one of the silver quarters in my pocket down to the gas station and ‘exchange’ in for a gallon of gas. Yes, it was silver and it was called a ‘quarter’ because it was roughly a quarter once of silver. We still call our coins ‘quarters’ today but they no longer contain any silver, a feat that even some of the most powerful Roman Emperors were not able to accomplish by the way. However, you will notice that if we take one of today’s quarters to that same gas station they will NOT exchange it for a gallon of gas! You will need at least twelve of those quarters to get the same gallon of gas. In fact even if I took one of the old quarters with real silver to that station the owner he or she could still demand twelve of them for that gallon of gas because that is what the government says a ‘quarter’ is worth under the legal tender laws. Now of course if I took the silver quarter to a coin dealer I could exchange the silver for about at least three dollars, or federal reserve notes, and take those down to the gas station for my gallon of gas. Governments can debase our money, but it does not change the actual value of good and services which is why debasing the money causes such trouble in the end.
Now if a Nobel Prize winning economist like Paul Krugman were to read this he would quickly say that I am confusing just weights & measures with inflation which he would argue is very good for the economy if kept under control. Of course what he fails to explain is that it is only good for those in control and at the top of the Ponzi scheme that is fiat currency. Again, using myself as an example when I got my first job the “minimum wage” for restaurant work was a buck so I got four of those silver quarters for putting in an hour of hard work. With it I could go down and buy four gallons of gas! Today one of my grandsons would get seven dollars an hour for that hour of labor under the same minimum wage laws so Dr. Krugman would insist he was well taken care of! However, that ‘inflation adjusted’ higher wage will now only buy about two gallons of gas! IF the employer foolishly paid them in real silver quarters like the ones I would have received in the 1960′s they could exchange them at the coin shop for almost a hundred federal reserve notes and go out and buy about two tanks full of gas for the average car even at today’s inflated prices. So the average worker is not doing so well and the senior citizen on a fixed income is in real trouble. Of course the Noble prize winning economist or wall street executive who measures their income or speaking fees in the millions of dollars does not much care what gas costs at the local station.
I could go on, but I hope this starts some important discussions in our families and communities because when Solomon returns to the issue of just weights and measures in chapter twenty we will hear him say, “Diverse weights are an abomination to the LOD, And dishonest scales are not good.” Proverbs 20:23