Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Saturday, 26 April 2008


By Jim Jordal

You shall not have in your bag diverse weights, a great and a small. You shall not have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small. A perfect and just weight shall you have; a perfect and just measure shall you have: that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

Deut. 25:13-16 (WEB)

In the passage above, God commands that His people establish economic justice in the matter of commercial transactions involving weights and measures. We all know about the standard weights and measures, but do we know that one of the chief "weights" or standards of value and a "measure" of wealth is money? It is at least as important to keep the value of money level (no inflation or deflation) as it is to maintain accurate standards for other weights and measures. In fact, we have a national Bureau of Standards to do just that for weights and measures, but no federal agency dealing with the value of money. (We’ll discuss the merits of the Federal Reserve System—it’s not "federal"--at some later date).

So, vital as it is to our economic health, we have no government agency dedicated to preventing serious fluctuations in the supply of money, and therefore its value. Many institutions in our society have power to affect price levels—governments, large banks, investment funds, foreign trade programs, labor unions, and large corporations, to name a few. If we accept what God says about weights and measures (including money), then we must realize that if private financial institutions through their market manipulations affect the value of money (price levels), then by definition they fall under the biblical prohibition of false weights and measures. This article will attempt to establish that many financial institutions of Wall Street fall under this ban.

If you need more proof that the financial powers of Wall Street should be more strictly regulated, please consider the following report from the Feb. 1 St. Paul Pioneer Press concerning recent earnings of media giant Google. In the report commentators noted that "Google reported a profit of $1.21 billion for the final quarter of 2007, but its per share earnings missed analyst expectations by a penny, and the stock was hammered in after-hours trading."

Another article from the same newspaper trumpets: "Google punished for missing 4Q mark." This report goes on to say that Google earnings for the fourth quarter were $3.79 per share, up 17 percent from earnings during the same period a year ago. Had Google not given generous stock awards to its employees it would have made $4.43 per share—a penny below average estimates of analysts.

During January Google stock declined some 20 percent, including a plunge of $45 (8 percent) after fourth-quarter results came out. If you think about these figures and their implications, you’ll likely realize that Wall Street has enough power to "punish" a very successful company merely for missing an artificially-contrived goal of per share earnings by less than 3/10 of one percent. To my mind that’s encouraging economic and financial instability, no matter what Wall Street says about stability being the cornerstone of its survival.

Consider also Wall Street’s role in the sub-prime mortgage scandal, the results of which will play out for many years in the form of additions to the national debt. This is likely to result in taxpayers paying many times the estimated $900 billion direct cost of the debacle. How’s that for contributing to economic instability? Yet many of the same people facing disaster at the hands of Wall Street greed will to their final breath defend the very people and institutions contributing to their suffering.

But I don’t hear any major political candidates calling for legislation to rein-in Wall Street’s legendary excesses. Oh, yes, they call for specific reforms limiting sub-prime mortgages, but only "after the horse is stolen." And nobody mentions the need for almost-total ethical and moral reform of the basic values encouraging and supporting Wall Street greed.

That’s where the church has something to say. It should, as Jim Wallis so succinctly says, "Speak truth to power." We need to recognize that the Bible has much to say on God’s requirements for economic justice for everyone, and especially for the poor. What’s happening now is a far cry from economic justice, and we need to say so. And not just with our votes; with our pens and voices also.

Speaking out against oppression and injustice is another way to end poverty and to provide Jubilee justice for the people. Changing the greedy values and faulty economic philosophies that pervade Wall Street and other financial institutions would help immensely toward alleviating poverty in this country. In case you may not realize it, what happens on Wall Street affects the financial welfare and future prosperity of hundreds of millions of people through their retirement plans and other investments, and eventually the very future of the Social Security system. So Wall Street’s behavior is of vital importance to a stable price level and financial future.

We need to pray and also directly advocate for justice because the domination system now in charge of our financial future will not easily surrender its power.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 April 2008 )