Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

What biblical verses or Christian sentiments support price gouging as being unethical or ethical?

Asked by JLeslie (47239 points ) April 16th, 2014

I’m having a couple arguments on Facebook with someone who is twisting my words. He is a free enterprise, no government guy, and he is be a pain in my neck also about politicians using their Christianity to market themselves for elections. I also am a free enterprise person, but only to a point. When a price is gouging, taking advantage of people, or causes such a huge profit that the company could easily charge less and still make billions, I believe it often hurts our country and our economy in the long run creating big bubbles and bursts.

It made me wonder what specifically in Christianity might demonstrate why price gouging (we got off on a tangent about pharmaceutical prices) is not Christian, and if America was founded on Christian principals then taking advantage of the sick is incongruous to that philosophy.

Thanks.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

You might mention to your FB pal that sometimes price gouging saves lives.

During emergencies {like when an earthquake ravages an area} and suddenly supplies vanish from store shelves; this is when higher prices on goods {gas, water, food, T.P.} actually ensures that the supplies reaches the afflicted area.

The idea being that vendors have no incentive to try to get their goods to a ravaged area if they cannot charge a leetle more during hard times

However, this is not a biblical verse. And since it seems that price gouging may indeed have started with the Israelites of Way Back. So there is not much, if any, mention of price gouging in the Big Book.

cazzie's avatar

Jesus got pretty angry at the money changers on the steps of a temple once, didn’t he? Yeah… that. It was a made up system to provide a trade for people to sell, ‘clean money’ for offerings and they did as they pleased. How bloody stupid was that?

But I have found that, and don’t take this the wrong way, but arguing with a devout fool over his beliefs made me an even bigger fool for the time I wasted.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I’m the one disgusted by price gouging. Charging a higher price because it cost more for goods to get there is not gouging, I don’t expect people to lose money in business. When we talked about pharmaceuticals it was about new drugs that made companies billions, with a B, and cost patients $1,000 a pill (it was a Q here, I will try to find it). If they had charged $100 a pill the company still would make billions. I find it unscrupulous to take advantage of people who might their wise die without the medication.

Cruiser's avatar

In the Cleansing of the Temple Jesus went to Jerusalem on Passover and tipped over the tables of the money changers who were conducted business in the temple. A quote from Matthew 21:12–13

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

There were three things going on the most obvious that business was conducted in his house of prayer but that it was also dirty business. The dove sellers were reselling doves that poor people had no money or better gifts to offer so they would bring the only thing they could bring which were doves which would then be resold to others who came to pray. Plus Gentile money could not be used at the Temple because of the graven images on it. Gentiles who had converted to Judaism were charged an additional fee for the change to Jewish money and sometimes given unhealthy animals to sacrifice. Jesus became indignant over the treatment of the animals as well as the treatment of the converted gentiles, which was in violation of Isaiah.

cazzie's avatar

@Cruiser Yeah… that… and how timely. Being Påske and all. (not that I give a rats about any of the fairy stories, mind you, just give me the chocolate bunnies and eggs.)

GloPro's avatar

Following to see what @Seek has to contribute.

thorninmud's avatar

I would think that it’s neatly handled by the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” clause.

Cruiser's avatar

Psalm 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Ecclesiastes 5:10
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

Leviticus 19:13
You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.

Deuteronomy 25:13–15
You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Proverbs 11:1
A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.

Proverbs 13:11
Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.

Proverbs 16:8
Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice.

Proverbs 22:16
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Jeremiah 22:13
Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages.

Malachi 3:5
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me, says the LORD of hosts.

James 5:4
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

There are a ton more here

cazzie's avatar

Proverbs is brilliant. Well done, @Cruiser .

Judi's avatar

There is a whole phenomom called Prosperity Gospel that is very popular right now. They believe that if you “walk in God’s will” he will prosper you.
I think they cherry picked the book.

Seek's avatar

Here’s the thing about the Bible:

You can make it say whatever you want it to say.

Hell, my former pastor used to give lessons in Forex trading in the church’s youth hall. Nothing like doing exactly the only thing that ever made Jesus violently angry, and using the fact that people would make tithes on their income to justify it.

***

I am wondering this: Are you looking for reasons why he might believe price gouging is bad, or are you looking for a Biblical argument against price gouging to use against him? Because I can probably give you either one.

Seek's avatar

If you are looking for a biblical argument for situational pricing, the Genesis story of Joseph sets a precedent.

He set a meted cost and limited purchases for grain during the seven years of famine.

Genesis chapter 41.

bolwerk's avatar

How do you define price gouging in the context of a “free market” (whatever that is)? If you believe the market sets prices alone, then logically you should believe buyers and sellers should decide prices through negotiation and competition. In this case, gouging is a legitimate business tactic if someone is willing to buy for the gouged price. @Cruiser‘s scripture cites aside, the Bible seems silent on the hard, fast morality of it, and price gouging and usury are rather different things.

However, the American constitution doesn’t quite agree with the idea that markets should be the sole arbiter of prices. It grants short-term monopolies in the form of patents and copyrights to give inventors/artists/writers an exclusive monopoly on what they produce – this means competitors are effectively illegal. The Bible seems to support this view to some extent in the granting of land monopolies to the Tribes of Israel, though its silent about the necessity of such a system – rightly so, considering mass copying was impossible until modern times.

Cruiser's avatar

@bolwerk The Bible itself is a lousy history book and will provide little background for the true dynamics of the time. At the time of Jesus, Israel was newly conquered by the Roman’s and the one thing the Jews hated the most was the Census taken every year that was the way to determine how much taxes they paid. The Jews considered that tax stolen money and caused great agitation amongst the radical Jews who wanted to fight back against the Romans. Which in my opinion this oppression/taxation/stealing by the Roman’s is the backdrop to which much of these Jewish scriptures speak to.

dxs's avatar

This can be viewed as idolizing money, which goes against the first commandment—putting a god before God. The first set of commandments can be found in Exodus 20.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

how about “Thou Shalt Not Steal!?!?”

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther