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Prices, Money, Plenty & Shortage(3-06-04)
Further monetary musings.
Inflate means to blow into, blow up, expand. As such it is used to describe what happens to the supply of money, not its value. As the fed blows more and more dollars into the total supply, the supply of dollars inflates, blows up, expands, which means that each dollar is worth less. Good ol' supply and demand. The more there are, they less they're worth.
I agree that it is generally a good thing when the value of money goes up and therefore the prices of goods and services go down. This can happen because there is more demand for money (as in the example of gold and silver used as money), or because there is a plentiful supply of goods and services available for purchase, sometimes called a time of plenty.
Life is better in times of plenty, when there is plenty of everything available, except...except...except........for those who have big debts to pay and were depending on high prices for the goods or services they offer to pay off those enormous debts.
Because greater and greater numbers of people have become debtors, the common wisdom has become the belief that it is really bad when prices go down, because then life becomes really difficult for everyone.
Any old timer will bring up the horror stories of the great depression. Each will have his memory list of how cheap things were. Talking with many of them over the years has confirmed in my mind that the only people who really had it tough during those years were those who had debts to pay. For those who had no debts and little money, life wasn't grand, but not miserable either. They might have been working for a tenth of what they thought they were worth, but they were buying necessities for perhaps a tenth of what were before the crash. As a memoir on the period summarizes, "We had everything but money." Those who found themselves in impossible situations were those who had debts based on the pre-crash values and assumptions. They literally lost everything material they thought they owned. The final group, those who did have a good amount of money but no debts, are not very eager to talk about it, because they are easily resented, but they were living lives of ease and, if they chose, luxury.
Followers of Jesus must be careful not to become focused on money or put confidence in its protecting power. Jesus made that very clear. It is clear to me that His followers should avoid debts. It is not clear to me that all his followers should have savings accounts. Many have lived exemplary lives while spending or giving away everything they received. This is another area where each must hear the voice of the Lord.
All of which is the preface and disclaimer before I note that in my opinion the time is rapidly approaching when those with money will have great opportunities. What is entirely unclear apart from revelation is what will be regarded as money when that time arrives.
In popular economic language, the alternatives are an inflationary blowout or a deflationary black hole. Either will be devastating for those putting into practice the advice of commonly recognized financial consultants and advisers.
Further musings regarding plenty and shortage.
When more people follow the Scriptural pattern of productive work and sharing with those who have less, the more supply there is of everything, the less demand for more to buy, and the lower the prices.
The logical extension of this is that as the Kingdom of God is realized on earth, everything is free, because everybody is eager to share the abundant plenty which they have produced.
This is not a ridiculous possibility. During the last years of her life, confined to a room, my aunt had a drawer full of caps, socks, and other handwork she had made. Everyone who came to visit her was urged to take home whatever they could use to make room in the drawer so she could make more with a clear conscience.
Whether it's apples on the tree, cattle in the field, or socks in a drawer, the Father's way is always one of abundance.
On the other hand, when the Adversary has people's ears, everyone is out to get what others have, life becomes a game of getting something before someone else does, more energy is spent on stealing, scheming, and protecting, to get for oneself, and hurting if not destroying "competitors". Shortages increase, prices go up, and life gets more miserable for everyone, often leading to war.
In relative terms (as compared with a man's wages) many basic necessities are available at the lowest prices in recorded human history---wheat, eggs, apples, grapefruit, etc. Part of the reason in North America is that we have been free of the devastation of war on this land for a long time.
Wheat and other grains are in greater supply because when my grandfather started farming one third of the crop went to feed the horses and provide the power. Government policies keep food costs artificially low by indirectly subsidizing petroleum power and making direct payments to farmers. The combined total of all agricultural production in Kansas is operating at a net loss. Government payments cover the loss and give farmers enough to live and keep farming. Should this game terminate, the rise in the prices of agricultural products will be astounding.
If prices of necessities are relatively low, why are so many people having difficulty? Contributing factors are high expectations (ease, comfort, convenience) and the contrast of those with high paying work in the system and those with low paying work on the fringes. Perhaps more significant is that more than half of most household budgets goes for taxes, interest, and insurance.
One of the benefits of musings is that they need not lead to a conclusion. When it's time to go to bed, they simply cease.