The COVID-19 pandemic is causing shortages. The Supply-and-Demand basic law of economics states that prices rise when a commodity is in short supply. But in many states, marking up products during a disaster is illegal.
According to D Magazine, “As of April 1st, over 4,000 price-gouging complaints have been filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office since state of emergency was declared on March 13th, and this number is expected to steadily increase.” https://www.dmagazine.com/healthcare-business/2020/04/price-gouging-concerns-in-the-covid-19-era/
USA Today reported on huge cost increases for hand sanitizer and face masks on Amazon. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/11/amazon-price-gouging-report-coronavirus-face-masks/5007990002/
States are bidding against each other to get necessary respirators and personal protection equipment, and are begging the federal government to intervene. Governors ask citizens to report suspected abuse.
As these incidents indicate, human nature is greedy. But God doesn’t like it when people take unfair advantage of others. A good example appears in Jerusalem during Holy Week.
Families brought lambs to the Temple for the Passover sacrifice which had to be inspected to ensure their suitability as an offering holy to God. Often priests would find some blemish on the lambs or other animals to be offered. Families then had to buy approved replacements (often ones just rejected from previous customers). But the merchants could not accept just any money.
Roman money had portraits of gods, emperors or other officials on them. These violated the Second Commandment against graven images and therefore could not be used in the Jewish Temple. Entrepreneurs would exchange these impure coins for ones approved for holy purposes – for a large fee, of course.
Imagine the stench and noise of animals, people shoving and pushing in the crowded Temple courtyard, and long lines of people trying to get their animals slaughtered by the priests for the Passover. What a racket! (pun intended)
Jesus was furious when he saw these corrupt commercial enterprises. The Temple was supposed to be a House of Worship; Jesus called it a “Den of Robbers.” So he took a whip, upended the tables of the money changers and drove out the animals and thieving businessmen. See Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-46.
In Micah 6:8, the prophet said, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In contrast to the price-gougers, many companies donate time, money and other resources to help combat the Pandemic and help those struggling to “shelter in place.” No doubt you have seen many inspiring examples on the news. Isn’t it refreshing to hear about the good things people are doing?
So, what about you? Will you hoard toilet paper or share with your neighbor?