This article is another chapter in a book I'm writing about the moral foundations of a free society. If you have not read the previous articles, I encourage you to read the series from the beginning. (Click here to read the first chapter on Political Power.)

A huge part of the loss of freedom in America has been in the destruction of our unalienable rights to property. This has happened largely because most Americans do not understand economics. I believe this lack of understanding is deliberate as public education fails to instruct us in basic principles of truth and freedom. The systematic violation of the right of property has caused numerous problems in our society, but unfortunately, people have been taught to blame these problems on free enterprise and believe that the solution is more government control over our right to property.

Before I can begin to explain how our unalienable right of property has been systemically destroyed, I need to provide a mini-lesson in economics. People won’t be able to see how they are being cheated out of their property rights if they don’t understand the moral foundations of what we call free enterprise. Hopefully, what I write in this chapter will help.

Human Specialization 

Human society benefits from specialization. It’s difficult for small groups of people to provide everything they need to sustain life and health and next to impossible for a single person to do so. A team can accomplish more than a single individual because each member of the team can use their strengths and abilities to compensate for the weaknesses and lack of ability in other members of the team. The incredible level of wealth and prosperity we enjoy, compared to people of the past, is entirely due to this specialization and the ability to exchange the goods and services we create with others. 

My technical writing teacher in college put it to us this way. He asked, “Do you want to know the degree to which you are a master of technology or a slave to it?” In response to our guesses, he said, “How much of it can you recreate if you were stranded alone and naked on a desert island?” As someone who likes to watch survival shows, and has dabbled in outdoor survival and primitive skills, I know that the average person would struggle just to be able to survive, and very likely would not survive at all. 

Let me put it this way? Do you have all the skills to make your own tools, build your own shelter, make clothing to protect you from the elements, hunt or gather food, start a fire without matches or fire starters, purify water, and take care of yourself if you get injured or sick? Probably not. But, if you have a team of people each of whom has skills in one or more of these areas, your chances of not only surviving but also thriving, increase dramatically.

The Body of Humanity

I point this out to illustrate why the level of specialization we have achieved in modern society is essential to lifting the health, prosperity, and happiness of mankind in general. We are very dependent on each other. So dependent in fact that humanity as a whole could be thought of as a greater living organism, an analogy used in the Bible to illustrate how believers should treat each other. (See 1 Corinthians 12:14-19.)

As someone who has studied natural health care for decades, I wish to borrow from this analogy to discuss human economics. Every cell in the body is an individual life form that can live, reproduce itself, and die. Yet, it is also part of the greater whole. Each cell needs food, oxygen, a regulated temperature, water, and the removal of waste materials to survive but it is dependent on the rest of the body to get these things.

The cells of the body have become differentiated, forming tissues, organs, and systems, each of which is contributing something to the good of the body as a whole. The lungs supply oxygen and remove carbon dioxide waste. The digestive system supplies nutrients. The blood and lymph circulate nutrients and remove wastes. The colon and kidneys also remove wastes. 

All of this specialization allows us to do things a single cell could never do, just as specialization and trade among human beings allows humanity to achieve more than any single individual ever could. The fact is, that we need each other just to have some of the simplest things we take for granted every day. The book and video, I Pencil, explain this concept very well. I encourage you to read (click here to download the pdf) or watch below.

Barter and Economics

When I voluntarily create something of value for others and voluntarily trade it to receive something of value for myself, I am engaging in barter. People have bartered with each other throughout recorded history. Barter is the fundamental essence of economics and when barter is honest or fair and voluntary it raises everyone’s standard of living. 

Let’s say that I’m very good at raising sheep and you’re very good at growing wheat. You need wheat and I need sheep, so we make a trade and we both benefit. However, there are limitations to this kind of direct exchange. I might want your wheat, but you may not want my sheep. This problem is solved by creating a medium of exchange, which is also called money. 

At its most fundamental nature, money is a commodity that has a fairly universal value that can be used as a go-between or medium to make barter easier. I can trade the sheep I produce for money and then trade the money for the wheat I need. 

Theoretically, anything could be used as a medium of exchange (diamonds other precious gem-stones, seashells, beads, slips of paper with writing on them, or even numbers in a computer). However, in Western societies, precious metals, particularly gold or silver, became the preferred medium of exchange. While gold and silver aren’t directly necessary for human life (you can’t eat them, wear them, or use them for shelter) they are relatively rare, don’t spoil or deteriorate or spoil, and are relatively light easy to transport from one place to another. 

To make it easier to trade with them, people started to make coins out of them and these coins were traditionally considered money. Coins were a way of quickly identifying the amount of gold or silver being traded, as the coins were stamped with some type of official image and the value (amount) of gold or silver they contained, which brings us to the importance of having a system of standard weights and measures.

Standard Weights and Measures

All barter, with or without a monetary system, requires the use of a system of weights and measures. This is required because we need to know how much of something we’re getting in a trade and the other person knows how much we’re giving in exchange. 

If I’m paying $3.00 for a gallon of milk, I want to know that I’m getting the same amount of milk each time I buy it. A person who puts less than one gallon in the jug or dilutes the milk with water is cheating me. They are committing an act of theft by deceit. When we make trades, we want to know that we’re getting what we bargained for, not something different than was agreed. 

In ancient times people weighed things using a balance scale (as shown in the picture on the right). You had weights that you could put on one side of the scale. You then put the commodity being traded on the other side. When the scale balanced, you knew you had a certain weight of that commodity be-cause the scale balanced.

Just weights and measurements are an established requirement of the common law. For example, Leviticus 19:35-36 (NKJV) says, “You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights…” Proverbs 20:10 (NKJV) stresses the same idea, “Diverse weights and diverse measures, they are both alike, an abomination to the Lord.”

Finally, the prophet Amos spoke of the corrupt merchants who in selling their wheat sought to make the ephah (something like our modern bushel) small and the shekel (coin) great and to cheat with dishonest scales. (Amos 8:5). In other words, he was condemning the seller who through dis-honest weights and measures gave the buyer less grain than they paid for.  In short, under the common law, we all know that it’s wrong to cheat in a trade because we ourselves don’t like to be cheated.

Honest, free exchange is not a violation of the common law and therefore can never be a crime. It becomes a crime, however, when people try to get unjust gains, when they don’t deliver what was agreed upon by using inferior materials, deceptive practices and unjust weights and measures. This isn’t true just for the goods and services being traded, it’s also true in regards to the medium of ex-change being used to make trade easier, which brings us back to the use of gold and silver as money. 

Constitutional Standards and Money

As previously explained, coins were made to contain a specific amount of gold or silver with the value (weight) stamped on the coin. The rough edges to coins were to prevent people from scraping small amounts of gold or silver off of the coin to make it smaller. Honest coining of money is part of having a just system of weights and measures. If I’m using gold or silver coins as a medium of exchange, I need to know how much gold or silver I actually have.

The Constitution of the United States gave Congress the power to establish both a monetary system and a system of standard weights and measures in Article 8. It said Congress had the power “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.”

Americans were already using the traditional English system of weights and measures (ounces, pounds, pints, gallons, feet, miles, etc.) and this was allowed to stand without Congress making any changes. However, the Treasury Department established standards for these weights and measures beginning in the late 1830s when they sent a complete set of weights and measures to each state.

As for the monetary system, the value set by Congress was the dollar, a unit of measurement that refers to a silver coin containing 371.25 grains of fine silver, which is slightly less than one ounce. The term dollar in reference to gold and silver is the same as the use of the term caret in gemstones.  A carat is approximately two hundred milligrams (0.2 grams) or one fifth of a gram. Thus, both terms, dollar and caret, are measurements of weight. 

Congress regulated the value of gold to silver by establishing gold coins as having a 15 to 1 ratio. That is, one grain of gold was equivalent to 15 grains of silver. Thus, the original constitutional money, established by Congress, consisted of three gold coins (the Eagle or $10 gold piece, the half eagle and the quarter eagle) and five silver coins (the dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, dime and nickel). There were also two copper coins, the cent and the half cent. 

Manipulating Money

I’ve just described why a uniform standard of weights and measures, including honest measurement of the value of the money, is a foundational necessity for an honest economic system. Unfortunately, governments have a long history of tampering with a society's money system. Unjust governments debase the value of the money to steal the wealth (property) of their citizens. Here’s how this has been done in the past.

Governments of other countries, both past and present, established a standard measure for gold and silver coins, just like America. For example, Ancient Roman coins included the talent and denarius. More modern examples are the pound (English), franc (French), and the Yuan (China). Although the value (weight) of these coins were different, trading with them should be rather straight-forward. All one would have to do is to know the value for the coin in question and convert that into the money system with which one is familiar. It’s no more difficult than converting a measurement given in imperial measures to one given in metrics. 

But governments made this process more complex by establishing the concept of a legal tender. That is, only coins made within the country (and bearing the image of the current ruler) were legal. Thus, coins had to be exchanged in order to be used in international trade, and this was always done by the moneychangers (or bankers) who charged a fee for the service. 

By having a legal tender, when a new king (or government) came to power, they could recall all the old coins and require they be melted down and coined again with the image of the new king on the coin. However, when the new coins were made, they were often made slightly smaller or were diluted with other metals so that they contained less gold or silver than before. Nevertheless, the stamp on the coin gave it the same value. This enabled the new government to inflate the supply of money by minting more coins (claiming they had the same value) out of the same amount of precious metal.

If you think about this using any other standard weight or measure you can readily see how dishonest this is. Let’s just suppose that I had the power to recall all gallons of milk, then either dilute them with water or reduce the amount of milk in each gallon. I could now put them all into the marketplace claiming that all of these new “gallons” were equivalent to the old gallon and keep the surplus milk for myself to sell. When put in these terms one can see how deceptive such a practice would be. After all, it would be very unfair to make people pay the same price for the new "gallon" as the old one, wouldn’t it?

Debasing Money Creates Inflation

Whoever has the power to debase the money system has the power to increase their wealth at the expense of everyone else. At first, the debased money has the same buying power as the old mon-ey, but this doesn’t last forever. The value of the money diminishes, causing prices to go up. Inflation isn’t caused by increases in the value of the goods and services we purchase. It’s caused by a decrease in the value of the money used to purchase them. 

To understand this better, imaging you have a balance scale, like the one pictured above. On one side you have all of the goods and services available for purchase. On the other side, you have all the money that can be used to purchase them. This scale always seeks balance, so if you add more money to the scale but the quantity of goods and services available to purchase remains the same, then people will bid up the price of the goods and services. 

Let me illustrate with a practical example. Let’s say I’m selling a home and I’m asking $400,000 for it. If money to buy homes is in short supply, people may come and make an offer to buy it for less than the price I’m asking. Maybe they’ll offer me $380,000. If I can’t find a buyer for the original amount, and I really need to sell the house, I may agree to the lower price. Thus, the price goes down because the medium of exchange is in short supply. That’s called deflation. 

On the other hand, if there is a lot of money available to buy homes, I might have two buyers who both want my home. One offers me my asking price, but the other has more money and offers me a higher price. They offer $420,000. I accept the higher offer, which means the price of the home just went up. That’s called inflation.

In reality, the value of my home (from a strictly utilitarian point of view) isn’t going up or down. The price depends on the availability of money available to exchange for it. More money, higher prices. Less money, lower prices.

If you don’t already understand this concept, it’s very important that you grasp it, so stick with me. People are so blinded by the idea of having money that they fail to grasp the most fundamental truth of economics, which is, people don’t really want money, they want goods and services. They only value money because it can be used to barter for what they want. If the medium of exchange is debased to the point that it loses value and people no longer want to accept it in trade for their goods and services, it becomes worthless. Like any commodity, money only has value as long as people accept it as a means of exchange.

I point all this out only because our government and banking systems have been debasing our currency for decades, something that is causing more and more economic hardships for the American people. I’ll explain how this is happening in the next chapter.

Click here to read the previous chapter.

Using Herbs with Children with Steven - Jan 26 @ 6 pm MT

Parents who use herbs their children face numerous questions. Is it safe to use herbs with children? Are there any herbs that you shouldn’t use with children? How do I adjust the dose for my child’s age and weight? And how do I get my child to take the herbs? 

In this webinar Steven will answer these questions. He’ll talk about herbal remedies you can use for common childhood ailments, as well as how to prepare them and dose them appropriately for children. If you have children or grandchildren or want to use herbs to help parents with their kids, this class is for you.

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