The beauty of the Sabbath and Jubiliee is that it is a reliable 50-year cycle, which limits government manipulation of the economy, limits the expansion of the rich at the expense of the poor, and acknowledges the Providential power of God in the affairs of men.
God’s Providence would be evident to the people in the lush crop God promised in the sixth year, which could sustain them until the harvest after Sabbath. His care for the poor was evident in his provision for the return of the lands of their ancestral inheritance every 50 years, and the required liberation of all Israelite slaves (A man could sell his labor until the Jubilee in order to pay his debts – hence Biblical slavery). So a poor family had a real chance to return to mainstream socio-economic life. All this without Government intervention.
In this case, less is infinitely more. No Government intervention means no Government manipulation. It also means that the local community took responsibility to care and to provide for its own poor. The welfare of the poor could not become a political issue as long as local people looked after their impoverished brothers. Under our current Government-centered impersonal welfare system, we no longer even think of the poor among us as brothers. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, in a speech honoring former Fed Chairman, Milton Friedman, explained that one of the aggravating factors in the Great Depression was the impersonalization that the creation of the Federal Reserve brought to the banking crisis of the early 1930s. With the creation of the Fed, Bernanke observes, the larger banks which in former times would have aided smaller banks, no longer felt obligated to do so. The resulting rash of small bank failures deepened that financial crisis.
The Jubilee cycle carries with it a 2-3 year recovery period. No one plants in the Sabbath year, so there is no crop until the harvest in the year following the Sabbath year – not quite two years. When the Jubilee rolls around, the new harvest comes in the third year. It is a very limited time. It is predictable and therefore even your average guy could plan and prepare. Nobody panics.
Contrast this with the recovery from the Great Depression. Milton Friedman’s new book, A Monetary History of the United States, estimates the recovery at a minimum of ten years, and lays blame for the depth of the correction and its nearly interminable length at the door of the Federal Reserve. While it seems intuitively obvious that Government intervention exacerbated the problem, Friedman maintains (incredibly) that more intervention in the form of an increased money supply, would have solved it.
“Increasing the money supply” is a euphemism for Government theft. The government simply prints more money. The traditional way of viewing this is as a debasement of currency, the equivalent of shaving a few grains of silver off of a coin or of mixing increasing amounts of lead into the silver when minting the coins. There are indeed more coins, but they are worth less and less.
A more modern way to view it is to see money as a measure of productivity. All that means is that printing more money is printing more promises of future work. Literally, we are selling the labor of our children when we increase the money supply. A $700 billion bank bailout means agreeing not only to become slaves to this debt ourselves, but to agree to enslave our children and grandchildren pretty much in perpetuity.
What to do? Come back tomorrow for some hopeful recommendations.