A couple days ago, I blogged about Craigslist’s faulty theological foundation. Basically, Craig Newmark built Craigslist on the belief that people are basically good, so if you give them a platform for interaction, everything will work out. But because the Bible is correct in saying that people have a sin nature, things are bound to go wrong on Craigslist, even as they go wrong in every area of life.
In this post, I’d like to briefly explore the economic impact of sin. In other words, sin is expensive. Certainly sin tears apart our relationships, our psychological health, and most significantly, our relationship with God. But sin also costs money.
In the case of Craigslist, the site has been used as a marketplace for prostitution, which has forced Newmark to make preventative changes to the site. Scammers have also been using the site to swindle sellers out of their goods, which means that Newmark’s team has had to add security measures. All of this means increased expenses.
In his excellent book Truth and Transformation, Vishal Mangalwadi talks about visiting a dairy in the Netherlands. When he walked into the dairy to buy a glass of milk, he found no attendants—there was only a cashbox in which to leave his money and make change if necessary. He observed that this is the most cost-efficient way for the dairy to sell its milk, but once enough people took their milk without paying (or even stole the money from the cashbox), the dairy would be forced to hire an attendant. This means money out of the dairy owner’s pocket, which means higher cost of production, which means higher prices for the costumers, and on and on it goes.
Mangalwadi also describes an experience he had while traveling through eastern Europe by train. He couldn’t figure out the automated ticket dispenser, so he asked a couple of young ladies how it worked. “We don’t know,” they told him. “But don’t worry about it. Just hop over the turnstiles. We’ve been travelling like this for weeks and no one has checked our tickets.”
Do you see where this is going? Once enough people hop the turnstiles and begin travelling for free, the railroads will be forced to hire clerks to check tickets on the trains, which increases their expenses, which in turn ups the price of a train ticket.
Sin is expensive.
The point is, not only was Craigslist built on the faulty premise that people are basically good, but the reality that people have a propensity toward sin is costly in every way. Think of how much money companies would save if they didn’t have to hire security guards. Or how much cheaper our goods would be if stores didn’t have to build compensation for a predicted amount of theft into their prices.
Sin is bad, and we all end up paying for it.