Lies and Big Macs

One of the key doctrines of Christianity is that man is fallen.  That is, man is spiritually dead.  This is not to say that all men are as bad as they can be (obviously, some are more evil than others), just that man is not inherently good.

Contrast this with the world’s belief that man is generally good.  Oh sure, some men are evil, but inside of everyone is a basic goodness that we all have.

That man is fallen and not good is obvious to all who simply pay attention.  Along those lines, I like to point these things out as they are manifest in our culture.  A recent example involves Big Macs.  Yes, the burger sold by McDonald’s.

What does a burger have to do with man’s fallenness?  Well, nothing per se.  However, it turns out that the magazine the Economist has a Big Mac index which they use to compare prices of the popular burger in cities across the globe.  While not perfect, it’s a measure to determine if one currency (e.g., the U.S. dollar) is at parity (equal value) with another currency (e.g., the British pound).  So, if a Big Mac costs about $4 in New York City, it should cost about the same in London if the currency exchange rates are at parity.  So, if the GBP/U.S. $ exchange rate is 0.65 GBP/1 USD, then a Big Mac in London should cost about GBP2.58.  Got that?

Well, even if you don’t, this has more to do with man’s fallenness than currency exchange rates.  This example happens to be in Argentina.  Right now, the country's economy is growing, but, as the New York Times reports, they also have a very high rate of inflation.  One way government officials have sought to hide this inflation is by suppressing the true price of a Big Mac, or at least so it seems.

As the Times reports, when you look at a menu behind the counter in an Argentinean Mickey D’s, the popular Big Mac is missing.  It can be found on a price list “down the hall toward the bathroom”, and the Big Mac is near the bottom of the price list.

Why?  Because the price of the Big Mac is 21.90 pesos ($5.14), much less than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese for 32.50 pesos ($7.60).  Since Big Macs cost more than the Quarter Pounder, it should sell for more.  However, because the Big Mac is included in the Economist’s Big Mac index, the government presumably pressures McDonald’s to keep the price down.  This is probably true; why else would McDonald’s keep the Big Mac off the main menu?  According to the Times, the Economist estimates that the true rate of burger inflation is 19%, almost double what the government reports.

Once again, the truth of Scripture is made manifest.  Romans 3:4 says, “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.””  Moreover, if government officials will lie about the price of a burger, a relatively minor thing, what else might they lie about?  Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10)

Of course, this is a human condition, not an Argentinean condition.  Keep your eyes open, as God’s word is proven daily.