Both the Bible and the Constitution of the United States of America prohibit state involvement in business cartels, whether they are national or international. A cartel is a group of people or organizations within an industry that seeks to control production, marketing, distribution, price, and/or competition through force and intimidation. Most modern cartels seek to establish a government-licensed monopoly by getting one or more civil governments to intervene in the market in a way that will create barriers to any new competition. This government intervention can be by way of price controls, wage controls, tariffs, import quotas, compulsory trade union laws, rationing, regulation, licensing, threat of lawsuit, etc.
Classic examples of cartels are the De Beers diamond company and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Examples of illegal cartels would be Mafia networks and South American Drug cartels. Both legal and illegal cartels are numerous in Europe. However, even America has had many cartels, including the New Deal sugar manufacturing cartel (a farming cartel), the Railway Labor union (a labor cartel), and the Federal Reserve agency (a banking cartel). Though there are non-governmental cartels (such as the drug cartels of South America), it is rare to have any private cartel succeed without unlawful intrusions of the civic government into the market place. How are we to evaluate issues like this in the Scripture?
The first thing we should examine is whether the Bible speaks directly to these issues beyond general principles. And it does. Jesus considered both the banking cartel and the animal sacrifice cartel started by Caiaphas to be equivalent to a “den of thieves.” Likewise the book of Revelation excoriated the “merchants of the earth” who had “become rich” by being in bed with “the kings of the earth.” Their international companies lost a lucrative trade deal when the “city” could no longer intrude into the free market on their behalf. Compulsory labor unions (which are a form of labor cartel) violate Biblical laws on property and free contracts. All government intrusion into the market place violates the law by being economically “partial,” and by benefiting magistrates with tangible or intangible bribes. Because this Fascist regulation of the economy is pervasive, and because it is promoted by citizens, business, and civic officers alike, it is important that we consider what the Bible says about these issues.
(to be continued in the next blog post)
 Matt. 21:13. The term “den of thieves” may be a reference to the Zealots who supported and enforced Caiaphas’ monopoly. Prior to the establishment of a banking cartel by Caiaphas in 28-30 AD, currencies from other countries could be exchanged anywhere in Israel. Prior to his sacrificial animals cartel in the temple, pure animals could be purchased in other markets.
 Rev. 18:3. Interestingly the text speaks of this as metaphorical fornication. When the monopoly is broken the merchants are not destroyed, but they weep “for no one buys their merchandise anymore” (v. 11).
 Rev. 18:9-20
 Matt. 20:15
 Ex. 23:3; Lev. 19:15; Deut. 1:17; 10:17
 Notice that this partiality is almost always connected with a kickback to some magistrate: Ex. 23:8; Deut. 10:17; 16:19; 27:25; Is. 1:23; 33:15; Ezek. 22:12; Mic. 7:3