Sunday, February 06 2011
Continuing with the observations I have been making of the dynamic shift in the standing of our country, this month I will address the radical increase of our national debt in the last two years. As a general overview the points I have intended to cover are as follows: 1) the economy remains in flux; 2) national security remains threatened by outside enemies; 3) government corruption is at an all-time high; 4) we have increased our national debt in just 2 years to an amount that exceeds the entire history of our country combined; and lastly, 5) our country is divided in its overall interests and pursuits. Last month, I addressed the third issue in the list and concluded that the basis for the saturation of corruption in our government is due to the absence of our electing Christians – faithful Christians – to office.
We are reaping the fruit of the secular cry and demands for ‘tolerance’ and ‘open-mindedness.' These terms within themselves are contradictory because the first thing that is not tolerated, nor open for discussion, is the Christian faith. Ironically, radical Islamic dogma and even witchcraft are embraced and endorsed in certain legal settings. The premise for this entire discussion will rest firmly upon Proverbs 22:7; “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” It has and is becoming more evident to me that the issue is not so much to do with Scripture in itself being so difficult to grasp and understand, but rather that it is so fundamentally simple in its precepts that the average person believes they just ’know better.' The American economy is based upon a ‘deficit economic model.' You may periodically hear this phraseology – particularly when someone is purposefully denigrating the intelligence of the average citizen’s ability to understand this allegedly deep concept. Simply put, it is based upon the primary need for credit to be able to function and maintain its cash flow.
What they do not tell you is that this is the backdoor of obtaining a net portion of one’s entrepreneurship, efforts, energy, and successes. We are currently so deep into credit, that we are convinced that we cannot function without it. Evidence? The simplest example would be to ask you to imagine the possibility of purchasing a home without a mortgage loan. But let’s make it even more pointed. Step down to an automobile purchase. Outside of an older used car. Unless one is exceptionally wealthy, we would not consider being able to buy a new car with cash. But even that is not the least of examples. Many of us may struggle with the thought of being able to purchase necessary clothing, replacement appliances, or even a pesky repair to that automobile that we have on credit, without credit. We are charged exorbitant amounts of interest to which we turn a blind eye all in the perceived need of the immediate moment. Just three days ago I read that the First Premier Centennial Classic Credit card has abolished its prior 23.9% annual percentage rate for the new, take a deep breath now, rate of 59.9% interest. That is not a typo. However, it is not the first or the worst time this interest rate has been charged. First Premier had a 79.9% credit card when they were operating as Consumers Union. That was once called ‘loan-sharking’ and was strictly illegal. And perhaps the outrage of nearly 60% interest is what initially consumes the frontal lobe of your brain; yet, I would say the real issue is that we would pay interest on anything at all. In fact, we have come to accept 20-odd percent to be perfectly acceptable. “Slave to the lender.”
Yes, I understand that for someone just starting out, it would be nearly impossible to accumulate the amount of cash that it would take to purchase even a meager home in a small rural area of Texas. But have we considered what drove us to the point of these prices that require us to make these loans? Have we considered all of the money that we spend in our youth in hedonistic pursuits – and what we could do if we had all that money back when we are ready to purchase the home?
I have personally seen the results of someone who actually did work while everyone else partied. He saved the majority of his money for when he was married and needed a home. He was a black young man from a poor family who lived in the public housing region of the city where we lived. We were colleagues in the corporation we worked for. He told me stories of being ridiculed for working as much as he could and staying home when everyone else was going out, getting drunk and high, dating, having sex, and ‘living the dream.' He said that it even cost them getting beat up and belittled at times. And I can hear the people now who would say that he ‘missed the experience’ of being a teenager. Nor did he have ‘the college experience’ – because he was too busy working and saving his money. However, when he met his wife, he had already purchased a piece of land which he paid cash for. He then purchased a small, meager house, and paid cash, which they lived in while he proceeded to build a new house on the lot he had purchased prior. To save even more money, he did as much of the work himself as he could in his spare time. In less than a year he completed a 2400 square-foot brick home, with a five-car garage, to store his Corvette, truck, and wife’s car in - and you guessed it - all paid for in cash. Within one year, he purchased his dream car. I remember him searching it out, going to get it, and taking me for a ride as soon as he returned. It was a Porsche Targa. It was bought and paid for with cash on the spot. He still works for the corporation and is still married to his wife. He was sought out to serve on the city council which he was elected to and remains so to this day in Texas City, Texas. Yet, you know as well as I do, that this story has become the exception. In colonial America, it was the rule.
Fast forward – but we aren’t the only ones who have become addicted to the system of credit. I will not bore you with all of the numbers that you have already undoubtedly heard at some point or another. I will just shorten it to factually state that in 2009 and 2010 we increased $3 trillion in deficits (credit) in our country. 2011 projects a record deficit of $1.5 trillion alone. To put this in perspective, through July of last year (2010), our government added more to the national debt in 19 months than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public which was amassed by all US presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan (as reported by the CBO). I understand some differences can be taken into account for the number of citizens and the cost of functioning as a country in the late 1700s as opposed to 2010. But the statistics are still staggering. If I were to go out and attempt to obtain a ridiculous amount of credit based on a meager income, I would obviously have to go to more than one place to receive that amount of money. This is exactly what our country has done. But to compound the problem, we have had to go outside of our borders to retain this amount of money. The dismal fact is that we have gone to a country which we share no religious, ethical, relational, economic, legal, governmental, or military heritage, and borrowed vast amounts of money (credit). The Word says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Therefore, if you declare that the Word is true, we cannot deny that we have minimally enslaved ourselves to China.
This is more than just a frightening prospect. It is a truth. Our financial spiral is not just because we have become greedy. I acknowledge that we have demanded to immediately own what the prior generation worked all their lives for. And the issue is not solely because we have based our economics on a deficit model. Rather, the primary cause is due to the fact that we are abandoning the principles of God and His precepts as given to us in the Holy Scriptures. You see, the average person views a religion as something that ties you to a spiritual belief of some sort. It might even be a system of rules and principles – an ethos for general living. But in the principles of Christianity, as presented in the Holy Scriptures, there is something that is given to us for all aspects of our lives. When God said in Deuteronomy 4:40, “So you shall keep His statutes and His Commandments which I’m giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time,”
He was not just giving a pep-talk to the nation of Israel as they were entering the land of Canaan. He was giving them the answer of how to live and prosper in a broken world = or in many cases, how to survive. Is it any wonder why we should elect leaders who follow the Lord God of the Holy Scriptures? How else do we expect to be led in our judicial, legislative, and executive powers in a successful manner? It is the truth – every single answer that we are looking for in our governmental affairs exists in the Word of our God. It is the absence of godly men and women in leadership positions that leads to this kind of despair. Shouldn’t this be obvious to us? Yet, regardless of that which might be thrust upon us from a governmental level, we must operate our homes differently. It must begin inside our houses.
The change will not be sudden or immediate – unless God deems it so. It has taken generations to get us to where we are today. We may have to settle for small victories in order to win the war—but I would quickly warn with this method that if the course is not tightly maintained, we risk being the proverbial frog in the kettle all over again. But change we must. And not the change of any man – but the change of God alone. If we are not righteous in a little, how do we expect God to ever allow us to be righteous with much? It must start at home. And likewise, we must raise our voices with our elected officials and not be ashamed of that which we should stand for. Our country started out on the right foot. Through the power of God, it can be returned.
“SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” Ephesians 6:3.
Keep the Faith,