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Archive for August, 2019

Financial Crisis

“In his book…A Christian View of Men and Things [Gordon] Clark comments that the growth of government is the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century.”

    – John W. Robbins, “The Growth of Government in the United States

The thesis underlying this series of posts and reflected in the series’ titles, is that the 2008 financial crisis never really went away. Yes, the stock market has recovered and gone on to hit new highs. Yes, we don’t see massive layoffs taking place or people standing in bread lines. So the visual cues that we expect in a financial crisis are not present.

Further, we see announcements in the press stating how strong the American economy is, and various statistics are brought forth to prove this, perhaps most notably a low unemployment rate.

Donald Trump has been very aggressive at touting the strength of the American economy. The day after the worst stock market plunge of 2019, the President tweeted, “The United States is now, by far, the Biggest, Strongest and Most Powerful Economy in the World, it is not even close! As other falter, we will only get stronger. Consumers are in the best shape ever, plenty of cash. Business Optimism is at an All Time High!”

Now at least some of this is likely true. Objectively speaking, America has the world’s largest economy as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But there are reasons to doubt some of the President’s other claims.

For example, while the President says that consumers are in the best shape ever, the very next day CNBC ran a story announcing that American are more indebted than ever before. This hardly supports the President’s claim that consumers are in the best shape ever.

And if the economy is doing so well, why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has the labor force participation rate never recovered to the pre-crisis level?

If everything is so great, why has President Trump publicly called for more Quantitative Easing (QE) and interest rate cuts? QE is a radical money printing scheme which was used by the Federal Reserve as an emergency measure to save the financial system in the 2008 crisis. Since QE is an emergency measure that was used to stave off financial collapse, why is it that, on the one hand, President Trump is telling us that the economy is doing great under his leadership, but, on the other hand, is calling for emergency QE as if the financial system were collapsing again?

Another item contradicting the official narrative that everything is awesome with the economy is the calls for interest rate cuts. In the link above, Trump was calling for the Fed to lower interest rates. In a strong economy, demand for money is reflecting in rising, not falling, interest rates. If the President is calling for the Fed to lower interest rates, by implication, he is saying the economy is stalling out, not charging ahead.

In the opinion of this writer, the struggles of ordinary Americans to find work and to make ends meet are reflective of a financial system in disarray, not one experiencing rapid growth.

Further, it is my view that the economic problems roiling America stem from the fact the American government and financial elite have refused for more than a decade now to deal honestly with the serious financial crisis facing the United States. At the root of the problem is the Fed, America’s central bank. Central banking is inherently immoral, unchristian, and destructive of the legitimate interests of the great bulk of the American people.

One of the great evils that flows from central banking is another great plague of modern society: Big Government.

In the quote at the top of this page, John Robbins noted that Gordon Clark thought that the growth of government in the United States was the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century. Considering all the evils of that century, Clark’s statement is remarkable indeed.

It is the contention of this author that America is going bankrupt as a result of big government, a great evil which itself is the child of the prior great evil of central banking. Yet there is no serious attempt on the part of elected officials of either party to address this situation.

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Financial Crisis

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.

    – Proverbs 27:12

In light of the recent upheavals in the financial markets, it seemed good to me to take this occasion to update my comments on ongoing financial crisis. I say ongoing, because it is my contention that the crisis that first manifested itself in 2008 has never really gone away.

In Ezekiel we read God’s complaint against the prophets of Israel. At one point he says, “Because, indeed, because they [the prophets] have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace – and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar – say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’ ”

Such a wall, one built with untempered mortar, may appear sound. But when faced with the elements, it’s shoddy construction becomes evident to all.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed a similar idea when he compared the man who built his house on sand with the man who built upon the rock. For all we know, the house built on sand may have been beautiful in appearance, but it lacked a firm foundation and it fell. The house built on the rock took the beating and stood strong.

It is the contention of this author that the relative prosperity that the West has enjoyed since 2008 is rapidly coming to an end for the same reason that both Ezekiel and Jesus described: The real causes of the 2008 crisis have never been addressed, only papered over with fake solutions. Fakery, it would appear, is coming to an end.

In the following post, and perhaps posts, I’d like to explore at least some of the factors that are driving the West to bankruptcy. I’d also like to discuss what Christians can do to prepare themselves for the difficult financial times that lie ahead. Finally, I’d like to discuss what Christians can do once the collapse occurs to begin to rebuild our civilization on a sounder footing than we have today.

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El Paso

A couple console each other near an El Paso Walmart where a mass shooting occurred Saturday.  Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Mass shootings. What are Christians to make of them? But before we answer this question, perhaps we should sharpen the question a bit, asking instead, What are American Christians to make of them?

The obvious motive for my writing on this subject is the report from El Paso, TX, where another mass shooting has left many dead and injured, not to mention many other traumatized by the sinful violence of the event.

If that weren’t enough, I woke up this morning to hear of another mass shooting, this time in nearby Dayton, OH which reportedly has left 9 dead.

Oddly enough, both these shootings in far apart places – Dayton and El Paso are over 1,500 miles apart – both have a personal connection to me. El Paso is the home of several friends of mine from ThornCrown Ministries, while I personally know a man who currently serves as an officer on the Dayton police force. My friends are all safe, but clearly there are many people in both places who have suffered great loss.

The response from the news media and other Second Amendment foes is predictable: Guns are the problem and must be more strictly regulated. The ultimate goal of these people seems to be the complete disarmament of the American people.

As Christians, what are we to say to this? Certainly, in the wake of such tragedies it is tempting to go along with the anti-gun rhetoric. But we must ask, What does the Bible say about the right of private citizens to bear arms? Does Scripture prohibit private citizens from owning weapons, or does it support their doing so?

Another question related to this is what does the Bible say about criminal justice? Does the Bible call for crime punishment or crime prevention? How we answer these questions will serve to guide us as we evaluate the statements we see in the news concerning the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

The short answer to the first question is, yes, the Bible allows for private citizens to own weapons. To the second question, we answer that the Bible calls, not for crime prevention, but for crime punishment.

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