I just finished Joel Rosenberg’s excellent new book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time? Rosenberg’s sobering work is filled with data to support the very real decline of America’s spiritual and economic strength—what I’m calling our next “Twin Towers”—both of which are under attack.
The greatest threat to our economic tower is self-inflicted—our national debt. The U.S. government now officially owes $16 trillion, much of it to unfriendly nations. Remember, the Bible tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender.
We hit that woeful mark at the end of August with surprisingly little fanfare, save for a few items in news outlets like The Wall Street Journal:
Total U.S. government debt eclipsed $16 trillion for the first time Friday [Aug. 31], new government data show, as total federal borrowing continues marching toward the $16.394 trillion borrowing limit…The government is projected to run a deficit of between $1.1 trillion and $1.2 trillion in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, meaning that spending will outpace tax revenue by that amount over 12 months…The government is currently running an average monthly deficit of $100 billion and is likely to hit the debt ceiling sometime in late December.
We often complain that politicians in Washington don’t know what they’re doing, but that’s a myth. They know exactly what they’re doing. The $16.394 trillion debt ceiling passed in the last “compromise” agreement isn’t exactly a round number. And both parties are responsible for it. That number was skillfully chosen to kick the issue just past the coming election, so politicians of either party wouldn’t be forced to take a stand on raising the debt ceiling in the current campaign.
Of course, the issue is not going away. The debt ceiling mess will hit again right at the end of a lame duck session of Congress. Expect little, if anything, to be done about it. The Treasury Department can juggle the books for several months to keep the bills paid, but sometime next spring, the federal government will be legally constrained from borrowing unless the debt limit is raised yet again.
Sixteen trillion is just too big a number for the average person to comprehend. So let’s break it down into a more manageable amount. The 2010 Census showed that we have a residential population of roughly 309,000,000. Divide the $16 trillion that we now owe by that number and you’ll discover your individual share of our national debt—$52,000. For the average family, the share is $135,000. Now ask yourself, what exactly did you get for taking on that kind of liability?
We’re told by politicians not to worry. The liberals believe that the solution to this debt is to get the rich to pay their “fair share,” but this is a straw man argument at best. The idea that we can solve our problems by getting the so-called rich to pay their fair share, whatever that means, is a complete fraud designed to get the votes of the uninformed.
President Obama’s defines “rich” as anyone making over $250,000 a year. He wants us to believe that raising taxes on these people will solve our deficit problem. But according to Kevin D. Williamson, writing for National Review Online, the numbers just don’t add up:
In fact, in 2006, the Census Bureau found only 2.2 million households earning more than $250,000…The 2012 deficit is forecast to hit $1.1 trillion under Obama’s budget. (Thanks, Mr. President!) Spread that deficit over all the households in Club 250K and you have to jack up their taxes by an average of $500,000. Which you simply can’t do, since a lot of them don’t have $500,000 in income to seize: Most of them are making $250,000 to $450,000 and paying about half in taxes already. You can squeeze that goose all day, but that’s not going to make it push out a golden egg.
Believing that raising taxes on “the rich” is the solution to our deficit and debt problem means you have to ignore cold, hard facts. As Williamson points, out, we’re going to need an awful lot more rich people to tax our way out of a deficit hole this deep. And that’s just to break even this year—never mind making a dent in the $16 trillion debt. Any politician who tells you that taxing Americans more will solve our problem is simply wrong.
If you still believe that the federal government has a revenue problem and not a spending problem, perhaps this thought might change your mind. After they tax everything from the rich and still can’t balance our dangerously bloated federal budget, who do you think they’ll come after next? Remember, you already owe a $52,000 share of that $16 trillion national debt.
For that kind of money, you’d expect to get a “free” college education, or “free” health care for life, or maybe half of your house paid for. Last time I checked, those things weren’t free. Students are still graduating with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of student loan debt, Obamacare is loaded with new taxes, and millions of Americans are still underwater on their mortgages.
Meanwhile, Christianity is under siege in the western world, even right here in America. While we see events unfold in Libya and Egypt, mobs attacking our consulates and killing our diplomats, all purportedly because of an affront to Islam, our State Department apologizes for something we haven’t done. At the same time, it’s open season on Christian beliefs. God is booed at one of our own party’s national conventions. Our spiritual tower is becoming as wobbly as our economic tower. It seems their fates are entwined, just as the World Trade Center Towers were 11 years ago.
So what exactly do we need to avoid a spiritual and economic collapse?
Joel Rosenberg argues that there is still good reason to hope for America’s recovery. Many times in our short history we have pulled out of a downward spiral, evidencing God’s grace on this nation. The New York Times bestselling author advocates that we need a revival or the Third Great Awakening to change the self-destructive course of our nation.
Rosenberg cites the definition of a revival by Charles Finney who was himself a part of the Second Great Awakening to sweep America at the dawn of the 19th century. It was “the renewal of the first love of Christians, resulting in the awakening and conversion of sinners to God.” Yes, we need to see Christians returning to their first love. Perhaps our misplaced dependency upon our money and wealth is being destroyed for that very purpose, to get our attention and to move our hearts back to the Giver and off the gifts.
Rosenberg also notes that we have a voice in the political process. While we should never place our hope in government or the next President or the next election, we should speak up and expect a return to fiscal sanity in Washington. We need real cuts in federal spending or we will have those cuts forced upon us by our lenders.
In two months, we’ll have the opportunity to choose new leaders. I pray you’ll use your vote wisely to elect men and women who are prepared to make the tough choices we need to solve this crisis. Regardless of the outcome of the election, join me in praying with Joel Rosenberg for the Third Great Awakening to sweep our nation before our next “Twin Towers” collapse.
Your comments are always welcome.