Saturday, September 7, 2019
Monday, May 27, 2019
Monday, October 25, 2010
If God Says Civil Government is Oppressive, Haughty, and Abusive, Why Do Religious Institutions Promote It Anyway?
How many of us have heard those in the mainstream religious community, examining the purpose of government, say, “Government was divinely ordained or instituted by God for the purpose of punishing evildoers?” The obvious derivative to this mainstream conclusion is that we should obey, honor, and give reverence to ‘the powers that be’ because they are God’s ministers or servants doing the work of God. Those making this proclamation rely heavily on Romans 13:1-7 in arriving at what we believe to be an erroneous conclusion.
It is a great disservice to the reader to discuss the purpose of government, from a biblical standpoint, without first examining the nature of government, from a biblical standpoint. We also believe there to be no greater commentary on the bible than the bible itself and after examining the nature of government, from a biblical standpoint, the reader may want to revisit Romans 13 and determine if commonly held premises about the purpose of government still hold water. We contend that the mainstream religious institution’s bucket has a pretty large hole in it juxtaposed to what God says about the nature of government.
The most compelling biblical portrayal of the nature of civil government is found in 1st Samuel 8. God explains to Samuel what he is to tell the people who are begging for a king to rule over them. God’s description of civil government is not a flattering one nor does it portray civil government as being worthy of our honor, respect, or fidelity. The desire for civil government is described in simple terms as being rebellion towards God.
The account in 1st Samuel 8 contradicts the notion that government was ordained by God, at least in the classical sense the words ‘ordained’ and ‘government’ are commonly used and referenced today. There is certainly nothing divine about human government even though religious authoritarians would have you believe otherwise. And, even though we, as Americans, don’t live under a monarchy, God’s description of the nature of this form of government certainly seems to rhyme with much of what we’ve seen in world history and our own country’s history pertaining to the ongoing tyranny of civil or human government.
What miraculous transformation occurred in the nature of man, or the nature of government, between the old and new testaments that would justify the common rendering religious authoritarians have extrapolated from Romans 13:1-7? Did not God unequivocally state, in 1st Samuel 8, that a desire to be ruled by man is an outright rejection of Him? Would God institute or ordain something He disparaged in such a way, as depicted in 1st Samuel 8? We don’t think so. Neither do we accept the statist spin many religious institutions place on Romans 13:1-7. The mainstream religious institution’s rendering of Romans 13:1-7 would, by necessary inference, imply either that God lied to Samuel or that the Apostle Paul lied in his letter to the Romans. Even worse, is when their extrapolations make it appear that the Apostle Paul contradicted himself in Ephesians 6:11-12. Why would it be necessary to put on the whole armor of God to protect us from evil world rulers if they were ordained by God to be nicey-nicey? Does God ordain evil? If we were placed in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between the veracity of the Apostle Paul’s translated and seemingly contradictory words as opposed to the veracity and logic of God’s translated words, we would naturally be inclined to choose the latter over the former. God characterizes civil government, in 1st Samuel 8, as being evil and characterizes those seeking to be ruled by it as rebellious. We wholeheartedly agree.
Why are religious institutions promoting the fallacy that civil government is wonderful and good, in the shadow of God’s declaration to the contrary, and in spite of the civil government tyranny readily apparent to anyone willing to look out the window and observe what is going on in the world, at the moment, and what has transpired throughout history? Why do religious institutions continue to promote rebellion against God? We think we’ve found the answer to this most troubling question. If you’ve struggled with the meaning of Romans 13:1-7 and are a bit skeptical and weary of mainstream religious institutions who dutifully and exuberantly pull out their pom-poms and take you through the statist cheer every time this passage is discussed, you may be interested in reading our recently released book The END TIMES Hoax and the Hijacking of Our Liberty.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Manhattan trophy mosque issue has certainly become a mountain of a problem in the eyes of some while others view it much less so.
Donald Trump offered the most rational attempt at bringing resolution to the whole affair when he offered the developer his original purchase price of the property plus a 25% profit and some other perks if he would take his project somewhere else. Trump sniveled about his bid being rejected, but since his offer still stands we’ll cut him a little slack.
In a free society, this is how it is done. If you want something bad enough, you simply buy it. If you can’t afford it, you suck it up and move on or you can also choose to sulk, whine, and snivel about it for weeks or months on end to anyone foolish enough or opportunist enough to listen.
Of course, political hacks and political wannabes, who are opportunists at heart, lined up quickly to console Boobus Americanus in hopes of gathering a few more votes ahead of the November rush.
Many have likened or compared the building of this mosque or Islamic Cultural Center to the building of a Japanese cultural center across from the Pearl Harbor Memorial and find such a proposal offensive because of the thousands of Americans allegedly killed in the name of Islam. Murdering is purportedly more palatable when it is done in the name of freedom or democracy and especially so when those being murdered are non-white or non-Christian. A bit arrogant, perhaps, but the whole concept dovetails quite nicely with Empire and the Crusader mindset of the religious right.
It is not our intention to be insensitive to the 3,000 individuals who died on 911 nor do we wish to trivialize any act of violence directed toward individuals or property. Such acts of violence are not a neighborly thing to do and trivializing such acts, as being ho-hum, are also offensive. We do, however, intend to examine the proposed Islamic Cultural Center against the backdrop of another temple we find much more atrocious, offensive, intrusive, insensitive and openly hostile to the community in which it forcefully resides. At the end of our piece, the reader can decide whether the Manhattan mosque issue is a mountain, molehill, or something more comparable to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.
The Islamic Cultural Center, formerly the site of the Burlington Coat Factory, will be a single building 13 stories tall with an estimated construction cost being on the order of 100 million dollars. It will NOT be built at ground zero, as those attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill suggest, but will be located, instead, a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center Memorial. It will be a multi-faith cultural center open to the public and very compatible with the symbols of tolerance and freedom many associate with New York City landmarks Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. The cultural center will also include a 911 memorial.
Contrast the Islamic Cultural Center with the trophy temple built in the middle of the Muslim world that comprises 104 acres (about the acreage of 80 football fields), 21 buildings, and is occupied predominantly by non-Muslims who are armed to the teeth. The cost to build this monstrosity was approximately 700 million tax dollars and the estimated cost to maintain the facility is 200 million tax dollars per year. The outer perimeter wall of this trophy temple is 15 feet thick.
The personnel housed inside this walled fortress plan anti-insurgent operations (house-to-house raids on the locals) which is, presumably, the reason for the 15 foot thick perimeter walls. There is nothing multi-cultural or community oriented about this trophy temple. It will be insulated from community in much the same fashion Washington D.C. has insulated itself from the rest of the United States. This trophy temple represents 104 acres of military-industrial make-believe surrounded by reality.
What trophy temple are we talking about? We are talking about the largest U.S. Embassy in the world located in Baghdad, Iraq. More precisely, this embassy, in Baghdad, is the largest embassy of any nation. This monument to empire is more likely regarded as the Trophy Temple of Doom, to those living in the area and experiencing the terror this temple continues to facilitate. There is certainly nothing in its structure resembling diplomacy. Most of the diplomats have probably been shoved into some cramped corner cubical with no mission other than shuttling coffee to the costumed real heroes who sell diplomacy and democracy at gunpoint.
When comparing the Islamic Cultural Center to the U.S. Embassy, in Baghdad, Iraq, in size, cost, and character it puts things into a clearer perspective. Compare the death toll of 3,000 Americans during 911 to the death toll of Muslims, via embargoes and war over the last 20 years or so, and the Manhattan trophy mosque issue becomes nothing but a small bump in the road with much more community credibility than the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will ever hope to achieve behind its 15 foot thick walls.
Picture the outcry in New York if leaders in Tehran proposed building a walled fortress in Manhattan equivalent, in size, to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and predominantly staffed with military personnel instead of diplomats. Isn’t it about time we do a bit of reflection and learn to put the shoe on the other foot? If we wouldn’t want something like that in our country, why would we expect people in other countries to feel any different? Is it because they are not a Christian Nation that we can so callously ignore the Christian mandate requiring that we treat others the way we would like to be treated? If so, maybe our status as a Christian Nation needs to be re-examined. We would suggest a Christian Nation IS as a Christian Nation DOES.
The U.S. government has been forcefully spreading the gospel of freedom and democracy in the Mideast for the last 60 years. It is estimated that 500,000 innocent Iraqi children died of starvation during U.N. embargoes planned, promoted, and funded by the U.S. government. Madeline Albright was rather nonchalant about this occurrence when confronted a few years back on a 60 Minutes segment. She certainly didn’t deny the accuracy of the numbers and basically postulated that this type of collateral damage was acceptable.
Isn’t it about time we begin to link cause and effect (actions and consequences) to our failed foreign policy of U.N. sanctions that include embargoes and military interventionism? Do they really hate us and attack us because we are free or do they hate us and attack us because we threaten them, disrupt their food supplies, and attack them and occupy their homelands? As long as we are over there stirring the hate pot, they will be attacking us here. Have we become so arrogant, as a nation, that we think we can reap other than what we sow? If we want peace, we have to sow the seeds of peace. If we continue sowing discord, strife, and social conflict can we really expect it won’t be returned to us, in kind, no matter how well intentioned, or seemingly noble, we think our cause to be? To expect anything other than that just ain’t natural.
So, how would you characterize the Manhattan Islamic Cultural Center issue? Is it a mountain or a molehill?
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The right to secede or withdraw our consent is a basic human right we’ve all exercised from time to time and to one degree or another. We, on occasion, withdraw from relationships, whether personal or professional, no longer serving our needs or values. Additionally, we often withdraw our support or loyalty to products or services no longer serving our needs or our values. Why would the state secessionist movement be relegated to a different set of rules or rights by our federal government?
Is the right to secede conditional upon someone or some entity granting us permission to do so? If freedom is something granted (an assumption), how can we ever hope to be truly free? We either believe that we as individuals choose to be free or we believe others grant us our freedom(s). If we believe others bestow our freedoms on us, how do we reconcile the issue of the equality of mankind? If, as many proclaim, we are all equal, who would be so arrogant to assume they are in a position to grant or bestow freedom upon their equals? And, if the arrogant assume they are in a position to grant or bestow freedom upon their equals, what assurance do we have that they will be any less arrogant in the reversal of such bestowment?
Can one imagine the public outcry if corporations successfully lobbied for bills making it illegal for employees to terminate their employment? Can one imagine the public outcry if landlords successfully lobbied for bills making it illegal for rent paying tenants to terminate their lease agreements? Can one imagine the public outcry if automobile manufacturers successfully lobbied for bills making it illegal to terminate ownership and use of their particular brand of automobile? Can one imagine the public outcry if cities, municipalities, or states forbade residents to leave their territorial boundaries?
The early American colonists came together in a voluntary union and made a decision to secede from British rule. Voluntary union and secession was the basis upon which this nation was founded. If voluntary union and secession was the basis upon which this nation was founded, why wouldn’t it also be the basis of its continuance?
What Abraham Lincoln did, in coercively suppressing the secessionist movement of the South, was treasonous and un-American and this act of coercive suppression represented a reversal of something considered very fundamental and unique to the forming of our nation. No longer, after Lincoln’s tyranny, would the federal government be truly answerable to the people. No longer would the federal government seek to create an environment of mutual consent and voluntary association. Lincoln brought us the beginnings of a haughty and abusive form of government that continues, to this very day, to flaunt its power intrusively and obnoxiously. We’ve evolved into a nation of serfs no better off than the colonists, under oppressive British rule, and in many instances the tyranny we experience today is worse than the tyranny experienced under British rule. The primary difference being that today the tyranny is much more creatively disguised through the management of perceptions by mainstream media.
Why was secession from British rule applauded as being something akin to the Divine while the Southern States secession from the Union was, under Lincoln, characterized as being heretical or treasonous? Why did the United States government applaud the state secessionist movement in the U.S.S.R. and elsewhere while continuing to pooh-pooh the same liberty for their own individual states? Is there a double standard for freedom?
Is not voting with our feet and our money true democracy practiced in its most pure form? Can we imagine the degradation of products and services consumers would experience if a law was passed prohibiting shoppers from discontinuing the use of a product or service? Can we imagine the abusive and haughty behavior that could be found in marital relationships if laws were created to prohibit withdrawal from those relationships? Can we imagine the abusive and haughty nature of a government run amok, as witnessed on an almost daily basis, not having some connection to Lincoln’s treasonous act against the South? How many past civilizations embracing coercion, as the patriotic glue uniting their societies together, did not witness this coercion morphing into more oppressive forms and serving as the catalyst for the next revolution?
When sellers of products and services are required to compete for our loyalty, doesn’t that make for more choices and better service in the marketplace? When a spouse understands their partner is not shackled to the marital relationship, in a coercive fashion, doesn’t that garner more mutual respect or respectful behavior towards one another? Why wouldn’t a similar voluntary and competitive structure, in government, provide equally more choices, freedom and better customer service?
If we can understand the benefits of secession from the British Crown, can we not understand the potential benefits of secession from the Union? When we succumb to the false ideas of - my country, right or wrong; my church, right or wrong; and my family, right or wrong; how do we avoid resigning ourselves to the inevitable negative consequences (tyranny) arising from such self-destructive paradigms? Unconditional loyalty to one’s country, one’s church, and to one’s family soon becomes the breeding ground for the selfish and arrogant.
If the secessionist movement isn’t successful on the state level, it can certainly be successful on the individual level. If the United States government appears to have great difficulty in keeping illegal immigrants out of our country, how can it be expected the United States government will be any more successful in keeping those desiring to leave (secede) from doing so? The best and brightest liberty minded people will leave for more hospitable shores and many are doing so right now. Those who understand what liberty is will certainly find it.
In the final analysis, there will be only two impediments to the masses desiring to secede from the Union in whatever fashion deemed appropriate to the circumstances. Those impediments are personal debt and dependency upon the Nanny State. Debt and Nanny State dependency keep us in perpetual slavery and we do it to ourselves by our choices. The famous Pogo cartoon quotation summed it up best when lamenting, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
The most prosperous nation states of the future will be the ones who compete with each other in providing an environment of low taxes, privacy, and the elimination of onerous regulations and frivolous lawsuits. The personally responsible and solvent will be attracted to their shores.
The impoverished third world nation state wastelands of the future will be the ones who incentivize personal irresponsibility, personal debt, and dependency upon the Nanny State.
We have a choice to be loyal to the principles of freedom and our core values or the choice to be loyal to the brand and the expectations of others. Freedom is a choice!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Is God really in control, or is this just another mindless cliché that serves as a tool of obfuscation to those disinclined to accept personal responsibility for what happens to them or to those disinclined to look a little deeper into what they see going on in the world around them?
How many of us look around at the calamities going on in the world such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil gushing crisis, the banking collapse, the “forever wars” in the Mideast, the implosion of residential real estate, the exportation of our manufacturing sector, the escalating unemployment rate, the rioting and bloodshed in Greece, the Columbine styled school shootings, the bombing of the Murrah building, the collapse of the Twin Towers, or the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, and sometimes feel compelled to label or categorize these events as being or representing something outside of our own control and miraculously separated from the choices we individually make whether we are talking about where we choose to live, our choice of employment, our recreational pursuits, our personal associations, our political worship, or how we choose to invest our money? It is much easier, when faced with such seemingly unexplainable events and calamities, at least by mainstream media’s standards, to place them all in the “too hard to do bin” by making the rather weak and unconvincing proclamation that, “God is in control,” thereby automatically dismissing out-of-hand any personal responsibility for the outcomes we may encounter along this journey we call life.
In making the statement, “God is in control,” does it not appear to be an effort on the part of some to simply avoid thinking about cause and effect or the associated implications (consequences) of their beliefs, decisions and actions? If we can quickly shift personal responsibility onto something outside ourselves, doesn’t it tend to make for more happy thoughts? When someone is attempting to mindlessly shift their personal responsibility onto God’s shoulders, with such a reckless cliché as, “God is in control,” the automatic response bursting forth from our lips is, “In control of what?” What is God in control of? Do we, or do we not, have freewill, or are we all just hapless victims of a cruel joke played upon us by our Creator? Are we really just robots or automatons? Does holding on to the “God is in control” paradigm encourage us to be more responsible for our personal behavior, or less responsible? Does the holding on to the “God is in control” paradigm encourage us to be better stewards of our natural resources, or less so? Does the holding on to the “God is in control” paradigm encourage us to be more loving of our neighbors, here and abroad, or less loving?
Ironically, many Christians who proclaim that, “God is in control,” when faced with overwhelming calamity that they are not willing to accept responsibility for, are the same ones who cheer on or actively participate in the annihilation of brown skinned babies, of Muslim parents, because they think God may have fallen asleep at the switch and that he may need a little nudge. They may verbalize or intellectualize that “God is in control,” but their contradictory actions, even if it’s just a warmongering wink and a nod, from the safety of their pews, bespeak something else entirely. Their contradictory actions imply a degree of impatient benevolence towards a God who apparently does not know what is going on in the world and who needs their help to bring on Armageddon to the Axis of Evil (anyone not bowing to their whims, desires, and expectations). This contradictory push-pull is much like an adult rendition of the childhood straw squeezing game where giggling little girls pinch the straw and verbally speculate, “He loves me, he loves me not,” being replaced, in the adult Christian version by, “God is in control, God is asleep.” So, which is it? Is God in control or is he asleep? God can’t be both, can he?
Do we really want to sit back and entrust others to play squeeze the straw and discover the answer to that question for us, or do we want to more broadly explore our own questions and answers that don’t serve to limit the outcome to such narrow and equally disturbing possibilities? Neither of the two possibilities, above, seem very complimentary to a loving God who made each of us in his own image to autonomously rule over the animal kingdom, plant kingdom, and our own families, does it? Is it possible we sometimes attempt to mold and shape God to our own skewed images?
The two conflicting and contradictory paradigms, “God is in control” and “God is asleep,” often held by Christians simultaneously can only be embraced, in such fashion, by those who’ve awkwardly and vainly attempted to compartmentalize and segregate their spiritual lives from their secular lives. They represent a sort of Jekyll and Hyde dual personality struggling to achieve congruity between their incompatible religious and secular belief systems. In their minds, killing little brown babies is justified because God must be asleep at the switch in allowing Muslims to exist and pursue their dreams of autonomy and that Armageddon must happen within their lifetimes because the Bible says so. Never mind the fact that their Bible is the same Bible their parents, grandparents and great grandparents read and that Armageddon didn’t materialize within their lifetimes. They, without the least bit of shame, postulate that maybe if they kill even more brown skinned babies that maybe they can prove to a loving, kind, and compassionate God that they are actually worthy of the rapture for which they are desperately longing.
Is there possibly a third paradigm we need to explore that makes much more sense than the contradictory and opposing “God is in control” and “God is asleep” paradigms many so-called Christians equally and contradictorily embrace? What would that third paradigm be?
A third paradigm that makes much more sense to us is the one that says, “I’m responsible for everything I do and everything that happens to me…period.” Although we recognize that God instituted the natural laws designed to keep our Universe from spinning out of control, we also recognize that within this framework of natural law that we, as human beings, are blessed with the freewill to design our own destinies. The more closely our life design parallels the natural order of things, the more peace, joy, love and happiness we experience. When our lives continually bump up against the sharp edges of natural law, the more pain we experience. When we seek and embrace natural law and make it our ally rather than discovering it haphazardly, we show gratitude and allegiance to our Creator and experience more peace, joy, love, happiness and abundance. When we embrace man’s law, on the other hand, we experience all manner of mischief, calamity, inequality, scarcity, hate, strife and discord.
We, as human beings, are not victims of anything other than our own choices…good, bad, or ugly and we cannot realistically separate the consequences of life from our own beliefs, decisions and actions.
We can already hear a few readers mumbling, “Yeah, but what about…babies born with physical and mental challenges? What beliefs, decisions and actions are they responsible for making that brought them these challenges?” These are the ‘lifeboat cases’ that are invariably raised by those disinclined to accept personal responsibility for their beliefs, decisions and actions. They’re hoping to philosophically piggyback or hitch a ride off the infirm. Ironically, how many instances have we witnessed autistic children becoming virtuosos in some field of endeavor? Or, what about those who’ve overcome severe physical disabilities and achieved personal fame in the sports world? Yes, it would appear that some may have been dealt a bad hand, at the inception of life, but what is our excuse and who are we to judge their challenges as being disabilities? Who are we to judge their purpose in life as being subpar to our own? Who are we to judge and place limits on their capacity for achievement?
Those inclined to put on their victim faces and philosophically hitch a ride off the infirm will be shamed to tears after viewing the following video:
Saturday, April 10, 2010
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many arrows. - I Timothy 6:10 (KJV)
The scripture above has been brutally butchered and bastardized over the years and has led to many great distortions and incorrect conclusions among many Christians. These distortions and wrongful conclusions have negatively impacted Christians and their attitudes toward money and have adversely affected their behavior toward the accumulation of wealth. The butchery and bastardization of I Timothy 6:10 takes place when the “love of money is the root of all evil” topic is wrongfully separated from the concept of covetousness.
The above scripture, in Timothy, when taken in its complete context, implies that it is not the love of our own money that is the root of all evil, but the love of other people’s money. Covetousness is commonly defined as an inordinate desire for money or things we don’t own. Obviously, money and things we don’t own belong to someone else. We can’t covet money or property we’ve legitimately acquired through moral means. We can only covet that which belongs to someone else. Covetousness implies that the item, money, or property in question is in the rightful possession of someone else and implies also there may be a temptation, on the part of the one coveting, to acquire the property of another through immoral means.
Covetousness also implies a lack of contentment or gratitude for what we already have (our capacity to earn) and a basic ignorance of the natural law that dictates we can’t have something for nothing. Another way of stating this natural law is that there is no free lunch. Genesis 3:19 supports the concept of there being no free lunch when it states, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground…”
Sadly, church leaders, pastors, and preachers are often the worst offenders when it comes to taking I Timothy 6:10 out of context and may be the worst violators of the scripture’s truer meaning. They convince many of their flock that money is evil while it is residing in their member’s wallets but that the very same money is miraculously sanctified when it hits the church collection plate. Will the real coveters please stand up? These church leaders appear to be coveting the money of their flock while hypocritically preaching on money’s evil nature. Are they not deceiving their flocks and shearing them in much the same manner the profane Jewish religious leaders (Pharisees) did in early New Testament times?
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. – Luke 16:13-15 (KJV)
So, should Christians be good little sheep and stand ready to receive their shearing? Not hardly. While Christians were often given the descriptive attributes of sheep, they were also admonished to recognize the voice of their Shepherd and to be wary of human wolves (Pharisees, false prophets) dressed in sheep skins who were pretending to be something they weren’t. Whether modern day preachers and pastors have ill intent or are simply ignorant on this matter, we will let God be the judge. In the meantime, however, we will be more inclined to take responsibility for our own charitable giving rather than using religious institutions serving as wealth redistribution centers. Their bloated administrative budgets and staff absorb much of the charitable giving and far too few dollars ever reach those truly in need compared to the ratio of money going to glitzy buildings, massive bus fleets, and the Six Flags Over Jesus theme park atmosphere.
Covetousness is truly the root of all evil and biblical examples of covetousness can be traced as far back as Eve, in the Garden of Eden, who was tempted, by Satan, to eat of the fruit from the tree that would give her knowledge of good and evil and make her equal to the gods. Eve, therefore, coveted knowledge and angelic esteem that was not hers to possess.
If one erroneously believes that the love of money is the root of all evil must they not first define what money really is?
So, what is money? Is it not simply a tool of exchange? Is money not a representative unit of one’s labor or energy used to produce items or services others desire and voluntarily pay for with money they, themselves, have also earned?
If one erroneously believes that the love of money is the root of all evil but correctly recognizes that the root of money, itself, is simply representative of one’s labor, would they not be forced to accept the uncomfortable conclusion that the love of labor is ultimately the root of all evil? If the love of labor is the root of all evil, by what means did labor originate? Did not God establish the natural law of labor shortly after the Garden of Eden incident? Should we not love and respect the natural laws God has instituted? How apropos was it that God selected a form of punishment (no free lunches) so precisely suited to the covetousness and crime exhibited in the Garden of Eden?
The value of money is not determined by government decree, central banks, or by those who exist off the labor of others. The value of money is determined by those who produce items and services others value and who willingly and voluntarily exchange it by trading value-4-value absent the tools of guilt (fraud) or fear (force).
Which comes first in the natural order of things; money, or looting and mooching?
Looting is the forceful taking or plundering of products or services, or their monetary equivalent. Looting is, therefore, the forceful taking or plundering of another’s labor or energy. Mooching is the acquisition of products or services, or their monetary equivalent, by preying on producers in society through the use of guilt (fraud) and separating them from the fruits of their labor. Money attracts looters and moochers. The looters and moochers produce nothing but immorality and therefore lend nothing to the value of money.
I Timothy 6:10 is not describing those who possess money gained through the use of their own mental faculties and labor, but instead is describing those looters and moochers who desire and/or possess something they have not earned. In other words, those who live off the backs of others are the ones guilty of loving money at the expense of morality (coveting).
By what logic can we damn our money without damning our own existence? We exist by our ceaseless labor and money is just a representation of that labor. If we damn our money, we, by necessary inference, damn our labor. If we damn our labor, we, by necessary inference, damn our lives because to live is to labor. How can we damn our own lives or its moral derivatives without damning our Creator?
Money (honestly earned) is therefore the root of all good because it represents a form of indirect exchange we can use to exchange our labor for the labor of others. Trading value-4-value honors the principle of the golden rule in which we treat others as we would wish to be treated. Money, as previously defined, exemplifies and supports the golden rule.
Looters and moochers who come by money through immoral means (fraud, theft, robbery, political and/or legislative) are the ones who denigrate money and dilute its value. Those who do so are society’s counterfeiters and hitchhikers.
Article credits: The Bible and Atlas Shrugged (Francisco D’Antonio’s Money Speech)
Monday, March 8, 2010
Have Christians unwittingly embraced and promoted the concept of a one world government and one world currency based on what they perceive as being the fulfillment of end time prophecy? When does a belief, in and of itself, lend itself to self-fulfillment separate and apart from a perceived future reality? Have tyrants sought to take advantage of those holding to such end time beliefs in order to advance, prematurely and selfishly, their own agendas possibly millions, billions, or trillions of years ahead of this much anticipated event?
Do some Christians seem a bit over anxious in throwing in the financial towel and justifying not accepting personal responsibility for their financial situations because they think the end is “nigh”? How does this attitude affect financial stewardship? How does this attitude affect the stewardship of our natural resources? How does this attitude affect our relations with our neighbors across the street or around the world? Would the belief that the end times is imminent lend itself to individuals being more savings oriented or less savings oriented; better stewards of our natural resources or worse stewards; and more loving of our neighbors, at home and abroad, or less loving? How do our beliefs of end time prophecy impact our daily decisions? Are we even aware of its potential impact on a conscious level or is the awareness operating in the realm of our subconscious?
Many Christians claim that a one world government and a one world currency are associated with the evil and wickedness to be destroyed during an apocalyptic event associated with the second coming of Christ. Christians often warn of this impending doom upon mankind and many truly believe it is a “sign” of the times. They often close out their warnings and proclamations of doom with phrases such as, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
What if - we somehow knew this momentous end time event was going to be over 999 trillion years into the future? Would that change how we would respond and react to those attempting to exercise such tyranny over us in the here and now? Would we be behaving like scattered and fearful sheep or wise but harmless serpents? Would we tend to be a bit more personally responsible for our own outcomes knowing our lives and the shaping of the community and the world around us consist of the individual and unique choices we each make on a daily basis?
Hasn’t there usually been some “thing” or some “event” happening in the life cycle of practically every generation of human beings, since the beginning of time, which could conceivably be laid squarely at the doorstep of end time prophecy? Why are we often so centrist in our outlook on this topic? In other words, what makes us so special to think we are the chosen ones to witness such a momentous event and that Christ will come in our lifetimes? Anyone out there have any ideas?
We will soon be announcing the release of our book titled The END TIMES Hoax and the Hijacking of Our Liberty. In this book, we explore this very interesting topic of end time prophecy and the implications it has had and continues to have on our liberty. We expect readers to find this book very compelling and the ideas presented intellectually stimulating.
The purpose of this article, however, is to examine readily available evidence in considering the probabilities and likelihood of a one world government and currency being successfully implemented. We will tell you on the front end of this discussion that our biases negate any such concern that a modern day financial Tower of Babel could enjoy any greater probability of success than did the Tower of Babel spoken of in the Bible. That doesn’t mean such a dream won’t be considered or attempted, but simply that the dream will meet with a similar fate and for similar reasons.
We offer, as a very compelling exhibit, the European Union (EU) as a micro model of a failed attempt at one world government and a one world currency.
The EU, at its inception, was purportedly formed for the purpose of allowing free and unrestricted access to goods and services among the member states. This was a lofty and worthwhile goal as the free flow of goods and services, along with cross border employment opportunities, with our neighbors, is much more preferable to the alternative of trading bullets and bombs with each other.
The bureaucratic barriers to the free flow of information, ideas, commerce, personal travel, and cross border employment were effectively stripped away by the adoption of a common currency, the Euro, trading freely among EU member states but with each state maintaining a significant degree of political autonomy and sovereignty within their own borders. The EU blossomed under this economic model and tremendous wealth was created in the process.
As with most free market endeavors, the tremendous wealth that was created as a result of this EU endeavor attracted societal parasites consisting of bureaucrats, central planners, and their beneficiaries – the welfare state and the warfare state – who began sniffing around the corners of the EU tent looking for an entry point to insert their collectivist noses.
The central planners and bureaucrats, particularly in Brussels, were not satisfied with simply having sustained economic growth, as an off-shoot of free market activity, but greedily wanted to centralize and hoard political and military power for themselves by consolidating such power in Brussels and usurping individual state sovereignty. In an EU member state vote, in 2005, the proposal to consolidate political and military power in Brussels, by ratifying a single EU constitution, was an embarrassing failure much to the dismay of socialist minded central planners and bureaucrats in Brussels and elsewhere. There were simply too many separate languages and unique cultures to harmonize. Absent the harmonization of these many distinct cultures and languages, the centralization of political power, under a single EU constitution, had about as much a chance of success as a gigantic bird of prey would have in attempting to herd cats in the rain. This failure was cheerfully applauded by lovers of liberty all over the globe. It was an outright rejection of centralized political power in favor of a continuance of state sovereignty. Even in the U.S., where cultural and language challenges are much less pronounced than in the EU, we are seeing movement afoot, by individual states, to secede from the United States of America because of the federal governments constant and ever increasing encroachment into our personal lives and businesses through abusive and self-serving administrative laws, tons of onerous and bureaucracy expanding regulations, and burdensome taxation. So, it was back to the drawing board for the European central planners and bureaucrats who continually yearn to subsist off the energies of others and consolidate political power for questionable objectives.
The success of the Euro and the tremendous wealth creation it spawned eventually became a viable threat to the U.S. dollar remaining the reserve currency of the world. Keep this thought in the back of your mind as we move forward in this discussion.
Currently, the EU is literally coming apart at the seams and the Euro currency has been raided. There are Federal Reserve generated rumors floating around that Goldman Sachs may have been involved with purposeful reckless lending to the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) only to turn around and short these markets with sophisticated derivative products in much the same fashion as they were accused of doing to the real estate securitization market, in the U.S., in a slick pump and dump scheme that made them billions of dollars in profits, on both sides of the trade, from the disaster they conceived, promoted, and carried out with a little help from their political cronies in Washington and the Federal Reserve. Another rumor is circulating that Goldman Sachs executives have armed themselves. Are their consciences speaking to them and telling them they have every right to be afraid of the millions of Americans and Europeans who are now losing their homes and livelihoods to their greed and overindulgences?
What about the PIIGS? Are they too big to fail? Will the EU bail them out in one form or another? Or, will the U.S. Federal Reserve covertly begin bailout efforts, at the U.S. taxpayer’s expense, to hide the collective shenanigans of Goldman Sachs, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve in what could’ve have been a strategic national effort to destroy the Euro which was increasingly perceived as a threat to the U.S. dollar’s hegemony?
Why have many former Goldman Sachs alumni such as Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson, and Stephen Friedman previously integrated themselves into key governmental positions related to finance? Where do their loyalties truly reside? Who are their protégés? Who did they mentor to continue their questionable and suspect legacies after their departure? Why would someone like Henry Paulson, having a net worth into the hundreds of millions, take a low paying job with the federal government?
What about the number of former Goldman Sachs alumni working for news media outlets? Did you know that CNBC host Erin Burnett, Guy Adami of CNBC’s fast money, and CNBC’s Mad Money host Jim Cramer are all Goldman Sachs alumni?
What about ex-Goldman Sachs employee Robert Zoellick who later worked as a United States Trade Representative, a Deputy Secretary of State, and a World Bank President? What about ex-Goldman Sachs employee Neel Kashkari who was the former Assistant Secretary to the Treasury for Financial Stability? What about ex-Goldman Sachs employee Rubin Jeffery III who formerly served as Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, in the Bush Administration, and who was replaced by ex-Goldman Sachs employee Robert Hormats, under the Obama Administration? What about former Goldman Sachs employee Romono Prodi who has been the Prime Minister of Italy twice and was formerly the President of the European Commission? What about former Goldman Sachs employee Mario Draghi who ended up being the governor of the Bank of Italy and former Goldman Sachs employee Massimo Tononi who became the Italian deputy treasury chief? The list goes on and this list is relatively transparent. How many other ex-Goldman Sachs types have been integrated into key governmental positions that are less famous? Do you feel, as a world observer, taxpayer, and consumer of financial news that you’ve possibly been taken for a ride?
Let’s return to the PIIGS for a moment. What options are available to the EU in dealing with this most pressing financial crisis? For lovers of liberty, the options are equally joyous. If the EU kicks these spendthrifts out of the EU, to save its currency, the chance for a future political union under a single EU constitution is nixed forever. If the PIIGS are too big to fail and they are bailed out at the expense of the Euro and their more productive EU members, they risk insurrection and the possibility of secessionist movements by those more solvent countries, within the EU, who will become sorely displeased with carrying the financial load of their slothful southern neighbors. Either way it goes, it is good news because it will serve as a continuing reminder, for years into the future, that collectivist socialist schemes serve no practical purpose other than sowing the seeds of financial upheaval along with extra helpings of strife, discord, and injustice. The EU has a doubtful future. It is unraveling at warp speed.
We find it extremely interesting that the Federal Reserve recently turned on Goldman Sachs suggesting that Goldman Sachs may have intentionally set Greece up with an overabundance of credit for the purpose of intentionally shorting Greek debt with sophisticated derivative products also known as financial weapons of mass destruction. The Federal Reserve has taken a lot of heavy body blows in Congressional hearings for their lack of transparency when it comes to sharing the names of those entities they’re suspected of secretly funding here and abroad. Could the Federal Reserve rolling over on Goldman Sachs be the escape hatch that takes the heat and attention off the Federal Reserve transparency issue? What if Goldman Sachs has more incriminating information to reveal about the Federal Reserve’s operations than the Federal Reserve has to offer up on Goldman Sachs? Could these budding combatants begin throwing rocks at each other from their respective glass houses? Could the corporate-government honeymoon be showing signs of fraying around the edges? Grab some popcorn, grab a safe seat near the exit, and let the show begin. There is nothing but long-term good that can come from the unraveling we are witnessing on multiple fronts.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently slammed the U.S. hard when consoling Greek President George Papandreou, by saying, “As we all know, the global economic crisis started neither in Greece, nor in Russia, nor in Europe…it came to us from across the ocean.”
Putin was correct when he implied the world financial calamity had its origins in the United States. What he didn’t say was that what started here will also end here. And, as painful as it will be watching these financial chicks coming home to roost, one-by-one, there will be some consolation in knowing that it will be quite some time into the future before the American people, once again, become so easily disinterested in what’s going on around them that they let themselves be taken in and so easily fleeced by government and corporate con artists who’ve made bread and circuses an art form and management of perception their stock and trade.
The Internet has provided us a wonderful tool of communication and commerce to form various alliances of trust independent of abusive nation states and corporatism. These alliances transcend national boundaries and unite individuals in cooperative endeavors promoting peace and goodwill independent of institutionalism and centralized forms of government.
The illusion of government power is sometimes deceiving. As governments begin intensifying, in earnest, their resistance to the inevitable decentralization of power rapidly spreading to all corners of the globe, via technology, and empowering individuals to regain their lost sovereignty and liberty, the desperate effort to squash this global decentralization of power will only serve to magnify and symbolize the government’s obvious impotence and true dependence upon those they’ve previously abused, pillaged and plundered. Likewise, those individuals currently dependent upon government welfare and warfare schemes, for their sustenance, will finally recognize that the source of their false prosperity has dried up. Faith and trust in statist regimes and tyrannical governments will then be at an all time low. This will represent a cyclic turning point away from tyranny and towards liberty.
We welcome and embrace this positive turning point as representing the result of another failed statist attempt to replicate the modern day equivalent of the Tower of Babel rather than it being representative of a more ominous and apocalyptic “sign” of end time prophecy.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Is it Hoarding or Energy Management?
We contend that to maintain life we have to expend energy. Sustaining our lives requires either the expenditure of our own energy or the energy of others. By what right can we expect others to supply our energy needs in the present or in the future?
Successful living is about managing energy wisely and successful living is largely within the eye of the beholder. You know…different strokes for different folks. It isn’t our desire to determine what success is for others, individually or collectively, but rather our desire is to determine what success means to us.
What is the answer to the topical question…Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure? Drum roll please. The answer is - we ALL are hoarders. We hoard energy in various forms and combinations. We can hoard the derivatives of our energy manifested in the form of money or supplies gleaned from our “hard work in the garden” and we can hoard our energy in the form of leisure. So, it is not a matter if we hoard, but rather what we hoard. What do you hoard?
Since the modern day usage of the word “hoarding” has been skewed somewhat, from its original meaning, we believe a less offensive and more accurate label to describe the concept of putting away nuts for the winter might be called energy management.
Think of energy management in terms familiar to pilots of aircraft. The pilot spends fuel (energy) to achieve altitude (a form of stored energy). Stored energy, in the form of altitude, is precious to a pilot as that stored energy can be used sparingly, in an engine out scenario, to glide to a safe landing. The pilot, at altitude, has hoarded an extra margin of energy that translates to an extra margin of safety and peace of mind.
Is the pilot who hoards energy, in the form of altitude, and who prefers an extra margin of peace of mind for himself and an extra margin of safety for his passengers exhibiting a lack of faith in God or is he just showing gratitude for the innate reasoning ability God gave him? Would you want to entrust your life to the pilot who thinks God will bail them out of every stupid decision they make or would you prefer to entrust your life to the pilot who assumes full responsibility for their risk profile and acts responsibly in mitigating, to the highest degree professionally possible, the inherent risks associated with that activity?
Everyone, without exception, hoards something. If we value leisure, we hoard our energy. If we value putting away nuts for the winter, we spend our present energy for future leisure when nut gathering isn’t feasible. If we value our leisure time and nut gathering, we delicately balance the two objectives.
There is nothing inherently wrong with either hoarding energy, in the form of leisure, or hoarding nuts. The issue of morality only comes into play when we attempt to misappropriate someone else’s stored nuts by stealing them directly or through political or religious proxy. The issue of envy and covetousness comes into play when we feel entitled to the energy of others or the derivatives of their energy (their property). When the entitlement mindset morphs into quasi-theft, with institutions serving as brokers of goods appropriated from the productive to supply to those who worship leisure, a form of slavery begins to emerge. In the extreme, the productive cease to produce because they are disincentivized and society soon implodes on itself.
As hoarders of energy, in one form or another, we get to choose the financial altitude we fly at and the corresponding margin of financial safety that suits our individual preferences and risk profile. Some may be quite content to fly low and slow on the edge of the performance envelope, with little room for error, while others may seek more certainty, more peace of mind, and a greater margin of financial safety for themselves and those they care about.
We also, in addition to answering the title question about whether or not you are a hoarder, promised to answer the question of how we know when enough is enough when saving for retirement.
If we keep moving our target goals out further, in time, or to a particular financial figure, are we showing a lack of faith in God? Should we just take a leap of faith? In a nutshell, enough savings for retirement is reached at whatever point we can sleep with our decision after carefully evaluating the constantly changing dynamics going on in the world around us. Are we paying attention to what is going on around us and around the world? It does matter.
Should we put our faith in government and religious institutions to help us make this most critical decision? Did THEY see the current financial disaster coming or are they now scrambling for liquidity like everyone else? If they didn’t see the financial disaster coming, why would we trust them to show us the way out of the financial calamity?
If we make the wrong decision, will we expect to be bailed out of our mistake by someone else? And, by what right can we expect to be bailed out by others when we know we have no right to anyone else’s energy? Isn’t our energy representative of life itself? By what perverted logic would anyone assume to have the right to someone else’s life?
If we’ve carefully considered these questions and can sleep soundly with the answers, retirement is no longer a far off dream. The time for retirement is now.
This was a fun series to write and we hope you enjoyed it and found value in it.
The Poor People of PNG
We realize this series has become a bit long in the tooth but we felt it absolutely essential to lay a solid foundation of understanding before moving forward with this discussion. We’ve already touched on the issue of how much savings for retirement is enough and we will answer the question completely in Part IV.
Now we want to explore the second article Craig penned regarding his interview with the poor people of PNG. If you haven’t already read parts I and II of this series, please do so now and follow the links to the two articles penned by Craig Ford at Money Help for Christians titled How Much Savings for Retirement is Enough? and The Rich and Poor: My Interview With The Poor People of PNG. Both articles are relatively short but vitally important in answering the topical question of…Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure?
Craig, as we’ve stated previously, is a missionary evangelist in Papua, New Guinea (PNG). He recently, as an experiment, invited a group over to his house to explore the conundrum between the rich and the poor. It is an extremely interesting story and offers an abundance of understanding concerning the interrelationships between our beliefs, choices, and consequences. Craig interviewed this group as he was curious about how the poor people he interacts with perceive his standard of living, as compared to theirs, what their attitudes were about money, how they defined or described the “rich,” what they thought they needed to do to be rich, whether being rich was a worthy goal, the advantages and disadvantages of being poor, and what they expected of the rich when it comes to benevolence extended them.
Craig, during this interview, discovered that none in the group considered themselves rich and since, as is the case in most third world countries, there is no middle class in PNG, the financial condition or status of the group being interviewed automatically defaulted to being poor. In many societies, being poor is also attributed with being disadvantaged, oppressed, or victimized by the greed and ambition of others who have more wealth.
One of the first questions asked of the group is how they would describe or define a rich person. The answer was most telling. They described rich people as generally putting in a lot of time, effort and hard work in the garden. If their descriptions were an accurate assessment of many of those who are rich in that country, it is assumed that the rich labor in the fields planting, caring for, and harvesting food for the consumption of their families along with a surplus of food to be taken to the market to be sold for money or traded directly for other goods and services needed now or in the future. Could the “rich” logically be called “hoarders,” in this instance, since they produced more food than they directly consumed? According to the dictionary definition, these “rich” people qualify as “hoarders.”
The group being interviewed considered themselves “poor,” but they expressed that they valued their free time or leisure. Their free time and leisure to spend with family is obviously important to them. When questioned about how much of their disposable income went for food, the answer was around 99 percent. Obviously, they valued their leisure time much more than they valued the exorbitant amount of money they were paying for food grown by others. We deducted, from the interview, that the rich grew their own food while the poor bought their food at the grocery store or local market. Obviously, in terms of cost, growing their own food would have left the poor with much more disposable income for other desired items to include luxuries more commonly associated with the rich people of PNG who grew their own food and took their surplus to market.
The poor people Craig interviewed have chosen to conserve or hoard their physical energy, in the form of leisure time, contrasted to the rich who’ve chosen to forego some of their leisure activities while spending their surplus physical energy reserves in the planting, caring for and harvesting of food for personal and commercial uses. The rich were basically building a storehouse of wealth to use for future needs when their bodies aged and they no longer had an abundance of physical energy to expend toiling in the garden.
The poor, on the other hand, hoarded their abundance of physical energy when they were young with little hope of prosperity in the present or the future. Although these people are poor, in financial terms, the fact cannot be overlooked that these poor people are “rich” in leisure. Some in the group expressed that some in their families are reluctant to work harder to make a better life for themselves because of family freeloaders who are mooching off their backs. Apparently, they’ve not considered kicking these moochers off the island or at least out of their households even though they recognize it is one of the things possibly interfering with their aspirations to improve their standard of living. Or, it could also be an excuse or justification for their choice of leisure over being more ambitious. In either case, it appears that we can have unique cultural expectations within families that can influence our beliefs, choices, and consequences.
In Part IV of…Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure?, we will get to the essence of answering the question the series title poses and you may be very surprised at the answer we offer.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Defining Our Terms Continued…
So far, we’ve discussed two extreme usages of the word “hoarding.” The first one being the rather benign dictionary definition of simply having stored supplies or money beyond our immediate needs and the second usage, on the other end of the spectrum, associated with psychosis. Is there a definition or usage of the term “hoarding” somewhere between these two extremes? We believe so.
Just as we often label others “rich” simply on the basis that they have more than we have, don’t we sometimes label others as “hoarders” on a similar basis? If we have a one car garage with one car parked inside and our rich neighbor has a six car garage containing a variety of exotic automobiles, wouldn’t it be tempting to label our rich neighbor as a “hoarder” of automobiles? If our neighbor on the next block over doesn’t have any car at all, we possibly look upon them as being “poor.” We usually perceive ourselves, however, as being situated quite righteously in the middle of these two extremes. But let’s take a look at ourselves from our neighbor’s point of view. Our rich neighbor could just as easily perceive us, with our one car garage and old jalopy sitting inside, as poor, in much the same way we perceive our poor neighbor who doesn’t have any car at all. And, our poor neighbor, without a car, may perceive us as being “rich.”
The usage of the terms “poor” and “rich” is often a misappropriation of sorts and we do ourselves a great disservice when we attempt applying them to anyone other than ourselves. This is an especially hazardous undertaking when we travel outside our own cultures and view, through our “American Eyes,” the extreme differences in standards of living respective to those of our foreign neighbors. We can certainly be thankful when noting these comparative differences, but do we also struggle with some measure of guilt in the process? Do we sometimes feel compelled to walk with a financial limp before those whom we perceive as being financially lame so as to make ourselves feel less guilty about our comparative prosperity? Do we sometimes pity others who have less, according to our own definitions of what less is, and why are we sometimes obsessed with the need to be the great economic equalizer among those whom we perceive to be less fortunate? Would a worldwide uniform standard of living be desirable? Is a worldwide uniform standard of living achievable? And, why are the terms “hoarding” and “hoarders” suddenly re-emerging in recent times when discussions arise as to the handling of personal finances and preparations for retirement? Is it quite possible the reason these terms are being re-energized is because the expanding gulf between rich and poor, in our own country, is becoming more noticeable?
The Term “Hoarding” Reincarnated
What’s up with the revived interest in the usage of the terms “hoarding” or “hoarder”? Former President Bill Clinton supplied, unbeknownst to him, the answer to this question when he, on numerous occasions, said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
When the economy was rolling along quite nicely people often had two SUVs parked in the oversized garages that adjoined their McMansions and they were planning their next cruise, shopping extravaganza, and house flipping party. Life was good…even if it was on borrowed money. No one really cared what the President was doing or what was going on in the world.
Well, flipping houses has flopped and the house flipping parties are over. The McMansion is in foreclosure, the cars have been repossessed, the jobs are gone, and people are scared. They are really scared. The words of former President Clinton are as true today, during this current economic crisis, as they were during the boom. The reason the usage of the terms “hoarding” and “hoarder” have seen such a revival is because of the economy. No one really minds being charitable during the good times when enjoying what could be perceived as perpetual prosperity. But, was it real prosperity we were enjoying or was it the false illusion of prosperity? Was it a false prosperity built on the shifting sands of debt or was it true prosperity built on the bedrock of savings? Is it now quite possible many of those finding themselves trapped by the folly of the financial bubble are enviously viewing the “hoarders,” who didn’t succumb to the temptation of living beyond their means, as their financial escape hatch or social safety net? Will the “hoarders” capitulate? Not voluntarily.
The revival of the terms “hoarding” and “hoarder” is a natural occurrence associated with a tapped out and debt ridden consumer. Charitable contributions are understandably dropping and they are dropping drastically as individual households are appropriately retrenching from two and a half decades of irresponsible spending and consumption when many households used inflated home prices to leverage their consumption and charitable giving by borrowing against their home equity.
Since the stock market crash in 2000, the economy has been on a steady downward spiral and many disillusioned stock market investors viewed real estate as a safe haven for their investment funds. Later, when the real estate bubble also popped, these same investors suddenly found themselves immobilized, like deer caught in the headlights, with an illiquid portfolio of real estate, not enough cash flow, and possibly no job. The liquidity crisis quickly spread to the rest of the financial markets that had irresponsibly pyramided derivative products on top of an already overextended and overleveraged property market. The rest of the story is like watching dominoes fall. The next dominoes to fall are the commercial real estate market and residential option ARM re-sets. The crisis in real estate is far from over.
During the boom times, local, county, state, and federal bureaucracies expanded with reckless abandon. Many charitable and religious institutions also increased their own bureaucracies and overhead. This institutional obesity was symbolized best, in the religious realm, by the evolution of the megachurch. Many of these religious institutions are bearing unsustainable debt loads and are on the financial ropes sucking wind alongside their members who are currently dealing with personal bankruptcy, foreclosure, and sustained unemployment.
Governments use force (taxes) and fraud (inflation) to extract needed funding, in this declining economy, while charitable institutions and churches often use false guilt to extract needed funding from those they’ve become dependent on.
Socialist or collectivist thinking has invaded both government and religious institutions and while government can always resort to coercive taxation to get needed funding, they desire to package their forced extractions into more palatable rhetoric like the religious institutions do. The charitable and religious institutions use words such as “hoarding” to make people feel guilty for looking out after their own self-interests (family and household). In the secular realm, hoarders are frequently labeled as isolationists, as being anti-social, or as not being socially responsible. Government and religious institutions serve as brokers in the redistribution of wealth…after, of course, they take their quite respectable cuts squarely off the top to service severely bloated administrative budgets and other costly overhead. A fact grossly overlooked, in the fog of labeling and name calling, is that if households had been more diligent in looking out after their own self-interests, prior to the economic downturn, there would have been fewer personal bankruptcies, foreclosures, and much less stress on our existing social safety nets that are now looking extremely distended and frayed.
Keeping Up With The Joneses Psychosis
We can clearly see that the need to keep up with the Joneses, to our own detriment, during the credit bubble, was not a psychosis exclusive to individuals but it was also a dis-ease embraced by governments, corporations, financial institutions, and many religious groups. We would contend that the obsession to keep up with the Joneses, at the individual or institutional level, is a not-so-distant cousin to the obsessive compulsive psychosis associated with those “hoarders,” previously described, who constantly enlarge their inventory of acquisitions simply for the sake of acquiring them. In the case of individuals and institutions obsessed with the idea of living beyond their means, did not the psychosis take on the characteristics of being a nationwide obsessive compulsive behavioral pandemic? The escalating rate of individual and corporate bankruptcies and home foreclosures would suggest that the answer to that question is yes.
Although it might make us all feel better when we watch daytime TV shows that depict the obsessive compulsive behaviors of others who have seemingly pointless habits, wouldn’t we all be better served by focusing on more pertinent behaviors? Have any of these rather benign behaviors contributed to the implosion of our national economy?
Now that we’ve discussed what hoarding is and how the usage of the word has morphed into something else entirely and the reasons why, we are now ready to move into the next phase of the discussion in Part III of this four part series where we will analyze the interview Craig Ford had with the poor people of PNG. We believe you will find Part III very interesting.