Signs of the times in economic woes?

Ever since the founding of the Church Christians have been looking for the return of Christ.  There probably hasn’t been a generation which didn’t include some people who believed the signs pointed to an immediate return of Christ.

I do believe it is likely that we are living in the last generation before Christ’s return, but I also yield to the statements of scripture like Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” The Greek definitions and usages for “times” and “seasons” are very important and point to the fact that our observation of the things happening in the world around us do not unequivocally show that we must be in the end of the last days.   It seems as though Christ wanted each generation to know that He could return at any time, that they should live and serve as if He were coming soon, but that they should not assume to know  more about the coming than the Apostles.

I don’t claim to know more than the Apostles and I want to serve and live as though Christ is coming very soon.   Having said that I’d like to make some observations about the world economy and how the current economic situation might play into end time events.

My intention is not to be political but it is hard to discuss this topic without ones political bias becoming evident.  This morning I read an article from the AP reporting on a recent speech by our President.  Concerning a plan for getting the nation out of the recession and job crisis the article reports the following:

He has presented a $447 billion plan to jolt the economy by cutting taxes and increasing spending on schools, roads and other public projects. He has proposed covering the cost of that, and therefore avoiding another pile of public debt, in part by raising taxes on wealthier people and corporations.

And a few paragraphs later the article reports this:

About 392,000 households would get hit by the Senate Democrats’ proposed 5.6 percent tax on income above $1 million, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. In 2013, the first year the tax would take effect, those households would see their taxes increase by an average of $110,500, according to the analysis.

What I’m about to say seems so clear and obvious to me that I’m perplexed to know why everyone doesn’t get it.   The proposal is to raise taxes on “wealthier people” – those making over a million dollars – and “corporations”.   Those two groups are essentially the same group since wealthy people own business and corporations.    Nearly every small business is a corporation called an LLC.    So the plan is to take more money from the very people and entities which provide the employment.     This is to be done so that the government can fund “spending on schools, roads, and other public projects”.   Of course once money is in the government’s hands it gets filtered through multiple layers of government so that a job paying 50K actually cost 200K in tax dollars.

Here is an important question, “what would those wealthy people and corporations do with their money if the government didn’t take it?”   The answer is that THEY WOULD SPEND IT (sorry for yelling).   Some would be spent at restaurants and department stores, or at car dealers and high end toy retailers.  All of this of course puts money into the economy and keeps people employed.   Some of the money would not be spent in retail but in business expansion.  Almost every business owner is interested in expanding his business.  Growing businesses create new jobs.

I’ve been trying to observe what has caused the jobs crisis over the past several years and while I don’t claim to be an expert one thing seems pretty clear.  Nearly everything I buy says “Made in China”.   I have nothing against Chinese people and I’m actually happy that the average Joe in China is doing far better for himself than twenty years ago.  Capitalism may kill Communism in that place given enough time.    But what this means is that the jobs are there and not here.   I recently heard the story of a New Jersey oil refinery which is closing and moving off shore to avoid economically debilitating regulations. I heard last week that GM may start building several models in China.  If that’s true, I’m guessing it is because of excessive labor and regulatory costs here.

It seems to me that the jobs have left for three reasons:  high corporate taxes, prohibitive regulations, and unsustainable labor costs.  In a competitive world economy many businesses have no choice – move out of the US or go out of business.

In another article, this one from the UK, a speech is discussed which was given by Sir Mervyn King, the head of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, which appears to me to be the equivalent to our Federal Reserve.  He stated “This is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen, at least since the 1930s, if not ever…”  He goes on to discuss the UK economic problem in the larger world context.

This article explains their plan to continue using quantitative easing [QE] to pump money into the economy.  The US has also been doing this.  The article gives a very simple definition of QE:

Under QE, the Bank electronically creates new money which it then uses to buy assets such as government bonds, or gilts, from banks. In theory, the banks then use the cash they gain to increase their lending to businesses and individuals.

By increasing the demand for gilts, QE pushes down the interest rate yields paid to holders of these and other bonds. Critics of the policy say it pushes up inflation and drives down sterling.

This is what is often criticized in the US as “printing money”.   It means that the government can’t sell enough bonds to bring in needed income to the government so it issues bonds and then buys them up itself.    A little bit of this practice can be absorbed by an economy; too much of it eventually causes serious economic trouble with hyper inflation leading the pack of troubles.   Another problem created is low interest rates.  For some people low interest is good, but it’s not good for those on a fixed income depending on a lifetime of investments to pay their monthly bills.

It seems that we are doing the exact wrong things to fix the problem we are in.  Since we need jobs it would make sense for the President to host a job summit and really honestly ask businessmen what caused them to move their manufacturing out of the country.  After identifying the problems, fix them and bring the jobs back.   The problems will certainly be high corporate taxes, prohibitive regulations, and  unsustainable labor costs.   Then the government should take a serious look at cutting spending so high taxes are not needed.

I have no confidence that any of this is going to happen because there are multiple political and philosophical, if not spiritual factors working against it happening.   I suspect that the economic crisis will continue to deteriorate.  It may be rapid, happening in a few months, or it may be very slow, taking many years, but the end result could be a worldwide depression like modern man has never known.  People may starve to death. Many could die in riots or civil wars.

Eventually – we don’t know when – these kinds of things will happen.  As the world will be in utter turmoil there will be a longing for a strong leader to unite the people of the world and bring back hope, peace, and prosperity.   A world leader could build
his ascending power on the back of a one-world economy with a world currency, probably an electronic currency.   National distinctions would be lessened and  international citizenship would be glorified.  We will all be world citizens.

It’s not hard to imagine all of this happening before the end of my generation.  It may not, but knowing the promises of the Bible and the things that are clearly stated regarding the end of history as God has declared it to be, it certainly looks like a probable outcome in this generation.  The question is are you ready?  Are you  spiritually prepared to meet your maker?  Are you physically prepared to face some hardship?  Even if Christ does not return soon, the likelihood of physical hardship in the near future is highly likely.

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Filed under Economy, One World, Suffering

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