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The New Cool Mormons Get Even Cooler

Dancing on the Edge

Sunday, July 24, 2011

If you stumble and just barely avert falling over the precipice, ought you thereafter assume it's okay to dance upon the spot? Yet that exactly what leaders are doing right now with the world's economic system.

The precipice was just two and a half years ago. Lest anyone think I exaggerate, here's the cover of the Economist that week*:

2011 7 24 world on the edge 
 

 
*not to be confused with 'What the the #@%! is Next'

The fear at the edge was palpable. Did George Bush really fret aloud that “this sucker may go down!”? Panicked into doing something....anything...fast, Congress passed legislation infusing massive cash transfers into critical financial institutions, “bailing them out.” Essentially, the government printed more money, to the tune of $17,000 per American, (cumulative amount of all bailouts) using new public debt, the “promise to pay,” as the asset backing it. And after some breathless days.....ah....safety at last! It seemed to work, after a fashion.

But two and a half years later, the edge is back! Another related crisis, with consequences just as dire if its bungled. Come August 2nd, the United States....the world's largest borrower....will default on its debts unless Congress authorizes a higher borrowing limit. They've done this scores of times in the past, but this time they're stuck. How to do it? Cut spending (a lot), increase taxes (a lot), or kick the can down the road to deal with later? Always, the 3rd option has won out, but maybe not this time.

At present, 41 cents of every dollar spent is borrowed money, and credit rating agencies say they'll downgrade the U.S. credit rating in the absence of more financial discipline. They can't be bombed into submission, so it's a mixture of options 1 and 2, and nobody can agree on just what that mixture should be. So Congress and the President have been squabbling and stonewalling down to the present....dancing upon the edge...terms like 'financial Armeggedon' are bandied about in the event they do not succeed. Even to come near the date without an agreement is said to freak out the markets, which have always assumed that somehow these characters will get their act together.

But Friday (July 22nd) there was 'meltdown' in the negotiations and PBS commentators Mark Shields and David Brooks, never at a loss for words about anything, were dumbfounded:

MARK SHIELDS: Jim, what you have just seen is the rupture of the summit.....  And the time is now short. I mean, the grand deal appears to be in shambles. And now the urgency is to raise the debt-ceiling and get it done.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, shambles, a complete meltdown, apparently. I have never seen a presidential press conference with a president so angry in public.....if those [terms of a proposed agreement] are real, then I think it was a pretty good deal. But the president's tone of being the only adult in Washington, everyone else is a child, that he's going to summon people to the White House as if they are kindergartners, well, even if you agree with them on the substance, it's kind of hard to go along with someone who is insulting you all the time.

MARK SHIELDS:
.....And now we're down to the point of, you know, look, we're staring right down the barrel of Aug. 2.

…..JIM LEHRER: Is it conceivable that they will not make a deal, or they will make it in such a way that the government of the United States of America will actually go into default?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I had been going in thinking there was a 10 or 20 percent chance of that. Now I would move that up to 30 or so.......

MARK SHIELDS: I still -- I'm just -- my native optimism just insists that these -- in the final analysis, they're not partisans, they're grownups, they're Americans, and they know how far how grave the consequences are.

JIM LEHRER: But then why are they acting the way they're acting?

MARK SHIELDS: It's -- it -- Jim, it's a question that I don't have the answer for.

 (Greatly abbreviated. Click above for the full transcript)

 

Of course, the public seethes over this and threatens to vote everyone out come next election. But surely that's a tired response. For people haven't been betrayed by their leaders....who are only doing just what one would expect them to do given the dramatically opposed constituencies they represent. This is the classic “iron mixed with clay” of Daniel 2:42-43. They're honorable people, for the most part, doing their best. Looking out for themselves at the same time, no doubt, but who doesn't? Rather, people have been betrayed by an idea....namely, that human rule, in this case government “by the people,”....works, and can solve our ever-deepening woes.

Oh yeah, Tom Sheepandgoats, oh yeah!? Well, if you don't think 'government by the people' works, tell me of some government you like better. Exactly.......I can't. They all have strengths. They all have weaknesses. And in each case, the former is outweighed by the latter. It simply goes to show that human rule itself is the problem, and that “we need the Kingdom”.... that heavenly Kingdom which the Bible speaks of and which Jehovah's Witnesses publicize.

But human self-rule is an article of faith unrivaled among notions today. Nobody likes to throw dirt at it. So instead they throw dirt at the persons involved, thinking they are the problem, and not the system itself. Yet the Congressmen themselves feel betrayed. They give their all to a system, believing as strongly as any religionist that that system will deliver, only to retire disillusioned, though always replaced by someone new who hasn't yet learned the lesson. Said Senator John Danforth, back in 1981: "I have never seen more Senators express discontent with their jobs....I think the major cause is that, deep down in our hearts, we have been accomplices in doing something terrible and unforgivable to our wonderful country. Deep down in our heart, we know that we have given our children a legacy of bankruptcy. We have defrauded our country to get ourselves elected."

 

Partly accounting for government truculence on economic matters is that past solutions have not proven effective. Accordingly, Senator Ron Paul grilled Fed Chief Ben Bernanke on the $17K per American ($5.1 trillion total) given to bail out the banks. Since there's been no discernible economic benefit, he mused, the Fed could have simply given each and every American $17,000.

Consumer spending would have increased, surely. And consumers could catch up on their loans, or even pay them off, so the bank would hardly suffer. And some might pool their allotments together, forming new enterprises and creating new jobs. Instead, the banks were given the $5.1 trillion directly, for their liquidity, while still holding ordinary persons on the hook for the full amount of whatever they might owe.

But Paul rushed his questions and cut off Bernanke's answers. Why? Senate sub-committee rules: he's only allotted 5 minutes! Right! And if it was the end of the world he was speaking about, he'd only have two minutes! But if it was the brand of coffee to be served during breaks, for that maybe he'd have 60 minutes or more. Shades of Parkinson's Law, if ever there existed any.


I tell you, this is absolutely amazing. And it comes right down to the wire. Perhaps the 30% chance of disaster will not occur just now, and will be postponed a bit. But the answer, God's Kingdom, is being steadily proclaimed unitedly the world over. And yet, because it's proclaimed by humble, ordinary people, it's largely ignored. After all, how many Jehovah's Witnesses have gone to Harvard? How many of them are wealthy and influential?

“For the speech about the torture stake [cross] is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.” Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God, God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.”    Rom 1:18-21

You know, the wisdom of the world does look foolish these days. More foolish all the time. And more disheartening for those who trust in it.

 

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Comments

Dave

Hi Tom,
That's a very apt scripture (Rom 1:18-21).
It seems almost inconceivable that the most powerful nation in the world could have got itself in such a pickle. It's actually very interesting to watch though, in view of what the bible says about our day.

I'm beginning to wonder whether the US's military commitments (which has probably contributed greatly to the problem) might be scaled back in favour of the UN taking on a greater role in such matters – and perhaps others besides these. After all Revelation 17:11-14 talks about an 8th king who will rule for an hour and will be instrumental in bringing the whole system to an end. The UN has to be in a position of power if it's to carry out God's 'thought' as expressed in v.15-17. These events might even bring us to the great cry of "peace and security" we've all been waiting for (1 Thes 5:3). After all, something's gotta change.

Perhaps it'll be by means of a quantum-power-shift that all this will be brought about – something that seems poised to happen very soon if they can't reach a decision.

This is all pure speculation of course, but it could be feasable.

At the end of the day, man's rulership is running out. Amazingly this was all foreseen by Jehovah thousands of years in advance.

This whole financial meltdown is having a significant effect here in NZ already. It doesn't seem like many years ago when NZ$1 was only worth US$0.50. Now it's worth US$0.87 the highest on record, and commentators are talking about it going as high as dollar for dollar – that's unbelievable.

This has all got me sitting on the edge of my seat!

tom sheepandgoats

"I'm beginning to wonder whether the US's military commitments (which has probably contributed greatly to the problem) might be scaled back in favour of the UN taking on a greater role in such matters"

The country is up to its eyeballs in expenditures from two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. So they took a relative back seat to European nations when it came time for Libya, acting as a lesser partner in NATO.

No mention of the United Nations just yet.

Dave

It looks like I may have been barking up the wrong tree regarding the UN or at least regarding the "quantum power shift".

We just had our District Convention where Daniel 2:41 was clarified. I'm not sure if you've heard this yet, but I'm going to try and refrain from speculating too much about this in future.

tom sheepandgoats

I hear you. Our convention was 2 weeks ago.

BeReasonable

Its funny, when I was reading @Dave's first comment, I said to myself- he didnt go to his convention yet.. I wonder if Tom's gonna mention it..

Then he later catches himself!
Inner speculations are in-a-way a sign of our keeping on the watch. Our natural tendency is to share and seek agreement on it however, and as such, we usually end up talking and chatting about it! I know a brother who watches (in my opinion) Waaaayyy too many New World Order videos. If the subject comes up, he throws hints at his ideas on what of it makes sense to him. He does pretty well of restraining himself when people are unfamiliar with the terminology, but he looks as if he is in heaven when I come around and actually listen to his theorizing.
All in all, I trust the faithful and discreet slave class to CONTINUE to be just as "Faithful" and "Discreet" as they have been, to not only use their physical positions (being in a central location and able to oversee the field and receive so much data into that centralized location) but the huge perspective it offers them, to keep us up to date on world events!

Good day Brothers!

tom sheepandgoats

Yeah, it's hard not to speculate. Okay, I guess, as long as one doesn't elevate his or her own speculation into fact. Sometimes they turn out, sometimes not. More frequently, time has not yet revealed. In the meantime, we pull together unitedly.

Dave

Thanks for your generosity brothers. I feel a bit... er, sheepish now.

Nick

A week doesn’t seem to go by without some new disaster and/or atrocity occurring, and some problems (financial/economic) don't appear to be going away. A newspaper article I was reading the other day began with the opening line - "Needless to say, these are not normal times". He can say that again. It's interesting that these comments are coming from secular people who are now seeing the frightfully serious trouble the system is in, not that they are going to be asking for Bible studies any-time soon, sad to say...

Time for some dark humour.

Survival Preparations
http://bit.ly/ofBock

tom sheepandgoats

It is dark. But also spot on.

TC

"And they shall take no note ..."

We really as a human species don't like change do we ....

Rosie

Interesting post, my only thought about the iron mixed with clay is that there IS not total meltdown; Daniel doesn't say the unstable feet bring the whole thing tumbling down but that Jehovah's Kingdom does - in other words, the final world power(s) stumble along, swaying dangerously because of the "mixture" but its in an operational "fully functioning" condition that the kingdom steps in and crushes th ewhole sorry mess.

The wonderfully lone voice of Chalmers Johnson comes to mind with his comparison of the Americian empire with its Roman predecesor, that given enough time implosion of an unsustainable system is inevitable. WE know that it simply will not be given enough time.

tom sheepandgoats

Yup. Very good point. Thank you, Rosie.

You have a marriage proposal on the New Cool Mormons post from another commenter. I, however, answered expeditiously on your behalf.

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