Nearly everyday for the past 6 to 8 months there have been reports that the recession is over, or that the recession is nearly over. I guess I should jump up and go out and purchase a new Lamborghini!
Just last week Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the recession is “very likely over”. He then added, “it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time.” What does that mean? Can anyone make any sense of this? Yes I understand that technically speaking the recession ended for a month, but are things actually getting better?
Things are not getting better, in fact things are about to take a turn for the worse. The only question is how long will it take for the government sponsored economic masquerade party to end. Think about it, nearly every positive piece of economic news that we have had in the past 12 months has come from ill conceived government programs that have had the purpose to “jump start” the economy, but have only prolonged the pain.
Take for example the “cash for clunkers” program. This program basically subsidized the UAW and the governments newly acquired possessions of GM and Chrysler to spark the manufacturing sector. This program gave money to people to buy cars, so people bought cars, a lot of cars. Dealers ran out of inventory, UAW members were called back to work, and manufacturing showed improvement for 2 consecutive months, thus the program was declared a huge success. Soon however UAW members will be getting laid off again, and manufacturing is once again stalling. The price tag was $3 Billion, a hefty price tag to prop up an industry for a few months. Check out this article at National Taxpayer Union for a more in depth article.
You and I both could list several other government “prop up programs” that have had short term success only leaving the tax payer flipping the bill. We have been told that these programs have worked, but have they? I’m sure you’ve heard the President take credit for bringing the economy back from “the brink”, but what exactly is he talking about, and how can we know that he is right? They haven’t been right about anything else.
The sad truth is that there are no government programs that can end the economic crisis that we are still facing. Ever since Wilson started the Federal Reserve, and FDR embraced John Maynard Keynes economic model, we have had a date with destiny. Keynesian economics is not a perpetual form of economics, it has a life cycle and we are now nearing the end of this life cycle and the Fed and the government know it.
Every time they reach in their magic bag of tricks and pull out a new bail out, or new “cash for clunkers” program they are acting exactly like an ER doctor getting the defibrillator and trying to shock life back into a dying body. Perhaps this is “the brink” that the President is referring to.
Is the Financial Tsunami Over? What do you think?
I found this blog post on Voddie Baucham’s website and thought that it would be interesting to share. I would also encourage you to visit Voddies website at http://www.voddiebaucham.org/vbm/home.html
Thursday, June 11, 2009 The news has not been encouraging lately. Between job losses, bankruptcies, and government takeovers, it is hard to be optimistic about the future from a financial standpoint. Even China appears more capitalistic than America these days (see here). As a result, many Americans are making very hard choices. There are even commercials on television depicting families sitting around the dinner table talking about difficult decisions they must make and dreams they must defer. My family and I have had similar discussions as I have had a few events cancelled on account of “the economy”. Things are indeed tough.
One of the overlooked consequences of the current economic downturn is the increasing number of people who have decided to forego having children. All over the western world people are deciding that now is not the time to get pregnant. As a result, the vasectomy industry is experiencing an economic boom. As evidence of this, there was a recent article in Bio-Medicine titled, “With the Economy Down, Vasectomy Rates Are Up.” The author notes that, “Doctors around the United States are reporting a sharp increase in the number of vasectomies performed since the economy soured last year.”
The numbers are actually quite astonishing. One article reported more than a thirty percent increase in vasectomy rates in Canada.Things are even worse in some parts of the United States. The Bio-Medicine article reports: Since November, Dr. Marc Goldstein, surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine in New York City, said his practice has seen about 48 percent more vasectomy consultations compared to the same time the previous year.
This is especially discouraging news in light of the already astonishingly low birthrates in the industrialized world. Russia, for example, is expected to see their population cut in half (from 140 Million to 70 Million) between 2005 and 2050. As Michael Specter of the New York Times put it, “Driven largely by prosperity and freedom, millions of women — here and throughout the developed world — are having fewer children than ever before. They stay in school longer, put more emphasis on work and marry later. As a result, birth rates in many countries are now in a rapid, sustained decline. Never before — except in times of plague, war and deep economic depression — have birth rates fallen so low, for so long.” And that was 1998! Things have gotten progressively worse since then.
Many European countries have already reached the “point of no return,” and are in danger of becoming Islamic Republics. Unfortunately, most people view having children as a purely financial endeavor. This attitude was summed up well by Dr. Harry Fisch, a professor of clinical urology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City, who said:
“The issue about kids is often a financial one, and, if finances are low, it makes sense that people would be less likely to have more kids. And if they’re thinking about it, this is the time.”
Interestingly, things have been good (from a financial perspective) over the past few decades, but birthrates were still in decline. Thus, the current problem is not one of healthy birthrates becoming unhealthy in light of the economic downturn. Instead, greedy materialistic people who already saw children as a burden when they were ‘filthy rich” (which includes Americans at the “poverty line” if you look at things from a global perspective) are now in a panic because they are slightly less rich.
But what does the Bible have to say on the subject? Is an economic downturn, or a set of difficult circumstances a good enough reason to stop having children? I do not believe that an economic downturn is a sufficient reason to prevent pregnancy.
I base my argument on four key factors. First, children are a blessing. The Bible is clear on this issue: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalms 127:3-5 ESV) I love the ESV translation of this passage. Here we see an important nuance in the Hebrew text. It is not the man whose quiver is filled that is blessed, but the man “who fills his quiver.” In other words, we should seek children. We should desire them.
Second, we are commanded to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen 1:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; 35:11; Jer 23:3) One of the principle purposes of marriage is procreation. Of course, this goes beyond merely having children to actually bringing them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) in an effort to spread the image of God (and the gospel) throughout the earth. As such, it is unthinkable for Christians to attempt to enjoy the benefits of marriage and avoid the responsibility of having and raising children to the glory of God. R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY said it better than most when he wrote:
Christians must recognize that… rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God’s design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift… Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but instead in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.
Third, any decision to avoid pregnancy has to be based on biblical reasons, and a struggling economy is not one of them. While I do not believe that there are many instances where preventing pregnancy would be “biblical”, I do believe that there are some instances where one could make a strong biblical argument for doing so. For example, if a man’s wife breaks her pelvis in an automobile accident, I believe he would be quite wise in holding off any plans for a baby. I know there are some who have argued that it is “never biblical” to prevent pregnancy.
However, I disagree.As a pastor, I would advise a man in the aforementioned situation not to impregnate his wife, and I would base that advice on Peter’s admonition to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7 ESV). I believe this goes directly to a man’s role as protector in the home. However, that is a far cry from the, “Things are really bad now” line of reasoning. Anyone wondering if the Bible gives any hint as to whether or not God would advise his people to continue having children in the midst of bad economic, or political times need only look at Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon. In the midst of conditions that make ours look like a day at the park, the Lord spoke through his prophet: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.” (Jeremiah 29:4-6 ESV) I thank God that my ancestors who were slaves (by the way, that’s worse than an economic downturn) bore children in spite of their difficulties. Had they adopted today’s mindset, there would be no descendants of slaves alive in America today. We would all have been “prevented” in the name of “prudence”.
Fourth, if one has biblical reasons to avoid pregnancy (and this is almost never the case), the next step would be to employ biblical means in doing so. If a couple finds themselves in a situation where avoiding pregnancy becomes necessary, there are other issues to take into consideration. For example, birth control shots, I.U.D.’s, morning after pills, and many birth control pills, are actually abortifacients (they have the potential to cause early abortions when they fail at preventing pregnancy). As such, they should be avoided. Also, bodily mutilation (vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc.) is a serious and morally questionable alternative (1 Cor. 6:19). That leaves barrier methods (though this raises questions of “spilling the seed,” i.e., Gen. 38), and abstinence (which carries with it a whole other set of difficulties; 1 Cor. 7:1-5). In other words, such decisions are far from “cut-and-dry” for those attempting to think and act biblically in this area.
We must search the Scriptures (I also recommend resources like Andreas Kostenberger’s book, God, Marriage and Family). Unfortunately, most Christians never give such issues much thought. Very often we assume that since the practice of preventing pregnancy is so common, it must be biblical, prudent, and ethical. Moreover, most “Christian counselors” actually advise believers to prevent pregnancy in virtually any instance.
For example, if they 1) are newly married, 2) already have two or three children, 3) have experienced “difficult pregnancies,” 4) had one or more deliveries via c-section, or 5) are in the midst of an economic “crisis” (i.e., can only afford one new car and a 2,000 sq. ft. house). If you don’t believe me, start listening to call-in “counseling” shows. I know this firsthand. Regrettably, my wife and I fell victim to such “counseling” after our second child was born.
Suddenly, we had our girl and our boy (the perfect LITTLE family), and the all-too-common excuse of “difficult pregnancies,” (coupled with a Caesarian delivery) so it was time to shut it down. We hired a doctor to take his scalpel and suture, and tell God we no longer needed, wanted, or trusted him in that area of our lives. I talk about this dark episode in Family Driven Faith.
I believe the burden of proof is on those who wish to prevent pregnancy. Search the Scriptures to see if these things are true. We mustn’t simply assume that the old clichés are true. I know we’ve always heard that the responsible thing to do is prevent pregnancy until you are “ready” financially (and there are no complications, or sickness, or dreaded warnings from physicians), but what does the Bible say? And who’s ever “ready” for a baby? Moreover, who knows what the financial scene will look like nine months from now? There’s another issue at play here. Many people who prevent pregnancy today and plan on just “getting back around to it” some other time are in danger of, “tempting the Lord their God.” (Matt 4:7; cf. Deut. 6:16)
Getting pregnant is not a guarantee. There are plenty of people out there who cry themselves to sleep at night because they’ve been trying for years and God has not opened the womb. People who put pregnancy off until a “more appropriate time” need to bear this in mind. You don’t know when (or if) you will get pregnant. As such, it is quite presumptuous to put it off until you decide you’re ready.
Remember, God is the author of life, and every child is a blessing. Besides, who’s going to fix our ethical, spiritual, economic, and political crisis in the next generation if those of us who know the answer (the gospel) shut it down and stop launching arrows simply because they may require a little financial sacrifice in the short run? VB For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in TRUTH -3 John 3,4 ESV
As people walk away from homes that are in foreclosure, or are dismissed from jobs that they have enjoyed for years, some may be asking the question, “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?”
Some people are at a loss on how they will pay the bills, or put food on the table for their family.Make no mistake about it, when you have no means by which to meet your responsibilities it can add a tremendous amount of stress to your life.
9 years ago, to no fault of my own, I lost a good job that provided well for my family.I was informed about the layoff on Friday and on Sunday my wife informed me that we would be having our 3rd child in a few short months.
As a Christian I took this in stride, knowing that God would provide for us just as He always had.I would find another job and life would continue just as it always had.
3 months later, we were broke and I was still out of a job.I discovered later that when employers found out that I was on layoff and would be returning to my old job at a better salary that they had no interest in me…except for one company.
The local Hog Processing Plant would take nearly anyone who was willing to work.Reluctantly I took the job and began working on the “kill floor” on the maintenance crew.When I first started I wondered how I would ever get past the smell of death in the air, but soon found out that the smell was the least of my worries.
My first day on the job a “jaw pulling machine” got jammed with a hog jaw and it took 3 of us pulling on a pry bar for 10 minutes to unlock the machine.No sooner that we were done with that we had another call to a conveyor belt.
We literally had to run to the conveyor belt (sliding on “who-knows-what” on the floor), where we found that the belt was stuck because hog guts were jamming the line.Since it was my first day on the job I got the honor of crawling on my stomach under the belt where I pulled the innards out of the machine.Luckily it worked.
On breaks I changed bloody saw blades.When machines broke down I did whatever it took to get those machines up and running again.I learned to become a master plunger when blood and guts clogged the pipes.And I did it all for less then half of my former salary.
At home bill collectors were calling because we simply couldn’t pay our minimum payments.We struggled by, paid what we could and lived on next to nothing.Thankfully the Lord provided for us through the kindness of others.Around Christmas we received an anonymous envelope in the mail with money, a gift from a brother at our local church no doubt.Family members occasionally would provide groceries.This was very humbling and appreciated all at the same time.
Eventually God opened other doors and this time period in my life was over.When we were going through that time, it seemed as if it would never end.It was a painfully tough, pride swallowing time for me and my wife.However I thank God for that time in our life.
It was when we were struggling to make ends meet that we learned some very important lessons about life.We learned the value of a dollar.We learned about the pitfalls of debt.We learned that God does provide exactly what we need exactly when we need it, even if we don’t want it.
I also learned that God is sovereign.It didn’t matter what I wanted, it didn’t matter what I did.God’s will be done.It was His will for me to work at the Hog Processing Plant, and I had to just bow to the will of the King.
That brings me back to the question that we started with.“Why is God allowing this to happen to me?”Perhaps we are not asking the right question.
Perhaps the question should be something like this.“Why has God given me, a rotten sinner, anything?”The only thing that we sinners deserve is death, Hell, and destruction.
I am convinced that if I had not lost my job 9 years ago and went to work at the Hog Plant that I would be making the same foolish mistakes today that I made then.I would be spiritually stagnant and my relationship with Christ and my family would be infantile.
Why is God allowing this to happen to you?Who are we to question God?Consider what God says to Job in this passage from Job 38 1-4.
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?declare, if thou hast understanding”
The stock market has shown 2 consecutive weeks of gains. Are we beginning to see the greatly anticipated bottom of the market, or is this just the Federal Reserve and the government artificially inflating our economy again? Unfortunately most of the “pro’s” think that we are still in deep water. I found the following headlines on CBNC.com
- US is Already ‘Bankrupt’ Technically
The U.S. is already “bankrupt” because it has a debt that is almost four times the size of its economy, says Puru Saxena, CEO of Puru Saxena Wealth Management. He tells CNBC that the U.S. is at risk of hyperinflation.
- Fed to Buy Treasurys is Not a Good Sign
Stephen Roach, chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley does not view the Fed’s plan to buy $300 billion worth of long-dated government debt as a constructive sign for prospects going forward.
- Fed’s Move Unlikely to Help Economy
The Fed pumping money into Treasurys won’t help, says Martin Weiss, president of Weiss Research. He also discusses what can be done to turn the US economy around.
- The US Stuck in Zero-Rate Mode?
America is arrogant to deny their similarity to Japan’s economy, says Stephen Roach, chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley. He tells CNBC that the US economy is in a “zero-interest rate” mode, like Japan.
- Quantitative Easing & the Fed’s Balance Sheet
Thomas Lam, vice president and senior treasury economist at UOB, says the Fed’s latest moves such as to buy long-dated Treasurys will stretch its balance sheet and pump more liquidity into economy.
- The Fed’s Recent Moves are Right
“This decision to purchase long-term assets, mortgages, long-term treasury securities, is the right thing to do. The Fed would clearly rather err on the side of inflation rather then depression,” said Dennis Gartman from the Gartman Letter. He also touches on the housing market in the US as well as the TALF.
- Tackling US Economy
Housing problems need to be tackled before the U.S. economy can pick up, according to Adam Carr, senior economist at ICAP.
- 2010: ‘Real Peak of the Crisis’
“We are going to see real problems in 2010 when the Fed and all the other governments which issued stimulus packages are going to try to reabsorb some of that liquidity,” Nicu Harajchi, CEO & Founder of N1 Asset Management, said Thursday. He considers whether the Fed’s latest move will work.
- Fed’s Actions Bode Well for Asia
The Fed’s bold moves to support the U.S. economy is good news for Asia, believes Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide.
- Redirecting China’s Foreign Investments
China is unlikely to unload their dollar-denominated reserve as such a move will only hurt themselves at this point, says Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide. He tells CNBC how its foreign investment strategy may change.
- China Needs Internal Demand
China needs to change its structure to an internal demand driven economy, says Stephen Roach, chairman for Asia at Morgan Stanley. He tells CNBC that China is hugely dependent on external demand as a major source of economic growth.
- ECB in “Splendid Isolation”
The ECB should be out there pumping money into the system, says Paul Donovan, MD & head of global economics at UBS. He tells CNBC that the central bank is sitting in “splendid isolation”.
- More Pain Ahead for Europe
There is no cause for optimism in the medium term, despite the better-than-expected data from the ZEW survey, says Par Magnusson, senior analyst at Danske Bank.
- UK Due for Inflation Spike?
The UK economy is facing higher inflation down the road, Andy Hartwill from Quasar told CNBC, as Britain posted its highest ever budget deficit Thursday.
- Deflation Will Hit Mid-Year
Deflation is a near-term risk that may hit global economies in the middle of the year, warns Paul Donovan, MD & head of global economics at UBS.
- Preventing Runaway Inflation
When liquidity floodgates open, global central banks will have to sterilize very aggressively and in time to prevent runaway inflation.