2013 Predictions

2013 SC 2013 Predictions

Herewith is a modest, and altogether dangerous, attempt to predict key trends for 2013.

1. Economic Hardship

Slow GDP growth. The consensus forecast for 2013 GDP growth hovers around 2%. The growth in the deficit is growing faster, resulting in a higher debt burden on the economy. Higher debt burdens impede growth, increase unemployment, and produce a lower standard of living.

Higher public debt. Increasing public debt obligations represented by unfunded liabilities from entitlements to bloated public employee pensions assures that more taxpayer bailouts (or broken promises) is one step closer to reality. The USPS, state of California, and city of Detroit are but a few examples of increasing 2013 distressed economic problems.

Higher unemployment. Unemployment will begin ticking upward as businesses close or cut back due to increased regulations, taxes, and government involvement.

Lower labor participation rate. The labor participation rate will drop to below 60% as millions more leave the workforce due to coercive departure or “early” retirement.

Increased government dependence. Food stamp recipients will exceed 50 million for the first time in US history. Obamaworld is characterized by increased dependence on the state for the declining middle class and an increased tax burden on the “rich”, a term that will be defined downward in years to come.

Trickle-down taxation. The reality is that “trickle-down” taxation means that all those who vote to tax the rich will see increased taxation on themselves, both from the government sector as well as reduced growth that attends increased government participation in the economy. In 1911, the total government percentage of US GDP was 8%. Fifty years later, it was 25%. And in 2013, it will exceed 40%. The Lorenz curve, a measure of income distribution, will show the gap widening between rich and poor in 2013. The increase in the payroll tax will also represent a drag on consumer expenditures.

Municipal and state financial challenges particularly in “blue” states. The states that are reforming their labor laws, rejecting the development of insurance exchanges required of Obamacare, and are focused on controlling spending will emerge as healthier economies. The “blue” states will continue to focus on increased taxation and devotion to government largess, resulting in slow growth and debt-burdened economies. In the end, free market economies always outperform government-controlled economies.

The arrogance of government will produce further cracks in the nation’s foundation. We will see additional cracks imposed by economic judgment. This judgment will take the form of an additional credit downgrade, bond wariness attending debt monetization (pressuring interest rates), and may stimulate a renewed interest within the Obama administration to use some parts of private 401(k) and IRA accounts to be used for supporting bond market purchases. Herb Stein’s law states that “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

More storms, earthquakes, and drought conditions leading to increased distressed responses. There is not enough money available to compensate those who live in high-risk areas, whether due to fires, floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Citizens of Obamaworld will discover what moral hazard means from “privatizing the gain and socializing the loss.” Moral hazards yield unintended consequences that invoke insurance risk, often taking the form of costs higher than anticipated and a lower ability to honor those requests.

2. Increased Moral Decay

2013 will see an increased focus on social justice issues with an emphasis on income redistribution, the hallmark of socialism. This gets reflected in less freedom, fewer property protections, and higher taxes and elevates the moral problems of envy, discord, and theft.

Emphasis on same sex marriage/civil unions/gay rights. The attack on traditional marriage will increase by the media (symbolized by the efforts of multibillionaire and media mogul David Geffen), education, the judiciary, and the government.

Emphasis on gun control. The horrific tragedies seen in our schools, workplace, and private lives will increase the advocacy for gun control, despite the irony exemplified in Chicago (where rigorous gun control laws are operative, yet violent crime is exploding.) The deceptions will increase regarding what the founding fathers intended in the Second Amendment.

Increased neglect of public financial responsibilities. Debt is, at its root, a moral issue. The federal government is leading the march into debtors hell, with many states and municipalities following. The end of the road is either oppressive taxation or broken promises.

Increased hostility toward affluent Americans. 2013 will not be a time for the bragging rich. They have rapidly become the targets of scorn, derision, envy, and contempt. These are attributes of a declining society no longer desirous of freedom, opportunity, risk, and courage.

Privacy issues favor the state. Look forward to elevated domestic surveillance challenges (drones, renewed effort at the next generation REAL ID, and increased preference for security over liberty.)

3. International crisis

We are likely to see an increasingly destabilized Syria present foreign policy challenges, accompanied by increased Russian meddling from a leader who is anticipating greater “flexibility” from the American president.

There will be ongoing Middle East unrest with Iran possibly crossing the “red line” expressed by PM Netanyahu in 2013. Iran is a wild card scenario whose dangerous leadership exploits America’s leadership weakness. This administration does not understand radical Islam. This blind spot bodes poorly for successfully dealing with the world as it is, not what they want it to be. Benghazi is the hallmark of administration incompetence. This incompetence will certainly continue throughout 2013.

2013 will bring increased pressure on Jordanian stability, a key ally.

2013 will bring increased cyber war, including “country on country.” Economic cyber war is an “iceberg” issue that more people may come to appreciate as an imminent danger.

Financial instability in Eurozone markets (Spain, Portugal, etc.) will increase, bringing additional unrest and may result in food riots and more demonstrations. The Eurozone still has Germany to stabilize their volatility. America is philosophically following Europe but has no backstop as the Eurozone does. It is hard to believe that America is pursuing a path of self-destruction on purpose.

Photo credit: silversolo (Creative Commons)

The Need For A Christian Worldview Of Freedom And Economics

Christian cross SC The Need for a Christian Worldview of Freedom and Economics

A Christian worldview regarding the economy is essential if America is to recover its eroding economic leadership in the world. A Christian worldview of economics is predicated upon the fact that man is born sinful (Ephesians 2:3), does not prosper by injustice (Ephesians 4:28), should work (2 Thessalonians 3:10), should not be dependent on anyone (1 Thessalonians 5:11-12), respects private property (Exodus 20:15), prospers through diligence (Proverbs 21:5), resists the envy of other people’s property (Exodus 20:17), believes that rich and poor are esteemed the same by God (Exodus 30:15), and that righteousness can yield abundance (Proverbs 16:8).

The Christian worldview also elevates the power of freedom. The Bible espouses the freedom to choose (1 Corinthians 6:12), that God makes us free (John 8:36), that freedom requires morality (Psalm 119:45), wherever God is honored there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), that true freedom is based upon love (Galatians 5:13), that freedom requires discernment (1 Corinthians 8:9), and that the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Some liberal Christians like Jim Wallis believe that the Bible prescribes socialism in Acts 4:32-35 and social justice (redistribution of private property), but this represents a failure in hermeneutics. This is a failure in thinking because the example presented in Acts 4:32-35 is characterized by the volitional decision to share private property. The passage is explicit in that the property shared is privately owned (antipodal to the state-owned model of socialism) and that the redistribution is not compulsory (also antipodal to state-run socialism). There is no Biblical support for state-run socialism. Those who try to twist the scriptures to support socialism neither understand the meaning nor understand how the world operates.

Capitalism is an economic system where production, distribution, and trade are privately owned to yield a profit for those who have made the investment to support that objective. It should be done in a largely free marketplace where the government respects private property and the legal system protects contractual law. Problems arise based upon the moral and ethical failure of owners (committing fraud), the market (committing theft), or the government (limiting freedom and violating property rights).

Winston Churchill eloquently observed that “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Thomas Jefferson rebuked the notion of government control: “Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” Margaret Thatcher said that “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.”

God blesses people and nations according to His will (Psalm 67), and He is not accountable to man (Romans 11:33) and is sovereign (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). However, Christian stewardship requires a responsibility to God for decisions and behavior. Biblical stewardship believes that God is the owner of all things and man (individually and collectively) is His steward. When man abandons the authority of God in such affairs, he risks danger as Lord Acton stated: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The status of the current American economy is precarious. One of the best measures of a country’s economic health is the debt-to-GDP ratio, an indicator of the relationship between debt and production. The official US debt is approximately $16.3 trillion, while the US GDP is approximately $13.6 trillion (http://www.bea.gov/national/xls/gdplev.xls) constituting a ratio of approximately 120%. Furthermore, the unfunded liabilities (obligations without funding sources) is well over $100 trillion. This includes Medicare Part A at $36 trillion, Medicare Part B at $37 trillion, Medicare part D at $15 trillion, and Social Security at $17.5 trillion for a grand total of unfunded liabilities over $105 trillion. America has economically fallen far in the past few years. This suggests that absent draconian measures to cut entitlements (currently above 60% of GDP and growing), the United States may face an environment of bankruptcy and/or broken promises. We cannot grow ourselves out of this mess without concomitant entitlement reform.

The US government spending as a percentage of GDP has reached an all-time high (excluding World War II). This has happened as more politicians promise more benefits to more people who vote themselves larger abundance. It is a failure of leadership and of the governed. It is both unsustainable and a moral failure of epic proportions. At the time of Jesus, Rome imposed a 5% inheritance tax and a 1% sales tax (compared to the average state sales tax in the US of 5.6%). Currently, the US government taxes estates at 35% for those with estates over $5,000,000. Suddenly, the oppression of Rome doesn’t look so bad.

What is the Biblical worldview of economics? It is based on the Judeo-Christian principles of morality, freedom, and protection of private property. Capitalism is the economic system best suited to address the tenets of a Biblical worldview.

What should the individual do in response to the precarious nature of the US economy and the increasing role of the state? We should recognize that there are seasons of feast/famine where saving is essential to survive the bad times (Genesis 41:34-36), that debt can create bondage (Proverbs 22:7), that ignoring the signs of the times can bring disaster (Proverbs 22:3), and to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). Finally, the Christian should not run to the state (man) for rescue but to God (Jeremiah 17:5). Therefore, it is prudent to prepare for difficulties ahead, restrain personal spending and borrowing, strengthen savings behavior, embrace the morality of individual responsibility in uncertain times, and get involved in the culture to assure we have righteous leaders and economic practices. Ethics and engagement matter. We are called to redeem the culture (Acts 15:1-31, Colossians 3:17, and Genesis 1:28).

So many Americans now seek state solutions as the preferred path without realizing it is a path of broken promises that may jeopardize their own freedom as well. Karl Marx saidL “There is only one way to kill capitalism- by taxes, taxes, and more taxes.” Abraham Lincoln said: “You can not help men permanently by doing for them what they could do and should do for themselves.” Thomas Jefferson said that “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”

Ethics and morality are indispensable supports for a sound economy. The road we choose as individuals will determine the road we take as a nation. America has changed because its people have changed. Our leaders reflect the best or worst in us. Currently, it is the latter. We must restore the hearts and minds of people to a proper worldview if we are to restore America to its former greatness.

Related posts:

  1. Worldview Collision Portends Trouble For America The recent US presidential election embraced secularism as the favored…
  2. The OWS Perspective On Economics To observe May Day (May 1st), Sean Hannity of the Fox News…

Worldview Collision Portends Trouble For America

Islam symbol SC Worldview collision portends trouble for America

The recent US presidential election embraced secularism as the favored worldview in America. The “melting pot” of traditional America is now being replaced with an advanced model of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is characterized by the cultural and moral relativism of the secular worldview. Secularism has been firmly established in Europe for many years. European secularism has yielded lower birth rates, lower economic growth, higher government presence in the economy and culture, reduced church attendance, increased tensions regarding religious freedom, and a growing sense that European failures of secularism bode poorly for the prospects of the continent. The leaders of France, Germany, and Great Britain, recognizing the direction in which they are headed, have all stated that “multiculturalism” has failed and that it has produced “extremism” in addition to the aforementioned economic problems.

Despite such overwhelming evidence that condemns secularism, America may be embarking upon a similar journey that will surely not end well for freedom as we know it. Secularism has a long history of human rights violations and, along with radical Islam, represents the most significant threat to economic and religious freedom wherever these worldviews are dominant. The riots in secular Europe, which are a response to austerity measures imposed by world bankers, is a small example of the unrest that often precedes increased authoritarian rule. Freedom is determined by worldview.

Secularism, which opposes the Judeo-Christian worldview, has a long history of religious persecution. According to the leading expert on democide (murder by government), R.J. Rummel, secular governments have killed more than 170 million people in the 20th century alone. Pre-20th century death counts by government (over 600 million) indicate that secular government is civilization’s greatest enemy. Records indicate that Islam, the #2 worldview measured by number of adherents, is responsible for approximately 270 million killed in its 1,400 year history. Moreover, Islam is the world’s leading perpetrator of religious persecution today, followed by secularism.

The Islamist will join the secularist in attacking the Constitution. The secularist wants to use the “separation of church and state” argument to eliminate the Judeo-Christian worldview from public life while the Islamist, in a “stealth jihad”, will use the freedom of religion (and multiculturalism) through judges, etc. to open the door for Sharia law, food regulation, sanctioned prayer, and state suppression of Christian expression. Both are using each other in a type of “termite strategy.” Termites destroy a house slowly from within; and then suddenly it collapses.

This worldview battle to thwart the United States (and its traditional Judeo-Christian worldview) can be seen in the international arena as well. The United Nations is predominantly a secular organization and derives approximately 25% of its funding from the US. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, OIC, represents 57 Islamic countries and is the largest voting bloc of nations within the United Nations of 193 member countries. These are the two largest international organizations focused on global rule in opposition to the Judeo-Christian worldview of the US. The secularists want one-world government through secular institutions while the Islamists want the Caliphate (using Sharia law) to rule the world. Both worldviews aspire to rule the world and see the Judeo-Christian US as the biggest obstacle to their objectives.

Secularists believe in a utopia based upon a secular government that will perfect mankind (which has been wronged by its institutions.) Secularists believe that more (and larger) government is necessary to overturn the negative liberties imposed by the Constitution in order to perfect man. Utopia is realized through social justice administered by the state. Freedom is the sacrifice; government control is the goal.

According to Open Doors International, an organization focused on documenting the worldwide persecution of Christians, the top 31 persecutors of Christians in the world are Islamic countries. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, more than 200 million Christians (in at least 60 countries) are denied fundamental human rights annually, solely because of their faith. More than 100,000 Christians are killed worldwide in one year simply because of their faith.

Both secularists and Islamists depend upon moral relativism regarding their tactics to achieve their objectives. The secularists’ ideological hero is Saul Alinsky, author of “Rules for Radicals” (dedicated to Lucifer in the preamble.) The secularist playbook is substantially Machiavellian where the “ends justify the means.” The Islamist is also devoted to moral relativism through the Islamic doctrines of taqiyya (deception is approved if it advances the cause of Islam), hudna (temporary cease-fires can be established and honored until Islamic position strength is increased), and abrogation (subsequent Koranic verses supercede prior verses if they are in conflict.) This widespread moral relativism within these two worldviews makes the rules of engagement very complicated for Judeo-Christian advocates. In addition, secularists exert controlling influence over the educational establishment, the media institutions, the government, and a large part of the judiciary, making successful engagement all the more problematic.

Nevertheless, direct and vigilant engagement is required to prevent these two worldviews from dominating America. Should that battle be lost, America will become like any other country on earth. American exceptionalism will have come to an end. Freedoms will sunset. There will be no place to run. Tyranny will return to dominate the world as it has throughout recorded history.

Winston Churchill said “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last. Victory will never be found in taking the line of least resistance.” Arnold Toynbee said in A Study of History that “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder.” The 2012 voter turnout percentage was lower than 2008 or 2004 at a time when the worldview choices represented by the presidential candidates was the most dramatic in decades.

The contest among Judeo-Christianity, secularism, and Islam will grow more intense through the 21st century. The current rise of the secular worldview bodes poorly for the future when considering the past. The secularists and Islamists have the will, but not the power (yet) to destroy the Judeo-Christian way of life in America. However, the great blessings and achievements of the Judeo-Christian worldview (which maximizes freedom and equality of opportunity) should inspire Americans to return to the freedoms envisioned by our founders, which will restore the country that we love.

Related posts:

  1. 2012: An Irrational Devotion To Secularism Pundits say that Hispanics, single women, young people, and blacks…
  2. Why Is The Administration Subsidizing America’s Islamic Adversaries? “Islamic jihadists remain the most serious threat against America today,…