Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Spiritual Root Cause of America's Economic Woes

I believe that all problems can be boiled down to a simple root cause. To effectively fix a problem, one must find and fix the root cause or else the problem will reoccur. Not only is this common sense, I also learned this principle in Ford technician training school. It was drummed into my head during every class that I took.

I was taught that every problem had a root cause that must be corrected or the problem will reoccur. For example: if I diagnosed that an electronic module was malfunctioning, what was the root cause of the malfunction? Was there condensation from the A/C system dripping water on the circuits? If I would replace the module, without fixing the root cause(the water leak), the problem would reoccur. If I diagnosed a defective fuel pump, what was the root cause of the failure? Was the fuel filter plugged causing excessive back pressure that overloaded the pump? If I replaced the fuel pump, without fixing the root cause (replacing the filter), the problem would reoccur. If a fan belt was prematurely worn out, what was the root cause? Was a bearing in an idler pulley defective causing excessive wear on the belt? If I would slap a new belt on, without fixing the idler pulley, the problem would reoccur. One time, a van was towed in, with a drive shaft that was severed in half. I found the root cause to be a plastic drainage hose, from a piece of equipment permanently installed in the back of the van, was routed through a hole in the floorboard and was rubbing against the top of the drive shaft. If I didn't fix the root cause (re-routing the drainage hose) the problem would reoccur. A simple root cause can often lead to severe damage if not fixed.

I can boil the root cause of our current financial turmoil down to one sentence. The bible says: in times of plenty, we must prepare for famine. You may call this idea overly simplistic, however, I believe it to be the root cause that will ultimately impoverish America, if not heeded, on a grand scale. The rest of this article spells out why I believe that we all have lived during "times of plenty" and now we must prepare for "times of famine". If we do not address this simple, root cause, the results could be devastating.

My whole life has been lived in a time and place that has arguably been the most prosperous and "safe from danger", that this world has ever seen. Proof of this lies in the fact that the world has never before been able to support such a huge population. There are 6.7 billion human inhabitants on planet Earth and the population is still growing. Even the poorest citizens of our country have more food available to them that they could possibly eat. Modern day homelessness is mostly voluntary. Homeless people have chosen to live in a way that is incompatible with society. Most homeless people are drug addicts, alcoholics or mentally ill with antisocial behavior. No one dare take them in, lest they risk harm to themselves, their family and their property. I know this from personal experience. Not as a sympathetic do-gooder volunteering in a soup kitchen, not as a college student doing research for a thesis paper, but from my personal experience living as a homeless person myself, as a consequence of my long time drug addiction.

People who claim that they are a paycheck away from homelessness, in this "time of plenty" are blatantly lying. These people would surely be taken in or helped by family, friends, The Church, or government if they do not practice anti-social or illegal behavior. If you were to become homeless and penniless today; Would you be sleeping on a park bench, or would you find a friend or family member to house and feed you, and help you get back on your feet? In today's America, homelessness is a mental and spiritual problem, not an economic problem.

The US currently has, arguably, the most prosperous homeless class, and poor class that the world has ever seen. Poor people in today's America have more food, property, living space and leisure time than average people in times-gone-by. The simple root cause of poverty, illiteracy, crime and homelessness, in this prosperous land of limitless opportunity called America, is of a spiritual nature, not of an economic nature. However, liberals often call for equal outcomes, rather than equal opportunity. This corrupts man's spirit by encouraging victim-hood rather than courage, self-discipline, restraint, honor, humility, faith, perseverance and patience (all spiritual principles). I constantly hear politicians, activists, educators and the media obfuscate these simple and obvious truths with complicated and nuanced messages that are convoluted, inconsistent, and contrary to reason, common sense and my personal experience. During this presidential campaign, which I have been following for almost 2 years now, I have not heard one candidate suggest that the root cause of many of our nations problems, is of a spiritual nature, which requires a spiritual solution, not a political one.

Universal spiritual principles are constant and unchanging through-out the ages. They are just as valid today, as they were during biblical times. The same spiritual principles that this nation was founded on, and led us to become the greatest nation on earth, are still valid today. You need not believe in universal spiritual principles, for them to have influence over you. Just as you need not believe in the law of gravity, for it to have influence over you.

We currently live in the most prosperous time and place that this world has ever seen. There is no excuse for our government and citizens not to save for a rainy day. To the contrary, our government is spending more than it takes in. Government borrows huge sums of money to make up the shortfall. Citizens are also spending more than they earn. For the first time in US history, personal debt has exceeded personal savings. We are collectively living in a time of plenty and spending beyond our substantial means.

Just like with the housing market, our government and citizens are highly laden with debt. The national debt is over 11 trillion dollars, plus an additional 55 trillion dollars in the unfunded obligations of Social Security and Medicare. A moderate downturn in the economy is liable to render the federal government insolvent. Yet most of the politicians are calling for more spending, more borrowing and punitive taxes on business and investment.

The insane solution that the government has recently implemented was a 160 billion dollar economic stimulus package, which gave 600 dollars to most adults, and encouraged them to spend it, in order to stimulate the economy. Also, over a trillion dollars was appropriated to bail out the troubled financial markets. Since the country is operating at a deficit, all of this money must be borrowed. The root cause of today's economic turmoil was people and financial institutions borrowing and spending beyond their means. The insane solution that the government is implementing, is to borrow and spend beyond it's means, and to encourage the people to do the same, in order to stimulate the economy.

Today, 70% of America's Gross National Product, is represented in the service industries. A service industry that includes hotels, casinos, restaurants, nail salons, party planners, dog walkers, night clubs, auto detailers, interior decorators, yoga lessons and karate lessons, will not see us through hard times. The U.S. needs to produce wealth if its citizens are to continue to enjoy wealth. Wealth is not a number on a balance sheet. Wealth requires people producing physical things such as : factories, food, clothing, automobiles, electronic products, machinery, machine parts, fuel, lumber, minerals, appliances, buildings, building materials, houses, aircraft, ships, trains, pipes, plumbing parts, wires, steel, aluminum, plastics, fabrics, roads, bridges, tunnels, damns, power plants, refineries, steel mills, lighting, and weapons for time of war.

The US economy is living off the wealth of a previous era by liquidating entire industries, and allowing infrastructure to fall into disrepair. We are also borrowing from the future with huge budget deficits, in order to finance today. It is clear to me that this can not go on indefinitely. This is the exact opposite direction we need to go in as a country. We need to live within our means as a nation and as individuals. We need to encourage, manufacturing, exploiting our natural resources, and producing food and energy, not more casinos and nail salons. Saving should be encouraged, not borrowing to buy extravagant things beyond our means. Personal debts as well as the national debt must be payed off.

There are tens of millions of people who manage their finances properly. They carry the economic burden of this nation on their back. The top ten percent of all wage earners pay over 70% of federal income taxes. Soon their backs will no longer be able to carry the load. If our government and citizens do not manage their finances, we will undoubtedly devolve into a corrupt and impoverished third world nation with a huge peasant class. Step back and look at the big picture, I see no other outcome.

The bible says: in times of plenty, we must prepare for famine. Simple? Yes. Can this simple root cause, lead to economic devastation? Certainly

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