by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, April 17, 2017
Regarding the future of the United States, it is hard to avoid being pessimistic. I see many trends that presage the USA’s doom. Here are four, of which the last is by far the most important: (a) the replacement of production with plunder as the primary path to getting rich, (b) the replacement of a constitutional republic with a pure democracy as the polity of the nation, (c) the replacement of the wealth-producing private-sector with the wealth-consuming, public-sector as the primary employer in the land, and (d) the replacement of Christianity with Secular Humanism as the primary religion of the country and its citizenry, particularly the elite on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
A – From Production to Plunder
In the USA’s early years, America’s businessmen focused on producing things: (a) buildings, (b) farms that grew food and raised livestock, (c) infrastructure which facilitated communications, the distribution of electric power and water, and travel, (d) manufacturing plants which generated a seemingly endless flow of clothing, equipment, furnishings, furniture, tools, etc. Wealth was a by-product of these enterprises, not their primary objective. In recent years, however, businessmen have increasingly focused on making money.
Before tracing this trajectory, however, I need to point out the role of sin in what has happened. Two of the Seven Deadly Sins are involved: greed and envy.
1 – GREED. It is the desire for “more.” Most men want “more” (for all men are sinners and greedy to some extent), but some men devote their lives to obtaining “more” – more things than they can use, more money than they need, more money than they can spend, sometimes more money than they can give away if they become so inclined. In 1906, Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth was owned by 20% of its population. He then carried out a survey of other countries and discovered the same distribution. All societies seem to be divided into two groups: the wealthy minority which owns 80% of the society’s wealth, and the poor majority which owns 20% of the society’s wealth. As I look at the wealthy minority, I see two distinct groups of people within it: the producers who create wealth and the manipulators who shift much of that wealth into their own hands.
a – THE PRODUCERS. Wealth is the result of production. Someone or some group must conceive of a new product, develop its design, raise the capital necessary to pay for its production, create the organization, facilities, and machinery necessary to implement its production, and then market and sell it. Much of the resulting wealth ends up in the hands of the original producers. Producers are happy to receive a lot of money for their ideas and efforts, but they are not primarily driven by the desire for more money. Instead, they envision the product and its benefits and are primarily driven to see their vision for them fulfilled. They want to produce the product and therefore they do not think of – let alone undertake – squeezing every last dollar out of their enterprise.
b – THE MANIPULATORS. There is another group of people, however, who are skilled, not at producing, but at making money off the producers. I call them the manipulators. They “financialize” assets. For example: they buy a strong, healthy company which has a good income and little debt; next they (a) reduce the quality of its products and the size of its staff to minimize expenses and (b) raise its products’ prices to increase income; then they (a) increase the company’s debt to the maximum that its income will allow and (b) distribute the resulting cash to themselves; and finally they sell the company – either in its entirety or in pieces, depending upon which alternative will produce the greater funds. What they leave behind is a weak company with little capital and much debt that is vulnerable to any downturn in sales, which is almost inevitable once its customers discover that the quality of its products has decreased. Many such companies go out of business, thereby resulting in the loss of their new owners’ equity, the bankers’ loans, the employees’ jobs, and the community’s tax revenues. The manipulators are essentially parasites that suck the life blood out of their hosts (the producers), and they are driven by greed.
2 – ENVY. Jealousy is the emotion that says, “I want what you have.” Envy is the emotion that says, “I want what you have, but I know I will never have it. So I want government to make sure that you can’t have it either.” As the wealth of the manipulators soars and the disparity between the wealthy minority and the poor majority in a society grows ever and ever larger, jealousy and envy flourish. In the wealthy minority, the multimillionaires are jealous of the billionaires, but strive to join them in the financial stratosphere if they can. In the poor majority, where the unemployed who don’t want or can’t find jobs and the employed who are struggling to keep their jobs and their homes envy the rich and famous, because they have no hope of ever emulating their conspicuous lifestyles – excepting, of course, through winning the lotto.
B – From a constitutional republic to a pure democracy
The founders of the USA detested pure democracy (i.e. the political system based on the simple equation: one man, one vote). They noted that every democracy in the past had succumbed to the same defect. Not long after a pure democracy’s is established, the majority realized that it can seize the wealth of the minority by voting into office men who will cater to the demands of the majority in order to attain and maintain power and prestige. Thus the founders expended considerable effort in crafting a constitutional republic that would create obstacles for any single group or branch of government to achieve ascendancy over the rest.
The USA is rapidly replacing this constitutional republic with a pure democracy. Ignoring the US Constitution, the Supreme Court has been changing the manner in which senators and representatives are voted into office. Next they will address the manner in which presidents are elected, probably doing away with the electoral college and thereby disenfranchising the majority of the states.
This transition from republicanism to democracy has had a wholly predictable effect on the handling of wealth. As the majority sees the wealth of the minority getting greater and greater, they vote ever more politicians into office who will increase taxes on the wealthy (producers and manipulators alike) and increase welfare benefits for the majority. To attract votes from even some in the wealthy minority, these politicians will also increase subsidies for quasi-public entities like the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that provide access to news and support for the arts. Of course journalists and artists approve of these subsidies, as do culture-consumers in the country’s major metropolitan areas, many of whom are unwilling to pay the full cost of informing and entertaining themselves out of their own pockets.
Not surprisingly, as the property of the producers is appropriated by various levels of government to pay salaries to their employees, benefits to welfare recipients, and subsidies to news and culture outlets, the producers cease producing, the prosperity of the nation declines, and there is less property for all levels of government to seize. Meanwhile the percentage of wealth being consumed by all levels of government increases inexorably. With so much blood being sucked out of the host by parasites, the survival of the host becomes problematical.
C – From private sector to public sector employment
Following the one-two punches of the New Deal in the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s, both of which caused the proliferation of government agencies in Washington, the US Government now controls almost every aspect of American life. Meanwhile, as the nation’s prosperity has declined, the majority has perceived that, at least in the short term, there is more job security in government, which can seize wealth, than in private enterprise, which must create wealth in an increasingly hostile environment of government taxation and regulation. Thus more and more people have sought work in government rather than in business. (I read somewhere that, by the end of 2008, 42% of working Americans were employed by federal, state, county, and municipal governments, and that the percentage is rising steadily.)
As the number of government workers has increased, their political power has grown, and they have been able to insist on ever-increasing salaries and benefits. (For some time now government salaries and benefits in the USA have been rising while business salaries and benefits of all but the managerial elite have been falling.) Thus the country’s ability to increase wealth has fallen, particularly since the wholesale export of jobs to the Far East. Significant portions of former industrial cities like Bethlehem PA, Detroit MI, Pittsburg PA, and San Diego CA have lost their private-sector employers, leaving the residents who remain to compete for coveted public-sector jobs or low-paying, service-sector jobs.
D – From Christianity to Humanism
As I noted above, the fall of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Christianity) and the rise of faith in man himself (Secular Humanism) is by far the most important trend of the four. For some time now, the USA in general and its citizens in particular have been turning away from the God of our country’s youth and engaging in all kinds of behavior which God has identified as abominations. They have either forgotten or choose to ignore the biblical warnings regarding the consequences of doing so.
In my blog of August 15, 2016, entitled “What issue is missing from the 2016 election debates?,” I pointed out that God’s only criterion for blessing or cursing a nation is whether or not it honors him and obeys his commandments. I cited two passages from Deuteronomy:
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God” (verses 1-2).
“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (verse 15)
Accompanying these verse were others that explain how God will bless or curse a nation. I regard the following as the most poignant:
Addressing a faithful nation, God said, “Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (verse 6).
Addressing a faithless nation, God said, “Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (verse 19).
These verses indicate that God will bless or curse a nation’s actions regardless of how well or badly it performs any of them – from dealing with other nations to waging war to educating its children to managing health care, to constructing infrastructure. For example, consider the last, constructing the bridges, dams, electric power lines, railways, tunnels, water conduits, etc. on which a developed nation depends. Those of a faithful nation will endure for generations; those of a faithless nation will soon fall apart. Ours are crumbling.
Given our apostasy, it is a wonder – or rather a testimony to God’s long-suffering and merciful nature – that the USA is still standing. As you consider the first three trends above, keep in mind the questions: Might they be the consequences of the last trend? Do they represent curses that God is meting out to the country? Might God be lifting his hand of protection and his horn of plenty?
Did I hear a reader say, “Pshaw! God doesn’t control events?” If I did, I would remind the reader of the biblical injunctions: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10) and “Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (Proverbs 23:17). As the author of Hebrews wrote, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
E – My hope and prayer
The above trends cannot be sustained. The first three trends will run their courses. Production will collapse under the loads imposed upon it by the parasites – i.e. the nation’s non-producers like the financial manipulators and government employees. The producers will stop producing. The financial manipulators will run out of enterprises to plunder. The government will run out of wealthy people to loot. Then it will seize all wealth in the country (bank accounts, pensions, real estate, etc.) to sustain its juggernaut. At that point, everyone will be working for a federal, state, county, or municipal government. The economy will collapse and the entire system will implode. Do you think that I exaggerate? Recall what happened in the Soviet Union, which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn blamed primarily on its people having turned away from and forgotten God.
One might argue that these trends can be reversed if enough citizens become aware of the danger. Unfortunately, an academic, business, and governmental elite has been working hard since the early 20th century to dumb-down public schools so that the majority of their graduates can barely read, write, and compute – let alone understand the principles of business enterprise, constitutional polity, or macro-economics, – and will be satisfied with jobs in the system that do not challenge them. They have been socialized, not educated. Meanwhile the private schools and universities are training malleable, middle-level apparatchiks for the bureaucracies of the New World Order. Even the country’s churches are contributing to the problem by ignoring the biblical Gospel of Christ, turning worship into entertainment, and tolerating – some even approving – a “politically correct” lifestyle. The result: an increasing percentage of the population is content to live godless lives, cede control over their lives to the government, and settle for limited financial security and the anodynes of TV programs, sporting events, and other mass diversions. Alas, the fervent love of liberty that engendered the American Revolution has been almost extinguished.
The country’s only hope lies in a return to the God of our youth. Consider what President Abraham Lincoln had to say in 1863:
…whereas, it is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:
And insomuch as we know that by his divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us:
It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness:….
I say “Amen!” to that. Our country’s only hope lies in the greatness, goodness, glory, and mercy of our Creator. Pray to him for clemency. Pray to him for genuine, spiritual revival in our land. He will not turn a deaf ear to such prayers.
© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
 This observation may seem untrue, but very wealthy philanthropists quickly discover that they can destroy needy people and needy organizations by giving them too much money, more money than they can handle without undergoing a significant change of character.
 I see the lotto as fueling envy. It is promoted on the basis that winning a $100 million will catapult one into the elite and thereby solve all life’s problems. Millions of people buy lotto tickets, but only a handful of them win the prizes. Moreover the lives of many winners are destroyed by their sudden wealth. They find themselves ill-equipped to deal with such riches, dissatisfied with endless leisure and the acquisition of expensive possessions (a larger house, a larger boat, a better motorcycle, etc.), bored by pleasure cruises and sight-seeing trips, and beleaguered by family and friends who want some of their money.
 Although I disagree with Ayn Rand’s theology and excoriation of selflessness, I acknowledge the correctness of her analysis of the producers’ response to the socialists’ appropriations of the fruits of their productivity. They will ultimately go on strike! See Atlas Shrugged.
 In the late 18th century, average American men would gather in pubs to sip a pint of beer and discuss last Sundays’ sermons or the most recent issue of the Federalist Papers (eighty-five essays written in 1787-1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pen name Publius) in their local newspaper. Today, they gather in bars to guzzle beer and watch a baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer game, each rooting for his favorite team. Moreover, when the game is over, the conversation turns to rehashing what they have just seen. Generally ignored are the critical issues of life and of the day.
 President Abraham Lincoln’s “Proclamation Appointing A National Fastday” (1863)