Time’s Up! It’s Closer than we Think!
By Dene McGriff
Two hundred years ago, life was simple. A big problem would be if the plow horse became lame and couldn’t work, a coyote got into the chicken coup or if there was a drought and the crops died. Today we live in a very different world and share all its resources with 7 billion other people. We don’t grow our own food or make our own clothes. We have become specialized and society works together to make sure we have power, food, water, transportation, etc. Strictly speaking, we no longer control our own destiny. Others do. And now we are part of a worldwide system that needs to work together and share with one another. If one little piece of this big machine fails, the world could grind to a halt. We may not have personal problems but one small problem in the global machinery and it can become a big problem for everyone!
We are in a race against time as massive problems build up. The question is will we do anything about them in time? Can we stop the inevitable – a series of trends that may well be impossible to reverse? Down through the ages there have been prophets of doom and gloom but somehow human ingenuity prevailed. We just assume we will either prevail or muddle through. But never before in history have we faced such a massive convergence of dynamics as we see today. There are many triggers and if only one is pulled, life as we know it could change forever.
The chart below shows time in years, the growth in population and the date of various key discoveries.
Can technology and ingenuity keep up with geometric population growth? Are there limits to growth and are we approaching them? This is an age old controversy to which we are about to find an answer. I remember sitting around with the professors on my doctoral committee at the Geography Department at UC Davis discussing this subject. The Club of Rome had just come out with its landmark book The Limits to Growth. It was an early attempt at computer modeling factors such as demographic growth, limits of resources such as energy, food and water, minerals, etc. If they were correct back then, the few who survived would be back in caves today. The timing may have been off but the idea may not be.
There are trends that become catastrophes. A trend is like watching a weather front approaching. A catastrophe is when a flood comes straight at you. We humans live in the moment. Few fret about floods. But once it arrives, there is no going back. This cliff has an edge and we are about to go over the top. All signs point to it and one last event will catapult us over the edge. Is this the beginning of the end? Is it later than we think?
The world doesn’t turn on a dime and Rome didn’t fall overnight. It always takes more time than we would think to ride out these trends. Thomas Malthus may have been right when he said population growth will reach the physical limits of food production. I doubt that he anticipated the agricultural and industrial revolution that took place in the 200 years since his prediction. Change comes slowly but exponential growth can surprise. If you fill a football stadium such as Soldier’s Field in Chicago with water – first one drop a second, then two, doubling every time, the stadium has a little water in the bottom after the first 58 minutes. It takes only the last 2 minutes to go all the way up the stands and over the top.
If you look at the chart above you see it took over 10,000 years to reach a half billion people. It took 75 years to reach the second billion and only 12 years to go from 6 to 7 billion. What a strain this is placing on fresh water, fuel, production to provide a reasonable standard of living for that many people! I worked on population projects in Asia, Africa and South America with such organizations as the Futures Group, the Urban Institute in the 1980s and can tell you that it takes many years for growth to slow. We did all types of computer simulations. Yes, Western nations are in decline (including Japan) but the poorest nations in the world are experiencing tremendous population growth. This will have economic, social and political consequences few can imagine.
Picture the burden of one and a half billion people in China – you know, the country who aborts baby girls because it only allows one child per family – well, as it ages and the workforce shrinks compared to the number of workers and dependents…then you’re going to be looking at a perfect demographic storm. Population growth will grind to a halt and become older at a very fast rate. This will put a terrific strain on the remaining workers. India is another country carrying a huge weight. Then we come to Africa’s struggling environment and economy.
We still can’t get away from the fact that there is a finite amount of land, water, energy and food. The earth may be three quarters water but it is 97 percent salt water. The greatest source of fresh water around the world is not in lakes and rivers but in vast underground aquifers. Over a quarter of the farm land in America lies over an aquifer. The Ogalalla aquifer covers 174,000 square miles and spans eight states from South Dakota to Texas. It took thousands of years to fill these aquifers but many are being depleted much faster than they can be refilled. Farms are sucking the planet dry. We have seen war over oil, but how about water wars in places like India and Bangladesh? China’s water reserves have dropped 13 percent since the beginning of this century. China is consuming natural resources at an alarming rate – not just its own but the world’s. There are limits to growth and shortages are coming!
Click to enlarge
We think we are so smart and in control. We talk about these problems, but do we really do anything about them? Can we? Are they too big to solve?
There has been a systematic trend of taking freedom away from the American people. This began in earnest during the Bush administration with the Patriot Act, “know your customer” banking regulations and the famous “signing statements”. Bush would sign the law and then explain why he wasn’t going to enforce it. Under Obama, the courts go after individual states who try and enforce Federal immigration and voting laws. Obama shows absolute contempt for the constitution and laws that Congress passes.
Since Congress wouldn’t approve it, today a controversial executive order was signed “handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a ‘national cyberemergency’ and prohibiting any review by the court system…last months rewrite that bans courts from reviewing executive branch decrees has given companies new reasons to worry. Judicial Review is our main concern.” “President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order that outlines an extreme level of communications preparedness in case of crisis or emergency, including the ability to take over any communication network, including the internet.” Mr. Obama “wants the power to completely control the internet. And this illegal executive order will give Janet Napolitano, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, the power to force private internet companies to turn over their data to the federal government.” According to the ACLU, “This order “Will create an exception to all existing privacy laws so that companies can share very sensitive and personal information directly with the government, including military agencies like the National Security Agency,” says Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Apparently Obama feels free to decree changes in existing law without seeking Congressional approval. He is perfectly content ruling by Executive Orders. Obama has granted himself power to declare martial law if there is war with Iran. In a time when terrorism, real or imagined, is possible, the public appears more than willing to allow the government to grab as much power as it wants in the name of security. If he doesn’t hesitate to flaunt his power in his first administration, what will he do his second? Oh, and if anyone disagrees, they become enemies of the state and potential terrorists themselves so round them up and put them in detention camps. Oh yes, if you are one of those Christians who believe in marriage between a man and a woman and don’t want your children exposed to the gay agenda in school, and would prefer to celebrate Christmas rather than Islamic pride week, you may be an extremist too!
Tax and destroy business. Regulate them to death. Punish them for success. Vilify them. Protest them. Take care of the poor, the new poor and the about to become poor. Wrap the governmental arms around them. Make them feel good (and get their votes). Take the country down a proven path and become the Greece of the New World! Here we go! Trends away!
Cheap energy is the main reason for the industrial and agricultural revolution. I am the first to agree that there is plenty of energy available for the near term including abiotic oil but that doesn’t necessarily resolve the “cheap” part of the energy dilemma. Can it keep up with exponential growth? New finds and technologies are more expensive to extract. And if you believe the “global warming/climate change” fanatics, all this growth will ensure global catastrophe because of increased CO2 emissions.
Cheap energy spurs economic growth. The World Economic Forum states that energy is the oxygen of the economy and the lifeblood of growth. One thing the Obama administration learned the hard way is that “green energy” isn’t cheap. Neither is Ethanol especially during a drought when corn prices go through the roof. There may be a lot of shale oil and natural gas available through “fracking” but that isn’t cheap either. Oh, and then there is nuclear energy – just ask Japan what they think of that?
While we go broke trading “carbon credits” Chinais the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal and opens two new coal powered plants a week. So what does that do to the burn rate of coal in developing countries? Imagine that! The chart on the left shows another example of exponential growth! We used to consume one fourth of the earth’s petroleum. Now the rest of the world is demanding their share.
When are people going to realize that the third rock from the sun only has so much stuff on it that can be used up and that applies to usable water, energy, farm land, minerals, etc. “Not only are supplies of oil and natural gas under imminent threat of failing to meet demand for them, but so is a whole range of precious metals, along with indium, gallium and germanium and other vital elements such as phosphorus and helium, as is discussed throughout this Commentary.” They note that of particular concern to our burgeoning industry of cell phones, lap tops and everything else electronic is indium, neodymium and dysprosium, not to mention lithium and other “endangered elements.” The supply is limited. What do we do when these elements are gone? Oh, and now you know why we’re “fighting the war on terror” in Afghanistan when they hold over $1 Trillion in lithium!
One thing that seems to have escaped the typical ethnocentric American is that the world is changing in ways they could never imagine. When I lived in Spain, people skipped land lines and went straight to cell phones. They skipped printed bank checks and went straight to debit cards, years before we did. Imagine! The middle class in China is larger than the entire population of the U.S. and they have the same luxuries and toys we have. The same can be said for Argentina, Brazil, India, Colombia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, etc. This consumption fuels the massive use of resources. The question always remains, is this growth sustainable and for how long? We used to consume at least a fourth of the energy and products of the world. Now the rest of the world is catching up.
Much of the growth was funded by artificial money creation and debt. America has always been such a wonderful consumer and it pays its bills. People can trust us, trust the greenback. At least so far so good. But we borrow money from countries so we can buy what they sell. We pretend the debt doesn’t matter. Not to worry! Interest is only a fraction of our GDP. We can afford it. Meanwhile the bond credit rating agencies have downgraded us again from AAA+ to AAA to AA- (can’t imagine why the media didn’t tell you this during an election year). This will eventually drive up the interest we pay on debt because we are viewed as a bad credit risk. We are irresponsible spenders. We can’t get deficits under control. We spend more than we earn. We think we are doing just fine, but the rating agencies don’t agree. And, in order to keep the spending going, we’ve got to figure out how to “pool more resources” (a.k.a. TAXES) and “redistribute the wealth” (secured from TAXES).
Most experts agree. The Federal Reserve program of quantitative easing (QE1 and QE2) did not work, but they started a QE3 anyway. The idea of the latest program is to take toxic mortgages from banks. And what in the heck is that? More bank bailouts! “Banks give me your poor, tired, losing loans and we (the Federal Reserve which you all own) will take it from you and let the poor dumb taxpayer pay it off for you.” If people understood how they were being ripped off they would not be so calm and accepting. In QE3 the banks pledge their mortgage paper directly to the Fed, and borrow against it at the full value of the loans in spite of the fact that the value has dropped in half or more. This is nothing more than a “stealth” bank bailout! They book their assets at full value giving them the illusion of solvency.
Few sound the alarm about the world drowning in debt – national debt, unfunded liabilities (medical and pension), sovereign debt, derivatives, state, county, local, student loans and credit card debt. A huge amount of debt is everywhere and the bottom line is that although we talk about it, no one seems to care enough to do anything about it. I have written extensively on this subject, and explained how the Federal Reserve works (or doesn’t work), the role of derivatives, the size of our debt and so forth. The fact is we have gotten away with it because creating more and more debt actually works for a while. But even John Maynard Keynes, the stimulus economist who came up with the idea, said debt should only be temporary in times of downturns and should be paid off. No doubt he would roll over in his grave if he saw how we implement his ideas.
It is hard to get it into our thick heads that what the Federal Reserve is doing will end in disaster. We look at the news. Inflation seems to be under control and housing is going up again. What’s the problem? The problem is that after who knows how many trillions in stimulus (probably close to $20 trillion) one would expect to see a massive turnaround, and there is none. Why no inflation? There is a decrease in the value of assets such as housing. This is deflationary. There is little investment in new business or jobs because banks prefer to sit on their cash than make loans. Business owners do not know the impact of new regulations and programs.
So the Fed pumps trillions into the economy which would normally help in the short term but it hasn’t. Increasing the money supply destroys the value of currency. The value of the dollar has dropped 25 percent against major currencies in the past 18 months.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that you can’t keep going into debt and devaluing your currency indefinitely. The reason countries get away with it for a while is that they have the power of the press to print more money. This gives the people the illusion of being better off. As I have said many times, inflation is the biggest tax we will ever pay. Your pay check keeps growing (or at least used to) so you have the illusion of making more money. When I was first married and had two small children I lived well on a $240 a month from a Fellowship while in graduate school. Today I make many times that and struggle to make ends meet.
The main reason the Federal Reserve allows and even plans on inflation is so they can pay off the debt with cheaper dollars. If I borrow a million dollars from Canada when our currency is on par ($1 U.S. to $1 Canadian) and we double the money supply so the value of the dollar drops by half and the U.S. dollar is worth 50 cents, I give Canada a million dollars in green backs worth only a half million. The debt is paid and Canada is screwed receiving only half the real value. This is exactly what we want to do to China and others who have loaned us money. That is also the only way to deal with the National Debt and who owns the debt? Mainly countries like China and Japan who buy our bonds (loaning us money) so we can buy more of their stuff. I know this seems like a vicious circle, but even worse, it is a downward spiral which eventually ends (not in the next month or year as many think) in hyperinflation, a worthless currency and a deadbeat reputation.
Every developed country in the world is playing this same game – all of Europe and most of Asia including Japan, China and South Korea. I have written extensively on the European crisis and the so-called “Sovereign Debt.” There is no way the European Union will survive. There isn’t enough money or will to save Greece (which is about the same size as Philadelphia economically). If they can’t save Greece, how do they ever expect to save the other countries that are comparatively huge, such as Spain, Italy, and even France and England? They can’t and they won’t. Japan is one of the worst basket cases in the world. The only thing that has saved them so far is their high savings rate, but their economy is grinding to a halt. So is Europe’s and even China’s.
Spain is finally ready to cry “uncle” and ask for a bailout. Italy and France are not far behind. Bankers across the world convinced their governments to save the country by bailing them out. Manufacturing is down for the eleventh straight month in China. China is primed for a 30s style depression. Japan’s exports are down 6 percent so far this year. The Eurozone economy is in free fall. The European Central Bank is following the Fed example by cutting interest rates and loaning the banks cheap money. These European countries are not just too big to save. They are impossible to save. Where did we come up with the idea that we can spend ourselves out of debt? The world economy needs to grow based on savings and capital investment, not debt. Eventually and especially because it has been funded by debt and “funny money” hot off the presses, the economy slows and the depression sets in.
After the first of the year, we fall over the fiscal cliff. Cuts at the National, state and local levels begin to kick in big time along with massive tax increases. Let me tell you, as one who spent 30 years in the health care industry, the true costs of Obamacare haven’t begun to come to light. Obama’s solution for the economy is more government spending, programs and activity, higher taxes, and income redistribution. This is a death sentence to the private sector and the middle class. The stock markets will soar to record territory by the election and 2013 will see the biggest crash since the Great Depression.
These “black swan events” are high impact, hard to predict, rare events that can be catastrophic. Nouri Robini says the global economy is on course for a perfect storm in 2013. One doesn’t have to be psychic to see we are headed for an economic meltdown. They can’t and won’t save Greece, Spain, Italy, etc. The European Union is doomed.
America’s course is not sustainable. The U.S. government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Up to now America has had the reputation of being a safe investment. Our lenders are not stupid. They know that our “Quantitative Easing” is nothing more than flooding the world with dollars, and with every new program – QE1, QE2 and now with QE3 the dollar value is falling. Our credit rating as a nation has been downgraded again. What will the U.S. do when we are no longer considered a good risk? Ask Greece. As risk increases, the amount the country has to pay on its bonds goes up. Do you think China loves us so much it is going to continue giving us half a trillion dollars every year out of the goodness of its heart? As our credit worthiness goes down, the interest we pay on bonds will go up. See the interest some European countries pay on bonds in the chart above. Of course we can sustain a high deficit when interest is so low but once it goes back up to historic levels or higher, it is unsustainable. If it goes up a little, the effect is disastrous. See the chart below.
There is another dirty little secret no one is talking about is this. Once a country defaults, all of the derivatives tied to that default unravel. Huge amounts of so-called “Sovereign Debt” are carried by all of the major banks of the world, including U.S. banks. We know they bundled mortgages and sold them as derivatives where $10 million in mortgages could become a derivative “worth” $100 million or more. They have done the same thing with Sovereign Debt. They call it Sovereign Debt because the EuroZone countries cannot print money. They have one Central Bank for the whole region. So all they can do is issue bonds. The bonds are bundled and resold as derivatives in huge multiples
Eurozone countries can no longer meet the obligations of their rich socialist entitled societies. Obama is trying his best to catch up with Europe and give away as much as he can to the poor and labor unions at the expense of the greedy rich. He’s doing a really good job though. No country in the history of the world has climbed the mountain of debt that we have accumulated. To say this is an unsustainable trend is an understatement!
Global Geopolitical Trends
Radical Islam is a problem Europe and America have been unwilling to address. According to Neil Snyder, “Radical Islam is a problem that the entire world must confront. It’s not about politics. It’s about eradicating a festering sore before it turns into gangrene and threatens our very existence.” In Understanding Islam they say “Radical Islam is not merely an extreme version of Islam. Rather, it is a cultural-social ideology dominating all aspects of life. Like many violent totalitarian movements, its primary objective is to dominate all those within its reach and suppress all other ideologies, movements, and beliefs in its path.” We have seen the power of the movement as it gained control of Middle Eastern nations following the “Arab Spring”.
There are 2.1 billion Muslims in the world. The news would like to play this down but most of the violence across Africa is a result of ethnic cleansing of Christians by Muslims. Christians have fled Iran and Iraq and are now fleeing Egypt. But way beyond that is the fuse of all fuses – Israel! This is not to say that Jews and Muslims haven’t coexisted for thousands of years, but recently with the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism a vitriolic hatred of the Jews is preached in Mosques and schools across the region.
The Obama Administration has continually played down the truth about the Muslim Brotherhood saying that they were willing to live in peace with Israel and America. After the past week (mid-September, 2012) of demonstrations it seems clear this is not the case. With riots breaking out near every embassy in the region, it appears that the radicals have the upper hand. Where will this end? When will they begin to realize how wonderful we are and fall in love with America again? I know. That was a really dumb question because there is nothing rational about their hatred of America or Israel. Who knows how they will act out on this hatred?
This brings us to Iran. This weekend Israeli PM Netanyahu urged the Obama administration to establish a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear program rather than a red light on Israeli action. We all know Iran is reckless enough to go nuclear on Israel, and no one can blame Israel for defending herself. Unfortunately Israel is such a tiny nation, they can’t afford to take a nuclear strike and live to strike back. It is either a preemptive strike or the annihilation of Israel. It is hard for us to imagine how they feel. It would be more akin to the whole United States dead set on destroying Philadelphia and Philadelphia is expected to take the first nuclear salvo to prove their good will.
Iran is months away from having a nuclear bomb. Does anyone think Israel will wait indefinitely before it takes action? And when it does, what happens to the world economy when the Strait of Hormuz is blocked? Iran says it will block it stopping the delivery of 40 percent of the world’s oil. It is just a matter of time. Then what?
At any rate, Iran isn’t a trend. It is a fact that we have to live with. In fact, it is a crucial prophetic prediction given in the Bible thousands of years ago – in great detail. This is the powder keg waiting to go off and it will, beginning with the destruction of Damascus which we lay out in great detail, followed shortly by a defense treaty with Israel and a major war in the Middle East prophetically known as the Gog-Magog War. We can just call it WWIII.
Cataclysmic Events Near You
The trends discussed above could lead to one or more catastrophic events. MIT predicts half of humanity will be culled in a post-industrial crash. There are some who believe the population should be culled. Check out this video. Some believe that the elites have been planning on bringing the world population down to a more manageable level of about 500 million. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but you can check it out yourself. This could occur by the natural course of events such as famine, drought, earthquakes, tsunamis, polar shifts, solar activity (increased sunspots and other global weather) to human events such as the introduction of a genetically engineered virus causing a pandemic, nuclear warfare or something as benign as an EMP attack.
The prestigious Stratfor Global Intelligencegauges the effects of a high altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. With the proliferation of nuclear technology and guided missiles, you have any number of countries that are capable – from the usual suspects such as Russia and China to the more sinister such as Pakistan and North Korea. All focus is on big bad Iran while one of Al-Qaeda’s biggest supporters is nuclear Pakistan which is extremely hostile to the U.S.
According to the American Federation of Scientists a launch from a submarine off the coast of the USA to 300 miles over Kansas would affect the entire continental United States. If you would like a technical explanation click here but suffice it to say that it would bring down the electrical grid and destroy just about anything electrical in the entire country unless shielded (which we could expect of some military equipment). It would take out most satellites, the entire electrical grid, cell phones, computers, the electronics in our automobiles, etc. This means there would be no electricity, no water in our plumbing, no sewage, no transportation, no way to resupply stores, no way to harvest crops. Experts predict 90 percent of the population would die off from starvation, lack of water or roving gangs.
There are many other random events that could occur. Some speculate that AIDS and Ebola were created in a military laboratory and that military researchers are currently experimenting with strains of bird flu and weaponized smallpox. Will the next pandemic be naturally occurring or man made?
We have no idea what the health consequences will be of genetically modified food but they may not all be good. The effect of nutritionism and the destructive processing of food is evident in our increasingly obese and unhealthy population. To what extent this leads to catastrophe depends on your definition of millions of premature deaths. If nothing else, we seem to be eating ourselves to death…and now we find that virtually all North America’s rice products are severely contaminated with arsenic known to cause cancer!
In the past two hundred years solar flares have caused many disruptions. During solar active cycles, power grids have gone out, satellites destroyed and communications disrupted. There is talk about December 21, 2012, just a few months away. I’m not necessarily into Mayan prophecy, but where there is smoke there, there just might be at least a little fire. We are just discovering the strong interaction between the stars, planets, moon and the earth’s core. In fact, a few years ago NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) established a space weather division. We have entered one of the most active solar cycles in modern time and solar cycle 24 will be 50 percent stronger than the previous cycle that brought us Hurricane Katrina. Any time we have eclipses (an alignment of the earth, sun and moon), especially when the sun is active, there is a much higher incidence of crazy weather, earthquakes, volcanic activity, etc.
I’m not predicting anything but I am saying there is a convergence that seems to be occurring – possible major conflict in the Middle East with Syria, Iran and Israel, the election, falling off the financial cliff and a date (21 December 2012 written the European way) that has nearly a billion references in a Google search. America is faced with an election in which the country is more deeply divided than at any time since the Civil War. There are riots of utter hatred for America breaking out all over the world. We have a President who has a tepid relationship with Israel and seems to be more for Islam than Christianity (especially if you look at what he has done the past three and a half years). Please see this video regarding Obama’s faith. This raises some interesting questions.
The most important event that evangelical scholars recognize as the beginning of the seven year tribulation is when Israel signs a Defense Treaty as noted in Daniel 9:27. Let’s talk about this for a minute. What would cause Israel to sign such a treaty? There is one final war that needs to occur between Israel and Syria called the “Burden of Damascus”. Bashar Assad has his back against the wall and has declared that he will destroy Israel if it is the last thing he does. Isaiah 17 tells us that Damascus will be destroyed. Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. What would cause such destruction? If Israel’s back is against the wall, they may use tactical nuclear weapons. The other factor is Iran and Israel. This attack could occur any day and could also precipitate Syria’s attack on Israel. Once the Syrian war is over and the President of the United States is hopping mad. He goes to Israel and tells them to disarm and America will sign a Defense Treaty and protect them. This represents the beginning of the last seven years. At the midpoint he breaks the treaty and turns on Israel and the church. If that treaty is signed, time’s up and it is later than we think.
Whether we want to believe it or not our world is about to radically change. I have no idea who will win the presidential race. I have no idea when Israel will attack Iran or Syria will attack Israel. I have no idea when the global economy will fail. These events are more like historical roads that lead us to the end, an ending we can neither change nor escape. The Bible tells us that
“There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27)
If you want a little peak into what your future may be like, please read Gideon’s Chronicle, a novel about the second half of the Great Tribulation. There is a complete Book I and the beginning of Book II.
There is nothing to be afraid of as pessimistic as I may sound at times because these events lead up to the great testimony of God’s Two Witnesses – Israel and the Church (meaning the corporate body of true believers – not the institution). What an honor to witness and be a part of God’s final move on the earth!
The path we are on is not sustainable. But we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth whose builder and maker is God. Whatever you do, don’t blame God for the mess we are in. Believe me, this is Satan’s last stand. He will destroy the economy. Destroy culture and society. Turn people against one another and try and set up his own kingdom. The world is expecting a charismatic leader known as the Antichrist who will have a go at it, only to make matters much worse until Jesus returns to set things right. But hold on! This will be a great ride even if it “is the beginning of the end.”
Copyright 2012 Dene McGriff
- Article Source: http://the-tribulation-network.com/new_tribnet/dene_mcgriff/times_up.html
PS1 False Flag Events – Coming Soon
PS2 How Did Ayn Rand’s novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Predict an America Spinning Out of Control?
Nearly thirty years after her death, Ayn Rand’s novels continue to be wildly popular—”Atlas Shrugged” alone is selling more today than it did when it was first published in 1957 — more than one million copies have sold since the 2008 elections.
Especially among Tea Partiers, Ayn Rand is being hailed a prophet. How could she have anticipated, more than 50 years ago, a United States spinning out of financial control, plagued by soaring spending and crippling regulations?
How could she have painted villains who seem ripped from today’s headlines?
There’s Wesley Mouch, who in the face of failed government programs screams like Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts for wider powers.
There’s Eugene Lawson, “the banker with a heart,” who like former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is ever ready with a bailout.
There’s Mr. Thompson, who like President Obama seeks to rally the country behind pious platitudes.
There’s Orren Boyle, who like President Bush says that we must abandon free-market principles to save the free market.
And in the face of this onslaught, what can you do? Should you, like Rand’s heroes, “go Galt,” stop working, retreat to a secluded valley, and try to rebuild only when the country has collapsed?
Rand was asked these very questions in her own lifetime. Her answers might surprise you.
In the 1970s, America was in a deep financial crisis (a new word, stagflation, had to be coined), urban violence was rampant, and power-seeking politicians like President Nixon instituted wage and price controls that led to, among other things, gas stations with no gas.
How, people wondered, could Rand have foreseen all this? Was she a prophet? No, she answered. She had simply identified the basic cause of why the country was veering from crisis to new crisis.
Was the solution to “go Galt” and quit society? No, Rand again answered. The solution was simultaneously much easier and much harder. “So long as we have not yet reached the state of censorship of ideas,” she once said, “one does not have to leave a society in the way the characters did in Atlas Shrugged. . . . But you know what one does have to do? One has to break relationships with the culture. . . . [D]iscard all the ideas—the entire cultural philosophy which is dominant today.”
Now, the fact that “Atlas Shrugged” is not a political novel might surprise you. But the book’s point is that our plight is caused not by corrupt politicians (who are only a symptom) or some alleged flaw in human nature. It’s caused by the philosophic ideas and moral ideals most of us embrace.
“You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded,” the novel’s hero John Galt declares to a country in crisis. “Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster.”
He elaborates: “You have sacrificed justice to mercy.” (For example, calls to make homeownership “accessible” to those who could not afford it and then bailouts and foreclosure freezes to spare them when they couldn’t pay.)
“You have sacrificed reason to faith.” (For example, attempts to prevent stem cell research on Biblical grounds, or blind faith that Mr. Obama’s deliberately empty rhetoric about hope and change will magically produce prosperity.)
“You have sacrificed wealth to need.” (For example, Bush’s prescription drug benefit and Obamacare, both enacted because people needed “free” health care.)
“You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial.” (For example, attacks on Bill Gates for making a fortune; applause when he gives that fortune away.)
“You have sacrificed happiness to duty.” (For example, every president’s Kennedyesque exhortations to “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”)
The result? “Why . . . do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality . . .”
This is what “Atlas Shrugged” is asking us to question: our ideals. Rethink our convictions and philosophy of life from the ground up. Without doing so, it argues, we won’t escape further crises.
Strike, the book urges us, but intellectually, since to strike means to reject the fundamental terms of your opponents and assert your own.
This kind of thinking is difficult, Rand held, but necessary to enter the Atlantis depicted toward the end of the novel.
“If Atlas Shrugged” has been on your list of books-I’ve-been-meaning-to-get-to, then consider finding out for yourself how a story published in 1957 so eerily captures the world we live in today and so beautifully presents a road to a brighter future.
Postscript: And if you’re like the millions who prefer reading e-books, I highly recommend the just-released Atlas Shrugged app for iPad: it includes the unabridged text of the classic novel, and offers a glimpse into the backstory of the book and sketches out the essentials of Rand’s original philosophic system, Objectivism.
Dr. Onkar Ghate is a vice president and senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. He teaches at the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center, speaks on philosophy and Objectivism across North America, and publishes scholarly articles on Ayn Rand’s fiction and philosophy. Recently he wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to ‘Atlas Shrugged,’” a classroom resource published by Penguin.