The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Most economists and investors believe our economy recovered from the Great Recession. They and the mainstream media say our economy is strong and that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy worked. Conservatives seem convinced that Trump’s tax cuts signal the beginning of a new prosperity in America.
The concept revealed in Proverbs 22:7 really isn’t hard to understand. Even so, in 2018, few in our nation see our freedoms slipping away because of debt. Instead, ideological differences get the blame for all of our problems. Ironically, both the left and the right achieve their goals through debt—the left by the welfare state and government intrusion into our lives, the right by capital markets fueled by massive leverage. In spite of their claims to moral superiority, both sides ignore clear, simple direction from God. Both sides have contributed to the economic mess we find ourselves in.
Today, our economy sails into uncharted waters of unprecedented personal, corporate and public debt. Christians should know better, but too often we have succumbed to the siren call of our culture only to shipwreck on the rocky shore of compromised faith.
Soon, the debt we have accumulated will engulf our nation.
How does a nation get to this point? Consider these possible paths to enslavement:
- Forget God. Providence, once a cherished and comforting doctrine for American Christians, has been replaced in our culture by a dependence upon (and sometimes a worship of) mankind’s abilities. Progressives believe they can build heaven on earth by government rule. Conservatives hope to do the same by participation in capitalism’s free markets.
- Ignore the reality of sin. Think about it. To believe we can solve our problems through the political process, we have to imagine sin going on holiday while our agendas play out. Progressives have to replace the new birth with their own cleverness and intellectual superiority to achieve their man-made nirvana. Conservatives have to push the new birth aside while the markets turn our vices of greed and covetousness into virtue as capitalism rescues the poor so we don’t have to.
- Concentrate power into the hands of a few people. This is inevitable when we ignore sin. Our nation’s founders were wise in their use of separation of powers. But we have placed too much power in the hands of the Federal Reserve. They have too much influence on the most important price in the markets—the price of money. Their willingness to monetize debt has disastrous consequences for the economy we all depend upon to provide for our families.
- Let discontent and covetousness guide our actions. It’s obvious how this leads to the enslavement of debt. A desire for instant gratification blinds us to the consequences our actions have on our future.
- Combine concentration of power with deregulation. When people with wealth and power enact laws enabling them to operate without fear of retribution for immoral and unethical actions, then that nation has capitulated to sin. This leads directly to the next step.
- Let the tail wag the dog. Capitalism depends on maintaining a connection between people with ideas and people who want to start or grow a business with people who save money. When people deposit their savings in banks, it can be more easily channeled into productive enterprises. In other words, banks serve the real economy that creates jobs and wealth. In our day, banks are no longer the servant in our economy but the master. They have become master through the power of the Federal Reserve and by making money by charging fees and then dumping their risky loans into financial market derivatives. Bank loans decreasingly finance productive investment and increasingly finance speculative investment based on asset price increases. When our nation’s economy becomes more geared toward making money through lending instead of producing goods and services, not only do we face a future without adequate production to meet our needs, we face a future owing debt we cannot repay. We face financial enslavement, just as Proverbs 22:7 predicts.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. The generations of Americans who lived through the Great Depression and World War II held a perspective more in line with reality. They used the phrase “Almighty Dollar” to describe what they clearly saw as idolatrous materialism. “Being in debt up to your eyeballs” was a pejorative term for profligate borrowing and spending. Now it’s a description of the norm for a large percentage of American citizens. .
The lessons they tried to teach the following generations fell on deaf ears. “Saving for a rainy day” seems foolish now because those in power assure us they know how to prevent another Great Depression. Therefore God’s warnings need not be heeded.
As our nation has stepped away from God’s path into debt, our economic freedom has decreased. Families once could make ends meet with one wage earner. When more wives started working outside the home; families often had more discretionary funds, sometimes much more. But some married women entered the workforce because one salary didn’t provide enough for her family’s necessities. Now, many families with two breadwinners cannot make ends meet and borrow to make up the difference.
I know it may be hardest for those who are thriving economically to see the danger debt poses to our nation. Perhaps a look at the magnitude of our debt problem will bring perspective. Here is a link— http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Maybe, just maybe, our safest path is to take God at his word and believe debt leads to enslavement and that our fat 401k will not protect us from the consequences of disobedience.