Two newspaper articles in particular caught my eye recently. The first, "U.S. Funding for Future Promises Lags by Trillions," appeared in USA Today (Dennis Cauchan, June 7, 2011). It covered a sobering phenomenon we've discussed previously in several articles—the skyrocketing amount of financial obligations created by the U.S. government with no realistic way to pay for them.
While the federal government took on $1.5 trillion last year to finance the budget deficit, it shockingly added 31⁄2 times that amount, "$5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security," according to the article. The net effect? "That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for" (emphasis added throughout).
Numbers like these are so huge that people find them almost meaningless. To put it in perspective, if you spent $1 per second, 24 hours a day, you would spend $86,400 per day and more than $31.5 million per year. It would take you over 32,000 years to spend a trillion dollars!
Multiply that by 61 times, and you have some idea of that one part of America's debt problem. If you're an American, your share is $534,000 per U.S. household, "more than five times what Americans have borrowed for everything else—mortgages, car loans and other debt."
The other article, titled "Decline and Fall of the American Empire," was written by Larry Elliott, economics editor for the British news-paper The Guardian (June 6, 2011). It's a stern warning for a nation on a perilous path, and shocking coming from such a left-leaning paper:
"America clocked up a record last week. The latest drop in house prices meant that the cost of real estate has fallen by 33% since the peak —even bigger than the 31% slide seen when John Steinbeck was writing The Grapes of Wrath," the famous novel of Depression-era America.
Elliot points to America's 9.1 percent unemployment rate, to one in six Americans relying on government food stamps and to budget deficits that, percentage-wise, rival those of Greece, which is on the verge of financial implosion.
His sobering conclusion? "America in 2011 is Rome in 200AD or Britain on the eve of the first world war: an empire at the zenith of its power but with cracks beginning to show.
"The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means . . . The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence."
For years The Good News has warned about America's cultural, societal and spiritual decline. It's becoming so obvious now that even a secular economics editor writing for a highly liberal newspaper can recognize the connection between the nation's "cultural decadence," as he put it, and its downward economic spiral.
Elliott's article concludes with this: "Above all, America must rediscover the qualities that originally made it great. That will not be easy."
We couldn't agree more! In the following pages we'll examine some of those qualities that "originally made [America] great." We hope and pray that you personally, and all of our readers, will rediscover and apply those qualities!