What Inspires President Obama’s Relationship With Israel?

What Inspires President Obama’s Relationship With Israel?

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama claims he has an ‘uncompromising commitment’ to Israel. But does he?
From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

They say a picture is worth a thousand words; the picture at left is worth ten thousand. I don’t remember ever seeing a picture that tells such a disturbing story.

The picture shows Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nehama, lighting the menorah. Looking on is U.S. President Barack Obama, along with his wife. The Rivlins joined the Obamas on December 9 for the first of two Hanukkah receptions in the East Room of the White House.

History of Hanukkah

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. Why did the temple need to be rededicated? What happened to it?

Antiochus Epiphanes.

Antiochus was a king of the Seleucid Empire in the second century b.c. He controlled Jerusalem and the Jews. During one of his invasions of Egypt, it was reported that he had died. The two factions of Jews at Jerusalem launched into open conflict. The high priest that Antiochus had appointed was forced out.

But Antiochus wasn’t dead. He was alive, and he was incensed. His success against Egypt had been stopped in its tracks by the Roman Republic. He was ordered to withdraw his troops, which he did.

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says that after this, Antiochus hastily came against Jerusalem. He besieged the city and took it. Then the slaughter began. Antiochus’s forces killed men, women and children. One history says that 40,000 inhabitants were put to death and 40,000 more were enslaved.

But Antiochus did not stop there. “He despoiled the temple of its precious vessels and furniture and returned to Antioch laden with the treasure,” Unger’s continues. “He burned the city, erected a fort on an eminence commanding the temple, so that the worshipers approaching it were slain: while the place itself was defiled with every abomination; and the daily sacrifice was made to cease according to the prediction of Daniel (8:9-12; 11:31)” (ibid). Even though the Jewish religion at this point had fallen far from God, God’s temple was still revered. Antiochus hatefully desecrated the temple and spat on the religion of the Jews. Yet he still was not done.

Some years later, he attacked the Jews again, “commissioning his lieutenant Apollonius with an army of 22,000 men to destroy Jerusalem. Taking advantage of the Sabbath he came upon the people assembled in their synagogues, massacred the men and made the women and children captives” (ibid).

This ruler harbored a special and murderous hatred for the Jews. But why?

“Matters were brought to a height by the famous decree of Antiochus commanding that all the people should conform to the religion of the sovereign on pain of death. This brought about the Maccabean war” (ibid).

For Antiochus, it wasn’t enough to kill tens of thousands of Jews. He tried to kill their religion. He slaughtered people as they worshiped on their holy Sabbath.

Any time a person like Antiochus is involved, it’s more than just Antiochus that you are dealing with. There is a God-hating evil spirit power at work. That is the whole lesson here.

Daniel 8 (cited above) is more than a prediction; it is a prophecy of God about what Antiochus will do in modern times! God says this prophecy is going to prevail three different times here in this last end. This is prophecy for the end time, and it’s in the Bible of the Jewish people.

As I show in my booklet America Under Attack (Request a free copy), we have a modern, political Antiochus leading our nation. And now, that Antiochus is interacting with the president of Judah—the Jewish nation!

God made a scepter promise to the Jews. They were also chosen to preserve the Old Testament and the sacred calendar—“the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1-2).

This gets to the heart of why any Antiochus hates the Jews!

The Meeting

The modern descendants of ancient Judah are the Jews. Their nation is known as Israel to the world.

President Obama said on December 9, “Earlier today, we had an excellent meeting where we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel.” President Rivlin said this about Mr. Obama: “The president expressed both his concern and his uncompromising commitment to Israel.” Those are beautiful words, woefully false. Anybody who looks at the facts of what America’s president has done to Israel knows that he has done the exact opposite.

That is Antiochus—and it is satanic! There is no truthin the devil (John 8:44).

The president also took the opportunity to voice “the need for the Israelis and Palestinians to find mechanisms in which to dialog and arrive at peace.” Read that closely. The president is saying the Israelis are equally at fault with the Palestinians, who use terrorists to blow up civilians—men, women and children. The president says they just need to get together and negotiate and compromise. That is another monstrous lie! It is obvious the Palestinians could have peace tomorrow if they wanted it. But they don’t want peace—they want to conquer Judah!

There is a grave and deadly irony in President Obama acknowledging the Maccabees, who threw off the ancient Antiochus and rededicated and restored worship in the temple.

President Obama continued: “All of us come together along with Jews around the world to celebrate a band of Maccabees who inspire us even today.” Is that true? Does that history inspire him today? When you look at the diplomatic insults and the hatred the Obama administration has poured on Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when you look at the pressure this administration has put on Israel to negotiate with people who use terrorism, and when you look at how openly it has enabled Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, wouldn’t you say that a leader like that finds Antiochus more of a model to follow than Judas Maccabeus?

When you know what is happening in the Middle East right now, it’s the most horrifying thing you could imagine for modern Judah. The Jews are in grave danger.

There is a grave and deadly irony in President Obama acknowledging the Maccabees, who threw off the ancient Antiochus and rededicated and restored worship in the temple, even though that worship fell short of what God commanded in their own Bible.

“The Maccabees’ sense of faith and courage and righteousness continue to animate the Jewish community even now,” President Obama said, “and that’s certainly the story of the menorah that we light this afternoon” (emphasis mine throughout). President Obama is even participating in the Jewish religion!

Listen to those words. If you focus only on the words, how could you doubt that he loves the Jews and wants peace in the Middle East? But what do words mean without deeds to reinforce them? And his deeds are the opposite of those words.

At the event, President Rivlin said, “We remember the brave Maccabees. Hanukkah is the only day of spiritual activism. It is a holiday which represents the spirit of human beings created equally in the image of God. Each night of Hanukkah we add a new light to the menorah. Today we are looking for strong and clear moral leadership of the kind you represent, President Obama”—this statement brought a big round of applause—“leadership committed to the safety of its people, to the opportunity and the dignity of every human being.”

Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees, the Jewish leaders who fought off the armies of Antiochus Epiphanes. And here you have an end-time Jewish leader celebrating that event with an end-time political Antiochus!

What do Israel’s leaders have to see this administration do before they know that isn’t true? Where will such reasoning lead? For Israel to trust the United States under this administration is extremely dangerous! Such thinking is leading to Israel’s demise as a nation!

But God doesn’t blame President Obama; He blames the Jewish, American and British peoples because of their sins!

“Before Wednesday’s candle lighting, Rivlin compared Obama to the Shamash, the helper candle in a Hanukkah menorah, which is used to light all the other candles” (ibid). That is putting President Obama up on the level of a saint!

Rivlin concluded: “We know, Mr. President, that you have lit the candle for the last seven years to show the right way for your people and for the entire world. And we are very sure that the eighth candle that you will light in the next year will be the same and show the whole world how to fight what we should not accept.”

How could anyone reason this way, looking at what has been done?

The end-time Antiochus just loves this. Believe me! he says. Just believe my words—don’t pay any attention to my deeds! We worship the will! Listen to my words and worship the will! That is the voice of an evil spirit! Yet a leader of Israel says he trusts the president to “show the right way for your people and for the entire world” and to show “strong and clear moral leadership.” God describes this attitude in Isaiah 1:5: “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint”!

Too many are abysmally gullible about what is going on.

Unbreakable Bond?

Does America really have an “unbreakable bond” with Judah today? Well, in ending economic sanctions as part of the nuclear deal, the Obama administration just gave over $100 billion to Iran, the top terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world—by far! Iran is famous for sponsoring some of the most violent terrorists on Earth, terrorists who continually attack Jews.

The U.S. led an air attack against the Islamic State in Ramadi, Iraq. One television program said American airpower was the most significant part of that assault. On the ground were Iraqi and Iranian soldiers.The U.S. was fighting alongside Iran! And even then, the Iranians refused to fight unless they won additional concessions. The Obama administration will send our military to fight alongside Iran, but it can’t get together with the Jews on much of anything!

Iran has promised to wipe Israel off the map. It supports Islamic terrorists who want to do the same. And they want to wipe President Obama’s own nation off the map as well! They call America the “big Satan” and the Jewish state the “little Satan.” Is this cooperation with Iran good for the Jews?

The Iranians declare that they are going to destroy the Jews and the Americans, and they are continually amassing the means to do it. They have already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that will reach the United States, even though they were supposed to wait eight years to do that, according to the nuclear agreement. They are already breaking the agreement, which they say they never actually signed. Yet the Obama administration is honoring its terms and giving billions of dollars in concessions to Iran.

In many ways, the Islamic State, or isis, is a cover for what Iran is doing; it distracts people from the real threat in the region. The Islamic State is a significant problem, but it is nothing compared to Iran. Iran has terrorist cells just like the Islamic State, plus it is a force and a power that is taking over the Middle East! It is the number one sponsor of terror—and America’s president has U.S. servicemen fighting beside Iranians, and he is giving them over $100 billion. What can a terrorist-sponsoring state do with $100 billion? Didn’t President Obama’s “unbreakable bond with Israel” break a long time ago?

The U.S. radical-left administration is exacerbating the deadly wound of the Jewish nation (Hosea 5:13). That wound is the “peace process” where Islamists use terrorism and Israel coughs up territory and other concessions. The Obama administration has even said that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. will shoot down Israel’s planes!

Are we dealing with a fan of the Maccabees, or a fan of Antiochus?

President Obama can say all these nice words—and the president of the Jewish nation sits there and believes every bit of it despite having absolutely no reason to do so! They are just words! You had better be afraid when people start believing the words of an Antiochus.

We have to realize that the whole movement in the U.S. from the top is about destruction! The Bible characterizes Antiochus as a “son of perdition,” or destruction. There isn’t anything except a lot of deceit and lies.

The Prophesied Antiochus

Notice what the Prophet Daniel says about Antiochus: “And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21). This is the way an Antiochus operates, wherever he may be.

“And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. … And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. … And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily,” or the work of God (verses 23, 27, 31). Verse 32 reveals that he shall “corrupt by flatteries.”

“And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods” (verse 36). He exalts himself above every god. That is exactly what Satan the devil did and does (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:15-17). This Antiochus speaks against the God of gods. His message is against God, but it is cloaked in deceit.

Cambridge Bible Commentary states this about “magnify himself” in Daniel 11:36: “Antiochus, moreover, assumed divine honors. This is particularly evident … on his coins. His best portraits appear to be those on the coins of his early years, which bear simply the inscription ‘King Antiochus.’ At a later period of his reign a star appears on his forehead, implying that he has assumed divine honors. Then in coins with the legend, ‘King Antiochus, God’ (or ‘God Manifest’ [Epiphanes]), the star disappears, but the portrait is idealized, the features approximating in type to those of Apollo. Other coins of the same type exhibit the head surrounded by a diadem with rays—another mark of divine rank. (Babelon states that Antiochus Epiphanes is the first Seleucid king who is represented constantly on his coins with a crown of rays.) Lastly, on coins with the legend ‘King Antiochus, God Manifest, Victory-bearer,’ the head approximates even to that of Zeus Olympios, whose distinctive epithet [‘Victory-bearer’] the king himself assumes.”

Antiochus and his prophetic types are heavily influenced and even possessed by the devil!

His actions are not those of a normal human being!

He loves only those who have an attitude of worship toward him and the evil spirit behind his deeds.

This message sounds strange only to people who do not know their Bibles.

Antiochus obtains rule through deceitful lies and flatteries. He gains control by acting like he is somebody that he certainly is not.

Werner Keller writes in The Bible as History: “Israel had been spared none of the horror and ignominy which could befall a nation. But never before, neither under the Assyrians nor under the Babylonians, had it received such a blow as the edict issued by Antiochus Epiphanes by which he hoped to crush and destroy the faith of Israel.” That was his goal, to destroy the faith of Israel.

“He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done”—nobody has acted like this before—“nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time” (verse 24).

Verse 28 says “his heart shall be against the holy covenant ….” He is against anything of God.

Some believe that the book of Daniel is untrue or that its prophecies were fulfilled long ago. But these prophecies are for God’s Church, or spiritual Israel, America and the British peoples (two specific birthright nations of Israel), and the Jewish nation today!

Be Upright!

Enjoy the benefits of moral and physical alignment.
From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

An upright person is a respectable person. He or she always behaves honestly, with high ethical standards and strong moral rectitude.

Very literally, though, an upright person is someone who is physically positioned to be straight up. He or she holds the body strong and upright in its correct form.

Survey the people around you. How many truly upright people do you see? The world is full of slumping, slouching, stooped over people—physically and even morally. Now look at yourself. How do you measure up?

Becoming upright spiritually means striving, day in and day out, to build character and to become the virtuous human being God created you to be. Becoming upright physically is much the same. It’s a constant effort to stand the way God created you to stand. The benefits of both are tremendous.

Upright posture makes you every inch as tall as you actually are. It also slims down your belly. Poor, slumped posture causes your ribcage to push down on your organs, which actually can begin to protrude and push against your abdominal wall. You can literally take inches off your waist just by standing upright!

Standing this way reduces tension and pain in your neck, shoulders and back. It improves the balance of your opposing muscle groups and actually enhances the functioning of your internal organs. It increases your concentration and your mental performance.

The body language of straight posture communicates confidence, vigor, power, authority. It commands attention and creates a more positive mindset, not only for those who view you, but for you yourself. Proper posture also projects uprightness in more ways than one.

“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright,” reads Psalm 37:37, “for the end of that man is peace.” In this scripture, David tells us to observe, inspect and give heed to the man who is strong, correct and wholesome, who is upright morally and even literally. The physically upright man is straight up, vertical in his carriage.

Spiritually or physically, the benefits for being upright are the same: The “end,” or future, of that man is peace: completeness, safety, soundness in body, health and prosperity.

What is proper posture? Essentially, it is good alignment. When standing, five points of your body should all make a straight line: your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and heels. When all are aligned, you are standing as you were created to stand. If you happen to be against a wall, the wall will touch the back of your head, your shoulders, rear end and heels.

Here’s how to practice, whether or not you have a wall handy:

Standing posture

• Plant your feet at shoulder-width.

• Feel your weight over your heels (not your toes).

• Twist your heels into the ground by tightening the muscles in your behind.

• Place your palms forward, spread your fingers and reach for the ground. Feel the weight of the world come off your shoulders.

• Lift your chest and push your shoulders back.

• Pull your chin back, as if you were holding a tennis ball between your chin and chest.

• Imagine a string attached to the top of your head, pulling it straight up.

• Breathe!

That is a marvelous posture you’ve got there. Doesn’t it feel grand? That’s because you are standing at the full height that God created you!

To maintain such posture takes constant checking and constant effort, but every day and every hour you put forth the effort to stand the way you were created to stand, your organs, your muscle groups, your waistline and even your mindset will function the way they were created to function!

Chances are, you spend a lot of time sitting as well. When you sit, take a few moments to ensure that your office chair, driver’s seat or wherever you sit is adjusted for proper posture. Then, remember these three simple points:

Sitting posture

• Keep a good arch in the lower back.

• Lift your chest, putting your shoulders back.

• Lift your chin, putting your ears in alignment over your shoulders.

Because it’s hard to sustain healthy posture for long periods, it is good to change positions regularly. If you have a sitting job, take regular breaks and walk around. Move, shift and stretch to avoid finding yourself in bad positions unwittingly.

Like the Christian walk, being upright physically takes constant, daily effort. And like the Christian walk, the rewards of this constant, daily effort are fantastic.

What Saudi Arabia Fears Most

What Saudi Arabia Fears Most

MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images

In America’s absence, the House of Saud is scrambling to form alliances to stop the king of the Middle East.
From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Just two days into 2016, the Middle East careened toward a major Sunni-Shiite war. Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric, and Iran immediately unleashed a major backlash. Protesters in Tehran ransacked and torched the Saudi Embassy, while police did little to intervene. In response, Saudi Arabia led a barrage of Sunni states that severed diplomatic ties with Iran.

So began new rifts between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.

Hot collars and frosty relationships are nothing new in this age-old religious rivalry, but the speed with which this latest incident accelerated into a major clash was shocking. Saudi Arabia and Iran are now openly going head to head.

This is the new reality in the post-American Middle East: Iran is king, and Saudi Arabia needs to scramble for any alliance it can cobble together—and fast.

Killing a Cleric

Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government. After spending more than three years in prison, Nimr was executed on January 2 on charges of inciting sectarian violence and sedition along with a range of other offenses.

Nimr was based out of eastern Saudi Arabia, where most of the nation’s Shiites reside. He had campaigned for a greater Shiite representation in the nation, and even said that the Shiite province of Qatif should secede if his demands were not met.

Nimr was neither saint nor moderate by any standard, but neither were his captors. The Saudi regime is incredibly oppressive. Nimr died along with more than 40 other convicts. Saudi Arabia executed 158 “terrorists” in 2015. Free speech is a luxury in this nation, where minorities and women suffer under a complex range of civil and religious laws.

The Saudi government sent a clear message with the execution: It will not tolerate dissent from the Shiite populace, nor will it allow Iran to establish a foothold in its own sovereign territory. In a region where Iranian-Saudi proxy wars are commonplace (map, page 25), the Sunni government is looking to shore up its deterrent ability as prospects of a more direct conflict with Shia Islam—predominantly Iran—looms large.

None of these Saudi actions would have been necessary, however, had the United States not walked out on its ally.

America’s Withdrawal

Since the start of Barack Obama’s presidency, the U.S. has sought to withdraw from policing the Middle East and to find an exit strategy.

Key to American withdrawal was the ending of hostilities with Iran, as evidenced by Washington’s willingness to proceed with a comprehensive nuclear deal despite several belligerent actions by the Iranians.

Early in the negotiations between Iran and the U.S., even before the rest of the world was aware they were taking place, America was the desperate party. Yes, Iran was suffering under crippling international financial sanctions, but it was actually the U.S. that proved hungry for a deal.

Iran surely couldn’t believe its luck. Before the talk of a nuclear deal, the U.S. countered Iran’s moves for hegemony in the region. Not anymore. During the negotiations, every time the U.S. got upset, Iran simply threatened to walk away from the table. As a result, it received a virtual free pass to export its destabilizing force in the Middle East. And in every theater, the interests that were being sacrificed in order to please Iran were those of Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s Free Pass

Looking at Iran’s regional gains since the nuclear deal negotiations began, it’s no wonder the Saudis are upset.

In Iraq, Iran strengthened its hold by activating different Shiite militias in the fight against the Islamic State. After a series of embarrassing defeats, the Iraqi Army was proving largely ineffective against the Sunni jihadists, losing key cities such as Ramadi and Mosul. Iran was happy to give its help. Its Shiite fighters provided most of the ground forces needed to successfully hold back the Islamic State from getting closer to Baghdad, while the U.S. provided air cover.

Though the U.S. claimed there was no collusion between the two militaries, Iran and America were on the same side. In the meantime, Iranian Revolutionary Guards leader Qassem Suleimani was seen often on the Iraqi battlefield, where he quickly claimed legendary status. Despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s efforts, 2015 saw his country become a vassal of this neo-Persian empire.

In Syria, Iranian troops led ground forces to help bolster the regime’s beleaguered leader, Bashar Assad. Since the early 2000s, Syria has been a proxy of the Iranian government, providing a valuable transit point between the Shiite powerhouse and Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. When the Arab Spring of 2011 looked to topple Assad’s government, Iran covertly sent military advisers to help the Syrian Army. Instead of stepping down, the Assad regime put down the rebellion using barbarity rivaling that of the Islamic State. When some of the army defected, Saudi Arabia was quick to start supporting the rebels with funds and weapons.

Through the ongoing civil war, the Saudis have continued to arm the opposition, even as Iran increased its involvement. In late 2012 and into 2013, Iran activated its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to join the fight. Finally in 2015, the gloves came off and Iranian troops were seen fighting inside Syria. All the while, the U.S. maintained its call for Syria’s president to step down from power, but did nothing. This only pushed the Saudis further away from the U.S. and in search of other friends.

Saudi Arabia’s Scramble for Friends

At one time, the Saudis could outsource much of their protection to the U.S.. This arrangement provided a level of stability in the region. But during the nuclear negotiations, it became clear that the status quo had changed. America would no longer play a robust role in policing the Middle East. Saudi Arabia saw this as a stinging betrayal precisely at the time that American deterrence was needed most.

Recognizing this new reality, Saudi Arabia began to find its own way, without even informing its long-time ally. This was particularly noticeable in Yemen.

In the latter part of 2014, Saudi Arabia increased its calls for action against the Houthis, the Iranian-backed Shiite group in northern Yemen bordering Saudi Arabia’s south. The Iranians had activated this proxy to foment a revolution against the Saudi- and American-friendly Yemeni government. When the Houthis took over the capital of Sanaa in January 2015, the Iranians boldly claimed that they now had control over four capitals in the Middle East (the other three being Tehran, Damascus and Beirut). It was clear to many that Iran was trying to control the southern gateway of the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which would essentially put international shipping, and shipping to Saudi Arabia’s west coast, at the mercy of Iran.

This offensive action by the Iranians became a game changer for the Saudis. In early 2015, Saudi Arabia declared that it had assembled close to a dozen nations, including the Gulf states and Egypt, to go to war against the Houthis. Stunningly, the Saudis did not ask for the U.S.’s participation, nor did they inform America about the announcement in advance. This was the clearest sign yet that the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is finished.

This change was underscored later in the year when Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a hastily assembled coalition of 34 Islamic nations to counter international terrorism. Again, the U.S. was not informed of this alliance before it was announced.

The fact that no Shiite powers are part of the alliance indicates that its objective is more than just countering the Islamic State. The sectarian nature of this coalition is a clear reaction to the growing power of Iran.

Where the Rift Is Leading

Often in history, it only takes a seemingly small event to trigger a chain reaction leading to a much greater conflagration. In World War i it was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But these trigger events are usually tipping points that come after a series of events leading up to them. Before assassin Gavrilo Princip pulled the trigger, a number of alliances were forming throughout Europe, dividing the Continent.

While it’s unlikely that Nimr al-Nimr’s execution will ignite a full regional war, his death has certainly further delineated the two camps in the Middle East. By conducting it, Saudi Arabia not only sent a message to Iran, but it also forced other Arab nations to clarify whose side they are on.

On one side are countries and organizations that back Iran and its push for hegemony. On the other, a counter alliance is forming that seeks to check Iranian expansionism in the vacuum created by America’s withdrawal. Since no one else was stepping in, Saudi Arabia has taken charge.

However, Bible prophecy does indicate that leadership of this alliance will not be left in Saudi Arabia’s hands. Instead, a growing power from outside the Middle East will take the reins and use the alliance to fulfill its own goals. Psalm 83 indicates that a German-led Europe will ally itself with Saudi Arabia and many of the nations now part of its coalition. In the coming year, look for Saudi Arabia to be pushed further into a corner as Iran’s march over the Middle East continues.


Can Mankind Survive World War III With a Colony on Mars?

Can Mankind Survive World War III With a Colony on Mars?

WikiMedia/D Mitriy

One of society’s most successful and brilliant minds says yes.
From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Sending people to Mars was science fiction. Now it’s a project in progress. The goal is not just to visit the red planet, but to establish a permanent human colony there.

Jeff Bezos is making big advances with his Blue Origin project. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is making strides, too. And, of course, there is the tech billionaire Elon Musk and his project, SpaceX.

In an interview with GQ published on December 12, Musk said colonizing Mars is not just something mankind should do, but something we must do in order to survive our self-destructive nature.

“I don’t think we can discount the possibility of a third world war,” he said. “In 1912, they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War i followed by World War ii followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third world war, and if that does occur, it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before.”

In Musk’s view, since mankind has such a violent track record, the idea of becoming a multi-planetary species is basic common sense: “You back up your hard drive … maybe we should back up life, too?”

His goal is to get the human population on Mars to 1 million. That, he says, is the “crucial threshold for us as a civilization to not join the potentially large number of one-planet dead civilizations out there.”

Musk is not the first to say that in order to survive the next world war, humanity needs to colonize beyond Earth. In 2004, late author Ray Browne wrote about the subject: “I suspect that the obsession [with space exploration] is a kind of subterranean fear that things are going to get too hot down here, so now is the time to look for that Shangri-La. And if we just get up there, a few of us, we’ll escape all the trouble that we’re having down here.”

Many like Musk and Browne recognize “all the trouble” mankind experiences here on Earth. They see that it threatens to wipe out all of mankind. But would colonizing another planet allow us to truly escape that trouble?

The Bible has an answer. Scripture shows that God wants and intends for mankind to move out onto Mars and beyond. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth … he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited …” (Isaiah 45:18). This astounding verse, alongside several other Bible passages, reveals that God did not create the vast universe just to be an ornament for people on Earth to look at; He created it to be inhabited!

One of those other passages is Hebrews 2:6-10, which says God will put “the universe” in subjection to mankind (Weymouth version). But then the passage says God has not done so yet.

And there is a very good reason why He hasn’t given mankind jurisdiction over it yet.

There is an old adage often said to individuals who plan to escape their personal problems by moving to a new city: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

It’s true for individuals, and also for mankind as a whole. Relocating doesn’t solve our problems—because we are the problem. We can’t run away from ourselves.

God gave us Earth to care for: a vast, abundant, protected, resourceful, hospitable home—and look around: “All the trouble” here shows that we are not capable of successfully governing ourselves.

Musk is right that mankind is in grave danger of wiping itself out. Matthew 24:21-22 say our most destructive war lies still ahead. And it will be so violent that it would extinguish all human life from Earth barring a literal miracle. But if mankind were able to colonize another planet, we would only bring “all the trouble” with us. If we successfully built a Martian colony like the one Musk envisions, the 1 million people would soon split into factions and devise plenty of reasons to war against each other. It would not take long for Mars to have its own World War i.

The good news is that God has an inspiring plan for changing and healing the human nature that creates so many problems. Once He accomplishes this, then man will be able to fulfill the true potential God has given us. At that future time, mankind will have the chance to inhabit not just Mars, but the whole, vast universe!

To understand the details of this astounding future, order a copy of our free booklet Our Awesome Universe Potential.

The Future of Farming Is Happening Now

The Future of Farming Is Happening Now

Steve Hercus/Trumpet/©iStock.com/HOWLANDPHOTOGRAPHY/MAKSYMOWICZ/WAVEBREAKMEDIA

How an agricultural counterrevolution shows a glimpse of life in the World Tomorrow
From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

Farm policy in the 1970s destroyed America’s small farms. Today, small farming—the cultivation of flavorful, health-building, life-sustaining, vitamin-rich food—is making a comeback inside cities and towns in America.

It may well be that the people 30 years from now will look back into the history of our time, shake their heads and wonder, Why did they produce and use food like that? The crisis in American farming is not big news today. The average American doesn’t even suspect a crisis in farming exists. But the crisis is real, and its effects have already been knocking on most Americans’ doors for several generations.

In the mid-1970s, United States Secretary of Agriculture Earl L. Butz implemented government policies that favored the growth of large-scale corporate farms. His radical thinking about farming and agriculture are revealed in statements he made during his tenure as secretary. Because of America’s world-renowned bountiful food harvests, he viewed America as an “agripower.” In 1975, food supplies around the world were in decline. America alone was growing nearly half of the world’s grain. Mr. Butz stated: “Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the U.S. negotiating kit.” Butz believed America should use food as a means to advance its national interests.

At that time, Russia had suffered a massive wheat crop failure. To prevent Russia’s wheat shortage problems from raiding America’s commercial wheat reserves, which would cause a rise in wheat prices, the Ford administration established a national grains-export policy, giving the federal government control over the export of wheat. For the first time in American history, food became a major part of diplomatic policy. To buy American wheat, Russia was forced to sell oil to the U.S. and not to interfere with Henry Kissinger’s negotiations on the Egyptian-Israeli accord. Essentially, the restriction of food became a weapon of leverage as powerful as the atomic bomb.

For the first time in American history, food became a major part of diplomatic policy. … Essentially, the restriction of food became a weapon of leverage as powerful as the atomic bomb.

In time, other federal government policies used food as a means to curry the favor of allies. Sadly, American farming also became politicized. As author Michael Pollan points out in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Butz had helped to arrange the Russian grain sale in the hope of giving a boost to American crop prices in order to bring restive farmers who were tempted to vote for George McGovern into the Republican fold.

Get Big, or Get Out!

America’s Founding Fathers and their successors desired that settlers could come to America and own land, build a home, raise a family, and feed themselves well. They would become an independent people, building an independent nation—a model society for the world to imitate. Essentially, America’s farming communities would form the nation’s backbone.

The Homestead Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 during the Civil War, granted a huge amount of power—and a huge amount of property—to the people. The law took gigantic swaths of western land that were controlled by the federal government and gave it in 160-acre plots to homesteaders. Under the act, homesteaders claimed and settled over 270 million acres, or 10 percent of the total area of the United States.

This act paved the way for tremendous economic development. By the end of the 19th century, America had grown at a rate of about 25 percent annually—much faster than the economic boom in China. And the Americans did it by taking power away from the central government and giving it to individuals on the condition that they work the land.

Roughly a century later, it became a fact of history that as head of the usda, Butz’s policies favoring large corporate farms led to the financial ruin and decline of the small American farmer. The damage was devastating. Corporations lustfully leveraged their power and gobbled up many small farms. Other small farms, not suitable for large corporate planting and harvesting machines, were left idle and ruined from neglect.

By the end of the 19th century, America had grown at a rate of about 25 percent annually—much faster than the economic boom in China.

Was this a good thing for U.S. agriculture, farms and small farmers? The usda still thinks that it was.

“Early 20th-century agriculture was labor intensive, and it took place on a large number of small, diversified farms in rural areas where more than half of the U.S. population lived,” the usda states in its 2005 publication The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy. “These farms employed close to half of the U.S. workforce, along with 22 million work animals, and produced an average of five different commodities. The agricultural sector of the 21st century, on the other hand, is concentrated on a small number of large, specialized farms in rural areas where less than a fourth of the U.S. population lives. These highly productive and mechanized farms employ a tiny share of U.S. workers and use 5 million tractors in place of the horses and mules of earlier days.”

These stats sound really positive. Yet what is the usda not telling us? That is the even more interesting question.

Once the federal government reasserted centralized power over agriculture, it absolutely transformed it, as it proudly admitted in the 2005 publication. Butz’s famous saying at the time was “Get big, or get out!” He urged farmers to plant corn “from fencerow to fencerow.” The emphasis was on commodity crops like corn, cotton and soybeans, which can be easily grown in large quantities, stored and traded.

But all of this came with a price.

Essentially, the head of the usda turned a “food weapon” on the very people he was responsible to protect. And it wasn’t just the small farmer who was hurt by his policies.

Industrial Agriculture’s Hidden Costs

In 1977, Wendell Berry, essayist, poet and small farmer, spoke out against Butz’s farm policies. “The cost of this corporate totalitarianism in energy, land and social disruption will be enormous,” he wrote. “It will lead to the exhaustion of farmland and farm culture. Husbandry will become an extractive [nonrenewable] industry; because maintenance will entirely give way to production, the fertility of the soils will become a limited, unrenewable resource like coal or oil.” His near-prophetic insight is explained in his book The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. Although this book is nearly 40 years old, it is current in its solutions for America’s farming dilemma. It is well worth reading.

Mr. Berry hoped the trajectory of the future of farming would change. “This may not happen. It need not happen. But it is necessary to recognize that it can happen. That it can happen is made evident not only by the words of such men as Mr. Butz, but more clearly by the large-scale industrial destruction of farmland already in progress,” he wrote in 1977.

Berry clearly saw the soil turning to sand beneath the feet of America’s once-plentiful farming culture. If you comb your local library, bookstore or the Internet, you will find hundreds of books and reports that prove Berry’s prognostications right. American farmlands are being destroyed by the use of heavy machinery, toxic herbicides, insecticides and chemical fertilizers. Farm chemical runoff is polluting our water supplies and killing aquatic life. Even the air near large cafos (concentrated animal feeding operations) is polluted with the noxious smell wafting from mounds of animal waste from poultry and livestock.

It became a fact of history that as head of the usda, Butz’s policies favoring large corporate farms led to the financial ruin and decline of the small American farmer.

Berry also saw America’s farming culture—the strong, healthy and civically responsible farming family—beginning to crumble. Today it is even easier to see the damage to our environment and its impact on our lives. We naturally abhor the ugliness of a spoiled environment, but it is far more difficult to see the impact of the loss of the small farmers and their families. Yet, the loss of farming families has eroded a huge swath of good American character.

Corn Made King

Berry also foresaw another huge cost and grave danger posed by the large corporate farms. “The first principle of the exploitative mind is to divide and conquer. And surely there has never been a people more ominously and painfully divided than we are—both against each other and within ourselves. Once the revolution of exploitation is underway, statesmanship and craftsmanship are gradually replaced by salesmanship,” he stated with searing insight. Good farmers are great businessmen who can readily detect unscrupulous business practices. Berry is a good farmer and businessman. He readily perceived that corporate farms would exploit unsuspecting Americans with food products produced by quality-damaging shortcuts (through the use of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers) and with foods we do not need.

That’s exactly what happened.

For example, when Mr. Butz advocated that farmers get big and grow corn, they followed his advice. The American corn surplus grew huge, and corn prices dropped. So the large corporate farms had to find ways to sell the corn. With business ingenuity and salesmanship, corn became a new ingredient in many American foods—especially fast foods.

“[A]lmost every food consumed by Americans contains corn in some way, shape or form,” said the Business Insider in 2012. “According to some estimates, about three in four supermarket products are made of the grain.” Take some time to read your food labels. You might be surprised to find corn listed as an ingredient in a food that has nothing to do with corn. There has been a lot of discussion about the negative human health effects from the use of high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to diabetes and obesity. Of course, corn producers deny any such claims. Yet, it is the major sweetener used in most soft drinks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that childhood obesity has doubled in the last 30 years. This is approximately the same time period that high-fructose corn syrup began to be used as a sweetener in soft drinks.

The reality is, the “food weapon” is backfiring dangerously on all of us.

Getting Back to Small and Healthy

It is unrealistic to expect that America’s corporate farming system is going to get revamped or disappear any time soon. Yet creative, industrious and passionate farmers who love fresh-picked, good-tasting, locally grown, mineral-rich, vibrant, vitamin-stuffed fruits and vegetables are helping small farming make a comeback in several unique ways.

Those who are involved in these farms and gardens say they are inspired and fulfilled by getting their hands dirty and growing food for themselves and others. Perhaps you might be inspired to do the same.

In large and small cities across America, urban farms are springing up in empty lots, in city parks and even on rooftops. Some of the best, most productive urban farms have been established in cities such as Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Seattle. The benefits and success of these farms is having an enormous impact on terribly dilapidated inner city areas. For example, over a decade ago two friends, Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk, converted a vacant, toxic industrial lot into a thriving one-acre urban farm. Today, Greensgrow Farms, near the heart of downtown Philadelphia, is an ingenious nonprofit that provides fresh local produce to city dwellers and local restaurants. Like many larger urban farms, Greensgrow also provides employment and instruction on organic farming, healthy eating, nutritious food preparation, and other farm crafts.

City Farm, located in Chicago, has developed a unique approach to urban farming. Like all urban farms, it has transformed fallow, vacant city land into productive farmland—but with a twist. To ensure that they employ full-cycle, chemical-free farming, City Farm has made agreements with local restaurants to receive their food scraps for composting. Besides building up the soil of vacant lots, the amount of waste sent to landfills is reduced. This rich method of composting allows small-plot intensive food production. City Farm produces per acre 20,000 pounds of flavorful, pesticide- and chemical-free tomatoes, arugula, beets, carrots, kale, collards, herbs and more.

There is yet another feature unique to City Farm. If the city of Chicago needs to reclaim a vacant lot, City Farm is movable. It easily relocates to other vacant lots. What it leaves behind is healthy soil easily converted to an inviting park or other beautifully landscaped showplace.

Urban farming can also be done successfully on a small scale. From its one-fifth acre plot, Rising Pheasant Farms in the Poletown neighborhood of Detroit sells sprouts, shoots and microgreens year-round to restaurants that are thrilled to have locally grown produce.

City Farm produces per acre 20,000 pounds of flavorful, pesticide- and chemical-free tomatoes, arugula, beets, carrots, kale, collards, herbs and more.

Those who are involved in these farms and gardens say they are inspired and fulfilled by getting their hands dirty and growing food for themselves and others. Perhaps you might be inspired to do the same. But even if you are not able to start your own garden plot, you may still be able to gain access to healthy, locally grown, pesticide- and chemical-free produce. How?

Consider a CSA

In rural areas, some college-educated, energetic young farmers are reviving run-down small farms and turning them into Community Supported Agriculture (csa) farms. A csa farm is an operation financially supported by shareholders within the community who share both the benefits and risks of food production. Participants contribute a fee—and oftentimes labor—in exchange for fresh produce and other agricultural products.

Many regions of the U.S. have thriving csa farms. The history of csa farming is interesting. Here’s the short version. The idea began in Japan in the 1970s around the same time America took the plunge into large corporate farming. A group of Japanese mothers became alarmed at the use of pesticides to grow food. They did not want their children to eat chemically polluted food. So they banded together to support a local farm that grew clean produce.

The idea gradually moved into Europe, and by the mid-1980s it jumped to the United States. In 1986 there were only two csa farms in the U.S.—the Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire. Today there are over 13,000 of them. The groundbreaking efforts of these csas have led to the resurgence of the small farm. Even more, all those who have chosen to financially support them are reaping a healthier, more abundant life.

However, it has not been an easy task. You can read about the difficulties of establishing a csa in the book The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love, by Kristin Kimball. Originally a writer from Manhattan, she relates her and her husband’s massive effort to regenerate a rundown farm in rural northeastern New York State. Today, the farm is a productive, full-cycle, full-diet, year-round csa. Their 800-acre Essex Farm now supports 52 households with all-natural produce, fruit, raw milk, meat, cheese, eggs, grains, sweeteners and more: their entire diet—for about $11 a day per adult. And they do it all with draft horses.

If you’re interested in joining a csa, generally you can locate one close to you on the Internet.

Your Own Vine and Fig Tree

Wendell Berry believes that the value of farming encompasses far more than economics. He sees farming as a way of life—a family way of life. He is right about that. There is good, solid education from living on a farm that a child can get nowhere else. Having grown up in the 1950s, I know people understood this better then. We were taught respect for farmers and farming.

There is good, solid education from living on a farm that a child can get nowhere else.

In many ways, I believe my grandfather was an urban farmer. I grew up in the house he built on land he owned. Essentially, he designed our backyard into a fertile and productive place. Besides beautiful flowers and flowering bushes, we had Concord grape vines, blackberry and raspberry bushes. There were plum, apple and pear trees. Each summer we grew our own vegetables, which my mother canned. From an early age, we were taught to plant, weed and harvest the fruits of our labors. In our backyard I learned responsibility and how to work. As a kid I remember feeling very connected to my home—my yard. I felt secure. Not many feel this way today. People have lots of things, but few feel connected to any place. None feel secure.

Although most don’t know it, or believe it, Jesus Christ’s true gospel message promises that this present, evil, dying world will soon be transformed into a virtual utopia. As King of kings, Jesus Christ will establish right government that will institute right policies to truly serve the people (Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:33).

Consider what Christ will do for farming.

“Take away weather problems, insect damage, blight and fungus from farmers—losses through government price controls and over flooding of markets—and what would be their lot in life?” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his most important book, Mystery of the Ages. Christ plans to restore the Earth to the kind of place God always intended it to be (Acts 3:19-21). The farmers in the coming World Tomorrow (Hebrews 2:5) will not experience what the farmers of this generation have.

In fact, Christ will encourage a small-scale, farming lifestyle to show how bountiful this Earth can be. “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken,” stated the Prophet Micah, referring to Christ’s coming Kingdom (Micah 4:4; New International Version). God’s prophets repeat this same prophecy often in the Old Testament. This verse does not mean that there will not be some large farms at that time. What it does mean is that families will share in the responsibility of growing their own food. What a good life that will be.

In a sense, what is happening on urban and csa farms today represent very early seeds of the future of farming germinating right before our eyes.

In order to help you have a similar experience, we have provided an infographic on how you can grow a small garden in your yard, patio or even one of your sunny windows (page 18). Happy planting!

Drunk on Debt

The world’s biggest beer maker just secured the king of debt deals. Looks like the high life is just about over.
From the March 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

The makers of Budweiser beer just set a record. In November, Anheuser-Busch InBev secured a $75 billion loan to buy rival sabMiller. It is the biggest corporate loan in the history of the world. And it may signal a dangerous event for the global economy.

Last year, for the first time ever, global mergers and acquisitions surpassed the $5 trillion mark. It was the third consecutive year of increases—up a whopping 37 percent from 2014, according to Dealogic. The number of deals valued at $10 billion or more was double the 2014 level. The number of global jumbo bonds financing these deals also hit a record last year—up 48 percent from 2014.

Corporate America led the charge. Egged on by artificially appealing low interest rates and crowds of investors clamoring for yield, American companies made up the highest share of global mergers and acquisitions ever.

But for those still with unimpaired vision, these signs are very worrisome. We had a corporate merger spree not that long ago—two of them actually. They both ended the same way, too—and it wasn’t with clanking beer mugs and cheers.

Precedent

In 2006, at&t bought BellSouth for $84 billion in stock. In 2007, the Royal Bank of Scotland (rbs) and other foreign banks purchased abn amro Holding for $100 billion. Just a few months later, shareholders took over Philip Morris International for $107 billion. At the time, these were three of the top seven corporate buyouts in history.

Only seven months later, investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed, setting off a panic that left Wall Street a total mess.

The same corporate excesses preceded the dot-com crash too. Of the 15 biggest corporate mergers and acquisitions of all time, eight came within two years before the crash in 2000. The second-biggest deal ever—the $185 billion Vodafone acquisition of Mannesmann—came just four months before the crash. The biggest deal ever, the $186 billion aol-Time Warner merger, happened less than three months before markets tumbled.

These corporate moguls were partying right up to the day the market tanked.

The Debt Party Continues

“Anheuser-Busch InBev’s ability to raise $75 billion in the loan markets in the space of a few weeks shows that banks are still willing to support top-class borrowers in record amounts,” Nicholas Clark, a partner at Allen & Overy’s international law firm in London, said. “This is the largest commercial loan in the history of the global loan markets, far surpassing pre-crisis values” (emphasis added throughout). It is part of a $108 billion deal. At a dollar per bottle of beer, that is more than 14 bottles for every person on Earth.

So the debt party continues. But what happens if the debt kegs run dry?

Investors are already feeling jittery. Last August, market volatility shot up so high that for a brief period, it blew out the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index. This is the index often referred to as the fear gauge. The computer algorithms couldn’t handle the unprecedented volume as the index tripled.

Somebody is going to be cut off—probably a lot of people. And Wall Street is just now beginning to realize it.

‘A Wealth Effect’

Stanley Druckenmiller, one of the most successful investors of all time, said this last April: “This is the first time in 102 years A) [that] the central bank bought bonds, and B) that we’ve had zero interest rates, and we’ve had them for five or six years. … To me it’s incredible.”

Never before has America’s central bank so overtly manipulated markets. Never before has America printed up so much money from nothing. Never before have interest rates been artificially suppressed so low and for so long.

Never have markets so hinged on the whims of central planners.

But the drinks can’t keep coming. Former Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Chairman Richard Fisher warned on January 5 that this liquidity might soon be in short supply. He told cnbc, “What the Fed did, and I was part of that group, is we front-loaded a tremendous market rally … in order to accomplish a wealth effect.”

This was an incredibly revealing statement. It confirmed that quantitative easing—money printing and interest rate manipulation—was directly responsible for boosting prices of risk assets like stocks and bonds.

In other words, the economic rebound from the 2008 financial collapse was not due to any fundamental improvement in the economy—but to artificial, temporary stimulation. It was due to debt!

After 30 years of generally falling interest rates, and seven consecutive years of zero-bound interest rates, the whole economy is dependent on a combination of two untenable factors: artificially low interest rates, and continually expanding debt loads.

Debt Dependency Can’t Last

On December 16, the Federal Reserve was finally forced to raise interest rates. It was only by a quarter of a percent—but it is the direction that is important. Interest rates are rising again. Debt—the alcohol fueling corporate America’s animal spirits—is becoming more expensive.

And look what happened to the markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks America’s most important companies, fell 8 percent in a single month. The S&P 500 is down. The nasdaq is down. Oil is down. Virtually all commodities are down. Virtually every currency in the world except the dollar is down.

Granted, there are other issues at play. But the fact that the world’s largest economy is so dependent on debt—and that debt is becoming more expensive—is a huge factor driving markets down.

Investors should be afraid.

“In a crowded hall, exit doors are small,” the rbs warned in a note to clients in January. Investors need to brace for a “cataclysmic year,” it said. Market indicators are flashing warnings akin to months prior to the Lehman crisis in 2008.

The bank warned that if the debt kegs run dry, it will lead to a global deflationary crisis. Major stock markets could fall by a fifth, and oil may plummet to $16 a barrel. The bank recommends that clients look to the dollar for safety.

But will the dollar really protect people?

“We are already in or rapidly heading into a recession,” says Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff. “Corporate earnings are already falling. Stocks are way overvalued, and companies are way over-leveraged.”

“I do think the Fed is going to save the market,” says Schiff, who was one of the few analysts who correctly saw the 2008 crisis coming, “but sacrifice the dollar in the process.”

What If the Dollar Tanks?

If the markets tumble, the Fed will print money and flood the market with debt, says Schiff. And what was a deflationary crisis will quickly turn into an inflationary one in which the value of the dollar is destroyed.

“So the real crisis that is coming is not going to be a repeat of the financial crisis,” says Schiff, “but something even worse—a dollar crisis and even a sovereign debt crisis.”

This next economic collapse is going to be much harder on Americans because debt levels are so much higher. Anheuser-Busch InBev/sabMiller may do fine for a while since consumers tend to embrace vices and the small pleasures in hard times.

But the writing is on the beer billboard for all to see.

U.S. nonfinancial corporate debt hit $5.4 trillion at the end of 2015. That’s up 59 percent from the start of the 2008 economic crash. But don’t worry about debt; just like Guinness, it’s “The Most Natural Thing in the World.” Labatt confirms: Good Things Brewing. Relax a Little; Rolling Rock Is Still Free Flowing. Enjoy a Pabst—It’s Blended, It’s Splendid. Have a Bud Light and Hit Your Refresh Button.
It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This! Turn It Loose! It’s Brewed With Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water.

But catchy slogans don’t change reality: The high life is just about over. Real life beckons. The next crisis is coming.

Signs of Excess

America’s rich are partying like it’s 1999 … or 2006. In January, a Hermès Birkin bag sold for $99,750. This past summer, a similarly styled cultural symbol of status—also known as a purse—sold for $221,844. Manhattan condo prices hit a new record, with the median prices surging 21 percent, surpassing pre-Lehman highs. You can even buy a $100 edible 24-karat gold-covered donut dunked in Cristal-infused icing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Or you can pay $1,000 per dozen.

In 2014 (the latest data available), CEO compensation rose sharply. Total compensation at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies jumped by 10.6 percent. The median income for a CEO of an S&P 500 company was $11,291,000 in 2014, while the Russell 3000 counterpart earned $3,885,000. Health-care CEOs led the way, jumping 73.6 percent between 2010 and 2014.

Add to that the Picasso painting that sold for a record-breaking $179 million in May, the Blue Moon diamond that sold for a record $48.5 million in November, and the fact that 2015 saw more rare U.S. coins reach $1 million at auction than ever—and this perhaps explains why 2015 can be described as a year of American excess.